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!