Elephant Plains Game Lodge
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Manager’s Report April 2013

WILD PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Elephants drinking water - by Louis Liversage

Elephants drinking water - by Louis Liversage

It’s raining again, but this time it’s raining leaves! Summer is slowly disappearing, as autumn starts to take command. The vegetation is now taking on a whole new colour. No more bright greens can be seen, just yellows and browns, with some of the leaves also turning red. What a beautiful sight! With autumn comes the colder mornings and evenings, but being in the Lowveld, the temperatures are nothing compared to some other places in South Africa. In our area, the temperature mainly drops to around 3-5°C. The late morning temperatures rise again to between 18-25°C. So the temperatures are still comfortable in winter time. Our guests have been treated to some great game viewing this past month. It’s not just the guests that endure getting up for the early morning game drives that get rewarded with great sightings, though. Sometimes guests that decide to sleep in are also spoiled with great sightings right on their doorstep. Twice this past month we had wild dogs chasing bushbuck around the open area in front of the Luxury Suites. Then the other morning we had hyenas making a kill on the flood plain, right in front of Zebra Suite. Whilst enjoying our lunch the other day, we were all entertained by a massive bull elephant playing around in the riverbed. Even though having a meal at the coast whilst staring at the deep blue sea is great, nothing beats lunches in the bush with wild animals coming to drink water, grazing lazily or even chasing each other around. Seeing all the day to day wonders that nature has to offer is what roots you to the bush. What a blessing!

Please remember to share your photographs of your EP holiday with us. You can send them to photo@elephantplains.co.za

Sunrise at Big Dam - by Dawie Jacobs

Sunrise at Big Dam - by Dawie Jacobs

A lot of readers that follow our weekly sightings have asked for a map to indicate our traversing area in order to better understand the movements of the animals. We have loaded a map of our western traversing area onto the website and as soon as a map of the eastern area becomes available, we will also supply this. This map includes the following properties: Elephant Plains, Simbambili, Arathusa Safari and Arathusa Private. You can view the map at the bottom of our Game Drives and Bush Walks page.

Once again it has come to that time of the year when Etienne, Marlet, Tersia and I, make the long journey down to Durban. You might ask why? Well, it is Indaba Tourism Show time again. Can you believe it? It doesn’t feel as if a year has passed since the previous one. We are all very excited to get down there and get the ball rolling. I know I’ve mentioned this on previous reports, but for those of you who are not sure what Indaba is I’ll briefly explain. It’s Africa’s biggest tourism marketing expo, where all the role players in the industry come together under one roof to market their products. Anything from accommodation, tour operators, tourism service providers etc. exhibit at the show. It’s amazing to see the amount of work that goes into building the stalls. Some of them are double storey, or have amazing artwork done to them. Some lodges even go as far as setting up their stands to replicate the actual lodge. For most of the year, we are in contact with our agents over the phone and via e-mails. Indaba gives us the opportunity to meet with them in person, discuss new opportunities and to make new plans for the future. We also get to meet new, upcoming agents and explore different travelling markets. It is exciting to have the opportunity to be part of this. For our agents receiving this newsletter, our stand will be situated in the DEC building, number B07. Please drop in and say hello if we do not already have an appointment scheduled with you.

Trapcam photo of the month - Salayexe and her cub

Trapcam photo of the month - Salayexe and her cub

We have been waiting a long time to get Wi-Fi activated at the lodge. Over the last few years, we have tried installing it on a number of occasions. But on most attempts we always used to hit a glitch somewhere in the system. John Oliver, the same gentleman that got Africam at the lodge going, was staying at the lodge for over a week. He worked the whole day and late into every night, in order to make sure that all the settings and connections were correct. After all this hard work, we were able to pull it off. With all the ups and downs I am now glad to report that at long last, we have Wi-Fi hotspots around the lodge. Being out in the bush makes it difficult to have technology on your doorstep. But we’ve managed to overcome those problems and I am sure all our guests would be super excited with this new addition.

The search for a new Spa therapist proved to be quite a challenge, but after a fair amount of interviews, I am glad to say that we’ve found the perfect lady! Her name is Evelyn Viet. She is from the Cape and has a very bubbly personality. Another plus is that she can actually speak French, something that comes in very handy in the lodge industry. Her first day kicked off with a bang and she was fully booked in a matter of minutes. As the saying goes, throw them in at the deep end! By the end of the day she knew her new workplace inside out. The Spa has had its busiest month since we opened its doors and we are looking forward to Eve enjoying a long and happy career at Elephant Plains!

Salayexe and her cub - by Morné Fouché

Salayexe and her cub - by Morné Fouché

To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more joyful days to come! This month we had a lot of birthdays at the lodge. Simon was the first to celebrate his birthday on the 3rd. He is the guy who looks after the gardens around the Rondavels. He takes a lot of pride in his job and you will usually find him working the ground with a smile on his face. Mohamed also celebrated his birthday on the 3rd. He is the friendly face that you will see around the main area. He doubles up as a barman / waiter and his friendly chatter entertains all our guests. Then Etienne celebrated his big day on the 13th. Etienne has taken Elephant Plains under his wing for the past 15 years and made it grow into the wonderful lodge it is today. On the 18th Janine had her birthday. Janine is one of the ladies you will meet first when arriving at lodge, as she works the front desk. So, on your next trip to Elephant Plains, the lady who welcomes you with an ice cold welcome drink and a big smile would be Janine. She treated us all with a lovely birthday cake – one of the big reasons we all get excited when her birthday is around the corner. On the 30th Joyce, one of our cleaning ladies, celebrated her birthday. Joyce also loves babysitting our younger guests, so many of you will know her personally as she often looks after the babies when their parents go on game drive. I trust that you all had very good birthdays, and hope you will spent many more here at EP!

I now hand you over to our head chef, Linda Van Heerden, for the very delicious recipe of the month. For those of you with a serious sweet tooth, you’ll be in for a treat with her Millionaire’s Squares.

Millionaire's Squares

Millionaire's Squares

Millionaire’s Squares

(Makes 24)

  • 560g Plain Flour
  • 220g Castor Sugar
  • 340g Butter, melted
  • 3 tins Caramelized Condensed Milk
  • 400g Dark Chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix the flour and sugar. Add the melted butter, until it starts coming together. Press into a greased baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes. Spread the caramelized condensed milk over the biscuit and bake for another +- 10 minutes, until the caramel has bubbled up a bit. Allow to cool. Cut into slices and set aside. Melt the chocolate and allow it to cool slightly, spread thinly over the caramelized layer. Serve and enjoy!

Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!

Wayne Dovey


Manager’s Report March 2013

WILD PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Salayexe's cub - by Dawie Jacobs

Salayexe's cub - by Dawie Jacobs

I think I can safely say that the summer’s heat is over and that autumn is arriving. It’s strange how it never feels as though the seasons are changing, until one day you realize that it’s already dark by six o’clock in the evening. On drive in the mornings, the rangers always wear short sleeves during summertime and then out of the blue one morning, it’s pretty cold. The vegetation is still green though and we’ve had loads of wonderful sightings.  We are already seeing a lot more elephants drinking in front of camp as all the pools of water in the bush have dried up, forcing the animals to use the waterholes now. So life is just that little bit easier, as on game drive the rangers often find animals at, or at least close, to the waterholes. With the cats, however, there is still a lot of tracking involved, because on most days the big cats enjoy resting in very dense vegetation. The art of tracking is amazing. There have been times when I tracked with our trackers and I truly got blown away by the manner in which they are able to continue following tracks, especially if they go through thick vegetation or over very hard ground. For the untrained eye it’s very hard to spot the track, but as for our guys, well it’s another story. You see them take their foot and mark the back of the track and move on, until you start thinking there is no way we are going to find this animal… All of a sudden you’ll get the hand signal to stop, and right there in front of your eyes would be the animal you have been following. Mind blowing indeed!

A lot of guests always ask what time of the year is not too busy for us. To tell you the truth, we don’t really have a low season. We are always running at a fairly high occupancy, regardless of it being summer or winter. Being a 24 bed camp is a very comfortable number of guests to have. Having such a small amount of people, you get to interact with everyone. Guests are not just a number that come and go and are forgotten. We’ve had guests that have returned from last being with us in 2005 and I still remember them. That’s what makes a small camp great! All the guests were very happy with the sightings that they got to view this month. Salayexe and her cub had a few kills right next door to the camp. The one Breakaway Tsalala lioness has been seen moving around the front of the rooms in the dry river bed. We suspect that she is hiding her newborn cub in the lush thickets of the dry river bed. So our guests are spending a lot of time on their viewing decks, trying to get a glimpse of them.

Female cheetah and two cubs - Dawie Jacobs

Female cheetah and two cubs - Dawie Jacobs

We’ve welcomed Devon Becker as our new ranger this month. He is doing very well and has quickly learned all the game drive roads in our traversing area. The truth is that learning the roads in our traversing area can be quite tricky. There are no high mountains to use as a land marks. But after a few drives you start getting used to some of the main roads in the reserve. A ranger needs at least 20 drives to get used to the roads, so you can’t just give a ranger a map and guests and say “enjoy!” What also helps is the fact that our trackers know the roads very well, so even if a new ranger still forgets the name of a certain road, his tracker would be able to help him out.  A funny story a few years ago with one of the other lodges in the north, was that the new ranger drove together with a new tracker so they were still unsure of all the roads. They found a leopard on their first game drive, and it was indeed the first leopard that this ranger ever saw in the wild. Being super excited seeing his first leopard and being the one who found it, he screamed over the radio that he had found a leopard. We all thought this to be great news and asked if we could join his leopard sighting. Well! He had absolutely no idea where he was, so this made life a little interesting. We all had a good chuckle and went out not to find animals, but to find the lost ranger with his amazing leopard sighting. We did find him after a short time later and enjoyed a great sighting. The best part of it all was that the ranger did not feel embarrassed about his situation, he was just very proud as he found one of Africa’s most beautiful cats. I sat and watched his excitement and it reminded all of us in the sighting why we love being in the bush so much.

Trapcam photo of the month - Nyala and Vervet Monkey

Trapcam photo of the month - Nyala and Vervet Monkey

Dawie is now doing game drives permanently at Elephant Plains and he has already received a lot of compliments. Dawie has been with us for just over two and a half years now, and in that time he went on game drives with the other rangers, plus did a lot of work on the roads. Doing road maintenance means that you literally get to know the roads like the back of your hand. Mostly when we are doing road clearing, it involves cutting overhanging branches that end up brushing up against the side of the vehicle. You walk up and down all the roads for days on end. So by the time you are finished with the maintenance, you know exactly where every rock and special tree on that road is.

Some of our rangers did their Advanced Rifle Shooting this month. The entire exercise is very nerve racking, yet exciting at the same time. It consists of having to load your rifle with five rounds then unload the rifle, blind folded. You then shoot a target on your own time at fifteen meters. The following drill is to shoot one shot in the bull’s eye at fifteen meters, then ten and lastly at five meters. Then it starts to get difficult, you do a whole lot of speed shooting. The shooting part is fine; it’s remembering the whole sequence that you need to perform that makes it tricky. Then the last shoot is a picture of a life sized lion dragged on wheels to simulate a real charge down by a lion. It is very difficult, but as long as you think through the whole charge quickly in your head you should do fine. It is important to be confident with your shooting, as you might need this skill anytime when out in the bush.

Rhino horn treatment - Dawie Jacobs

Rhino horn treatment - Dawie Jacobs

On the 27th of this month we had the privilege to be part of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin’s anti-poaching initiative. The Sabi Sand, in an effort to fight the high incidence rate of rhino poaching in South Africa, has decided to make use of the services of the Rhino Rescue Project. The rhino’s horn is treated by infusing it with a compound made up of depot ectoparasiticides and inedible dye. This contaminates the horn and makes it useless for ornamental and medicinal use.  The treatment, however, has no adverse effects on the rhino itself.  The rhino was treated on Elephant Plains and we got to witness the process, which was an amazing experience. Etienne and Marlet Swart have decided to sponsor another treatment as these are entirely dependent on fundraising. The Elephant Plains rangers have also decided to take initiative in holding a fund raiser between themselves and other rangers in our area, in order to sponsor another rhino. This is a project very close to our hearts and we would like to do everything in our power to ensure the future of our beautiful rhinos. If any of our readers are interested to join the initiative by sponsoring funds for the future of rhinos at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, as well as the rest of the Sabi Sand, please feel free to contact Marlet Swart for more information: marlet@elephantplains.co.za.

To all our guests that celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more joyful days! We had a busy month with all the birthdays at lodge. Yoldah celebrated her big day on the 6th. You will rarely see Yoldah as she is hard at work in the laundry. She manages the laundry, with the help of her four best friends, the Speed Queen machines. She is a very delightful person that always has a smile on her face. I take my hat off to her for the amount of laundry she does on a daily basis. Sidness had her birthday on the 23rd. She works at Etienne and Marlet’s house and also helps look after the very energetic little man, Etienne junior. Clement, one of our trackers, also celebrated his birthday on the 23rd. Just goes to show you how time flies, Etienne junior turned five on the 26th. The little man is starting to grow up very fast indeed. Last but not least Louis celebrated his birthday on the 28th of this month. I am very proud of Louis. He started at the lodge as a junior ranger and five years later he is our new assistant Head Ranger. He has come a very long way in the past few years. Well done Louis! Just shows you what hard work and determination can achieve.

I now hand you over to our Head Chef Linda Van Heerden, for the delicious recipe of the month.

This month’s recipe is an Herbed Cucumber Salad, a fresh addition to any meal.

Herbed Cucumber Salad

Makes 8 side servings

Recipe of the month - Herbed Cucumber Salad

Recipe of the month - Herbed Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 31.5 ml Low-fat Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Dill, coarsely chopped
  • ½ tbsp Parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • ½ tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp Mint, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ tsp Sugar
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • ¼ tsp Crushed Garlic
  • 2 ½ cups Cucumber, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 cup Red Onion, sliced

Preparation

Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs. Combine the cucumber and onion, drizzle with the yogurt mixture. Toss to coat. Arrange on a serving platter and serve cold.

Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!

Wayne Dovey


Manager’s Report February 2013

WILD PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Wild photo of the month by Jacqueline and Ronald Boevé, The Netherlands

by Jacqueline and Ronald Boevé, The Netherlands

The month was a very short, but productive one, with the lodge being very busy and game viewing being out of this world!  The guys saw the wild dogs on our open area a few times and also had a lot of lion sightings. The Tsalala Breakaway Pride has been moving around the airstrip and the driveway on a regular basis. Hearing the lions calling at night close to camp has been great. People always think that it’s a sound you get used to after living in the bush for a while, but that is not true at all. Every time I hear the deep roar of a male lion, it gives me goose bumps. Hearing the sounds of the African bush is what keeps reminding you why you are here and not out there in the concrete jungle with cars and sirens, continually buzzing in your ears. Sometimes you might hear people talking about the three ultimate sounds of the African bush. Well, of course it’s the male lion at the top of the list, second would have to be the African Fish Eagle and thirdly the hippopotamus. Another amazing sound to hear at night is the spotted hyena, especially when they are feeding, giving off laughing sounds that pierce through the African night. Also don’t forget the low grunts that remind you a leopard is walking past nearby. One interesting sound that one can hear during the heat of the day is the very loud buzzing sound of a Cicada. As the heat of the day intensifies, so does the volume of the male Cicada.

Majingi male - by Morné Fouché

Majingi male - by Morné Fouché

The main entrance to the lodge is now looking very impressive as the area around the entrance and fountain is now a beautiful circularly paved area. There is now proper drainage for water racing down from the airstrip’s side and we believe that this project has been a great addition to the lodge.

This is the last month of working at EP for Richard, as he will be joining Roxanne in Dullstroom to run their new restaurant. We wish him all the best and hope it will be a great success. We have been very busy doing interviews and searching for the right candidates to replace the two ranger’s positions, as well as the spa therapist. One of our new rangers will be Devon Becker. For the past couple of years he has been working as a trails guide for Eco Training. We are looking forward to welcoming him onto the team. We have decided to offer the other rangers position to Dawie Jacobs. For the past two years Dawie has been working as a junior ranger at EP, learning the ins and outs of the industry. We believe that through hard work and determination, he has proven himself to be a valuable staff member and we are looking forward to watching his career as a fulltime ranger unfold at Elephant Plains.

Trapcam photo of the month - Elephant

Trapcam photo of the month - Elephant

To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more happy and joyful days! At lodge itself, we had a number of people celebrating their birthdays. Morné celebrated his birthday on the 1st. Morné is our Head Ranger. You should all know him as he writes all the Rangers Reports. I have been teased by the staff for the past three years after turning 30. Well, now I am glad to say, we have a new member in the 30 + club. I would like to be the first to welcome Morné Fouché to our elite group! Derrick celebrated his birthday on the 2nd. Derrick is Morné’s tracker. He is one of the old school trackers as his whole life has been spent tracking animals. As a youngster he had to follow his father’s cattle around. Some days whilst the cattle were feeding, one would go missing. He then would have to go and track the cow until he found it. If he was to return home with one cow missing, he would be in serious trouble. Therefore his skill is immaculate and we celebrate him for this.  On the 24th Marlet celebrated her birthday. Marlet is one of the owners who is very involved in the day to day running of the lodge. If you read all the replies to TripAdvisor and posts on Facebook, you will see her name appear a lot.

I now hand you over to our head chef, Linda Van Heerden, for the recipe of the month. Her Cranberry Muffins are delicious and they will compliment any occasion: breakfast, high tea, low tea… any tea of the day!

Cranberry Scones

Cranberry Scones

Cranberry Scones

( Makes 12)

  • 2 cups Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • ½ cup Dried Cranberries
  • 80ml Oil
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml Plain Yogurt
  • Pinch of Salt

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together, add the sugar and dried cranberries to the flour mix. Mix the oil, egg and yogurt together. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being sure not to over mix the dough. Spoon the mixture into greased muffin pans and bake for +- 20 minutes at 180 °C until a testing needle inserted comes out clean.

Well, that is all from my side this month. Have a good one!

Wayne Dovey


Manager’s Report January 2013

WILD PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Buffalo by Eddie Hessler, Switzerland (Elephant Plains Guest)

by Eddie Hessler, Switzerland (Elephant Plains Guest)

Happy New Year to all! I know I already whished our readers a joyous 2013, but it sounds so good, I will say it again. Hope that everyone’s year will be a very prosperous one, filled with good fortune, happiness and excellent health. The year started off on a very hot note.  We had temperatures ranging from 52 °C in the sun, to 45 °C in the shade. Because it was so hot and there were no clouds around whatsoever, we knew that we were in desperate need of some rain.  We all heard that we were going to have a massive drought this year as we had been receiving very good rains for the past five years. Then on the morning of the 19th it started raining and it did not stop until the morning of the 21st! We had a re-enactment of last year all over again, but this time, it was not as bad. Last year a cyclone caused the vast amounts of rain, but this year it was only a low pressure system that moved down from the north. With the water table still high from last year, the seepage started quick and we are still seeing water flowing from the ground. The rivers came down with a speed. Normally after a few hours their levels drops quickly, but not this time. The level of the river continued to rise higher and higher and at six o’clock on the first afternoon the dry Manyeleti riverbed was a raging monster, flowing around seventy meters wide and in some places four to five meters deep.

Salayexe and her cub - Willie Woest

Salayexe and her cub - Willie Woest

With the water rising by the minute, we had to get four of our guests out.  The water was too high for a normal vehicle to cross, so we had to make a plan. We sent our tractor with a trailer, driven by Braam and accompanied by Willie, through the crossing.  All the guests sat on the trailer as if they were riding a horse into battle. With the massive weight of the tractor the current did not move it even an inch. Thankfully friends from Simbambili lodge were waiting on the other side to get our guests to the gate where a transfer was waiting for them. In the end, it all worked out. Our guests got to the airport in time to catch their flights back home and I am sure that they had quite a few exciting stories to share back home.

Trapcam photo of the month - Giraffe

Trapcam photo of the month - Giraffe

After a sigh of relief for getting the guests through the river safely, we thought everything would go smooth for the rest of the day. Before the guests went over in the tractor, I had sent Dawie and Richard to the Gowrie Gate to fetch the week’s deliveries as no trucks were allowed into the reserve with the roads already in a sensitive state. Going to the gate, the water was not high at all. But on their way back, the water was too high to cross back to EP. We sent them to leave the Land Cruiser they were driving at Simbambili lodge and get on the tractor to come back across as we had just used it to get the guests across. By the time all had been sorted it was too late – nothing was going to now get through the raging waters. Staring at one another on either side of the river, I felt quite helpless, now being 4 staff members short. I wanted to cry big old crocodile tears, but refused to add to the water level of the river. We had no choice but to send them to go wait it out at Simbambili lodge for a few hours till the river dropped. Well, it didn’t. The river was so big that we only managed to get the guys back to lodge the following afternoon and they had to spend the night at Simbambili lodge. I would like to thank Simbambili for their hospitality and looking after our guys. That’s what good neighbours are there for.

We were fortunate not to have any guests checking in or out on the Sunday. So we sat it out, hoping for the rain to stop and eventually it did. It always does. The river started to drop and things were looking good to get the next day’s guests out. But by late the afternoon it started to rain again and not long after this the river was back to its old self. The rain continued through the night. Monday morning our open area looked like a lake, with water everywhere. Luckily all our guests were fantastic, which made decisions very easy. In one hour they all agreed to fly out by helicopter and two hours later all seven guests were at their destinations. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank you all for being so great and understanding.

Elephant Bull - by Louis Liversage

Elephant Bull - by Louis Liversage

Besides the few days of drama with the rain, the month was very a good one. We’ve been busy, which is always good as it keeps us all out of trouble. A bit of sad news is that Willie and Atasja Woest will be working their final month with us. We wish them all the best with their future. As they are planning to start a family in the near future, they have opted to move to a lodge that is situated closer to town and school. Good luck guys!

We have decided to change our entrance gate to the lodge. Because the area handles a lot of traffic, especially during check-out and check-ins, we have decided to add another gate and therefore have an entrance and exit area from the main lodge.  I believe that this would relieve the congestion of vehicles on busy days. It will also add a new, fresh look to the reception area, which of course, is the first impression of Elephant Plains!

To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more happy and joyful days! This month we only had one staff member celebrating his birthday. Hemet celebrated his birthday on the 1st of January .He is our fill in guy, being a qualified tracker as well as a grounds man.  If one of our trackers are sick or on extended leave, he joins the rangers on game drives. But most of the time you will find him creating artistic designs in the gardens around lodge.

I now hand you over to our head chef, Linda Van Heerden, for her mouth-watering Stuffed Trout recipe. This dish is served as a plated option at the lodge and is a definite must if you are given the option whist staying with us.

Stuffed Trout

Stuffed Trout

Stuffed Trout

(Serves 6)

  • 6 whole Trout, deboned
  • 4 slices Bread, made into crumbs
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tbsp Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Thyme, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Tartar Sauce

  • 1 hard boiled Egg, finely chopped
  • ¼ Onion, grated
  • 3 Gherkins, grated
  • 1 ½ cups Mayonnaise
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cut the head, tail and fins off the trout so that you are left with the two fillets still joined. Set aside. Heat the butter in a pan, fry off the garlic and thyme. Add the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Fill the cavity of the fish with the bread mixture and bake for +- 15 mins in an oven preheated to 180°C.

For the sauce:

Mix all the ingredients together.
Add a lemon wedge, some Tartar Sauce.

Serve and enjoy!

Well, that is all from my side this month. Have a good one!

Wayne Dovey


Manager’s Report December 2012

WILD PHOTO OF THE MONTH

Wild Dog by Jacqueline en Ronald Boevé, The Netherlands (Elephant Plains Guest)

Wild Dog by Jacqueline en Ronald Boevé, The Netherlands (Elephant Plains Guest)

The year 2012 has come and gone, almost like a ghost in the night. Overall, I must say that it turned out to be another great year at Elephant Plains! The first month started a bit hectic due to the floods we had, but from February onwards it was full steam ahead. The end of the year is a time of mixed emotions – out with the old and in with the new. Every year Elephant Plains gets new ideas and views on how to better the lodge and services we offer. So I am looking forward to seeing what new endeavours the year 2013 has in store for us.

Flap necked chameleon - Richard Davis

Flap necked chameleon - Richard Davis

This year we had Janine set up the dining room for the main Christmas dinner and the place was decorated in a lovely white and gold theme. For those readers in the northern hemisphere who traditionally enjoy a white Christmas, I hope you had a nice, cold day that included some snow. As for us out here in the bush…Well, what can I say? Our temperatures soared to around 40°C, with a very high humidity. Steaming, to say the least! Janine mixed some lovely cocktails for the guests and they enjoyed the refreshing, ice cold drinks to end off the warm day. Linda’s menu was delicious and included duck, gammon and lamb. Everyone was talking, laughing, and enjoying this merry Christmas dinner. For our New Year’s celebrations, Atasja was responsible for the decorations. It was a joyous theme with a lovely barbeque and our guests celebrated well past midnight! Thanks to everyone who made sure that these two special occasions were indeed memorable to all our guests.

Trapcam photo of the month - Giraffe

Trapcam photo of the month - Giraffe

Last month, I mentioned how great it is to stand in an open area and be amazed at the show that a lightning storm can provide. Well, this month started off with a literal bang and when I say bang, I mean a very big bang! We had a lighting strike and after a few minutes we started to smell smoke. Seconds later smoke was visible around the lodge and my heart relocated itself from my chest into my left foot. The closer I got to one of our luxury rooms, the more the smoke seemed to thicken. After doing a thorough check around camp, we came to the conclusion that the fire was thankfully not in camp. We then started seeing flames on the open area. The lightning had struck a Leadwood tree. Strangest of all was that it wasn’t even the tallest tree in the area. The lightning ran down the side of the tree, igniting the surrounding grass. With the grass being very moist, it made a lot of smoke whilst burning. This made the fire appear worse than what it actually was. In no time we were in fire fighting mode. Deploying staff close to the fire and starting to spray water, we were fighting fire in the middle of summer – something I thought would never happen. After a whole twenty minutes, we had extinguished the fire. We all looked at one another and started laughing as this was totally bizarre.  The area that got burned was about 20 square meters. It was interesting to see how the tree got struck and how the lightning had exploded the bark off in a perfect line. We returned to camp with a newfound knowledge that apparently lightning does not always strike the highest point…

Etienne and Martin

Etienne and Martin

We would like to congratulate Etienne and Marlet Swart with the birth of their second son, Martin. He was born on the 11th of December at 09h25. He weighed 3.77 kg and was 56cm tall. He is a strong and healthy little man. I must say, his brother is very excited about this new arrival. Little Martin will have to grow up very fast – learning how to kick a ball, or go into a serious battle with a plastic sword, in order to keep up with his older brother.

We welcomed our new Maintenance Manager, Braam Byleveld, who joined the Elephant Plains team on the 17th. We hope that he will enjoy working here. So for those of you that will be staying with us in the near future, if you see a very muscular young gentleman walking around camp, carrying some tools, it will be Braam on his way to sort out any maintenance that might have come about.

To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love and laughter. May your future hold many more happy, joyful days! At lodge there was only the one birthday this month. Linah celebrated her special day on the 24th. She is a very down-to-earth lady who takes her work as cleaner very seriously. I must say, what a day to have your birthday – one day before Christmas. This means two consecutive days of receiving presents. I am sure if feels like a double Christmas, or Birthday!

I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda Van Heerden, with her mouth-watering chicken Mirabelle recipe. This chicken recipe will make you very popular among friends and family. And this is what the festive season is all about, friends and family showing their love for one another.

Chicken Mirabella

Monthly Recipe - Chicken Mirabella

Monthly Recipe - Chicken Mirabella

Ingredients

6 Chicken Breasts
1 ½ tsp. Garlic
2 tbsp. Dried Oregano
¼ cup Vinegar
¼ cup Olive Oil
½ cup Prunes, pitted
8 large Olives, stoned and cut in half
¼ cup Capers, with some of the preserved juice
3 Bay Leaves
¼ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

In a large bowl, combine the Garlic, Oregano, Vinegar, Olive Oil, Prunes, Olives, Capers, Bay Leaves, Salt and Pepper.
Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and let it marinade for several hours, or overnight in a refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer and spoon the marinade over evenly. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the chicken and pour the white wine into the dish. Bake until the juices run clear when pricked with a fork.

Serve and enjoy!

Well, that’s all from my side this month. Have a good one!

Wayne Dovey


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