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The Rissington Rag - March 2024

Posted on Fri March 1, 2024.

A quick look at this year's Rissington plans and how you can join in ...

Hi there – and welcome to the March 2024 Rissington Rag.

As Rissington bathes in sunshine and accolades, we are about to head out on our long journey through this magnificent continent. So, here’s something completely different. The brief Rissington Rag - Travel Edition Special! There's some other stuff too though, including the story of Bruno's disastrous day. And some deals, of course ...

Route-ing for us …

Here’s our proposed route again. It has changed in a few places – and it will change again - but this is the basic map of our itinerary for the next six months, starting on 12th April this year. 35000 kilometres. Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and back through Tanzania again to Zambia, then slowly home to South Africa. Twelve countries. There may even be a little side-trip into Angola.

It’s hard to say what the highlights might be. The biggest effort will be the climbing of Mt Kenya or maybe Mwanihana in Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains. The most beautiful beach will most likely be somewhere on Kenya’s Swahili coast. The best restaurant? Not sure. Maybe in Kigali, Rwanda? The best street food? Possibly Uganda. The ‘Rolex’ almost-omelette springs to mind. The friendliest people? Malawi, probably kayak-guides on the lake. The most expensive campsite? Hmmm. Botswana, I am sure!

The best roads? Namibia. The biggest potholes will be in Burundi, unless surpassed by Angola. The best music? Tanzania, particularly the Taarab music of Zanzibar. The best view? Across to the Serengeti from Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains, I reckon. History will be a Zambian speciality, I think, along with Zimbabwe’s ancient bushman paintings. As for the best game-viewing … well, we are going to no fewer than 35 national parks and game reserves, so I will have to reserve judgement on that one for now. Most beautiful waterfall? I don’t know … maybe Kundalila Falls in Zambia?

But why am even I trying to guess? Let’s get out there and see what we can find. This Rag is brief but it offers you an opportunity to get involved, from a distance, in a 6-month road trip. The next Rag will be filled with the tales of our adventures and with our discoveries along the way plus an update on our philanthropic plans for each of countries that we are visiting on our entrepreneur-backing programme.

There will be no June Rag this year – the first time we have ever missed an edition - so you will have to wait until September for the follow-up. And the September Rag might just be a tad late too, depending on when we get home.

In the meantime … you can follow us on Tripcast. Please do. Here’s how it works.

Tripcast is ingenious

The whole point of this trip is that we are going off-grid, offline and off duty so we will not be posting on Instagram or Facebook for the six months that we are going to be away.

We are however inviting you to join our group and to follow 'Team Gap Year' on Tripcast. You will then be following our travels all the way from April to September. Tripcast is a diary of photos with comments from the travellers. It is brilliant. It is social media but without the chat, posted whenever we have access!

When one of us posts, you will receive a notification email (but only if you ask for it when completing the 'Notification Settings'). You don't have to open every notification email but when you do, you will be taken to our Tripcast feed and you can scroll through all the pictures since you last visited. So you really don't have to visit for every post. The photos and our comments will be there forever. Even the photos we posted before you joined. In fact, we have started posting already. Take a look!

But .... PLEASE RESPECT OUR RULES. DO NOT COMMENT. DO NOT POST QUESTIONS OR EMOJIS OR 'LIKES'. The only people allowed to comment are the admins. No-one else. If you are not an admin, please follow silently! We will be ruthless about throwing out transgressors. It's only fair!

The idea is that we are ditching all social media chat for the full time that we are travelling, so this is our way of keeping followers informed but it MAY NOT be used as a chat forum or for commentary from anyone not travelling. If you have any suggestions for the route, you are welcome to SMS or WhatsApp one of us and we will pick it up when we get the chance.

Please DO JOIN if you are interested - and enjoy the journey! You can always drop out or ignore the notifications if you lose interest. We will never know.

Click on the link below.  Please add your name to your profile (and a pic if you like) so that we know who is following us! We promise you will receive no junk mails from us or from Tripcast unless you have agreed to them in the 'Notification Settings'.

Finally, here is the link! Click below and start following. https://tripcast.co/i/WKCXS4J3

or click on this button FOLLOW RISSINGTON TRIP

Thanks for being interested ... And if you do forward the link to anyone else (and you are welcome to do so) please be very sure to explain the rules to them!


We will also be going email-free. Even if it says : ‘This email has been marked High Importance by the sender.’  Have you ever seen an email Marked ‘Importance: Low’? Everything seems important. Don’t they realise that emails marked ‘High Importance' go straight to the bottom of the pile, like the creditor who phones every day reminding you that your payment is due next week. I mean, how arrogant is a person who really believes that his or her booking is really more urgent than anyone else’s?!

Anyway, we won’t have email but Rissington will do, so if you are used to dealing with me direct, please email Rissington on [email protected] instead. Philippa and the team will be only too happy to help you with your bookings or with your search for advice and information. Thanks!

Bruno’s journey

We have been on a warm-up road trip past the Karoo National Park (marvellous), Cape Town, Arniston (near Cape Agulhas) and Umngazi on the Wild Coast. All strongly recommended, of course.

We then arrived home the day before yesterday only to be told that Bruno had disappeared and hadn’t been seen for four or five hours. Rusty was around, but was looking somewhat baffled and disconsolate. Not good.  Absolutely no sign of Bruno whatsoever. And a very stressed and distressed Team Rissington.

One’s first thought, when a dog goes missing in the Lowveld, is ‘snake’. Our dogs are good snakers, though. They never attack any snake and they both have a very specific, wary, deep, urgent snake-alert bark. The next thought is that the dog has been run over. Or worse, taken. Hunting dogs like Bruno and terriers like Rusty are both especially popular. The final possibility would have been a snare, but the property is regularly checked for any form of trapping, so it seemed unlikely and Bruno had already had his foot trapped in an animal snare, driving him berserk when he was young, so he has always been wary.

Anyway, they say that only one in ten dogs in our neck of the woods dies of old age, so it didn’t augur well.

We searched; we shouted; we cajoled a sullen Rusty to join the expeditions through the bush. Nothing. We put out an appeal on various neighbourly WhatsApp groups. We offered rewards on staff and community groups. Nothing. It was most unlike Bruno to disappear. And even more unlikely that he would go off without Rusty. We could only imagine the worst.

I spent the whole of that night looking for Bruno on forays into the bush with a spotlight, shouting dumbly into the darkness. It was the quietest night I can ever remember. No birds. No frogs. No insects. Certainly no distressed dog barking. Just a solitary bushbaby called at about 2.30am. Otherwise no life whatsoever.

Yesterday we spent the whole day trekking in teams through the bush, driving through town in case Bruno had become hungry and was scavenging in the market stalls, leading search parties and appealing to the neighbours to keep an eye. Nothing. A trained tracker with a dog spent six hours searching every corner of this and several nearby properties. He found a few tracks but couldn’t be sure they were Bruno’s. No snares. No barking.

We finally found a rather listless lonesome Bruno on a neighbouring farm yesterday evening, after more than 24 hours spent sitting with a wire snare round his neck. He was covered from head to toe in ticks. Luckily he had been bright enough not to struggle and pull the wire tight. Sadly he wasn't bright enough to bark and tell us where he was! But he survived and he is uninjured. And hopefully wiser.

It was very lucky it had been a cool day. I took 47 ticks off him. The other 500 or so, he seemingly rubbed off on the floormat so I am still picking those up too. He drank two bowls of water, ate voraciously, then slept deeply and was up and off  to Rissington early this morning – as if nothing had ever happened – looking for bacon at breakfast, no doubt. Not a scratch on him. Lucky dog. It could so easily have gone the other way.

Let’s hope he has redeveloped his wariness of running into deep bush. In the meantime, two soulmates are reunited … and I can sleep again.

Fugitives' Drift Lodge

Many will know of my long-standing association with the Rattray family and with Fugitives’ Drift Lodge, at Rorke’s Drift, just south of Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal province. We recently stopped there on our road trip as well and I am really encouraging all readers to go there if they haven’t already been and to go back if they have already stayed there. The South African winter is a great time to visit for dry, sunny days out on the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift (among others) and the lodge is offering some wonderful heavily-discounted deals (especially at the far more affordable Guest House, a few hundred metres from the Lodge) for the months of May and June.

Please contact them direct on [email protected] for more details of the great deals they have negotiated for you. They are also throwing in a complimentary guided nature walk in some of most beautiful scenery on earth.

Do it! And quote ‘Rissington Rag’ with your enquiry so that they know we sent you. It can only be to your advantage!

A tall story

Every Rag has a couple of rather random cartoons and this one is no exception. There was a mention of potholes as deep as giraffes in the last newsletter and we shall be seeing more than our fair share of those over the next months, I am sure. When I stumbled across this cartoon, it struck a chord. In fact, it is probably even more ironic than it realises as giraffes are now genuinely under threat. (We hope to see Southern Reticulated, Masai and Rothschild’s giraffes, for what is worth, on our route.)

Where in the World Competition:

The December Rag had one of our highest readerships ever and by far the largest number of emails sent with comments afterwards but, oddly, nobody won the competition. In fact, nobody out of our almost 10000 readers even entered it, which is also a first, so this one was clearly a lot harder than I realised. Or maybe Rag readers just don’t visit children’s playgrounds!

There’s no competition this time, but there will be a bumper one next time around. In the meantime, the first person who can get the answer to the location of the December playground before we leave on 12th April can still win three nights for two bed and breakfast whenever they like. I have made it a bit bigger this time so that you can check out those mountains properly!

Send your answer to [email protected] by midnight on 11th April 2024.


Bear in mind that we continue to offer our amazing specials for stays during the few downtimes that we have at Rissington. That is in the whole of May and June when the Lowveld is quite simply the BEST place to be. Perfect dry sunny days. The best game-viewing. No-one around. Sunbathing without burning.

The deal will stay the same for 2024. That is R5800 per person per week, dinner bed and breakfast. Best room available at time of booking. Minimum 7 nights, extra nights charged pro rata. Children subject to quote. Email [email protected]

We are also really enjoying our new menus and our new dishes – and so is everyone else it seems. Great reviews and happy comments abundant …

So we have decided on two ways forward to build on that. Firstly, we are encouraging non-residents to join us for meals as often as they like between now and mid-July (when we will get hugely busy again). Please come and see what all the fuss is about. We are aware that many of Hazyview’s favourite classy restaurants are not open to passers-by and locals or, in some cases, have disappeared altogether, so we are encouraging you – locals, Nelspruiters/Mbombelites, Mpumalangans, timesharers, visitors, anyone – to have breakfast, lunch or dinner here. Great food, great staff, great view, great ambience. And you can use the pool too.

What’s the second thing, Chris? Well, to get you to come and see what we are all about, we are offering a 20% discount on all food and drink at Rissington, whether you are staying with us or not, from now until the end of June. You just have to say the magic words ‘Rissington Rag’ and your restaurant bill will suddenly be cut by a fifth. Just like that. New direct bookings only – tell us when you book. 

Hope to see you. Book early if you can. Or just turn up and give it a go. You’ll love it. There’s the daily-changing menu, plus a terrace menu and something for the kids too.

And talking of kids, remember that the school holidays are coming up and kids get free accommodation and breakfast in all our rooms except the hillside suites. If you ask nicely and it’s not busy, Philippa might even negotiate on that too.

Bear in mind also that the service at Rissington is unaffected by loadshedding.

The plot thickens at Rissington

After six months on the road and once we have become used to not moving day after day, I know how glad we shall be to get back home to Rissington, even if we will still wonder occasionally why we own so much clobber and why we have a house at all.

But we have decided anyway to look at a new idea for the place. We have been letting the bush grow back at Rissington for nearly thirty years now and it is thick and dense and teeming with interesting wildlife such as civets, genets and porcupines as well as the usual duiker and bushbuck. The birding is simply superb with about 200 species on our 20 acres alone.

So here’s a plan. If you have always thought it would be wonderful to live some or all of the time at Rissington, give us a shout. We are looking at allowing a couple of houses to be built on the northern end of the property, each on an acre or more of land, more than 300 metres from the lodge but with access to all its facilities and a similar view. Obviously we will need to iron out the details with interested parties but it doesn’t need to be big or expensive. If you are interested, give me a shout and we can explore the possibilities when I get home in September, then go about our discussions and the securing of ownership. Hmmm. That got you thinking, didn’t it?

Team Rissington takes over the social media

From 10th April for six months, I will be taking time out from posting on the Rissington Instagram and Facebook pages. Instead, during that time, the team will be posting their pictures and thoughts. I am sure they will come up with all sorts of new angles on life at the lodge and you will enjoy their input for a change. Lungi and I will take over again when we get back. So bear with us. It’s going to be fun! Until then, it is business as usual on the social media, so join us on Facebook and Instagram by clicking on the links below. @RissingtonInn



Please review us while you are at your computer, as well. People can be really daft about assuming that there is something wrong with a lodge when the owner is away, so please keep the good reviews coming in order to counter any such stupidity. I am really not integral to the success or excellence of Rissington these days and my presence plays no crucial part in that. It’s all about the team. And they will be giving it their all. Please support them!

That’s it for now. Short and sweet and to-the-point. We are almost ready to leave with just a few details to resolve. For example, we have given up trying to agree on a music playlist across the generations and have signed up instead to Audible, where we're downloading suitable audio books. We are currently half-way through Orwell's 1984, read by Stephen Fry. Suitably dystopian for a voyage through African democracy, we feel, although we might not be listening to it in Zimbabwe in case Big Brother is tuned in ...

Come to Rissington and visit the team whilst we are away. Everything will be running 100% normally and up-to-standard – I know this for sure – and remember that winter in the Lowveld is warm and sunny. Africa at its best.

As they say in kiSwahili: Kwaheri. Safari njema. I am sure you wish us the same! If you'd like to do so in person, we'll give 35% off the tariff to any readers who come and stay specifically to say goodbye before 12th April (new direct bookings only!)

And Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus to all our Welsh readers. Gwnewch y pethau bychain!

All the best

Chris and the Team: Shirley, Natasha, Nonhlanhla, Princess, Nkateko, Rosa; Gertrude, Dudu, Yvonne, Angel, Conny and Dellina; Futhi, Betty, Noggs, Patience, Bonisile, Lilian, Mildreth, Maureen. Thandiwe and Felicia; Aubrey, Selby, Lucky and Peter; plus Philippa in the office, whom you may email on [email protected] for all your booking requirements. Or simply book online on www.rissington.co.za and tell us all about yourself in the ‘Special Requests’ box.

Also all the best from JJ (who will be taking time out to join us for a month in East Africa during the breaks in his university course) and Lungile, who is travelling with me all the way to Murchison Falls on the Nile and back! And from Rusty and Bruno (thank goodness...).