The cost of the upgrades to the main building in Olifants, which started at the beginning of May 2007, is estimated at R5.5 million. According to Phuti Namethe, hospitality manager of Olifants Rest Camp, Olifants is one of the oldest rest camps in the Kruger National Park (KNP). The main building, some of the bungalows and also the staff accommodation are under renovation.
Work on the main building has been dealayed for about two months, due to problems with the availability of steel. "Hopefully everything will go according to plan and then we can be finished with the buildings by the end of December 2008." The shop in Olifants is being extended to the same size as the shops in Satara and Letaba.
A boma to accommodate10 to 15 people is also being built where groups can have dinner together. A new deck for day visitors is also part of the plan. The deck will overlook the Olifants river.
Six of the three-bed bungalows overlooking the Olifants river have been upgraded from two star to three star graded units. One of the bungalows can also now accommodate people with disabilities and has an accessible shower.
Sliding glass doors, a two plate stove and cooking facilities have also been added to the units. "The communal kitchens are very far away from some of the units and are one of the reasons for adding cooking facilities."
"We are also working on upgrades to the staff accommodation. At the moment they have communal ablutions and kitchens. At the end of this month the first four units will be completed. The old sewerage pipes and systems have also been sorted out."
The building of a swimming pool for the rest camp and a new day visitor's area outside the camp equipped with its own swimming pool, is planned to start in February 2009. "Currently we do not have enough space for our day visitors, our day visitors area is not as beautiful as those of other camps and sometimes the day visitors cause a disturbance for the residents in the camp."
The swimming pool will provide an extra activity for the guests in the camp, especially children and is also a good way to counteract the heat. The occupancy in the camp will benefit from the swimming pool according to Phuti and will attract more overnight visitors. The amount of conferences and team building sessions held in Olifants will increase with the availablilty of the boma as a venue.
Phuti believes that Olifants can be crowned as the best camp in the KNP in future. "If we have happy and committed staff for reducing complaints from guest we can achieve that."