I had a gun in my hand the first time when I was about 20 years old. The first five or six years I only went hunting with shotgun. But after a few years I bought a rifle and was more fascinated by that type of hunting – there is only you and the animal. I started hunting in Poland and Sweden with my old friends. We often talked about the ultimate hunt: Africa. For many years, however, it was never anything other than talk. But one day we decided that now was the time. We went to South Africa, near the border of Botswana, in September 2005, and it was a great hunting experience. When I got home was time to place all thoughts and digest all the impressions I had from Africa, and soon I decided that I wanted to investigate whether there were any farms for sale in the area.
A local hunter told me that there was a farm for sale in Botswana, and I immediately began to investigate whether I had the opportunity to buy it or not. In May 2006, I met with a lawyer in Gaborone, and then I bought the farm, which was later called Lotsane Safaris.
The next few years were to develop the farm, get the infrastructure in order, building roads, aqueducts, irrigation holes, feeding places, to build the lodge and its apartments, and hiring a manager. I had the first customers in 2008.
Before I bought the farm in Botswana, I knew almost nothing to the country. I knew it was one of the most stable countries in Africa, and that there were very few inhabitants. And that one third of them had AIDS. Over time I have learned much more. Botswana is a huge country in size of France, and it is a very democratic country. The president is the son of an English mother and African father. There are no fights between black and white, and the country’s main resources are diamonds and tourism. It is a very welcoming country, with a friendly government that each year sends me the whole budget of Botswana’s. It is their way to share the country’s economy with people and show the great development in the country. In Botswana, there is nothing to be afraid of, there is almost no crime compared to other similar countries.
Local craftsmen have been responsible for building the lodge and surrounding buildings on the farm. My thoughts have always been to use local labour. I have been involved in everything from the selection of bricks and tiles to the design and decor of the rooms. I wanted a high ceiling in the main building, so there was room for trophies and big ideas. I insisted that everything should be in one place, and not, like most other farms with a lot of small thatched huts. It had to be Scandinavian, so also the locals would think it was exciting and different to look at. I was at a show once where a hunter said that when he was going to Africa, he would live in thatched houses, otherwise it was not the right Africa for him. But anyone who visits the farm says it is beautiful, and they are amazed that it was possible to get knocked Lotsane Safaris up in the middle of the bush, there’s 45 kilometres to the nearest asphalt road. The bricks of the buildings are from a brickyard in Botswana, all materials are from Africa – except beds and bedding, which is actually from Jysk, a bedroom shop chain, in Denmark.
There is not much I would change if I were to build Lotsane Safaris again. I am pleased to have built it so big from the start, even though everyone actually advised me against to do so. They said, start small and then you can always build on. But it’s not my style. Lotsane Safaris is a fantastic unspoiled place; there is only the buildings and nature. Where else do you ever find this kind of luxury in the bush? As a hunting farm, it is an advantage that everything is close, so you do not have to run around to everything. And then it’s down to the Limpopo River, which is an essential element for both nature and wildlife.
When people ask me when Africa is most beautiful, I answer: always. Africa is beautiful at sunrise and at sunset. Always. I was sold after the first visit, the red sand and the wild nature. You cannot take a walk in the bush without scratching yourself on the nature. What fascinates me most is how little life means down there. How short it is from life to death, it really puts life back home in Denmark in relief. Down there you will be confronted with life and death every day. You learn to appreciate that you are alive on the small things, that the trees bloom, the beautiful blue sky. Seeing people who have nothing, and how little it takes to make them happy, and to work with them. It’s great. To give them a hope that things can be done.
First and foremost I wish that those who visit Lotsane Safaris get an experience of for life. It should Africa be like that. Africa is other things than misery. I also hope that they get an understanding of the country; Africa is a cold country with a hot sun. They are so dependent to the life cycle. A single year of drought down there has huge implications for humans. Water is indeed a lifeline. There are not many in Denmark who tells their children to save water. I would hope that people also see how much people down here achieve for almost no money. One can easily experience the joy and satisfaction with life, even if you are poor. Many people could learn from this.
I live my life in two worlds: Scandinavia and Africa. Every time I go to Africa I become mentally charged up – here is quiet, dark and a bright sky.