Wild Photo of the Month - Photo by Sarel van Zyl (Elephant Plains Guest)

Photo by Sarel van Zyl (Elephant Plains Guest)

During the first half of June we had quite a number of cold fronts that passed through the area. But thankfully cold fronts are very active and move fast, lasting only two or three days. The majority of the other days were very warm and pleasant though. On the 22nd of this month, we had the longest night and shortest day of the year – signalling the turn of the seasons. After the 22nd the days start to grow longer and the nights shorter. Soon we will be celebrating springtime once again! But for now the bush is still brown and dry. This type of vegetation is good for game viewing – making it easier to spot different animals because the bush is less dense than in summertime. Our guests were treated to some amazing sightings this month. One of these being when they saw mating leopards with a kill in the tree and wild dogs chasing impalas through this same leopard sighting. We also had one of the Majingilane males mating with one of the young Tsalala females on our open area. Most of the time, if not interrupted by a sudden takeover by a new coalition of males, mating will take place during this time of the year. Most of your big cats will carry their young anything between two to three months. So in about three months’ time, when the litter is due, it will be spring. Spring brings new life in the form of grass and leaves – hearty meals for herbivores. As they mostly have their babies during this time of the year, it also means ample food supplies for the predators. So with plenty of food around, predators and their cubs won’t go hungry. Another example of the circle of life.

Sunrise over Big Dam - Photo by Morné Fouché

Sunrise over Big Dam - Photo by Morné Fouché

We usually have guests from all over the world staying at our lodge. It’s always great to learn about the different countries and each nation’s unique customs and way of living. The percentage of South African guests that usually visit Elephant Plains is normally less than our overseas visitors, but during June we received a lot of South African guests. As we run a winter’s special each year from May to September, it makes us quite affordable for the local market. We are proud to be able to call ourselves one of the most affordable lodges in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. We also decided to keep the same rates from 2012 to 2013 and I think this decision will be welcomed by all our guests.

We would like to welcome a new staff member, Marle Erasmus, to the team. She is a young, dynamic lady with a bubbly personality. She has completed her EcoTraining course and is in love with the bush and its animals. She was working at a lodge just outside Nelspruit, but it seems as though that was not quite deep enough into the bush for her! If you have a love for the bush running through your veins, it’s hard to live in the city. She told us that she wanted to be at a place far removed from anything city related. Well she has come to the right place and we are glad that she decided to join our team. She will be handling all of the accounting and she will also be responsible for reservations when Tersia goes on leave.

Buffalo Bull - Photo by Morné Fouché

Buffalo Bull - Photo by Morné Fouché

Our snap cam took some great photos this month. We placed it in a tree at the hyena den that is on our property and later also at Leeukuil, a waterhole close to the lodge. It is quite fascinating to see how alive the bush can be – even if you’re not right there to witness it yourself. The pictures that we got from the den are unbelievable. The hyena pups are adorable. Their coats are still pitch black. For the first three months hyena youngsters are black, slowly changing colours as they start to get older. These pups are also very playful, running around and looking for all the attention they can possibly get – they definitely have more energy than the older hyenas.  It was also interesting to watch the movement at the den site. There is always something happening, no matter what time of day or night. When you look at their normal behaviour around a carcass, you usually see them as being vicious and savage, with no regard for one another. When you get to see how caring the clan is towards these youngsters, it takes your breath away and opens up a whole new world in the life of hyenas. We also got some nice photos of our resident hippo at Leeukuil, while out of the water during the day – I will also share one of these with you.

To all our guests who celebrated their birthdays this month, we hope you had a fantastic day filled with love, laughter and lots of happiness. May your future hold many more! At the lodge we also celebrated a few birthdays. Atasja Woest celebrated her birthday on the 3rd. As head Spa therapist, she is the lady who will take that last bit of tension and stress out of your body, making sure that our African Health Spa is a worthwhile visit when on holiday at Elephant Plains. Richard Davis celebrated his birthday on the 28th. Richard is one of our rangers who will share his love and knowledge of the bush with you during game drives. Franscois Rosslee, one of our junior rangers, turned 21 on the 29th.  When he started working here, he was fresh out of EcoTraining. In the two years at the lodge he has gained a tremendous amount of knowledge, watching and learning from the other rangers. In order to be able to legally handle a firearm and get a P.D.P. you have to be aged 21.  Through hard work and determination Franscois has now earned the opportunity to be able to guide at Elephant Plains and we believe that his guiding will be a big asset to the lodge. So from now on when you visit the lodge, you might have him as your ranger. We wish him all the best and hope that he has lots of fun guiding in one of the best wildlife areas in the world.

Chocolate is a favourite among most guests from all over the world and therefore Chef Roxanne has decided to share her special Chocolate Tart with us.

Chocolate Tart Served With Spiced Pears And Creme Fresh

(12 Servings)

Chocolate Tart Served With Spiced Pears And Crème Fresh

Chocolate Tart Served With Spiced Pears And Crème Fresh

Chocolate Tart

300g butter
300g dark chocolate
4 eggs
315 ml castor sugar
130g flour
100g cocoa powder

Poached Pears

3 pears (¼ pear per person)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp vanilla essence

Crème Fresh

1 cup smooth cottage cheese
½ cup castor sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence


  1. Melt the butter and chocolate together on a low heat.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and creamy.
  3. Sieve the flour and cocoa together.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture slowly and mix this together with the flour and cocoa.
  5. Pour into a greased baking tray and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the chocolate tart is cooked, but not dry.
  6. Allow to cool and then cut rounds out of it.
  7. Peel and core the pears. At the same time, boil the water, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla essence together until the poaching liquid is properly spiced.
  8. Add the pears and poach until tender.
  9. Remove the pears and cool

For the crème fresh, mix all the ingredients together.

To serve, put a small amount of crème fresh on a side plate, place the chocolate tart on top of this, put a spoonful of crème fresh on top of the chocolate tart and place the pear on top of that.  Garnish with chocolate sauce and a sprig of mint, if desired.

Serve and enjoy!

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

Wayne Dovey