Part 7: A lodge in Chobe (1963 – 1980)
Ala & Lolly took a trip to Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and was approached by the owner of Chobe Lodge to buy it. Ethnee Holmes à Court lost her husband during a freak accident – bees attacked him and guests – and she was left to manage the lodge on her own. She convinced Ala & Lolly to buy and take over the lodge.
Lolly and his mom were left to run it on their own for 6 months while Ala was back in Livingstone handing over their businesses there to a company that was trying to acquire it for years. When the Chobe opportunity arose, it seemed like the best thing to do as there were also some rumours about unrest in Northern Rhodesia.
Before the next year was done, Ala convinced the new owners in Rhodesia that she needs to re-join her family and they agreed. On her arrival at Chobe Lodge they renamed the lodge Chobe Safari Lodge.
With Lolly & Ala’s contacts at Flame Lily holidays and South Africa, they soon marketed their new lodge to travellers worldwide. All the while managing 3 trading stores in Kasane, Panda Matanga and Kachikau.
Even though they found another piece of paradise, there was certainly no limit to the excitement. Political unrest, schemes, (too close) animal encounters and hordes of guests having the time of their lives. Ala said that imagining the loveliness of Chobe’s nature epitomises all the miracle and beauty of unspoilt creation.
They met famous people, travelled, attended Januzs’ wedding in Durban and lived the ultimate wild life!
When they decided to sell Chobe after creating a huge success, they were set on moving to Nelspruit – back to civilisation. But they were so used that life that the move proved a little more challenging than they thought. Lolly had a mini nervous breakdown and even lost his eyesight for a while. But soon enough everyone settled in and enjoyed their new life.
Ala became involved in the community by joining a book club, opening a tuck shop and participating in parent duties at the boys’ school. Eventually Lolly started to get on Ala’s nerves as he had nothing to do. Luckily a friend of theirs who did safari trips to the Kruger National park approached him to help with trips. He enjoyed it immensely.
Eventually they bought the safari side of a local business and friends of theirs the agency side. Ala would do her community chores in the morning and in the afternoon would help out with the business.
They spent 10 years in Nelspruit and truly enjoyed it. It was different from their “wild life” before. But it was wishful thinking that their life would stay static for long. After returning from a hunting trip, Lolly’s excitement was ill-concealed. He had found their dream place where they would settle and start the legacy that would be world-renowned years later.
To be continued…