The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see all four Majingilane male lions resting on Ingwe open area.
Monday, 14 April 2014
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Thursday, 17 April 2014
Friday, 18 April 2014
Saturday, 19 April 2014
Sunday, 20 April 2014
Well!! It happened for the fourth time in a row. But with the exception of this year not taking place during January, but March instead! I am sure you must know what I am about to say? Yes, you are right… It flooded once again! We sat around the breakfast table a while back and commented that at least it did not flood this year… Well, me and my big mouth! Less than a week later the heavens opened, thumping tons of water down on us. It started to rain the night of the 4th until six the following morning. Peter and I went to go have a look at 23:30 to see what the level of the river would be like at the fence line. Only raining for a few hours, I thought we would be looking at something not too serious, but as we turned off the driveway I had that familiar “once a year feeling” in the pit of my stomach and I knew what to expect. There, without disappointment, it was! The dry Manyeleti riverbed was indeed a raging monster and at its widest, it was estimated to be about 250m at one stage. Something we were very grateful for was that no serious damage was done to the lodge by the floodwaters, even though the open area in front of the lodge was completely flooded and resembled an ocean – quite a beautiful sight indeed! Guests that needed to urgently leave the camp were evacuated with a helicopter and others chose to stay a day or two longer. Thank you for everyone’s patience in this regard. Natural disasters are something completely beyond our control!
We had a busy month trying to repair all the roads that were damaged by the floods and getting the lodge grounds back to gorgeous, but thanks to our wonderful team we managed to do this in record time. Hendrik, our new maintenance manager spent hours on the tractor, grading and fixing the roads. Luckily, because we do a lot of maintenance work on the roads on a regular basis, the damage was not too bad and we could fix it without too many hassles. Some of the roads are still too wet to work on and we will have to wait for the ground to dry out more before attempting to fix it. It is amazing to see how wet some of the roads still are, even a month after the rains. Rainwater is still seeping out of the ground, which just shows you how saturated it is. At least it is positive to know that our underwater reserves are full – especially going into the dry, winter months.
As mentioned last month, I was doing game drives for two weeks while Morné’s knee was mending. It was great to be out for a whole two weeks and to get to know all the new animal faces in the bush. There are days when the rangers come back from drive and talk about specific animals that I haven’t seen before, like for instance, a new leopard in the area. It was wonderful to see them all for myself. Driving in these wet conditions does keep us on our toes and sometimes off-roading is impossible in certain wet areas. But saying that, we still had amazing sightings during the month! This included male lions, females and cubs. The one morning we had the Breakaway pride on our airstrip with two kills, one being a small zebra and the other a giraffe. We had 11 wild dogs running around the lodge, plus mating leopards! All I can say is that it was out of this world!
While mentioning Morné, I am glad to report that all went well with his knee operation. He is able to walk without crutches now and will be back in the saddle for game drives from the 1st of April. It’s amazing what wonders modern technology can do these days. If you look at his knee, it only has two or three small cuts. Back in the day, he would have had a massive scar!
To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope that you had a fantastic day, filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more happy and joyful days! We had three people at lodge who celebrated their birthdays. The first to celebrate her birthday on the 6th was Yoldah. She is one of the ladies that work very hard in the luxury chalets. She has been with us for many years and I hope that the lodge will be able to see her smiling face for many more years to come. On the 26th Etienne junior celebrated his big day. We still get to see the little man on weekends and school holidays, as he now stays in Nelspruit where he is attending school during the week. I do hope you had a great day with all your friends. Then on the 28th Louis celebrated his special day. If you have been here on safari, you will definitely know Louis. He is an amazing guide and no matter what side of the lodge you are, you can hear his loud laughter from a mile away. I hope all of you had fantastic birthdays!
This month we decided to place the web cam at Kraaines while the Breakaway pride had the two kills next to the airstrip, but instead of seeing lions coming to drink water, we were surprised by a blue wildebeest herd instead…
Now! I have said many goodbyes to staff members in the past and the time has come for me to say my own goodbyes to Elephant Plains and the people that were my family for nine years. As much as I love the bush and Elephant Plains, I have a lovely lady called Celeste and a beautiful son named Noah, who is waiting for me at home with arms wide open. As mentioned before, being in the industry for nearly 14 years has been nothing less than amazing, but the time has come for me to be closer to my family; those people who would love for me to be a part of their lives and to be with them every day. I would just like to thank Elephant Plains for all the years of good fun and laughter. I can at least leave here with a smile on my face, knowing that the staff members that remain behind will look after Elephant Plains, as if it is their own. Being part of a lodge that has been continuously growing and bettering itself, has left me with great work experience. I would like to thank Etienne and Marlet for the opportunity to run the lodge for nearly four years. I am confident that Tersia Fouché, who has been appointed as new manager, will have some fresh and exciting new ideas to take the lodge to an even higher standard. Elephant Plains, you will always hold a very special place in my heart. You are a special bunch of people that can make the impossible possible! It has been a pleasure working alongside every single one of you. I hope that you will have many more happy years here at Elephant Plains – you all rocked my world! I am very excited to take on a new chapter in my life and to be close to the two people that I love very much.
I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda van Heerden, for her mouth watering recipe of the month: Raisin Bread. It’s the best bread ever while fresh and steaming hot, served with lots and lots of butter.
1 cup warm water
¼ cup Sugar
2 ½ cups Flour 10g dry Yeast
1 tsp Cinnamon powder
½ tsp Coriander powder
½ tsp Nutmeg powder
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Raisins
3 tbsp mixed Poppy Seeds and Sesame Seeds
1 Egg yolk
1 tbsp Milk
Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, spices and seeds and then add the warm water, adding a little more if the mixture is too dry. Knead until you have an elastic dough and allow to rise. Knock down, then shape into a log and place in the loaf pan. Allow to rise for 15 more minutes. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 25 – 30 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped.
Serve with butter and enjoy!
Well! This is a final “that’s all from my side” at the beautiful Elephant Plains Game Lodge. Keep posted for next month’s report, from our new manager Tersia Fouché. From now on she will share all the amazing and wonderful adventures that still lie ahead for the lodge… Have a good one!
This month was once again full of surprises, action and so much more! We really had a lot of rain, 365mm in total, which resulted in some massive flooding that was quite uncommon for this time of the year. All this water made driving both on and off the roads somewhat of a challenge, but that did not stop us from going out and enjoying some very good sightings. The average maximum temperature was 30 °C. The game viewing was very good overall, as we were once again fortunate to see the wild dogs and have them hunting in our area for a few days.
With regards to the leopards, sightings were very good, but there was also a twist that shocked all of us. Let’s first start off with our resident female leopard, Salayexe. Last month I mentioned that she was looking for a safe den site for her little ones. Well, when we saw her this month it looked like she had become a mother again, as we could see that she has suckle marks. Now we need to keep our fingers crossed that this will be the litter of cubs that Salayexe raises to adulthood. Shadow, the female leopard, shocked all of us after she started mating with Mvula again. We all immediately feared the worse and we were unsure if the little cubs were still alive or dead, but it really did not look good for this little female. Weeks later the guys followed her tracks again and then suddenly there it was on the ground: two sets of tiny cub tracks, together with Shadow’s tracks! It’s now confirmed that both cubs are still alive. More good news is that it looks like Nsele, daughter of Salayexe, also has cubs. After being really under the radar the last month or two, she decided that it was time for a visit. We could clearly see her suckle marks. We are so excited and can’t wait to see the cubs! We are not sure how old her cubs are, as she gave us the slip for a few months. Moya also came out to say hello and we were lucky enough to see her a few times this month. Although we did not see her as often as we would have liked, she still looks very healthy and is still as beautiful as always. We also saw Thandi and Bahuti a few times this last month. I must say that these two are really looking good and healthy. Kurula and her two youngsters are also going strong and it really looks like she will continue with her 100% record in raising all her cubs to adulthood. Kurula is a really good mother and she is slowly starting with the weaning process as she leaves her cubs alone for longer periods than usual. The young Robson’s male leopard is still trying his luck in getting a piece of Lamula’s territory, as he is still in the area, marking his territory. Lamula is really looking good and it looks like he is now at the top of his game as he is growing more and more each day. It is just a matter of time before these two males will meet somewhere along the road. The Anderson’s male was also out and about. He still looks very impressive and healthy. He still moves more east, as he is slowly but surely creeping into Tingana’s territory, just staying on the outskirts of the area. Tingana was once again the star as we saw him a lot this last month, moving all over and marking his territory from back to front. Mvula was also seen a few times, moving through the area and also mating with Shadow. He is still a magnificent leopard.
What an awesome month! As far as lion sightings goes, we could not ask for better! We were really spoiled with the four lionesses of the Breakaway pride and their nine cubs, as they had two kills on our airstrip and they stayed there for a few days. These four ladies need to hunt on a regular basis, as they have a lot of mouths to feed with the growing youngsters. It is wonderful to see that this pride is still together and this just shows that these four females are extremely good mothers. The little cubs are growing up very fast and they are really looking gorgeous and very healthy. Then it brings us to the Styx pride, which had more misfortune this month, as they lost the younger cubs. We think they got killed by another pride. After the loss of the youngest cubs, they brought the three older cubs more in a westerly direction, away from the danger. The little cubs are so cute and don’t have a care in the world. All they want to do is play with anything that they can find. I really hope and keep my fingers crossed that these three little cubs will one day grow up and reach adulthood so that the pride can grow in numbers. With all the lion sightings this month, there was still room for more, as we also had the Fourway pride in our area for a few days. We also had a few wonderful sightings of three of the Majingi male lions, as they had a young buffalo kill in the area. It was so nice to see these big boys doing their thing as dominant males of this area. It is always nice to see a familiar face that you haven’t seen for some time and what a treat it was to see the familiar face of Solo, the male lion. Solo is the son of the late BB, the tailless lioness of the Tsalala pride. It was really nice to see him and I still can’t believe that he changed into this beautiful full maned king of the bush. For this nomad, it is not the best area to be in, as it is occupied by a very strong coalition of males. Solo had a companion, but no one has seen him for some time now. It might be that these two males were pressured by other males and that made them move north to our area.
We were very fortunate with the buffalo sightings this month as we saw a very nice herd of about 150-200 animals that gracefully moved through our area. The herd had quite a number of small, as well as bigger calves. With all this rain that we had during the month, there is an abundance of food and water available for these nice big breeding herds. Being bulk grazers, the buffalo herds needs a lot of food to feed all of the herd members. The big herds will not stay in one specific area for very long, as they get driven by food and water. In doing so, the big herds can be very destructive when moving through a specific area as there can be up to 2000 animals in a very large herd. This can cause them to trample the majority of the grass in a specific area. With all this water everywhere in the bush, our old dagga boys did not need to frequent the waterholes as much as they normally would, but we still got to see a few of them around.
This month was absolutely great for elephant sightings. The majority of the herds that we saw had a few small babies and youngsters in them. This is a good sign and it shows that the herd is doing well. It is normally the small elephants that make for a spectacular sighting, as they always mock charge the vehicles and also try to be as fearless as their parents, although this never quite works… An elephant has a very long childhood and they have a lot to learn during this period. That is normally why they think they can take on the world. From the time that the little ones are born, they are the center of all the attention. These little ones will also be completely dependent on their mothers or older sisters, aunties or grandmothers to teach them everything they would need to know, while growing up to being an adult.
The special sighting this month was definitely the surprise visit of Solo, the male lion. The last time we saw him, he was a young sub adult, walking around with his mother BB, the legendary tailless lioness of the Tsalala pride… That was around six years ago. It was great to see him all grown up, into an impressive, big maned lion! Well done, Solo.
Did you know?
A male lion will stay with the pride till around the age of three years, before he will be kicked out by his own father.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s report. See you out on game drive soon!
The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the 3 Styx lion pride cubs playing around in the rain.
Monday, 7 April 2014
Tuesday, 8 April 2014
Wednesday, 9 April 2014
Thursday, 10 April 2014
(27ºC, 11mm rain)
Friday, 11 April 2014
Saturday, 12 April 2014
Sunday, 13 April 2014
Where does aromatherapy oil come from?
Aromatherapy oils are produced by deriving natural oils from different parts of plants. During this process, steam is used to break down the plant cells that carry the oil. The oil and steam are moved to a cooling chamber, where they are separated, resulting in the capture of specific essential oils. Essential oils contain the true essence of the plant it was derived from and have a lot of healing properties. Some of these include the ability to soothe sunburn and aching muscles. It is also known to relieve some forms of anxiety and it can even be used as an antiseptic.
Let’s take a look at five essential oils that are especially handy to keep in your home:
Lavender aroma has the most amazing smell. It is also the most versatile of all essential oils. Lavender oil has a light, fresh aroma. It is clear in colour and watery in viscosity. Lavender oils have lots of healing properties. It can help with various ailments, ranging from antiseptic to anti-depressant, as it also has a calming effect. It can help with tension relieve, as well as headaches and migraines. Lavender is also very beneficial for problems like asthma, colds, nausea and vomiting. Using lavender on the skin can help relieve sunburn, lice, acne, burns and insect bites.
Home care advice:
1. Add between 2 – 3 drops of lavender oil to your bath. This will help you relax and sleep better at night.
2. You can also use 2 drops of pure lavender oil, together with 5 drops of diluted lavender oil. Rub this mixture in circular movements on your temple area to help relieve headaches and migraines.
Peppermint oil has a very stimulating, yet soothing aroma. I like to call it “Mother Nature’s Icy Hot” due to its main element, menthol. Both peppermint essential oils and peppermint tea have wonderful properties. It’s used to soothe nausea and other stomach ailments, to perk the senses before a long meeting and to cool overworked muscles (thanks to the menthol). Peppermint also helps to clear congestion, relief headaches and tackle PMS symptoms. Peppermint oils are also very good for jetlag, aching feet and sunburn. If you apply a small amount of peppermint oil around the back of the head, just below the skull, it will help release headaches. Peppermint tea is a good remedy for heartburn, indigestion and stomach cramps.
Home care advice:
1. Massage 2-3 drops (along with carrier oil) onto your chest, or drop into a humidifier to help clear sinus and lung congestion.
2. If your head is feeling stuffed, or you can’t stop coughing, try a peppermint essential oil steam. Pour boiling water into a metal or glass bowl and add a few drops of essential oil (Eucalyptus and Rosemary are good combinations with peppermint). Drape a towel over your head and position your face 20-30 centimetres above the bowl, while breathing in the steam.
3. For jetlag and nausea, you can inhale 3 drops of pure essential oil from a tissue. You can also add 4 drops, diluted in a little grape seed oil, to a warm bath. This will revive you from jetlag.
Eucalyptus essential oil is obtained from the fresh leaves of the tall, evergreen Eucalyptus Tree. This oil has a very fresh and clean aroma. Eucalyptus essential oil is colourless and has a distinctive taste and odour. Eucalyptus essential oil has antiseptic properties because of its germicidal quality. Eucalyptus oil is used for healing scars, burns and sores. It is also used for treating fever and reducing body temperature.
Home care advice:
1. Add 3-5 drops to warm water and soak sore, tired feet.
2. Place a few drops on a cloth to remove stubborn stickers.
3. Combine 12 drops with 1/3 cup of Aveda Aqua Therapy Bath Salts for a spa-quality bath.
4. Blend 1-3 drops with 1 tsp. sweet almond oil and rub on your chest. Relax and inhale…
5. Use in a candle lamp diffuser to generate a positive, energizing space.
6. Add 2 drops to 1 cup water; pour onto the hot rocks in a sauna. Breathe deeply.
7. Use in a diffuser near your bedside for clear breathing. Now, get some rest!
8. Place 2-5 drops on the shower floor for an invigorating shower experience.
9. Place 2-5 drops in bowl of steaming water, place a towel over your head and breathe deeply.
This essential oil is produced by steaming the flower top. The oil is a colourless to pale yellow liquid. The name rosemary comes from the Latin word rose marinus, meaning “dew of the sea”, due to the fact that it originally grew along the Mediterranean coastline. Its delightfully stimulating aroma is best enjoyed in warm sunshine.
Rosemary has an impressive healing property and also helps with your nerves. Rosemary has always been known for improving mind capacity and memory.
Home care advice:
1. Rosemary Foot Bath: Add 2 drops of pure rosemary oil and 2 drops of pure camomile oil to 15ml vinegar cider. Stir into a foot spa and sit back and enjoy. This will help those tired feet.
2. Use the following for your dry hair problem: 20ml extra virgin oil, 10ml diluted rosemary oil, 2 drops pure camomile, 1 drop pure lavender oil and 2 capsules evening primrose oil. Smooth the mixture into your hair for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water. This treatment will help with dandruff and deeply condition your hair.
Is an essential oil with a fresh camphoraceous odour and a colour that ranges from pale yellow to nearly colourless and clear. Tea tree oil is derived from the evergreen leaves, known for its healing and disinfecting properties. Tea tree oil can treat anything from acne and dandruff, to nail and sinus infections. It can also be used as a laundry detergent and an antiseptic household spray.
Home Care advice:
1. Use 2 drops of pure tea tree oil in a bowl of cool water to help with wounds, spots and itchy skin.
2. For that cold, sinus and chest infection, add two drops into a steaming hot water bowl, cover your head and inhale deep for at least 5- 10 min.
Make sure that you only purchase and use 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. You should also dilute essential oils. You can dilute them with carrier oils or water, depending on what you are using it for. If you have any health concerns, please consult with your personal physician before using essential oils.
The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Styx lion pride drinking water north of 2nd Windmill Pan
Monday, 31 March 2014
(28ºC, 14mm rain)
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
Thursday, 3 April 2014
Friday, 4 April 2014
Saturday, 5 April 2014
Sunday, 6 April 2014