Life is unpredictable. That’s a given. But if anyone predicted the chaos that Covid-19 would cause during the past year, no one would have believed it. Still, the year 2020 threw a curveball to all of us, not only in tourism but worldwide, in every possible industry. Covid-19 arrived swiftly and unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. I still remember December 2019, when I first read of its impact in Wuhan. It seems like a lifetime ago and never in my wildest dreams, while I read the article to Etienne, did I imagine that we would also be impacted by it. Still, a few months later, we closed our doors on the 26th of March and only opened up again on the 1st of October. A whole six months later! The thing I found spectacular about our opening date, was that Etienne initially opened Elephant Plains’ doors on the 1st of October 1998. So 22 years later, to the day, we had the opportunity to once again open our doors to the public, much like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
My mother instilled in us a love of poetry and when we opened in October, the poem of C. Louis Leipoldt came to mind. It is an Afrikaans poem called “Oktobermaand”. For our international readers, I will attempt a translation, although the impact may not be as emotionally intense as the Afrikaans version. The bottom line of the poem is that October is the most beautiful month of the year. For us, it’s been true twice, since Elephant Plains’ existence.
Main swimming pool
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Violets in the foyer –
Violets blue and red!
Violets everywhere in the fields,
And everywhere, alas, so beautiful!
This is the month October,
the most beautiful, most beautiful month!
The day is then so bright,
so green is every night,
So blue and without clouds
the heavens all above,
So flower garden – full of colours
Even the pale Karoo.
This is the month October!
The lily is in bloom;
Over all the hippo holes
Waterlilies are full grown.
The rocky outcrops, recently
still like a stone so bare,
Have now for welcome greetings
their most beautiful to share.
This epitomizes how we felt when opening after six months of lockdown. Everything felt fresh and green, the days were beautiful!
During the lockdown, we obviously did not sit around twiddling our thumbs. We kept a small staff compliment and everyone helped with maintenance. We redid all of the main building decks, refurbed reception, the curio shop, library, main bar and dining area. We redid the old camp swimming pool deck, as well as all the Rondavel decks. The Rondavels also had a fresh paint job inside and out. We worked on the roads and also tried to save as many of our big trees, as possible. We secured the bottom parts of the trees with chicken mesh. This discourages elephants from ringbarking the trees. When they ringbark a tree and too much of the cambium layer gets damaged, the tree ultimately dies, as the cambium carries all the nutrients the tree needs to survive and thrive. Covid-19 luckily did not damage our own cambium layer and we were able to not only survive but to also thrive! I will share a sneak peek of some of the work we did during the lockdown. The rest you will have to come and see for yourselves.
We have decided to extend our EP photo collage entries to the 31st of December. Be sure to send through your favourite EP selfies for our Covid-19 Collage to email@example.com. Thanks to everyone that have already send through your amazing EP memories. We are excited about this project and can’t wait to see the end result. For those of you that did not read the initial message about this project, here’s what it’s all about… During the first few days of lockdown, Etienne had a dream. He dreamed that when we opened up again one day, we would make a collage of all our past guests’ favourite EP selfies. This would be displayed on a special wall at the lodge. With your help, we are making this dream come true.
We have also decided to extend our special until the end of June 2021. Be sure not to miss out on the amazing deal of R3000 p.p.p.n. sharing for Rondavels and R4000 p.p.p.n sharing for the Luxury Suites.
We are sad to say farewell to Morné and Tersia Fouché, who spent the past 15 and 11 years with us. They were team players that started as a ranger and front of house assistant and worked their way up as managing couple. We will dearly miss them and wish them the best of luck with their new adventure. We are also excited to announce that we’ve already appointed a new management couple. Anthony and Louise Battaliou have an enormous amount of experience in the industry and we are looking forward to having them join the EP team on the 7th of December. I am sure that they will be another great asset to the lodge.
At the end of a very eye-opening, character-showing 2020, we would like to wish you all the very best for the last month of the year. May you have time off to rest and relax with your friends and loved ones and may 2021 only bring happiness, love and laughter!
“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke –
We are looking forward to welcoming you to Elephant Plains Game Lodge in the near future. Come and create a lifetime of memories with us!
Until then, keep well and stay safe.
The Elephant Plains Family