They say that when people spend a lot of time together, they start to resemble each other. In speech, body language, appearance. It’s an unconscious phenomenon and potentially disconcerting, depending on the person. Hessah Silwebbe has shared our space and days, minds and hearts for six years, so we can only imagine how much of his character must have rubbed off on us – his expressive way of communicating, always with a smile and always with arms, not merely hands, his fearless way of loving, and his unexpected dry wit. Disconcerting it sure isn’t, only fortunate, for ourselves, as individuals at Royal Chundu, for the lodge, as whole, and our guests.
Perhaps you’ve shared in this fortune and met the man yourself. Perhaps that time is still to come. Either way, it is for you – those who miss him and those who need a proper introduction – that we present our 8 Questions with Hessah, Assistant General Manager of Royal Chundu and the man behind much of the magic here on our riverbank, below.
1. What do you love most about working at Royal Chundu?
The people I work with and the new people I get to meet from different ends of the world.
2. When did you start working at the lodge?
I fell in love with Royal Chundu the first moment I laid eyes on her… I’ve been here for many years – since 2010 – and that love has only increased.
3. Describe Royal Chundu in three words.
Three words are not enough, however, I’d say, tranquillity, ambience and relaxation. Such is our home on the Zambezi River.
4. What is your greatest memory from your time here?
The tears of joy when guests are saying goodbye and not wanting to leave us…
5. The most bizarre thing that has happened on your watch?
A honeymoon couple who were really scared to find three small ants in their room during their night and wanted to check-out. This is Africa (although you’ll find little insects all over the globe – they are part of the circle of life, aren’t they?), it’s remote and wild and that means there is the odd wild animal, like our hippos and elephants, monkeys and crocodiles, as well as the odd insect. We are a luxury lodge but we live with nature here, that’s the beauty of Royal Chundu.
6. One thing you wish guests knew…?
I wish guests knew that to reach paradise, you have to travel the distance. Royal Chundu sits on its own private waterway of the Zambezi, upstream from the Victoria Falls where the flow is calmer and life more exclusive. It requires a short drive from the airport to reach the lodge, or a quick helicopter flip over the falls and winding Zambezi. It’s the price of paradise and, as we always say, part of the journey.
7. What does your perfect day on the river look like?
It starts with listening to the birds singing on a sunrise cruise on the Zambezi and it ends with the bliss of the river on a sunset cruise. With those two as bookends, everything else in between is golden.
8. What words do you live life by?
“Together we stand” and “Let us by our deeds be judged”.
What our guests have said…
“We changed our itinery twice whilst at the lodge. Hessah and colleagues took on that challenge in their stride,with no fuss,and rearranged our activities with military precision.” – “Wonderful Stay at Royal Chundu”
“From the second we arrived and met Hessah, we were treated with a level of service that I have never before experienced. From the welcome drink to the welcome massage to the greetings from everyone, Royal Chundu tries for perfection and doesn’t miss.” – “Our own private island on the Zambezi”