Since opening our doors in 2015, there have only been a handful of days without any guests. Today, however, marks two months without a single guest. But for our family (me, Shannon, and our two children, Perrin aged three years and Lulu aged 18 months), we are lucky to call Angama home and live here full-time – guests or no guests. At the moment, we are joined by a skeleton crew of 30 dedicated staff.
We recognise daily how fortunate we are to be here during this exceptionally strange time, able to move about freely within the 700 acres of our property (watching out for dangerous game, of course), socialising with our team, going out on safari or simply walking up to the guest area to gaze at the view when we need a few minutes to ourselves to decompress.
So how does a lockdown day usually play out at Angama? We start every morning with a team meeting over breakfast, beginning with prayers, some stretching and warm-ups (led by a different member of the team each day) and announcements, before opening the floor up to questions, comments, or any other discussion topics from the team.
Then it’s time for some work – and the silver lining of an empty lodge is that it is the perfect time for maintenance. From staining decks to replacing tent flysheets, from roadworks to improving our outdoor BBQ site – every project has been completed with record efficiency. Oh – and I’ve managed to have an empty inbox by the end of the day more days than not for the first time in five years.
Another important daily output is sharing one-minute videos via our various social media platforms. These are produced by Adam and Mwikali, who head out on daily game drives to keep the world up to date with the flora and fauna that continues to thrive in the Maasai Mara, eagerly awaiting their return. We really hope that the content we create on a daily basis and share globally helps in some way, offering an opportunity to get away from lockdown for a few minutes, even if only virtually.
We have also been able to enjoy more family time. There is nothing like your first safari – except when you’re two or three years old, in which case every safari is like the first time. We love going on safari with our kids, and living vicariously through Perrin’s wonder and awe and what he sees is inspiring – the closest we can get to reliving our first safari experience. We also go on family walks around the property, and that’s equally as entertaining – wondering at giraffe and zebra on foot, inspecting tracks and dung beetles, chasing butterflies and looking for frogs – it’s a brilliant education for the kids (and a great way to tucker them out so they sleep well at night!).
Nearly every afternoon we have some fun activities organized for the team, such as intense volleyball matches, swimming lessons, various team-building puzzles and races, and staff movie nights (we are currently working through the Marvel movie series). We’ve also had ‘work parties,’ which involve getting everyone together for an important task such as slashing the grass around the tent pathways or at the football pitch. These end up being more fun than they sound: one third of the people present are hard at work with the other two thirds watching, cracking jokes and waiting to rotate in for their turn.
After dinner, once the kids go to bed, we’ve enjoyed connecting with our colleagues and rekindling an appreciation for certain aspects of the lodge that must have slowly slipped into being taken for granted over the years, but are again, wonderfully, glaringly obvious in the peace and tranquility of a place we usually know as hustle and bustle. Sometimes I think this must be what it feels like to be a guest.
That said, we’re very much looking forward to having the rest of our beloved Angama family back together here at the lodge, prepared and waiting for the moment the first guest arrives back at Angama after travel restrictions are lifted. We have a tradition of any staff who is available being out in front of the main guest area when a guest arrives for the first time, everyone waving and clapping with big smiles – pure authentic Kenyan hospitality. It’s always a joyous moment, but the excitement and emotion of seeing that first car carrying guests around the corner after all this is over may even rival the first guests we welcomed to Angama five years ago when we opened. We can’t wait.
Filed under: Inside Angama