Manager’s Report December 2016

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!

Two Tsalala male lions by Louis Liversage

Two Tsalala male lions by Louis Liversage

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 reservations@elephantplains.co.za.

Elephant herd by Louis Liversage

Elephant herd by Louis Liversage

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!

Trapcam photo 

Trapcam photo

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!

Cheesecake Brownie

Brownies

Cheesecake Brownie

Cheesecake Brownie

2 Eggs
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.

Cheesecake Layer

2 Cups Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
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
Tersia Fouché

Rangers Report December 2016

Sadly, we have reached the end of yet another spectacular year. It is hard to believe that this will be my last report for the year 2016. Looking back at this year, one is so grateful for all the people we have met and also the great friendships that followed. Back to the sightings, I think we saved the best month for last, as our sightings was just out of this world! It feels like the bush suddenly came alive as the songs of the frogs, birds and crickets filled the warm summers nights. The first baby warthogs and wildebeest were seen at the end of the month. It is wonderful to see all these juveniles on drive every day. Our resident hyena clan is still doing really well and the old lady is still in charge. You don’t always realize how fortunate you are to have a resident clan with an active den on your property. We also saw two male cheetahs this month while moving through the area. We were spoiled by the eighteen wild dogs of the Sands Pack, that also moved through the area. The weather was great overall, but we had a few really hot days that was over 40°C. We were very fortunate with the rain, as we had 132mm of rain for the month, with an average maximum temperature of 33°C.

Leopard

We saw so many leopards this month and the quality of the sightings were unbelievable. It looks like Salayexe finally broke the bond between her and her daughter, Tiyani. Tiyani is not the same overly relaxed, spontaneous little cat who we came to know and love since she and her mother went their separate ways. We have seen little Tiyani a few times this month moving around the area. It will be interesting to see if Tiyani will take over the middle part of her mother’s territory. By taking over the piece of territory Tiyani has a better chance of survival. Here she will be hidden from the bigger females. Tiyani had her very first standoff with an intruder this month. The one evening she found the young Ingrid Dam female in her area and she did not hesitate for a second. She charged in and chased after the intruder. The Ingrid Dam female ran up a big tree and stayed up there until Tiyani was satisfied and left. It was great to see that Tiyani would be able to defend her territory.

Salayexe was seen a few times but not like before. She was a bit under the radar. Salayexe is looking great and she and Moya had a standoff over a kill the one day. The first thing I noticed was that Moya did not back down and she was ready to fight. She soon realized that it was not worth the fight and that she could make another kill. This was a wise decision from Moya, as she has small cubs safely hidden in a den somewhere who she needs to care for.

Nsele and her cub were also seen a few times and I must say that the little girl is growing up very fast. Nsele is doing really well in finding food for the two of them and they are looking very healthy. We were very fortunate to see the two of them a few times this month.

We saw Kurula a few times this month. A really strange thing though, she was mating with Tingana and both her cubs are still alive and well. The two cubs are doing really well and they are looking very healthy. Kurula is a really good mother. Fingers crossed that she will raise the cubs to independence.

Shadow, at almost ten years old, is still doing great. I am not 100% sure, but it looks like she might be pregnant. She has been extra illusive and seems to easily get irritated with the vehicles. She also has a very low hanging belly. All these signs let me believe that her and Tingana’s mating was successful. If this is true it will be great for her and for us when the new bundles of fluff arrive next year.

The young Ingrid’s Dam female was also out and about in the area. She was seen a few times around our lodge, resting and making kills. She is such a great female and very relaxed with us.

This month it was Tingana’s time to mate, as he and Kurula mated this month. Tingana is moving over long distances at the moment. He will be here the one day and the next day he will be on the other side of his territory. I think the reason why he patrols so much is that he knows it is just a matter of time before he will bump into Anderson. One thing that I learned during my time in the bush is that you never underestimate a small male leopard. Just look what havoc Mafufunyane caused under the males when he was still alive. He was a small leopard with an enormously big heart.

Anderson is still moving all over the area expanding his empire. The only real threat to him is Tingana and I think he will try to catch Tingana off-guard.

Lion

Nkuhuma the female lion by Louis Liversage

Nkuhuma the female lion by Louis Liversage

Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. The time spent with these big cats was just unbelievable.

This month we had a surprise visit from the four breakaway Tsalala lionesses and their twelve cubs. It was great to see them again after such a long time! They came in and out of our area a few times this month. This pride is one of the biggest prides we have at the moment in the reserve. We are not sure how many of the cubs are male and female yet. The pride’s new territory is more in the south-western part of the reserve, far out of our traversing. Their visit was short lived and they returned to their familiar territory. It was great to see them and hopefully they will come and visit again soon.

The Tailless female and the four sub adult males and female of the Tsalala pride was also seen a few times this month. It is great to see that the tailless female has re-joined the four youngsters again. After she re-joined the youngsters it was as if the confidence levels of the youngsters raised a few bars. The almost fifteen-year old tailless female is doing a great job in teaching these youngsters the art of hunting. One thing that I have noticed is that the Tsalala pride never have more than three adult females within the pride. If there are more females in the group, they are pushed out to form a new pride. So, interesting times are waiting for the young female. Will they make an exception to the rule, or will she be exiled together with her brothers?

The Styx pride is also doing great and they were seen a few times this month. The old lady with her two cubs were a little bit under the radar and we did not see the cubs that often. The two cubs are still looking good and getting bigger and bigger by the day. The three lionesses are also doing really well when it comes to hunting for the group.

It was so great to have the Nkuhuma pride with us for almost the whole month. These ladies had a few buffalo kills in the area. This is one of the most successful lion prides in the area when it comes to hunting big buffaloes. These five ladies are really looking great and they are in really good condition. The six cubs are also looking good and they are well fed. It would be great for the pride if these youngsters can survive to adulthood.

The Birmingham males was also out and about this month. We were fortunate to have them on our property once or twice. They are looking great and are in good condition. They were roaring a few times announcing their presence in the area. All this was short lived, as the roars of the Birmingham males caught the attention of another formidable force. We were woken by the loud roars of lions the one morning. On drive, we found three of the Majingilane male lions on two buffalo kills in our traversing area. They stayed here for a few days before moving on again. In those few days, the Birmingham males did not call once. They also did not come back to the western part of their territory again. This tells me that they know that the four Majingilane males are still the big shots in this area. This was not the last we saw of these big males, as we found them again a few days later, on yet another buffalo kill close to our lodge. Although the Majingi males are almost twelve years old, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

It was a treat to see all the different prides and to spend some quality time with the Birmingham’s and the Majingilane males this month.

Buffalo

Styx cubs by Louis Liversage

Styx cubs by Louis Liversage

The buffalo sightings were just unbelievable this month. More and more big buffalo herds are moving into our traversing area. This is a great sight to see, as these big bulk grazers are fattening up with the succulent green grass after the rain. Unfortunately for these herds, they are being targeted by the lion prides in our area. The Tsalala pride, Breakaway pride and Nkuhuma pride were all picking them off one by one. The Majingi males also had their fair share. The younger buffaloes in the herds are fattening up much quicker than the older buffaloes. Now that the herds are finally coming through, the dagga boys have disappeared a little bit. The dagga boys were always around the water holes and mud wallows, but now there are seemingly less. We did, however, a few bachelor herds again this month moving, between the waterholes in the area.

Elephant

Two male hippos fighting by Louis Liversage

Two male hippos fighting by Louis Liversage

With all these waterfilled mud wallows in the area one will always find a lone bull or elephant herd playing in the mud. This in a way makes a great opportunity for us to view these wonderful animals in their natural state. The small babies are really enjoying the wallows and water puddles in the road after the rain. It is like all the elephants have kicked up a gear, playing more than normally. I am glad to see that there is still a lot of herds in our area. Unfortunately, there will come a time that the majority of the herds will move towards the Mopani tree forests within the Kruger National Park. This is normally just for a month or two and then the herds return to our area. There were no big males this month, just a few younger males. I must say that the small bachelor herds are in abundance. These young males were seen a lot, while they followed the big herds. This is a sign that their mothers have just recently kicked them out of the herds and that they are not ready to let go yet.

Special sighting

One morning drive we heard the loud sound of hippo’s fighting in Big Dam. On arrival, we saw that it was two males locked in a territorial dispute. These two males were not playing around and none of them wanted to back off. But like always, there can only be one winner. The loser was immediately exiled from Big Dam and had to find another water source for himself. When two male hippo’s fight they fight for a reason. They fight for dominance, females, feeding grounds and their own waterholes or rivers.

Did you know?

The name hippopotamus comes from the Greek “hippos,” meaning horse. These animals were once called “river horses.” But the hippo is more closely related to the pig than the horse.

See you out on the game drive soon.

Morné Fouché

Manager’s Report November 2016

Wild photo of the month by Alan and Gaynor Castle, UK

Wild photo of the month by Alan and Gaynor Castle, UK

Wow! What happened to the year? At first we were counting down the days till when we would receive our first winter days. Then before you know it the winter season has come and gone and we are yet again in the mid of summer. We had a bit of rain during the month and the bush began transforming to the very much loved green oasis. Every day you can see how the vegetation is becoming denser. Everything is brilliant colours of green with bright flowers starting to bloom on some of the trees. We still have some very hot days as well, and some more rain will be very welcome as it is almost time for baby season in the bush. During this month, we started to see newborn impala, wildebeest and zebra around every turn and bush. There are still loads of pregnant females just waiting for the perfect time to introduce their precious little miracles to the African bush.

Small buffalo herd by Louis Liversage

Small buffalo herd by Louis Liversage

The lodge is looking amazing after the rain we received during the past two months. The Bougainvilleas are in bloom, the trees have bright green leaves and the gardens over all have taken on the summer look. With summer here, we also see much more caterpillars, butterflies, insects and other reptile species. We have also seen plenty of Baboon spiders and different scorpions around the outside areas of the lodge. They mainly hide during the day and come out to hunt at night. Our rangers have been doing a great job moving the somehow uninvited guests to a more private spot when they wonder into the public areas. If you are planning a trip to the bush soon, keep an eye out for these beautiful critters.

Nkuhuma pride with Neil in backround - by Dawie Jacobs

Nkuhuma pride with Neil in background – by Dawie Jacobs

The open area in front of the lodge has transformed into an elephant sanctuary! It feels like every day, 10 minutes after we beat the drum for lunch, the herds in our area start making their way towards the waterhole in front of the lodge. Our guests have been overwhelmed with their peace and grace as they move past. Some just stop for a quick drink while others submerge themselves in the fresh water to fight off the heat. With our resident hippo also in the water there are some days where the species do not get along very well as Mr hippo is not very happy to sharing his dam. I have seen him chasing zebra and impala all around the waterhole before moving off into the bush.

We currently have an active hyena den on our property. The trapcam was placed at the den for a few days to see if we can capture some of their daily movements. We got a great shot of their early evening activities. It is very interesting how active the den is as soon as the sun sets. Just as the last rays of sunshine disappear, hyenas start moving. Well, we now know where they are when it is dark. The big question; what are they doing during the day?

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

This month we had only two birthdays at the lodge. Feitah celebrated her birthday on the 23rd. Feitah has been part of our little family for many years and have celebrated quite a lot of birthdays at the lodge. Helen celebrated her special day on the 29th. Helen is part of our lovely team of housekeepers, keeping our lodge in tip top shape. Happy birthday ladies, I am sure there will be many more to come! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during November, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!

This month, chef Juandré is sharing a very easy but mouth watering recipe. With only a few ingredients, the marshmallow tart will blow your taste buds away!

Marshmallow Pie

Ingredients

Marshmallow Pie

Marshmallow Pie

32 Large marshmallows
1/3 Cup milk
1 Cup whipping cream
1 Basic pie crust, fully cooked and cooled
Chocolate sauce  for serving

Method

Combine the marshmallows and milk in a large saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the marshmallows have melted.
Remove from the heat and transfer to the refrigerator for about 20minutes until thickened but not set.
Beat the whipping cream to stiff peaks. Stir about one-fourth of the cream into the marshmallow mixture. Fold in the remaining cream.
Spread the mixture into the pie crust. Refrigerate for about 3 hours until fully set.
Serve drizzled with chocolate sauce and a mint leaf.

Makes 1 tart or 8 to 12 servings.

Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

Rangers Report November 2016

Finally, the first baby impala arrived on the 19th and a few days after it was like a baby boom. All the migratory birds are finally back. If you are a keen birder this is the best time for you to be visiting the bush. The weather was absolutely great and we had some wonderful rain again. The bush has undergone a complete transformation. It is hard to imagine that a few months ago we experienced a bad drought in the area and there was no food around. The day temperature was really up and down with wonderful rain. The average maximum temperature was 32°C with 85mm of rain. We are so blessed with the wonderful rain that we had this month. We were also spoiled rotten with the animal sightings in our area. The pack of three wild dogs kept us on our toes as they came into our area on a regular basis this month. Our resident hyena clan is also doing really well as they got their share of the weak buffaloes in the area.

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

Tiyani the female leopard by Morné Fouché

Leopard

Interesting times are awaiting us on the side of the leopards in our area. Salayexe and her daughter Tiyani are still together but I do not think it will be for much longer. Tiyani is spending much more time on her own. Salayexe left her for a full five days and she had to fend for herself. After those five days she went to fetch Tiyani again and took her straight to a fresh kill. This tells me that Salayexe is ready to break the bond between them in this next month or so. Tiyani spends the majority of her alone time around our lodge area. It is going to be very interesting to see how Tiyani starts her beginning to adulthood all alone and which piece of mum’s territory she will get. Both Salayexe and Tiyani are looking great and is in top condition after the drought. Nsele and her cub is also looking great. It is good to see that her cub is still alive and well. Nsele’s mother, Salayexe, is not making life so easy for her and her cub because Salayexe is moving more and more into Nsele’s territory. This next few months will be very interesting as both these females have daughters that needs a territory. Shadow kept a very low profile this month. We saw her once or twice this whole month. It is difficult to say where she went as her territory stretches into an area that we do not traverse. Fingers crossed that she is looking for a potential den site to use very soon. Kurula was also very low under the radar this month. We had a lot of tracks of her this month but she was always one step ahead of us. At least we saw her once or twice this month moving through our traversing. It is great to know that she and the cubs are doing just fine. The daughter of the Ingrid Dam female was also seen in our area this month. This young female very relaxed with the vehicles around her. She is definitely looking for a territory for herself. The only problem now is that she is moving around in Salayexe and Tiyani’s territory. It will really be interesting to see where she will end up in this next year or so. Tingana, the male, is looking great and was seen a few times this month. He is still patrolling his territory on a regular basis. He also has bulked up very well in this last few months with the weak animals. Anderson, the male, was seen a lot this month. This big beast is giving poor Tingana a run for his money as he is expanding again. We followed the Anderson male one day scent marking and vocalising in Tingana’s territory. The big question is now; Will Tingana just accept defeat and move on, or will he take on Anderson in a titanic brawl? These two have a history when it comes to territory and Anderson was victorious in all of them. Anderson also mated with the Ingrid’s Dam female and Salayexe this month. Fingers crossed for the next few months.

Lions

Baby hyena by Louis Liversage

Baby hyena by Louis Liversage

Once again we had a wonderful time with these big apex predators of the bush. The Tailless female of the Tsalala pride was seen a few times this month with the four sub adults. Later the month she left the four youngsters to fend for themselves and she returned to her sister and the rest of her pride. The four sub adults stayed around our area for a few days before moving on to look for the big female. These four youngsters also killed a buffalo in the time that they were alone. It is really strange that the old female did not take the young female with her to the rest of the pride. The young female will be a great asset to the rest of the pride when it comes to hunting. She has proved herself so many times in the last two months hunting next to the old female and sometimes leading the hunt. Only time will tell what fate lies ahead for the young female. Will she be excepted by the rest of the pride or will she remain with her brothers. For these four youngsters it is great to be in this area as there is no big males that will chase them around. The Styx pride is really doing great and looking really healthy. We were very fortunate to see them quite frequently this month. The two females who lost their cubs have mated again with the Birmingham male this month. The old female and her two cubs are still doing really well and the little ones are growing up very fast. The old lady still hides them a lot but does bring them to kills made by the pride. The little ones are so relaxed with the vehicles around them. What makes it even better is the fact that the old female let them come closer to investigate the vehicle. The Nkuhuma pride was also seen a few times this month. We were very lucky to see the females along with their cubs and a Birmingham male feeding on a buffalo kill. The Nkuhuma pride’s core of their territory is north east of us. We have seen them moving far west onto EP property. This is great if they expand their territory this way. We also had two young nomadic male lions of the Avoca pride in our area this month. These two males were nice and relaxed but very alert as well. They are two beautiful males but like all young males they are just passing through trying to avoid the big territorial males. These two males are extremely good buffalo hunters and they killed a few buffaloes in our area. They also had a run in with our resident hyena clan over a buffalo kill. The two males stood their ground but the twenty adult hyenas were just too powerful and the two brothers moved on. The Birmingham males are turning into impressive males as their manes are getting fuller. They spend a lot of their time with the Styx and the Nkuhuma pride. There are still times that they will join forces to patrol their boundary but that does not happen very often.

Buffalo

Bull elephant by Louis Liversage

Bull elephant by Louis Liversage

The big herds have returned. We have seen a few big herds of about 100-200 buffaloes this month moving through the area in search of enough food and water. With all the wonderful new green grass all over the area there is finally a lot to eat. There are still the smaller herds of between 20 to 30 all over the area. These smaller herds tend to stay longer in one specific area as there is a lot for them to eat seeing that they are not a big herd. The big herds on the other hand have to keep on moving more as there are a lot more mouths to feed. We have not seen any new born calves yet but it is still early in the wet season. The bachelor herds are also still in the area enjoying the new grass and fresh water in the waterholes. It will not be too long before these bachelor herds brake up and they return to the breeding herds to fight for mating rights. The old dagga boys are enjoying every moment of this wet season as all their mud wallows are once again filled with water. When driving past any mud wallow on a hot day you are bound to find a dagga boy or two having a day at the bush spa.

Elephants

Plains zebra by Morné Fouché

Plains zebra by Morné Fouché

The elephant herds are still in the area and they provided for some spectacular sightings this month. Once again we were fortunate to have three to four different herds moving through the area per day. The waterhole in front of the lodge was a real hot spot again as the elephant herds came to quench their thirst. We saw quite a few babies this month struggling to find the purpose for their trunk. We had such laughter and great fun with these small babies. It is so special to sit and watch the toddlers in the herd doing all kinds of things. One in particular was a little rascal. He will go and look for trouble as he picks a fight with the bigger youngsters in the herd. When the youngsters get fed up with him and turns around he runs to the safety of mums big and strong forelegs. When he sees that the coast is clear and everyone is busy eating again he makes his silent approach. This went on for nearly an hour. We did not see a lot of big males this month, just a few younger males moving through the area. With all the new growth the herds do not move very long distances in search of more food.

Special sighting

It is always great to see predator interaction and this month we witnessed just that. The two young nomadic male lions killed a buffalo bull during the day. After a few hours the first hyena got the scent of a fresh kill and followed the scent. On arrival she realized she was outnumbered and called for reinforcements. After calling the first time a few other hyenas responded with calls from different areas. It was not long before two more came running in and then more after that. In a matter of ten minutes there were just over ten hyenas. The young males did not stand back as they charged at the hyenas every so often defending their kill. At a stage it looked like the two brothers had the upper hand, or so we thought. There was more vocalization going on by hyenas behind us and they were coming closer fast. Suddenly the rest of the hyenas regrouped and got ready for the battle. The two brothers launched yet another attack and the hyenas scattered. Suddenly the matriarch hyena and a few of her daughters arrived on the scene. The now twenty strong group of hyenas with the matriarch leading from the front marched forward. The two brothers charged at the hyenas again but with a different result this time. The hyenas did not scatter, they split into two groups and went around the brothers. Realizing they were outnumbered the two brothers disappeared into the darkness.

Did you know?

The hyena does not fall under the cat family nor the dog family. They are under the Hyaenidae family.

See you out on the game drive soon.

Morné Fouché

Manager’s Report September 2016

Wild photo of the month by by Paul and Sue

Wild photo of the month (Salayexe’s cub) by by Paul and Sue

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, we will be surrounded with a burst of green. Now that the sun is rising earlier and setting later, we have changed the game drive times to depart earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. 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 fire. We had a few hot days and it will not be too long before our guests will be spending the 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. This summer is going to be a hot one!

Drive, Drink & Dine with Safari Wines Hoedspruit

Drive, Drink & Dine with Safari Wines Hoedspruit

We had another very successful wine tasting evening this month. As the day was scorching hot, a gin tasting was also worked into the plans. We learned that certain types of gin pair well with different types of herbs, spices and fruits. Never in my life could I imagine what a big difference a piece of cinnamon, rosemary or even a thyme sprig can make. We welcomed guests on the open area next to the waterhole during game drive to refresh their spirits. Thank you once again to Safari Wine club for introducing truly South African distilled gins to our guests. If you are visiting us in the near future, be sure to try a spicy Inverroche Amber or zesty Wilderer Cape Fynbos gin. It will blow your taste buds away!

African wild dog by Dawie Jacobs

African wild dog by Dawie Jacobs

Last month, we got some interesting pictures from the trapcam. This month we decided to place the trapcam on a tree next to the road on Eastern Bank Manyeleti road. Our cam trapped a herd of buffalo feeding along the road. Some of the members in the group were not in the best of shape, but after the rain we received, it will not be too long before they are back into healthy shape. Round and shiny! With our waterhole in front of the lodge filled with fresh water we have buffalo visiting almost every day. We also saw some large herds of elephant, impala, zebra, giraffe, hyena and a warthog family pass the camera at all hours of the day and night. Comes to show, the bush never sleeps!

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

At Elephant Plains we are always celebrating birthdays, almost one every week. Linky, who celebrated her birthday on the 5th, is one of the ladies that make sure all the rondavels are spotless. She is a very humble person and always has the sweetest smile. Onnie, last but not least, had her birthday on the 16th. Onnie is one of our waitresses who attend to your needs with a smile. 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 Juandré is sharing a very well known dessert recipe. I am convinced that any and every South African will classify this dessert as one of their favourites. Try this easy Peppermint Crisp Tart recipe and you will find out why.

Mini Peppermint Crisp Tart

Ingredients

Mini Peppermint Crisp Tart

Mini Peppermint Crisp Tart

2 Tins Caramel Treat (cooked condense milk)
1 x 150g Peppermint Crisp Chocolate (150g)
100 g Chocolate biscuits (Crushed)
50 g Butter (Melted)
Mint Leafs

Method

Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted butter.
Press the biscuit mixture into desired moulds.
Whip 1 L cream till stiff peak and fold in the caramel treat.
Grate half of the chocolate into the mixture and fold in.
Pipe the mixture onto the biscuit base in the mould.
Whip the remaining 500 ml cream to stiff peak and pipe on top of the caramel mixture.
Grate the remaining chocolate on top of the cream for decoration.
Add the mint leaves for colour.
Place in the fridge for about an hour to set and cool.
Makes 8 to 12 servings, depending on the moulds used.

Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché