Out of Africa!
Marcelle de Villiers is an internationally trained beautician who gained her ITEC diploma in beauty therapy at the Centurion Academy for Somatology in South Africa. She went on in 2007/2008 to work as a beautician at the Amakhosi safari lodge in Pongola, South Africa.
Marcelle now lives in the UK and took some time out to talk to us about her 'Out of Africa' experience working at a Safari Lodge.
Q. What attracted you to working at a safari lodge?
It is something different. In South Africa transport is very limited. Sometimes it is difficult to reach a salon/spa with public transport if it is in a rural area. So, for not having a car or license a safari lodge seemed like the best outcome. I didn't need to drive. Basically you live on the lodge in staff housing that is close enough for a person to walk.
Q. Have safari lodges always offered spa/beauty treatments?
I think it was a growing trend about 10 years ago but now 99% of all the safari lodges have a spa and a gym.
Q. What kind of treatments do visitors most want?
If guests come to a safari lodge they want to relax and enjoy the nature. Most of them want massages, pedicures and facials. If you go to big lodges they have more variety of treatments.
Q. What are the upsides of working at a safari lodge?
You have no expenses because most of the lodges give free accommodation and all meals are included. You live for free and keep the savings account up and going. You get to see nature at its best too. And you get some exercise every day!
Q. What are the downsides of working at a safari lodge?
Safari lodges are mostly rural and private. It can get lonely ..... and the snakes!!!There are qualified rangers who you can call to catch the snakes.
Q. How does the pay compare to working in a salon?
It's a bit more. You get a basic wage with commission on every treatment that is done and gratuities at most of the safari lodges.
Q. Did you get the opportunity to go on a safari yourself?
If you're willing to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning then you can go in the morning. Most of my work was late morning and in the afternoon. I went mostly in the afternoon because most of the guests went in the afternoon. I just took advantage of that opportunity.
Q. What did you gain out of the experience?
Independence and some good knowledge of nature. I got to see a different part of my country.
Q. For any therapist wanting to work at a safari lodge what things would you advise they consider?
It is always fun not matter what I say or anybody else! Consider the fact that no matter how big the lodge is you always get lonely in some sort of way. That some of the safari lodges are so rural, that it doesn't have cell phone reception and if it rains you could be rained in and going nowhere. Sometimes the staff housing isn't protected from the wildlife and if you wake up one morning or even wake up and hear strange noises outside your window with lions or elephants outside, just stay inside, close the door and keep calm.
Something more .....
It is truly exciting to wake up in the morning in a bit of God's creation. It is fresh air, the smell of nature and not knowing what type of adventure is going to hit the lodge that day. And the best thing of doing the safari lodge work is that you work 6 weeks and then 2 weeks off.