March Trumpet 2022

Photo above by Kayleigh-Rose Humphries

Wow! Our first Newsletter of 2022 and the year is already well on its way! We hope that our previous and future guests alike, all enjoyed a well-deserved Christmas holiday break, together with family and friends. 

Elephant Plains is doing very well under, still undesirable, hospitality circumstances. If Covid-19 taught us anything, it is that the unpredictable is still very much predictable. Green shoots of recovery in the market are sporadically showing and we’ve seen an increase in international travellers making bookings. More flight routes are opening up and this also brings along the prospect of recovery. As we are starting to get ready for the Travel Expo Season, we are optimistic and excited. Challenges always bring about change and it’s up to you, whether these inevitable changes are positive or not. Adaptability is key and we’ve always been known for our tenacity and creative, forward-thinking abilities. Without our trusty staff members, the past two years would have been impossible to endure and we are looking forward to a great future for the lodge. Without their teamwork, none of this would have been possible. We are looking forward to a great 2022, doing what we’re passionate about – spoiling our guests with unbelievable sightings, great hospitality and sharing and instilling our love of nature with them.

New signboard at entrance

New signboard at entrance

Hyena and cub

Hyena and cub

The bush is slowly, but surely, changing to the dryer season, as fall is fast approaching. Although we’ve had 250mm of rain for the year, the grass is turning paler by the day. Despite this natural cycle, our dam and grass load levels are looking good. Game viewing has been great. There is a new male leopard in the area, Xitsalala. He is about three years old and we are excited to get to know him better. Tiyani and her cubs are doing well and the cubs are starting to hunt on their own. They’ve been seen drinking water from the water feature at reception on a number of occasions. Xidulu also gave birth to two cubs. We are seeing them more regularly, whilst still giving mom and the cubs the opportunity to bond. Ndzutini, Tiyani’s previous cub, also seems to be back, as we’ve been seeing her on a more regular basis, after spending some of her time in Mala Mala. The Tortoise Pan male, is still our dominant male, although he seems to be getting more and more pressure from the Flat Rock and Hosana male leopards. The hyena den still doesn’t cease to amaze us, and we are currently entertained by six cubs.

Leopard tortoise

Leopard tortoise

We are excited to announce the acquisition of an additional 4000 ha traversing rights at Djuma and Buffelshoek, to the northeast of Elephant Plains. These areas are well-known for their large watering holes and big open areas and we are looking forward to the added wildlife diversity. We have always had the philosophy of “tread lightly” and with this additional traversing, we are spreading our vehicle impact on nature. We are still continuing the fencing of big Marula and Knobthorn trees and have started using a local contractor, Rexon Ntimane and his team, from Nkaxa Habitat Management Services.

The new signboard at the entrance to the lodge is looking amazing! We are also busy renovating the Zebra Luxury Suite. This project includes a new roof, new windows, repainting and extending the outside viewing deck. We are also busy revamping the interior and we are looking forward to seeing the end result. In our next newsletter we will be able to share some photographs. Our brand-new wine list will be introduced in the next couple of weeks and it includes a very special selection of some of South Africa’s best-known wines.

Ground hornbill

Ground hornbill

There has been a number of staff changes, which brings about some fresh dynamics to the EP team. Ruan Momberg was promoted to Lodge Manager, but is still available as ranger, on request. From there on, it’s girl power all the way! Lorien Henning is now Head of Reservations. Barbara Nolte took over the role of Office Administrator and Relief Manager and will fill in at Reservations for Lorien during her leave cycle. Originally from Potchefstroom, Barbara has a B. Com degree in International Trade and Marketing. She also recently acquired her guiding qualifications. With a passion for nature, she is fully enjoying her new adventure at EP. Mariska Booysen is our new Head of Housekeeping. She is also Chef Yolandé’s fiancé. We wish them the happiest of futures together! Originally from Pretoria, Mariska has an eye for attention to detail and is a welcome addition to the team. From the start, she fitted right in.  Clarissa Fourie was employed as Relief Office Administrator and Human Resources. She also does relief for FOH and Housekeeping.  She grew up in Johannesburg and finished her B. Com degree in Industrial Psychology and Labour Relations. She worked in Centurion as an HR consultant, before joining the EP team. Last, but not least, is Kayleigh-Rose Humphries. She is our newest ranger and already a proud member of the team. Her passion for the bush started at age 4 and she started her guiding career in 2017. She has a special interest in plants and traditions. With all these new additions to the EP team, we are looking forward to a very bright future!

New curio shop for merchandise

New curio shop merchandise

Kayleigh, Mariska and Barbara

Kayleigh, Mariska and Barbara

We hope to welcome you to EP and its magic, in the very near future!

Kind regards,

The Elephant Plains Team

September Trumpet 2021

Photo by Joshua Venter

Spring is in the air. With it comes the promise of new life, new growth, new beginnings… As I sit here typing, contemplating what to write today, I scroll back to the previous newsletter, to read what I wrote back then and the first paragraph still holds so much value today:

Sometimes, when a crisis arises, all you can do is wait it out. To go with the flow, to tell yourself that “this too shall pass.” That “things would change”, that next year this time “the problems of your here and now, would be a distant memory.” Or you could fight it, call it injustice, shout from the rooftops: “Unfair, absurd, preposterous…”  You could also go and sit in a corner, feeling sorry for yourself, your circumstances, your career, your life choices. Each of us reacts differently. This doesn’t make one person’s reaction better, or worse than the other’s.  “Before you start to judge me, step into my shoes and walk the life I’m living and if you get as far as I am, just maybe, you will see how strong I really am.” – Unknown –

Another few months have passed and EP has, once again, withstood the test of time. The lodge is doing well under the current tourism circumstances, as we seem to be fighting wave after wave of Covid-19… We are all glad to still be healthy, despite so many people across the globe, having been negatively influenced by die aftermath of Covid-19. Our hearts go out to everyone who lost loved ones during this terrible pandemic.

Ndzutini female leopard with moon

Ndzutini female leopard with moon

Eagle owl by Ruan Momberg

Eagle owl by Ruan Momberg

The Sabi Sand Wildtuin embarked on a vaccination rollout, which took place from the 30th of August to the 1st of September. Sabi Sand staff members, the anti-poaching units, lodge employees, as well as their families, were vaccinated and I am glad to report that all the staff members at EP have been vaccinated. I am super proud to mention that Etienne came up with the idea for the initiative. I still remember the evening he phoned me to soundboard the idea and I also thought it was brilliant! Together with the support of Gabe Simaan from Simbambili Game Lodge, Dis-Chem Pharmacies and Eurolab, more than 2000 people were vaccinated in just three days. This vaccine drive aimed to achieve reserve and community-wide immunity, in order to attract visitors back to the Sabi Sand. Thus securing current livelihoods, creating new employment opportunities and saving jobs.  Thanks to everyone involved in this initiative. What a great team effort! The Sabi Sand is currently investigating the possibility of having a PCR testing facility within the reserve. Thereby ensuring quick turnaround time and a more cost-effective solution for guests, as well as staff members. More on this will follow later. 

Tiyani's two female leopard cubs by Ruan Momberg

Tiyani’s two female leopard cubs by Ruan Momberg

We are excited to welcome a new member of staff to the EP team. Dylan Peter is an outdoors person, feeling most comfortable in the bush, sharing his knowledge and expertise with guests. He has a special interest in herpetology. Welcome to the team, Dylan! 

Despite having fewer guests than EP is used to at the moment, the bush never ceases to amaze and entertain. Sightings have been awesome and guests that have had the privileged to join us on safari during the past couple of months would attest to the quality sightings that we’ve had. The Weekly Sightings updates on our Blog keeps our guests informed on animal activities. I would like to mention that Tiyani and her cubs are doing well. The female cubs are 4 months old and as per usual, one is a little bit more inquisitive than the other, although both are very relaxed with the game drive vehicles. They are mostly seen on Elephant Plains, but also sometimes venture to other properties, with mom at their side. 

Male Waterbuck by Ruan Momberg

Male Waterbuck by Ruan Momberg

Buffalo by Ruan Momberg

Buffalo by Ruan Momberg

We are continuing our efforts, which began during the start of lockdown last year, to save as many big trees as possible. Ringbarking by elephants destroys so many lovely trees and tree wrapping with chicken wire has proved to be very effective against this. Specific Sabi Sand guidelines are followed whilst wrapping tree trunks. It does not only save trees but also protects hollows for smaller creatures, thereby protecting nesting sites for birds, small mammals and reptiles alike. So next time, you’re out on game drive at EP, look around at the bigger trees, to see how many we have thus far been able to save.  

We are keeping our current special rates until the end of December and for 2022, we will honour our 2020 rates. Please contact the lodge directly for more information on the special rates at [email protected]

Tiyani, female leopard staring by Ruan Momberg

Tiyani, female leopard staring by Ruan Momberg

Blue Wildebeest by Ruan Momberg

Blue Wildebeest by Ruan Momberg

Since childhood, this was one of my favourite blessings and I would like to share it, before saying goodbye…

“May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hands.”

As I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters during the years, my mom instilled in us a deep love of poetry and the written word. One of the most well-known writers, poets and artists in South African history has to be Breyten Breytenbach. He just has a special way with words… My favourite Breytenbach quote is “die lewe is ‘n asem lank…”, which directly translates to “life is but a breath long…” Let us all keep that in mind as we go about our daily lives.

Look after yourselves and your loved ones. Till we meet again one day. Stay safe and God bless.

Kind regards,
Marlet Swart

The Elephant Plains Family

March Trumpet 2021

Sometimes, when a crisis arises, all you can do is to wait it out. To go with the flow, to tell yourself that “this too shall pass.” That “things would change”, that next year this time “the problems of your here and now, would be a distant memory.” Or you could fight it, call it injustice, shout from the rooftops: “Unfair, absurd, preposterous…”  You could also go sit in the corner, feeling sorry for yourself; your circumstances; your career; your life choices. Each of us reacts differently. This doesn’t make one’s reaction better, or worse, than the others.  “Before you start to judge me, step into my shoes and walk the life I’m living and if you get as far as I am, just maybe you will see how strong I really am.” – Unknown – 

It is officially the 26th of March 2021. Why is this date significant? It’s my eldest son’s birthday… He’s turning 13 today! Another reason for the March 26th significance? It signalled the first day of South Africa’s very first lockdown, due to Covid-19. March 26th 2020 was our D-day. Our President gave the nation a few days to prepare ourselves and by 00:00 on the 27th of March, you had to be at home, where you would have to stay for around three weeks in Level 5, full lockdown.

We rushed back from a visit to my parents in the Free State and arrived at Elephant Plains midday on the 26th of March. The members of staff that stayed on site held a birthday party for Etienne Jnr. and we were looking forward to a special three-week family holiday in the bush… This turned out to be extended more than once and we ended up spending a glorious 75 days in total at EP. A special time we would never regret having spent together. 

Nkuhuma lion cubs

Nkuhuma lion cubs

Xidulu, the female leopard_edit

Xidulu, the female leopard

Fast forward to a year later… Covid-19 is still with us and South Africa is starting to wonder when the third wave will hit. Looking at Europe and the trend overseas, we are always a few weeks behind and with a lot of countries now once again on different stages and levels of lockdown, many of us are already thinking about what our next lockdown would be like. Surely our economy would not be able to survive a total, hard lockdown once again? Surely people would have learnt valuable lessons during the past year? Stay at home, only go out if you really need to, practice social distancing, sanitize, wear your mask. Surely these measures would be able to keep us from another hard lockdown, this time around…?

Surely, maybe, but we just don’t know, now do we? And that is something that I’ve become quite accustomed to during the past year. Something that I’ve learnt to embrace. The certainty of uncertainty. The predictability of the unpredictable. The knowledge that no matter what who says, there is still a lot about this virus that we just don’t know, or fully understand.  

African Wild dogs

African Wild dogs

The lodge is doing well under these trying circumstances. If I look at the number of establishments in our industry that were forced to close down, I feel grateful that we’ve survived thus far. It would take years to re-build to what we were before Covid-19, but at least we have that opportunity. I read a few wise words the other day: “Don’t be afraid to start over again. This time, you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience.” In our case, it is 23 years’ worth of experience. Add to that a wonderful team of friendly, positive and hard-working staff members, our surroundings – being situated in the pristine Sabi Sand Game Reserve – and the fact that we do not believe in ever giving up, but rather in adjusting and continuously striving to better our product… With all these things counting in our favour, I cannot help but feel positive about the future.

When will things go back to normal? Nobody knows. What would the new normal look like? Your guess is as good as mine. Has Covid-19 only brought along with it the bad, the negative, the ugly? I sincerely don’t believe that. In the bigger picture, there’s always a reason for things to happen. You might not immediately recognise why. You might never totally understand its purpose. But I truly believe that this virus has also brought some good. People are living more aware of their surroundings. A lot of relationships have become stronger. Old friends have decided to catch up again. Family feuds have been buried, as we all returned to ourselves, to the here and now and to the things that really matter. Priorities have changed for the better, I believe. This was (or still is) a reset button. I, for one, am continuously trying to adjust, to be more aware, to make the best. It would be pointless if inner transformation did not somehow take place to a certain extend.

Please do not get me wrong. Covid-19 also brought along so much devastation, loss of loved ones, jobs, security, surety.

Elephant

Elephant

Nkuhuma lioness

Nkuhuma lioness

So let’s not beat around the bush. Life is difficult. 2020 has been difficult and by the looks of it, there’s still a whole lot more difficulty up ahead, before things would really start getting better. Are we up to it? I suppose it depends on when you ask who. Do we have a choice? No. Are we tired of Covid-19? Hell, yes! Do we want things to return to a “better than before” normal? It’s a no-brainer. Are we grateful for what we still have left? Of course. 

Nkuhuma lion cub

Nkuhuma lion cub

Ndzutini, the female leopard

Ndzutini, the female leopard

In the meantime, we have extended our special to the end of 2021. Please contact our reservations office at [email protected] for more details.If you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favour and google Kitty O’Meara’s poem: “And the people stayed home.

My wish to all our readers is pretty much summed up in the last verse:

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

Look after yourselves and your loved ones. Till we meet again one day. Stay safe and God bless.

Kind regards,
The Elephant Plains Family

End of 2020 Trumpet

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.

Elephant Plains Main Swimming Pool

Main swimming pool

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

October

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.

Ringbarking trees

Discouraging elephants from ringbarking the trees

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.

Elephant Plains Reception

Reception area

Main Lodge at Elephant Plains

Main lodge

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 protected]. 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.

Elephant Plains Bar Area

Elephant Plains bar area

Wine Cellar

Wine cellar

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.

Kind regards,

The Elephant Plains Family

Oct & Nov 2020 Specials

Red-billed hornbill landing

Tired of sitting at home? Make a domestic arrival at Elephant Plains Game Lodge and come and enjoy nature in its purest form!

Special rates are valid for a stay between 1 October and 30 November 2020. Applies to new bookings only. Rates include accommodation, all meals and game drives (including sundowner refreshments). Rates exclude transfers, conservation & reserve entrance fees, beverages and items of a personal nature.

Please contact us for rates and all other relevant Terms & Conditions.

Special Offer Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions:

Special rates are valid for private bookings, for a stay between 1 October and 30 November 2020. Applies to new bookings only. Rates include accommodation, all meals and game drives (including sundowner refreshments). Rates exclude conservation & reserve entrance fees, beverages, items of a personal nature and transfers.

A 10% refundable deposit is required to confirm the booking and the balance will be due 30 days prior to arrival.

Should the booking arrival date be less than 30 days from the date of confirmation, full payment will be required to secure the booking.

Cancellation Policy:

Upon cancellation of a booking, or part thereof, the Covid-19 interim policy prevails:

  • Date of confirmation to 31 days prior to arrival:
    10% deposit refundable
  • 30 Days to date of arrival:
    100% cancellation fee
  • No Show / Early Departures:
    100% cancellation fee

Featured photo by Tusk Photo

Pin It on Pinterest