With the seasons slowly changing, we greeted July with a smile, knowing that we are slowly moving towards spring. The landscape is still dry and pale brown, but there is nothing quite as beautiful as the bright colours we have around the lodge as all the aloes are decorated with bunches of yellow and orange flowers. The bougainvillea bushes are also wearing their flower coats which you can see from a distance away. Now that most firebreaks have been burnt, it will not be too long before new green grass will appear from the black blanket covering the areas, where just a few weeks ago, there was just a pale brown landscape. This was a typical bush winter month with cold early mornings and evenings, but pleasant daytime temperatures. We also had two cold fronts, which surprised us with very chilly temperatures.
The cold days did not stop the game viewing though. This month must have been one of the most exciting ones with all the breathtaking sightings we had. From wild dog puppies to a quadruple standoff on our open area late one afternoon with a leopard, elephants, wild dogs and hyena’s – all chasing each other around right in front of the lodge. Morné will tell you more about all of this though!
Those of you, who have visited the lodge before, would be familiar with all the wooden decks we have around the main area and rooms. These wooden floors cover a big area around the lodge and because they are exposed to all the natural elements, they need to be treated frequently. Our maintenance team has done a wonderful job this month, giving the decks a brand new coat of fresh varnish to protect the wood against the harsh summer sun and rains.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Winter months are very popular for photography because the bush is not very dense, which makes viewing animals a bit easier than in the summer months. We had a great amount of photographers at the lodge this month. Some came in groups, others on their own and some of them were return guests as well. I hope you all enjoyed your stay with us and that you got that 1 in a million wildlife shot! Our rangers enjoy having photographers out on game drive, as they also share this passion and strive to give each person the best possible view of the animals to ensure that perfect shot. Thank you to all our guides for taking such special care of our guests during game drive!
Every month, there is a big debate on where the best place would be to place the trapcam. This month, the rangers decided that, for a change, they would place the Trapcam along our access road, hoping to see more than just vehicles arriving and departing. The pictures were downloaded and it was a big surprise when they came across something they would never have thought to catch during the day, a honey badger!
July is a very busy “staff birthday” month at the lodge. On the 24th, our head chef Linda shared her special day with one of our rangers, Dawie. Both Dawie and Linda have been well known at the lodge for the past few years and I am sure they enjoyed another special birthday at the lodge. On the 26th Eummy celebrated her special day. Eummy is part of our very hard working housekeeping team and always carries a smile on her face. The 29th was a special day for our newest ranger, Jonathan, who celebrated his 1st birthday as part of the Elephant Plains team. Jonathan joined our team in the beginning of June 2014, but it already feels as if we have known him for years! Last on the list for July was Busi, whose birthday was on the 30th. Busi is also one of our housekeepers and with her bubbly personality there is never a dull moment. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during July, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter.
During the winter, there is no better comfort food than cake to fight of the winter cold. Luckily for us, our head chef, Linda, is sharing the recipe for the delicious Peppermint Crisp Cupcakes. Get those mixing bowls ready, you will not regret it!
(Makes 12 cupcakes)
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line muffin trays with cupcake cups.
Combine all the dry ingredients with the butter until it resembles a sandy consistency. Mix in the eggs, milk and vanilla. The mixture should be smooth, but make sure not to over mix the batter. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the trays for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the topping.
Whip the cream until it’s stiff, then stir in the caramel treat and the finely chopped chocolate. Leave in a refrigerator for 2 hours to set completely. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes and garnish with chocolate art.
Serve and enjoy!
All the best till next month!