Life on safari
Husband and wife team Jofie and Maryke Lamprecht are both in the tourism and hospitality industry – the sector that was likely the hardest hit during the Covid crisis and lockdown. Following the easing of restrictions, the two are looking forward to a busy new season and are upbeat about...
02 October 2020 | Life Style
As a professional hunter, Jofie is well-known in local trophy hunting and conservation circles. He is the concessionaire of a hunting enterprise in the Mahango National Park in the Zambezi on the banks of the Okavango River, where he and Maryke developed Mukongo Camp that features beautiful views over the river while the area is teaming with wildlife.
Unfortunately their camp hasn’t seen many visitors this year.
“We were devastated this year by having no clients visit,” Jofie says. “Everyone had to cancel due to lockdown. But now we’re looking forward to welcoming guests back into Namibia and hopefully salvaging the last two months of the season.”
He says that one of the big things they decided from the outset was not to retrench any staff. “We discussed the situation honestly with everyone. At the end of the day, in spite of having to cut salaries significantly, we could retain all our staff, both at the camp and in Windhoek. Everyone is happy and everyone is working together to get through this. That’s the only way we can survive.”
Their operation in Windhoek – Safari Villa Boutique Guesthouse – is run by Maryke, who until recently helped Jofie exclusively with his work. “We did that for a number of years, then we had kids and in time I realised I was almost driven to insanity. I had to do something!” Maryke says.
And then she thought, let’s open a guesthouse.
“Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who takes my ideas and then he makes them happen.”
They found a big home in Windhoek and did some renovations, and in March they opened with ten spacious en-suite rooms and a self-catering flat, with every mod con you can think of.
“And then lockdown happened,” Maryke says. “It’s been very tough because we’re both in the tourism industry. Thankfully we have American clients who love us dearly and who really helped us through this difficult time.”
However, both agree: The future looks promising.
“2021 is fully booked at Mukongo Camp because we managed to move all our clients from this year to next year. Everyone was very gracious and understanding about it. It’s a worldwide problem, not something that was just imposed on us,” Jofie says.
Given that their guests heading to Mukongo can overnight in Windhoek before and after their safari, “the outlook for Safari Villa is fantastic,” Jofie says. Maryke is quick to add: “We can feed each other. Where in the past clients usually booked into other places, he now sends them to his wife!”
Time well spent
In the meantime, Jofie says he used lockdown to finish writing his book, titled Life on Safari. “It’s with the editors now, and hopefully it will be ready for sale in January,” he says.
In the book he shares all his hunting stories, “from when I was a little boy to now, but also life experiences. About my first marriage and divorce, meeting Maryke, the birth of our children, the stress we lived through with our son’s heart surgery, about being down and out and at my wits’ end. Because life is about more than just hunting; it’s all these other things too. I think both men and women will enjoy it.”
The book is beautifully illustrated with lots of Jofie’s own photos (he hosts photo safaris as well) and includes stories from Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, India, and the United States; stories of his special clients and all things – good and bad – that have happened to him throughout his life.
“I chose the title Life on Safari, because ‘safari’ means ‘the journey’. And that’s what my entire life has been,” he says.
On a lighter note, Maryke recently tackled another endeavour: Making delicious pizzas and pastas.
When Jofie is in Windhoek, the couple usually has a date night on Wednesdays. “Now, during corona, we weren’t making any money, so we stayed in. Then I thought it would be a fun idea for us to make pizzas together.”
And since they have a big oven and they live in a cul de sac, they sent out a message to their neighbours asking if they wanted to order some. “And suddenly we had 12 orders that had to go!” she says. “While Jofie was stressing about all the pizzas that had to be made, I had a glass of wine and before he could hit a full out panic, the pizzas were ready to be delivered.”
The next thing they knew, the received an order for a delivery on the other side of town. “And Jofie just said ‘no, this is for fun, not a business!’ And I said, ‘I’m putting on my red lipstick and my red heals, and we’re going to deliver the pizza. With some cash fresh in our pockets, we could head out for a real date night. How many other couples make money on a date night?” she says with a twinkle in her eye.
The pizzas are fully loaded – but only available on Wednesdays and Sundays from 16:00 to 20:00, and you’ll have to pick it up yourself. And they are oh so worth it!
Check out Jofie Lamprecht or Safari Villa on Facebook, or visit http://jlsafaris.com for more info.