December was a great month to end the year. We had lovely animal sightings, shared happiness and laughter over the festivities of Christmas and New year and just before we said our last goodbyes to 2016, we received a heavy downpour of rain. This was our first heavy rains for the season and we welcomed it with open arms. After the rain, we were entertained each night by a choir of frogs singing the most amazing songs around the ponds and fountains. The sounds they make are so powerful that some of our guests were looking for a radio playing the sounds!
On the 25th and 31st, the staff did a wonderful job decorating the dining room for Christmas and New Year’s dinner. Guests were welcomed to the festivities with a refreshing cocktail and the chefs once again went over the top with a wide selection of meats, salads and an “oh so heavenly” dessert buffet. Thank you to each and every guest who chose our lodge to celebrate these specials days. A special thank you to all our staff members who gave their absolute best during the holiday season. We truly appreciate it! For those of you who travelled during the festive season, near or far, I hope you had a wonderful time and a safe journey back home. During December, we also had a lot of children in camp. Elephant Plains is one of only a few child friendly lodges in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin and we enjoy having the younger generation with us. If you would like to treat your family to an African bush experience, be sure to contact our reservations team for availability and rates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our trapcam caught a pair of White Face Whistling ducks. Now that we have plenty of water puddles after the rain, these beautiful birds are all over, looking for seeds and other plant foods. Their diet also consists of insects and small aquatic animals, which explain why they are so common around the waterholes and long grass.
This month we celebrated only one birthday at the lodge. Little Martin Swart celebrated his 4th birthday on the 11th. Martin is a busy body, but can melt your heart with his friendly smile. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during December, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!
We also welcomed a new staff member to our team. Tshepiso Matlou joined us in the beginning of December as Spa Therapist. She became part of our little family the day she arrived. With her soft-spoken personality and friendly smile, it is difficult to look her over. If you are planning a trip to Elephant Plains, be sure to book a relaxing massage at our African Health Spa.
With new staff members and birthday celebrations, we went all out this month and also celebrated the opening of Little Rock Guesthouse in Jongensfontein. After four months of intensive planning, renovations, changes, maintenance repairs and staff recruitment, the first guests were welcomed on 8 December 2016. Little Rock is truly a little piece of heaven on the Garden Route. Located right where sea and land meet, you cannot help but relax and clear your mind. I spent three weeks with the new team; working on day to day operations, training and getting new systems in place to ensure our guests have the time of their lives. Although the guesthouse is a completely different setup as the lodge, it all came as second nature. The new website is currently being designed and will be launched soon. Although Little Rock is still in the beginning stages, we have received plenty of compliments and had loads of positive feedback. Please go and like our Facebook page. There you will also be able to see a few photos of this awesome new endeavour. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we certainly have big plans for 2017. Watch this space!
Our recipe of the month will definitely knock you off your feet! Thank you to chef Juandré, for sharing this amazing Cheesecake Brownie recipe with us. This decadent piece of happiness was on our New Years Eve dinner menu. I cannot imagine a better dessert to end a year with!
1/2 Cup Melted Butter
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a square pan or line with foil and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine melted butter, cocoa and sugar. Stir until fully dissolved.
Add the eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla and stir until well combined.
Stir in flour and salt until the flour is fully combined. Be careful not to over mix.
Spread the mixture in the pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Be careful not to over bake. Set aside and continue with the cheesecake mixture.
2 Cups Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
Add sugar and beat until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Spread the cheesecake layer over the brownie base.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool for 1 hour and then refrigerate at least 3 hours. You can finish off the brownies with any topping of your choice, we used crushed chocolate chip biscuits.
Cut, serve and enjoy!
Makes 16 brownies…
My wish for each and everyone for 2017 is a year filled with peace and happiness. Let’s grab 2017 by the horns!
All the best till next month