The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see how a male cheetah stalked a herd of impala’s.
Monday, 20 January 2014
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Thursday, 23 January 2014
Friday, 24 January 2014
Saturday, 25 January 2014
(35ºC, 6mm rain)
Sunday, 26 January 2014
The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see a female cheetah and her two cubs hunting impala on Safari airstrip.
Monday, 13 January 2014
(32ºC, 13mm rain)
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Thursday, 16 January 2014
Friday, 17 January 2014
Saturday, 18 January 2014
Sunday, 19 January 2014
Wow! The end of the year has come and gone. I truly hope that everyone had a fantastic Christmas and New Year’s, filled with love and lots of laughter! On behalf of all the staff at Elephant Plains, I would like to wish you a fantastic 2014, with lots of happiness and good fortune. The saying goes “end it with a bang” and that’s exactly what we did. The year 2013 did end with a massive bang, with game viewing being off the charts. Our guests were spoiled with amazing sightings, including different lion prides, cheetahs, wild dogs and mating leopards… But not just one pair of mating leopards, some of our guests saw three different pairs mating. Rangers often work for years without seeing mating leopards and we got to see three different mating pairs in a just over a week’s time. What a privilege. We also had the wild dogs around the water hole in front of camp once again and a kill just behind our lodge one night. I truly hope that they will now stay around so that they can den somewhere within our traversing area. That would be so amazing. To top off a great month of game viewing, our guests got to see a very relaxed pangolin, feeding in the open. Normally a ranger would only ever get to see pangolins once or twice in their career. Imagine what a special sighting this was. Not only seeing a pangolin, but also being able to watch him move around while foraging.
With all the rain, the vegetation has turned into a wall of greenery. The grass is long, the water holes are full and as a result, all the animals are in a great condition. With the baby boom we had last month, there are hundreds of little ones running around the bush, which in itself makes for great game viewing.
The lodge itself is also looking good. During winter time we water the grass to keep all the gardens up to standard. But in summer, all the goodness contained in the rain water just makes such a big difference, so the gardens are looking extra lovely. The longest day and shortest night has come to pass on the 22nd of this month, meaning that we now slowly start the countdown back towards the shortest day and the longest night in June. But there are still lots of long summer days left to enjoy and we have plenty of fun to look forward to.
Christmas day started off overcast and cool, but by nine the sun came out in full force. The day itself was amazing. Our guests had a relaxed day around the pool, with Walter pouring cocktails for them. Although the humidity was very high during afternoon drive, it was the first Christmas in years that it did not rain. Christmas dinner was a festive affair. Tersia was in charge of the decorations and the whole area was transformed into a lovely pallet of reds, whites and silver. Chef Annika made sure that the dinner was a highlight of the evening and her mini Christmas cakes were to die for. I am sure that all the guests that spent Christmas with us would agree. For New Year’s, Lanette was responsible for the decorations. Candles and fairy lights created a lovely ambiance. The braai menu was delicious and our guests celebrated until well after midnight!
During December, we welcomed a new member of staff. Amanda Truter joined our team and will be doing accounts, as well as relief reservations. With her bright, bubbly personality she has settled right in and we hope that she will enjoy working with us. I sometimes wonder if wanting to work in the African bush is in your DNA… Some of our staff members have been working out here for more than thirteen years, with no urge to return to city life. Yet there are some that would not be able to stay in the bush for more than a week. Some people need to feed off of the rush of a city, or as they call it, the “buzz”. But for bush people, the only buzz that we enjoy isn’t man made. It’s the roar of a lion on a cold winter’s night, the excited begging ritual of the spotted hyena and the low, deep grunts of a leopard on your lawn at one ‘o clock in the morning. No matter how many times you hear these night time sounds, they will always give you goose bumps, confirming why you belong out here and not over there. So it just goes to show, whether it’s in our DNA or not, we all have our differences in life and that’s what makes life just that much more interesting.
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! To have your birthday close to Christmas must be great and hopefully you all received gifts twice this month! We had two birthdays this month, one being the youngest staff member at the lodge. Who am I talking about? Well, Martin Swart of course. He is really a sweet little guy and when he’s around us in the office, he always has a smile on his face. The big man celebrated his first birthday on the 11th of December and we were treated to a Jack Russell birthday cake. On the 24th Linah celebrated her birthday. She is one of the cleaning ladies who make sure that the rooms are spotlessly clean and what a great job she does! I hope both of you had fantastic birthdays.
This month’s trap cam picture was taken at Kraaines, one of the waterholes just west of our airstrip. In the early hours of the morning, we normally find some of the herbivores resting on the airstrip next to this waterhole, as they would often spend the night on the airstrip. Because the airstrip is a large open area, it is a safe haven for these animals. Sleeping in an open area, the animals have a 360° view of their surrounds and would be able to see when a predator tries to sneak up to them from the tree line. Once the predator has been spotted, they would all sound the alarm, alerting each other of the predator. So this month’s photo is of some impalas and zebras coming off the airstrip to have their first drink of water after the long night.
I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda van Heerden, for her delicious recipe of the month. These cupcakes are evil, as it’s really hard to stop eating them once you’ve started. I know that a lot of guests have asked for this recipe, so here it is.
Line a muffin tray with cupcake cups. Mix all the dry ingredients together, then mix all the wet ingredients and then combine the two mixtures. Divide the mixture into the cupcake cups, and bake for 15-20mins, until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Bring all the ingredients to the boil until it starts to thicken slightly. It should be a dark, caramel colour. It will take around 15 – 20mins. Beat the 1 ½ cups of cream until stiff, and then spoon half of the sauce into this and beat until it is all incorporated. Keep the other half of the caramel sauce for garnishing later on. The caramel cream should be stiff.
Beat the butter for around 2 mins, then add the icing, and beat until combined, adding a little milk at a time and add the vanilla. Spoon into a piping bag.
Using an apple corer, make a hole in each cupcake and fill the cavities with the caramel cream. Then pipe the icing over the top, covering the hole that was made. Use the extra sauce to drizzle over the top of the cupcakes.
Serve and enjoy!
Well, that’s all from my side this month and for the year 2013. We are looking forward to a brilliant 2014. Have a good one!
I can’t believe that this is the last month of the year and it is time to say goodbye to a wonderful 2013. It feels like the year started just yesterday, but we are welcoming 2014 with open arms! By leaving 2013 behind, we are left with wonderful memories of all the awesome adventures we had in the bush… This past month, we had a lot of very hot days where temperatures pushed up into the high thirties so the immense amount of 227mm rain we had during December, was a huge welcome. The average maximum temperature this month was 30°C, which was accompanied by some very humid days. The game viewing was really good and we couldn’t ask for a better way to end the year. We were very fortunate to see the illusive pangolin foraging the one evening and we had some of the best wild dog and cheetah sightings ever. It just shows you, when you think you have seen it all, think again. The bush always has something new and exciting to offer!
We had unbelievable leopard sightings this last month and we can once again call it a “spotted” month. Salayexe is still looking great and she surprised us all when we saw her mating with the young Robson’s male this month. If she was pregnant at the time she mated with this particular male, it would help a bit with the survival of the cubs as he would be under the impression that the cubs are his own. We will have to wait and see. Talking about cubs, one of the rangers followed Shadow one afternoon when she took him straight to her den site. Upon approach, she started calling softly to the cubs and out of the thickets came two little bundles of fluff. It is therefore now confirmed that she gave birth to two cubs and we estimate them to have been between 5-6 weeks old around 22 December. If all goes well, we will start viewing them in January, thereby giving them some more alone time as a new family. Thandi and her son, Bawuti, are also looking good and they were seen quite a lot this past month. It is also not going to be too long before he needs to start looking after himself when his mother pushes him out of her territory. Kwatile was also seen a few times, although not as often as normally. Nsele was also seen and every time we see her she is prettier; looking more and more like her father, Tyson. We also saw Moya mating with Lamula. After seeing her mating, a few red lights went off in our heads, as she is supposed to still have cubs, unless she lost them. Only time will tell what happened here. Lamula was seen on a regular basis. He is in the best shape of his life thus far and still expanding his territory more north. Tingana is getting much more relaxed with the vehicles around him, but sometimes he really lives up to his name, which means “the shy one”. With Mvula we could see a definite change in his behaviour, as he does not go into Tingana’s territory to expand any further.
The lion sightings this month were once again out of this world. The Styx pride is still healthy and looking good. The two boys are getting bigger and looking gorgeous with their manes, which is getting fuller by the day. The lioness with the new little cubs is also looking very healthy, although she needs to eat twice as much to provide her cubs with much needed milk. She spends a lot of her time with the pride and then once a day she leaves the pride to go to the cubs, which are safely hidden in the den site, only to return to the pride again. We also had a great sighting of the Fourway pride. We saw two sub adult males and what looked like two adult lionesses. This pride is coming in more west than normally, straight into the Styx pride’s territory, but so far they are avoiding each other as far as they can. Saying this, the time will come when these two prides will have to face each other as they are starting to use parts of the same area. We did not see the Nkuhuma male a lot this last month, but the sightings that we had of him were just awesome. Some days I wonder how different things would have been if his brother was still alive. They would have been two impressive males. Being a solitary male between two territories that are guarded by big coalitions of males makes it very difficult. You will never have a pride of your own. The four Majingi male lions came into the area the one evening and stayed for a while before moving on. This was the first sighting of all four males walking together and scent marking their boundaries in a very long time. The first thing I noticed, whilst spending time with them, was that there has been a shift in dominance between the males. Black Mane was always the more dominant male of the Majingilane coalition as he also mated with the majority of the females. Well, the new dominant male seems to be Pretty Boy. We could see this in his behavior and also his posture. When they drank water, Black Mane waited for Pretty Boy to quench his thirst, before he came to drink. We also saw Black Mane approaching Pretty Boy, lying down next to him. Pretty Boy stood up and mounted Black Mane as a sign of dominance. The other two males, Smudge and Hip Scar, are also looking very good.
We did not have the big herds in our area this month as they already moved on to greener pastures somewhere else. The big herds move to areas with enough food and also water supplies that can sustain the whole herd. When food and water is plentiful in the rainy season, it also becomes baby season for the buffaloes, with lots of little calves running around. With all the hot summers days that we had this month, you did not really have to go far to look for the dagga boys, as they would be resting in a waterhole or mud wallow to seek refuge against the harsh African sun. We have noticed a lot of older bulls this month, compared to last month. I think what might have happened was that the dominant males that have returned to the breeding herds, pushed out the older competition.
We were so fortunate with all the wonderful elephant sightings that we had over this past month. Some days it was so good that you were spoiled for choice as to which elephant herd to respond to, as they were around every corner. We also had a lot of entertaining sightings with the babies playing around in the mud puddles and water pools. Now that there is an abundance of food and water supplies everywhere, the elephant herds do not stay in the same area to feed and drink from one source over a long period of time. They move around quite a bit between all the different water pools which have formed with the rain and the obvious lush, green grass that comes with that. We also saw about eight different adult bulls moving through our area, following the breeding herds. The young bulls kept us entertained with their play-fighting. When two young bulls play-fight, they actually test each other’s strength and therefore, if they meet again as adults, they will not have any urge to fight as they will already know which one is the stronger and more superior male.
The special sighting this month was to see a pangolin foraging out in the open. This shy animal did not have a care in the world and it was a treat to see this very illusive animal being so relaxed with us around him.
Did you know?
Although it has the appearance of a reptile, a pangolin is actually a mammal.
I hope you enjoyed the last report for 2013 and hope to see you out on game drive during the New Year!
The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Styx lion pride resting at Mnisi Pan.
Monday, 6 January 2014
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Wednesday, 8 January 2014
Thursday, 9 January 2014
Friday, 10 January 2014
Saturday, 11 January 2014
Sunday, 12 January 2014
It’s the beginning of 2014 so here’s a few tips to end those bad habits and start the New Year looking good and feeling GREAT!!!!
Do It Yourself Detox:
Kiwi and Grape Fruit Juice Recipe
Mix 225 grams kiwi fruits with 70 grams grapefruit and 60 ml of water, until the drink is smooth. Both kiwis and grapefruits are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, as well as high in fibre, which theoretically helps clear the body of toxins. Fibre has long been known to help promote good digestion and a healthy body and with the added benefit of vitamin C and antioxidants, the drink is meant to provide your body with many of the necessary nutrients, while clearing out bad toxins. Many detoxifying drinks are high in antioxidants as they promote liver health. As we all know, the liver functions as one of the body’s natural detox organs.
When to detox
Most people decide to go on a detox after the December holidays when lots of food and drinks have taken their toll. It might be a good idea to use your own body as an alarm clock. Our bodies go through natural cycles, like the changing seasons. If there are specific times of the year when your body feels sluggish and bloated, it would be worth doing a detox.
What to eat
Changing your diet may be the most important aspect of your detox. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and dairy products. Drink purified cold water or hot water with lemon and honey, which helps flush your system of toxins. Try eating organic food during your detox. Avoid sugar and starches, as this makes you feel more sluggish and can also retain fat. Remember that fat holds on to toxins for longer than muscles do.
6 New Year’s resolutions that everyone should have:
1. Ladies, please leave that spot!
We all know that it isn’t pleasant to have a pimple and so many people believe that picking at it wouldn’t affect the skin. Sadly they are wrong.
• What causes a pimple? An inflamed blemish happens when the pore becomes engorged with excess sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria.
• What happens when you squeeze a pimple? When you squeeze a pimple, you may force the debris from the pore deeper into the follicle. This can cause the follicle wall to rupture and spill infected material into the dermis (the innermost section of the skin).
If you are prone to break outs, try a new skin product, more suitable for your skin type and make an effort to keep your hands away from your face.
2. Wash you face before jumping into bed at night
After a long day at work everyone is guilty of falling into bed without removing your make up.
• Fact is: Old make up clogs up pores, causing acne and leaving bacteria on your face. If eye makeup is not removed daily, there is an increased possibility of an allergic reaction or contact irritation. This could also cause an eye infection, which can be painful.
• Your skin “fixes” itself while you sleep and if you leave make up on, your skin absorbs all the chemicals from the make up.
3. Look after your nails:
Nails are seen by so many poeple on a daily basis, so MAKE A GREAT IMPRESSION!! Common causes of fingernail or toenail changes include trauma, aging, infection, and skin diseases. Diet is generally not responsible for abnormal nail changes, unless the person is suffering from severe malnutrition.
• Trauma: Can induce horizontal fingernail ridges (beau lines), bleeding (hemorrhage) under the nail plate, and white streaks or spots (leukonychia).
• Splitting or layering of the nail plate (onychoschizia): Is caused by having hands that are constantly wet, frequent use and removal of nail polish or artificial nails and continuous mild trauma (e.g. from habitual finger tapping).
Spoil yourself by going for reagular manicures and pedicures. Invest in a good manicure kit and always remember to use a base and top coat!
4. Protect yor skin:
Our skin needs protection to keep it looking great!
• Long-term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin. To protect it, stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the rays are at their harshest. And remember that clouds don’t block UV rays.
• Beware that ultraviolet rays generally reflect off water, sand, snow and any light-colored surface such as concrete, so be diligent in applying sunscreen when you’re around these surfaces.
• And in winter make sure to use enough moisturizer!
5. Throw out old cosmetics:
Anything over a year should be thrown OUT!! Cosmetics have a limited lifespan. Using cosmetics that are old can cause several problems. Older cosmetics may harbor bacteria that may lead to breakouts or even infections. The color in some cosmetics may change over time, and a foundation that used to work perfectly may become too dark. Some “all natural products” will also not last as long as other types of cosmetics.
The recommendations listed below are guidelines
• Items that last for up to two years include face powder, powder blush, powder bronzer, powder eye shadow, lipstick, lip liner, and pencil eyeliner. While pencil eyeliners should remain safe for up to two years, you can sharpen the pencil regularly so that a clean surface is exposed.
• Cosmetics that should be replaced after one year include oil free foundation, cream foundation, compact powder, concealer, cream blush, lip gloss and nail polish.
• Replace liquid eyeliner and mascara every three months.
AND REMEMBER LADIES……
Make sure that you get regular exercise. This promotes healthy blood flow and cuts down on body fat.
Have you got any beauty-related new years resolutions? Please share them with me!