October turned out to be another great month at Elephant Plains! We’ve already had some rain, which speeded up the process of the vegetation becoming greener. The trees have all got their bright, brand new cover of leaves for the summer. The grass still need a bit more follow up rains though. But as it is still the beginning of the rainy season, the grass still has plenty of time to grow lush and green. As always during the start of the rainy season, we get some violent thunderstorms with a lot of lighting and little rain. At this time of the year, we run the risk of a lighting strike that could ignite the bush, causing bush fires. After all the noise, we usually only receive a few millimetres of rain. This is just enough to settle the dust, but in the long run, it’s definitely better than nothing! With the ground being slightly damp there is a huge humidity factor present. High humidity levels can quickly become unbearable. But most of our guests love the heat, especially when they have winter temperatures back home. There is nothing like returning from holiday with a golden tan and therefore our guests are making a lot of use of the swimming pools. They are not just for cooling off, though! Both pools have a stunning view of the open area with the waterhole in front of the camp. Sitting in or next to the pool, they get to see a lot of game coming to drink at the waterhole. What more could one ask for? On many days the elephants stand in the dry riverbed just below the rooms and feed for hours, giving our guests the experience of a lifetime, from the privacy of our luxury suites. We also had the wild dogs kill some impala on our open area, which also made for a great sighting!
I was out in the bush myself this month again and boy, did we have some excellent sightings. I drive on special request from return guests. Being a keen photographer myself I would like to share some tips on wildlife photography and cameras. Our guides are all well trained in positioning the vehicles in order for guests to have the best possible viewing opportunities. They also consider the angle of the sun and if only one side of the vehicle has a good view, they would re-position it later on so that the other side can have the same quality sighting. Now, there are some people that have top of the range equipment and yes, they do get beautiful pictures with all the massive lenses and fancy bodies. But if you are not a professional photographer, there are some things to consider when going on holiday. At Elephant Plains we will safely get you up close and personal to the animals. So when you leave here with award winning pictures, you will still be able to brag, even though you might not have the biggest lens on the market. If you still don’t believe me, then have a look on our website at our guest photo gallery. Most of these pictures were taken with average cameras and lenses. If you are in a sighting and not sure what settings would work best, be sure to ask one of our guides, who would be able to help you with the appropriate settings. According to my opinion, rather go for a simple body and try to spend a bit more on the lens. For this, Canon and Nikon have lenses that are ideal for our area and it is all that we use for our photography. Because we get close enough to the animals you need nothing bigger for amateur photography. The one lens form Canon is the 70-300 and the Nikon lens is the 80-200. These are both excellent lenses that make any camera body’s pictures look fantastic. Sigma also has a 70-300 lens that is cheaper than the other two lenses, but with good light you will still get great photos.
We are continuing with our maintenance work on the rooms. Whenever we have a chance, with a room being open for a day or two, we go in, do some spring cleaning, give the decks a coat of varnish and also strip and seal the floors. If all you home owners out there thought that looking after your own house is a tough job, then step aside. Trying to maintain a whole lodge to the highest standard possible is quite another story! Most people think that working out in the bush at a game lodge is a holiday job, where it is all fun and games. But when things go wrong, as they sometimes do, we need to sort it out a.s.a.p. The challenge of this is that the nearest hardware store is about an hour and a half away!
As I have mentioned before, we have three junior rangers working here. Francois and Dawie did their EcoTraining field guide course last year and then came to Elephant Plains for their six month lodge practical. We liked them so much that we employed them full time and next year they will also be able to start guiding. Pieter was our newest EcoTraining recruit and he just finished his six month practical with us. He is now going to Mashatu in Botswana for his final course and then he will also return to Elephant Plains. We are excited to welcome him back on a permanent basis!
We did not have any staff who celebrated their birthdays this month. But we did have a very special lady’s birthday. Mrs Margie Swart celebrated her birthday on the 6th of this month. We truly hope you had a fantastic day and have many more years of happiness, love and fond memories when visiting Elephant Plains.
Chef Roxanne shares her delicious Tipsy Tart, an all-time favourite.
Boil all the ingredients together and then pour over the baked tarts.
Whisk the cream to stiff peaks and then fold in the brandy. Garnish the tarts.
Serve and enjoy!
Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!