March turned out to be a busy month around the lodge! We had a lot of guests in camp and the game viewing was out of this world. On the maintenance side, we are continuing work on the thatch roofs around camp. With the vast amounts of rain we had this year, some of the roofs got slightly damaged. The idea is to maintain them regularly, rather than to end up having to redo them completely at a later stage. Everything else has been running smooth around camp, to a point where I decided to do some game drives for a few days. Because we have a high occupancy, our rangers spend most of their six weeks work cycle doing two game drives per day. I always think it’s nice to give one of them off for a few days and this also gives me a chance to reconnect with the bush. In their “off” time they then help out with general maintenance, bush clearing etc. It was great to get into the bush and to see the wild dogs, lions and my favourite leopard, Salayexe. She is still as pretty as always and was seen mating yet again with Tingana. He is massive for his age. I would go as far as to say that he might be even bigger than Tyson, but it is really difficult to say when they’re not standing right next to each other. And that we do not want! We have been seeing two packs of wild dogs, one pack of two and one pack of nine. It is crazy to see them running around, hunting anything that crosses their path. The pack of two struggle a bit more and are not as successful as the pack of nine. But we did see them taking down an impala right in front of our vehicle!
Francois was out on the roads for most of the month, sorting out the areas that still needed to be fixed after the heavy rains in January. We also brought a TLB in to help dig up gravel and fix damaged mitre drains. We have started throwing gravel on the surface of our roads. Gravel holds moisture better and does not wash away as easily. At this stage we are trying to resurface our driveway and some of the game drive roads that have a lot of traffic on them. It is a timely process though. First the gravel needs to be dug up, and then it needs to be transported to the various roads. Afterwards, it needs to be flattened and then we need to spray it with water and roll it in order to compact it. But the end result is looking great and you could see the difference when we received a quick 70mm of rain the other night. Once again, regular maintenance is the answer. Never underestimate the power of water, though! It is shocking to see the amount of ground that it can pick up and wash away. In most afternoon showers, tons of soil gets transported from one area to another. Take for example the January floods. The river beds had dropped in depth over the past few years and a lot of them were overgrown. Now, after the floods, the riverbed has risen in some places by as much three meters and most of the overgrown vegetation has also washed away. Driving in riverbeds while off-roading is still a no go at this stage as the sand is too uneven and there are still massive pools of water in various parts of the riverbeds.
We are waiting for the veld to dry our sufficiently in order to be able to burn firebreaks around the lodge. Because of all the rain we received this year, the vegetation and fuel load is extremely high, making veld fires a greater risk. We will be burning an area to the east of lodge and burning a fire break around the camp. Not on the open area, but mostly on the western side. For people that are not too sure how a firebreak works, I will give you a little more detail. The idea is to burn a section or strip of about 60 meters on the perimeter of you property or around your house or lodge. Burning fire breaks should be done early in the dry season as it’s easier to manage and chances of creating a runaway fire is a lot less. Firebreaks form a protection boundary around your property. If there is a runaway fire somewhere in the bush, the chances of it reaching your property is a lot less as this break also helps easing the fire’s strength as well as speed. For this project we have a whole fire fighting kit and as soon as the grass is sufficiently dry, we will have the go-ahead. Another interesting factor is the other things you need to consider while planning for an ideal day to burn firebreaks. Not only do you need enough manpower, but wind, temperature and even sightings in that surrounding area all play a major role.
On behalf of the Elephant Plains team, we would like to wish the following staff members a happy birth day. We hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May there be many more!
Yoldah celebrated her birthday on the 6th of March. She is the cheerful lady who works magic, being responsible for the entire lodge’s laundry.
Clement celebrated his birthday on the 23rd. He is one of our trackers, always a pleasure to be around, with his knowledge and sense of humour.
Etienne junior celebrated his birthday on the 26th. He is the little man that runs around the lodge – acting as if he’s in charge!
Louis celebrated his birthday on the 28th. Louis has come a far way at EP, from carrying bags during check-in and check-out when he started out as a junior ranger, to being one of the favourite rangers on drive. His laughter can be heard everywhere in camp.
Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!
I now had you over to Chef Roxanne for a delicious dessert recipe.
Dissolve the gelatine in hot water.
Combine the cream, castor sugar and yoghurt in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until smooth and warm.
Add the gelatine and stir until mixed. Do not over-heat, or the yoghurt will curdle.
Remove from the heat.
Pour into eight glasses, cover and refrigerate for about 6 hours, until nicely set.
Boil all the ingredients together until a sauce consistency is reached, blend together and leave to cool.
Place the Panna Cotta onto a plate and then garnish with the Berry Coulis. One can also garnish with fresh mint leaves and Chocolate Cigars.
Serve and enjoy!