by Joshua McPhail, Elephant Plains Guest

by Joshua McPhail, Elephant Plains Guest

As always, winter time has provided our guests with great game viewing. There have been leopards in and around camp, lions on the airstrip, elephants feeding all around camp, wild dogs, buffalo… You name the species and it spent time around the lodge. We’ve been doing very well and were quite busy the last month, which is always great as it keeps us on our toes and out of mischief! In the eight years that I have been working here, there has only been a total of ten days that we had no guests in camp. Floods had been responsible for most of the days that we had to close our doors. Having guests in camp every day keeps the place alive and filled with energy. Having no guests feels quite terrible. You start to feel lost and routine falls a bit to the wayside. Luckily we’ve never been closed for more than two days at a time. The Sabi Sand has started work on the low water bridge on the fence line and I hope that this will make a big difference to the condition of our access road when the rainy season sets in again later in the year.

Hippo - by Louis Liversage

Hippo – by Louis Liversage

There have been some wicked cold fronts that have come through the Lowveld this month with the temperatures being quite cold at times. Even when we were in Durban we experienced cold weather. It was a bit disappointing as there was still a thought in the back of my mind to go and have a swim in the sea. I did not even make it onto the beach as it was so cold.

Trapcam photo - Elephant

Trapcam photo – Elephant

As mentioned in the last news letter, Etienne, Marlet, Tersia and I went down to Durban for the yearly tourism Indaba. Concerning the success of the show, I would go as far to say that it was the best Indaba I have attended. The first day it rained nonstop and I felt sorry for the guys that had outside displays, but we still had a good amount of agents that came to visit our stand. We were greeted by sunshine on the Sunday morning and saw agents and different role players in the industry for most of the day. Monday was a very productive day with more meetings, keeping us busy the whole day long. Although most agents return home on Monday afternoon, we still saw a fair amount of role players on Tuesday morning. All in all, we are very happy with the results. We got to say hi to some of our old agents, who have been supporting us through the years and at the same time we must have seen a good 15 new agents who are very excited about our product and would like to start using our lodge from now on. From our side, we would like to thank everyone who came to see us at our stand. We are looking forward to working with all of you for many more years to come.

Back at the lodge the one morning was full of excitement when Salayexe decided to take her bush buck kill up a tree right in front of Leopard Suite. How funny is that? A leopard with a kill at the Leopard Suite! Later in the day she went and fetched her cub to come and enjoy the meal that she had caught for her. The kill was unfortunately dropped and she relocated it just a bit more east into one of the other trees. Exciting times indeed! In camp itself, we’ve had a lot of animals that over the years have become very relaxed with people walking around camp. With the movement of people, strange smells and buildings, most predators will not want to come into camp. The resident bushbuck, nyala and even the odd impala all enjoy the safety of the lodge grounds. Except when Salayexe is around, that is.

Trapcam photo - Salayexe

Trapcam photo – Salayexe

We have been building a new laundry for the past few months. Being out in the African bush, things tend to take a little longer then what they normally would in the city. But I am very happy to say that the new laundry is now 100% complete and working like a dream. It is double the size of the original laundry and we are very happy with the end product!

We have been placing our snap cam up next to roads the past two months, now you would think that setting the camera up at a water hole would get the most action, but not necessarily. We got quite a number of great pictures of many different animals moving on the roads. We will share two photos with you this month. The one is of an elephant bull walking down the road. The other is of Salayexe surprising Dawie and Louis with a visit, just after they mounted the snap cam! Any animal that is territorial would walk the roads and sent mark their territory. Other animals enjoy walking the roads as there is no vegetation to try and squeeze through, no grass in the eyes, no stepping on thorns. Last month we got the picture of Salayexe and her cub along with plenty of hyenas moving up and down the road. This month we tried to set the camera up looking down the road as opposed to be on the side of the road.

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! We had a small handful of staff that celebrated their birthdays this month. On the 3rd Tersia celebrated her birthday. Tersia is the friendly lady in charge of reservations. So when you contact the lodge, you will usually be communicating with her. I must say, to keep track of all the bookings that she receives and to keep them all in order and updated is very impressive. Then on the 4th Oom Etienne celebrated his birthday. We don’t get to see him much, but do hope that he had a great day. Last but not least for the month is Phillip who celebrated his special day on the 5th. He is one of the guys who make sure the gardens stay in pristine condition. The rest of his day is normally spent fishing with little Etienne. I do hope that everyone had a very special day and I hope that you all have many more happy days to come.

I now hand you over to our Head Chef, Linda Van Heerden, for the delicious recipe of the month. For all of you that love cakes, well, you’re in for a treat with this one.

Mocha cupcakes


Mocha cupcakes

Mocha cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 cup Oil
  • 187.5ml Buttermilk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence


  • 175g Icing Sugar
  • 50g Butter
  • 2tbsp Ready-made Coffee
  • Pecan nuts

Mix the dry ingredients and then mix the wet ingredients separately. Combine the 2 mixtures. Line muffin trays with cupcake cups, spoon the batter into these and bake until the cupcakes are done. It will take approximately 15-20mins.


Cream the softened butter, add the icing sugar and mix, add the cooled coffee. Continue beating until the mixture is pale and fluffy looking. Spoon the icing into a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. Garnish with the pecan nuts and some edible glitter. Serve and enjoy!

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

Wayne Dovey