Wild Photo of the Month
Spring is in the air and the landscape is slowly changing. Some of the trees around camp are showing off new, small green leaves and before we know it, the whole bush will be transformed into a green oasis. Now that the sun is rising earlier and setting later, we have changed the game drive times to depart earlier in the mornings and later in the afternoons. With the temperatures slowly rising, it is no longer necessary for heaters in the evenings and we have been enjoying pleasant nights in the boma, around the log fire. We had a few hot days and it will not be too long before our guests will be spending their days next to the pool, with a refreshing drink. For those of you visiting us during the next few months, please remember to bring along your sunscreen. If you do forget, our curio shop also stocks sunscreen. This summer is going to be a hot one!
One of the amazing things about living in the bush is to see new offspring arriving and growing up. We currently have a baby bushbuck in camp and what a little miracle she is. It is also that time of the year when birds are nesting. We are very fortunate to have a swallow’s nest under the roof, right next to the window in our reception area. We were so happy to see that the nest had some residents again. As last year, they are raising three little youngsters. We have been keeping a close eye on them since they hatched. It is amazing to see how fast they grow and how the parents are both very involved in raising them. During the day, the parents are out and about, returning often with food for their three musketeers. When they return to the nest, you can see the excitement as the little heads bob up and down, waiting for a bite. At sunset, mom and dad return to the nest and all five of them snuggle up together for a good night’s rest. Soon, the youngsters will be big enough to leave the nest and we will wave them goodbye, as they head off to explore their beautiful surroundings.
This month, some changes were made to the bar’s interior appearance. We have a brand new set of bar chairs and some lovely new scatter cushions, decorating the couches. The warm red and brown shades have given it a total new, fresh look. Another project at the lodge is the repairs being done to the decks in front of the bar and dining room area. These decks have been in place for the past 11 years, but as with any natural building materials, they needed some replacement after many years of traffic moving over them, as well as constant exposure to the African sun and rain. When replacing fixtures in a public area, timing is extremely important to prevent any disturbance to our guests. The contractors did an amazing job replacing the planks in only a few days. They worked during game drive times, when there were no guests at the lodge to ensure no noise during the day. The newly replaced area is looking very good. Next up on our upgrading list is new dining room furniture. It is going to look stunning!
One never knows what each new day will bring in the bush, but we are always trying to be prepared for the unexpected. On the 18th of this month, we started our day as every other day, but by around 11:00 am, a dark cloud was hanging over our lodge. One of our biggest nightmares came to life when we realized there was an aggressive veld fire in our area. The fire started on one of the neighbouring properties and before we could hope that it was just a bad dream, flames were spreading and moving fast, with winds gusting in all directions. Luckily we are always prepared for a possible fire during this time of the year, when the fuel load of the grass is big and extremely dry. So we quickly got our fire fighting gear ready and the teams spread out – fighting the fire from various angles. Around midnight we were still mopping the area to ensure that the fire did not flame up again during the night. What a long day it was! A large piece of bush burned down, an estimated 5000 ha, but thanks to all the assistance and teamwork from the lodges, there were no injuries or damage to any lodges or buildings. As far as we could see, there were also no animals hurt during the blaze. Thank you to each and everyone who assisted on that hot day (42 °C). It just goes to show what a good team we are part of. Although unplanned fires are never welcomed, it is good for certain areas to burn, in order to get rid of old plant matter and to return natural components back into the soil. At the moment there is a large black carpet where we used to have winter bush. It will not be long before we see new green grass covering the entire section. This will come at a perfect time, as the animals will have lots of food spread over a large area. We would also like to thank our neighbours in the east, for giving us extra traversing areas while we await the first summer rains. From there, Mother Nature would transform the area.
Last month, we got some interesting pictures from the trapcam. This month we decided to place the trapcam at Leeukuil pan again, but on a different spot. We got the most amazing picture of a saddle billed stork. We often see these birds at the waterhole on the open area, but it is the first time we have been able to get such a close-up shot.
At Elephant Plains we are always celebrating birthdays, almost one every week. There were four ladies who celebrated their birthdays at the lodge this month. Linky, who celebrated her birthday on the 5th is one of the ladies who make sure all the Rondavels are spotless. She is a very humble person and always has the sweetest smile. Saphia celebrated her birthday on the 11th. Her friendly face is mostly hidden in the kitchen, where she is one of our cooks. Onnie had her birthday on the 16th. Onnie is one of our waitresses, always ready to attend to your needs with a permanent smile. Last one on the list for September was Louise who celebrated her special day on the 30th. Louise is the smile you see all around the lodge. Louise joined our team in June this year and I hope she enjoyed her first birthday at Elephant Plains. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during September, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!
This month, chef Reimond is sharing the recipe for one of our plated meat options. Stuffed Trout is a very popular choice amongst our guests. Try this easy recipe and you will find out why.
1 Trout Fish
1 tsp Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Breadcrumbs
Pinch Salt & Pepper
Mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Open the trout (butterfly). Put the stuffing into the open trout belly. Place the prepared trout on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180°C. As soon as the trout flesh becomes flaky and easily removed from the bone, the fish is cooked. Serve with tartar sauce, vegetables, salad and starch of your choice.
Serve and enjoy!
All the best till next month