Nandipha Damane, is a relatively new but exceptionally friendly face at Thornybush’s Waterside Lodge, having started at this luxurious safari camp in May 2018. She’s one of the first people you’ll meet when you arrive at reception to check-in.
Waterside Lodge is part of our Classic Collection of lodges, holding pride of place alongside a dam, where game species pop in daily to drink. It’s one of our more popular camps, so it’s good to know that Nandipha is there to welcome guests with her friendly smile.
Nandipha was born and raised in a small Mpumalanga town called Machadodorp and made a conscious decision to enter the wildlife tourism industry after matriculating. Her first job was at Misty Valley Lodge, where she spent four years gaining invaluable experience and learning everything she could about the industry.
After that, she headed to Kapama River Lodge, where she spent time behind the reception desk and helping out in the curio shop for almost five years. From there, it was just a hop, skip and a jump to Waterside Lodge where Nandipha applied for, and got a job in our reception area.
During her many years of tenure in the tourism industry, Nandi has some interesting tales to tell, although this one is her favourite –
Late one night, a call came through to reception. It was a guest requesting extra towels. She complied at once, asking a ranger to accompany her to the room, which was quite some way from the reception area. For safety’s sake, they decided to take a vehicle.
As Nandi alighted from the vehicle, she heard a noise in the bush nearby but didn’t think anything of it. The ranger, on hearing the sound himself, and ever conscious of the safety of those around him, turned the vehicle headlights onto bright. There, in the glow of the lights, were five male lions! Without an instant’s delay, Nandi leapt back into the safety of the vehicle, and they made their way back to the shelter of the lodge.
While the experience certainly left her shaken, it hasn’t dampened Nandi’s love of safari tourism one bit, or her love and admiration for lions. They’re still her favourite animals. She admires their perseverance and the way they observe and plan their attack.
Nandipha plans to stay involved in the safari hospitality industry for a long, long time.
If you’d like to experience service with a great big smile as welcoming as Nandi’s, as well as unbeatable Big Five experiences, get in touch to book your spot at Waterside Lodge right now.