Manager’s Report November 2017

Manager’s Report

November 2017
Wild photo of the month - Salayexe and cub by Paul, Sue and Mark Johnstone

Wild photo of the month - Salayexe and cub by Paul, Sue and Mark Johnstone

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born during this month, there was never a dull moment. We also ended the month with a few very welcome cool days and rain. The forecast going into December shows some very hot days. If you are visiting us during the next few weeks, please be sure to pack your hat and sunscreen. Each year November, we have a “birding day” at the lodge where our staff members form a team to compete against our next-door neighbours, Arathusa Private Lodge. This has become a yearly tradition, with the winning team being awarded a birding trophy. This is always great fun! The competition does not have a lot of rules and the main goal is to identify as many different bird species as possible, between 05:00am and 07:00pm. So, between these hours, if you see or hear it, you can claim it! Last year, Elephant Plains won the competition. This year, we were unfortunately defeated by 4 species, but we accepted our second place with great pride. With the birding trophy displayed in our reception area, we are already looking forward to next year, when we can hopefully once again engrave our own name on the plaque, as the 2018 winners.
Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

Male giraffe by Morné Fouché

This month we started a big maintenance project at the lodge, behind the scenes and a few feet above the ground… We are giving our thatched roofs a little makeover. What does this all include, one would ask. Well, think of it as going to the hair salon for a cut, colour and blow-dry. As thatch roofs age over the years, the top layers of grass start to rot and they take on a pale, black appearance. Sometimes a roof can also develop a small leak, due to our resident vervet monkeys sometimes pulling out blades of grass, while playing on their self-discovered jungle gyms. Firstly, a special brush is used to remove all the rotten pieces and straighten the grass back into place. Just like brushing your hair. On some of the places, bundles of grass are also replaced where needed, to cover the thinning spots. Lastly, the edges are neatly pushed back into place, leaving the roof looking brand new. It is quite amazing to see the contractors in action. What a big difference a good brush can make! We are done with the main lodge area and the majority of the rooms. Just a few more strokes and all the roofs will be good as new again.
Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

With the active hyena den on our property, it is hard to resist the temptation to spy on them. The trapcam was placed at the den and in a very short period of just 4 days, the memory card was completely filled up with 2700 pictures. We now have a very good idea of what their daily activities are: eat, play, sleep, repeat. This month we had only one birthday 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 condition. Happy birthday Helen, 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, sous chef Yolandi, shares a mouth-watering recipe. Red Velvet Cupcakes are perfect for that special afternoon tea with family and friends.
Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients

160 ml Cake flour 100 ml Castor sugar 1.25 ml Salt 5 ml Cocoa 1.25 ml Bicarbonate of Soda 100 ml Sunflower oil 60 ml Buttermilk 1 Egg 15 ml Red food colouring 1.25 ml White vinegar 1.25 ml Vanilla 

Icing

50 g Soft butter 60 g Cream cheese 250 ml Icing sugar 2.25 ml Lemon juice/ a little squeeze of a lemon to taste and/or 2.5ml vanilla

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Prepare your muffin tin by lining each hollow with a paper case. In a bowl, sieve together the dry ingredients (flour, castor sugar, salt, cocoa and bicarb) and set aside. In another larger bowl, mix all the wet ingredients (oil, buttermilk, eggs, food colouring, vinegar and vanilla). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine. Spoon into your cupcake cases, filling each to 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. In the meantime, prepare your icing by beating the butter and cream cheese together with a wooden spoon until well combined (about 3 minutes).   Gradually add the icing sugar, beating all the while, until it forms a smooth icing.  Adjust the consistency by adding a little more icing sugar if required. Then add the lemon juice and/or the vanilla to taste. Makes 6 Large Cupcakes. Serve and enjoy! As our next report will only be sent out in early January, I would like to wish each and every one of our readers a joyful Christmas and only the best for 2018. Whether you have a holiday planned, or are just relaxing at home with the family, do make the best of every second and travel safe! All the best till next month Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Manager’s Report October 2017

Wow! What happened to the year!? It feels like 2017 started yesterday and now we only have two months to go before the end of the year. I guess you can say that “time flies when you’re having fun!” There is always lots of fun to be had in the bush. We had a little bit...

Manager’s Report September 2017

Spring is in the air!  Birds are singing, trees are blooming and the bush is a slowly turning into a painted canvas of green delight!  It seems as if everything almost transformed overnight, after we received an extremely welcome shower of rain just before the last...

Manager’s Report August 2017

August is the month of leaves!  At first, we thought that we welcomed the beginning of spring a bit earlier this year. But just as we got comfortable with the idea of the pleasant spring days, we were surprised by some very chilly winds during the last few days of the...

Manager’s Report June 2017

Note from the webmaster: We've been working on upgrading the Big 5 Blog the past few months, and for this reason we have not been able to publish our regular manager- and ranger reports. We apologise for this but hope that you will enjoy the flood of news that has...

Manager’s Report May 2017

Winter has arrived and the bush is wearing its winter attire once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore, which gives you a better view of all...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Rangers Report October 2017

What an awesome time out in the bush. The temperatures were pleasant most of the time, but the month ended with a heat wave of note! The average maximum temperature for October was a wonderful 32°C. We were once again on the tip of our seats, with all the amazing...

Rangers Report September 2017

Spring is finally here and with it, came some wonderful rain and temperatures. With 18mm of rain, the bush received a total facelift in the form of wonderfully bright, green colours. The average maximum temperature for this month was 32°C. All the browsers in the area...

Rangers Report August 2017

It is strange how the unexpected can happen at any time and any place. The month started off with a bang and everything was out and about, going really well, until that one day. As most of you know by now Salayexe, our resident female leopard, passed away on the 18th...

Rangers Report June 2017

It is hard to imagine that we are half way through the year, when it still feels like we celebrated new year’s yesterday. I now know why people always say that time flies when you are having fun! The winter is finally here and we had a few very crisp mornings and some...

Rangers Report May 2017

With the impala rutting season in full swing, there is no shortage in the action department. Broken horns, bloody faces and puncture wounds on their bodies are only a few signs of the fights this month. These bloody battles can even be heard late at night, as the...

Big 5 Sightings 05 to 11 February

Monday, 5 February 2018 (34ºC) Pack of ten Wilddogs running south of Mhisi Mati Sibuye the female leopard resting on Hofmans Wessels cutline Six Buffalo bulls walking on Ekiso Road One Elephant bull at Safari Open Area Hosana the young male Leopard drinking water...

Big five sightings 29 January to 4 February

Monday, 29 January 2018 (38ºC) The Styx lion pride resting on Grass Cut Road A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Kudu Drift Six buffalo bulls resting on Milkberry Road Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on EP open area Ten buffalo...

Big 5 Sightings 15 to 21 January 2018

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Hukumuri male leopard   Monday, 15 January 2018 (35ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard scent marking on Xidulu Road Six buffalo bulls resting in the water at Kraaines Pan A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on...

Big 5 Sightings 1 to 7 January 2018

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see one of the Birmingham male lions drinking water at Rhulani mud wallow Monday, 1 January 2018 (25ºC) The Styx lion pride resting on Airport Link Tiyani, the female leopard, feeding on her kudu kill at Kimbeans crossing The...

Big 5 Sightings 25 to 31 December 2017

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Styx lion pride resting on Little Gowrie/Wessels cutline Monday, 25 December 2017 (23ºC) The Hukumuri male leopard moving south from Shinzele road The Xidulu female leopard moving west on Rhulani Two Lionesses from the...

Big 5 Sightings 18 to 24 December 2017

The Big 5 highlight of the week was Xidulu female leopard, resting on termite mound at Simbambili firebreak Monday, 18 December 2017 (42ºC) A bachelor group of buffalo bulls resting on Rhino Ring East Tiyani, the female leopard resting on EP airstrip A breeding herd...

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Manager’s Report October 2017

Manager’s Report

October 2017
Wild photo of the month by Rogier, Melissa en Tuur Nieuwendijk, Mortsel, Antwerp, Belgium

Wild photo of the month by Rogier, Melissa en Tuur Nieuwendijk, Mortsel, Antwerp, Belgium

Wow! What happened to the year!? It feels like 2017 started yesterday and now we only have two months to go before the end of the year. I guess you can say that “time flies when you’re having fun!” There is always lots of fun to be had in the bush.

We had a little bit of rain during the month and the bush has now transformed to its summer colours. Bright flowers are also starting to bloom on some of the trees. We had some very hot days during October and more rain will be very welcome, as it is almost time for baby season in the bush. During the next month, we will start seeing new born impala, wildebeest and zebra around every corner, as there are loads of expecting females, just waiting for the perfect time to introduce their precious little miracles to the African bush.

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, in order to fight off the heat. With our resident hippo also in the water, there are some days where the two species do not get along very well, as Mr. Hippo is not very open to sharing his waterhole. I have seen him chasing zebra and impala all around the waterhole, before grumpily moving off into the bush.

Now that we had our first rains after the winter, our maintenance team has been spending some time on the roads. In order to keep them in a good condition, we have to give special attention to roads where erosion is prone to take place during the rainy season. After a few trips with the tractor and general maintenance, such as opening up mitre drains, the roads are once again in a good condition and ready for the rest of the rainy season. Those of you who have visited the lodge before, would remember the bumps in the road, leading to the lodge. These are not speed bumps, but act as barriers to prevent water flowing down the road, washing away the top soil, which in turn causes erosion. With these bumps in place the water runs up against them, redirecting it into the bush, away from the road.

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

This month we placed our Trapcam at Leeukuil Pan again.  After the luck we struck with the leopard last month, I thought that we could give it another bash.  The cam caught this lovely elephant, feeding around the water. Now, we just need a little more rain to fill up the pan and maybe next month we will have swimming elephants! 

We had three staff birthdays at the lodge this month. A big happy birthday goes out to Tannie Margie, who celebrated her birthday on the 6th of this month. The 10th day of the 10th month was a very special day for Hendrik, who celebrated his birthday on this day. Hendrik is our own DIY maintenance man, keeping the lodge and surrounds in tip-top condition. Then, just before the month came to an end, one of our Trackers, Life, celebrated his birthday. Life joined our little family during March this year but it feels like he has been with us for years.  With his warm, friendly personality he is a highlight on every game drive. I do hope that you all got spoiled on the day, and hope that you will celebrate many more joyful birthdays at Elephant Plains. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during October, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter.

For the recipe of the month, head chef Mia is spoiling us with a very easy and delicious Strawberry Mousse recipe.  Enjoyed by young and old, you will not disappoint anyone with this easy recipe.

Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry Mousse

15 Fresh Strawberries
260gr White chocolate, broken into pieces, or white chocolate chips
500ml Whipping cream

Melt the white chocolate and 125 ml of the cream by using the double boiler method.
Be careful not to overcook the chocolate. Melt it to a smooth consistency. Allow it to cool down to room temperature.
Whisk the remaining cream till soft peaks are formed.
Gently fold in the whisked cream to the melted chocolate, in batches.
Puree the strawberries.
Gently mix the strawberry puree into the chocolate cream with a spatula.
Pour the chocolate cream mixture into individual serving bowls.
Chill for 2-3 hours, serve and enjoy!

Makes 4 Servings

All the best till next month.
Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Manager’s Report October 2017

Wow! What happened to the year!? It feels like 2017 started yesterday and now we only have two months to go before the end of the year. I guess you can say that “time flies when you’re having fun!” There is always lots of fun to be had in the bush. We had a little bit...

Manager’s Report September 2017

Spring is in the air!  Birds are singing, trees are blooming and the bush is a slowly turning into a painted canvas of green delight!  It seems as if everything almost transformed overnight, after we received an extremely welcome shower of rain just before the last...

Manager’s Report August 2017

August is the month of leaves!  At first, we thought that we welcomed the beginning of spring a bit earlier this year. But just as we got comfortable with the idea of the pleasant spring days, we were surprised by some very chilly winds during the last few days of the...

Manager’s Report June 2017

Note from the webmaster: We've been working on upgrading the Big 5 Blog the past few months, and for this reason we have not been able to publish our regular manager- and ranger reports. We apologise for this but hope that you will enjoy the flood of news that has...

Manager’s Report May 2017

Winter has arrived and the bush is wearing its winter attire once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore, which gives you a better view of all...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Rangers Report October 2017

What an awesome time out in the bush. The temperatures were pleasant most of the time, but the month ended with a heat wave of note! The average maximum temperature for October was a wonderful 32°C. We were once again on the tip of our seats, with all the amazing...

Rangers Report September 2017

Spring is finally here and with it, came some wonderful rain and temperatures. With 18mm of rain, the bush received a total facelift in the form of wonderfully bright, green colours. The average maximum temperature for this month was 32°C. All the browsers in the area...

Rangers Report August 2017

It is strange how the unexpected can happen at any time and any place. The month started off with a bang and everything was out and about, going really well, until that one day. As most of you know by now Salayexe, our resident female leopard, passed away on the 18th...

Rangers Report June 2017

It is hard to imagine that we are half way through the year, when it still feels like we celebrated new year’s yesterday. I now know why people always say that time flies when you are having fun! The winter is finally here and we had a few very crisp mornings and some...

Rangers Report May 2017

With the impala rutting season in full swing, there is no shortage in the action department. Broken horns, bloody faces and puncture wounds on their bodies are only a few signs of the fights this month. These bloody battles can even be heard late at night, as the...

Big 5 Sightings 05 to 11 February

Monday, 5 February 2018 (34ºC) Pack of ten Wilddogs running south of Mhisi Mati Sibuye the female leopard resting on Hofmans Wessels cutline Six Buffalo bulls walking on Ekiso Road One Elephant bull at Safari Open Area Hosana the young male Leopard drinking water...

Big five sightings 29 January to 4 February

Monday, 29 January 2018 (38ºC) The Styx lion pride resting on Grass Cut Road A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Kudu Drift Six buffalo bulls resting on Milkberry Road Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on EP open area Ten buffalo...

Big 5 Sightings 15 to 21 January 2018

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Hukumuri male leopard   Monday, 15 January 2018 (35ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard scent marking on Xidulu Road Six buffalo bulls resting in the water at Kraaines Pan A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on...

Big 5 Sightings 1 to 7 January 2018

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see one of the Birmingham male lions drinking water at Rhulani mud wallow Monday, 1 January 2018 (25ºC) The Styx lion pride resting on Airport Link Tiyani, the female leopard, feeding on her kudu kill at Kimbeans crossing The...

Big 5 Sightings 25 to 31 December 2017

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Styx lion pride resting on Little Gowrie/Wessels cutline Monday, 25 December 2017 (23ºC) The Hukumuri male leopard moving south from Shinzele road The Xidulu female leopard moving west on Rhulani Two Lionesses from the...

Big 5 Sightings 18 to 24 December 2017

The Big 5 highlight of the week was Xidulu female leopard, resting on termite mound at Simbambili firebreak Monday, 18 December 2017 (42ºC) A bachelor group of buffalo bulls resting on Rhino Ring East Tiyani, the female leopard resting on EP airstrip A breeding herd...

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Manager’s Report September 2017

Manager’s Report

September 2017
Wild photo of the month by David Alperovitz, USA

Wild photo of the month by David Alperovitz, USA

Spring is in the air!  Birds are singing, trees are blooming and the bush is a slowly turning into a painted canvas of green delight! 

It seems as if everything almost transformed overnight, after we received an extremely welcome shower of rain just before the last day of the month.  This was definitely not expected and the sudden downpour even caught the weatherman off-guard.  The smell of the bush after the rain is truly amazing. A scent of new life!  It is clearly noticeable that we are moving towards summer.  The days have been pleasantly warm and the mornings and evenings are slowly losing that cold, crisp feeling.  With temperatures and daylight representing summer, we also changed the game drive times this month.  Game drives now depart at 05:30am and 16:00pm.  This change was implemented just at the right time, as we experienced some very hot days during the latter part of September. If you are visiting the lodge in the next few months, be sure to bring along hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.

As some of you, who travelled to our lodge recently might know, there were some big changes happening at the Gowrie Gate.  For the past couple of months, contractors were hard at work to transform the old gate into a jaw dropping entrance into the Sabi Sand.  At last, the new Gowrie Gate is open and functioning like you can’t believe. The new gate has different entry and exit lanes, ensuring that guests have a pleasant experience when arriving and departing our beautiful reserve.  Thank you for all your patience during the construction period.  From now on, everything will be smooth sailing.

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

Our trapcam was placed at Leeukuil Pan this month.  With the hot days we had, I assumed that we will see the normal elephant and impala activity at the water.  To our surprise, a female leopard also came to visit one afternoon.  Tiyani, daughter of the late Salayexe, basically grew up around our camp.  We often see her close to the lodge, sometimes she even comes by for a quick visit, before peacefully moving on again. Luckily, the camera was just in time to quickly get a picture of her, before she moved along.

This month there were plenty of staff birthdays. We started of early with chefs Juandré on the 2nd and Goodwill on the 4th.  These gentlemen are two of the reasons our guest never go hungry.  They are the thorns amongst the roses in the kitchen, cooking up a storm every day. Linky, who celebrated her birthday on the 5th is one of the ladies that makes sure that all our Rondavels are spotless. She is a very humble person and always has the sweetest smile.  Then on the 6th there was another birthday.  Lovemore, our green fingered gardener, celebrated his special day on the 6th.  Ten days later, Onnie had her birthday on the 16th. Onnie is one of our waitresses who attend to your needs with a smile.  Then, as if the kitchen did not have enough celebration, Yolandi, our Sous chef celebrated her birthday on the 27th.  A big happy birthday to all of you! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during September, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter.

Head chef Mia is sharing a recipe for the most delicious fresh Strawberry, Baby Spinach and Avocado salad this month.  This is a very easy recipe which can be mastered by bout young and old. Served with basically anything of your choice, this is the perfect salad to compliment your lunch on a warm, African summer day.

Avocado, Strawberry and Baby Spinach Salad

Avocado, Strawberry and Baby Spinach Salad

 

Salad Ingredients

1 Packets fresh baby spinach
1 Packets strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 Avocado, diced
1/4 Cup sliced almonds, toasted

Poppy seed dressing ingredients

1/3 Cup avocado oil
1 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
Salt and pepper

Method

Layered all ingredients together with your desired amount of dressing until combined.
Drizzle with Balsamic vinegar.

Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month.
Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Manager’s Report October 2017

Wow! What happened to the year!? It feels like 2017 started yesterday and now we only have two months to go before the end of the year. I guess you can say that “time flies when you’re having fun!” There is always lots of fun to be had in the bush. We had a little bit...

Manager’s Report September 2017

Spring is in the air!  Birds are singing, trees are blooming and the bush is a slowly turning into a painted canvas of green delight!  It seems as if everything almost transformed overnight, after we received an extremely welcome shower of rain just before the last...

Manager’s Report August 2017

August is the month of leaves!  At first, we thought that we welcomed the beginning of spring a bit earlier this year. But just as we got comfortable with the idea of the pleasant spring days, we were surprised by some very chilly winds during the last few days of the...

Manager’s Report June 2017

Note from the webmaster: We've been working on upgrading the Big 5 Blog the past few months, and for this reason we have not been able to publish our regular manager- and ranger reports. We apologise for this but hope that you will enjoy the flood of news that has...

Manager’s Report May 2017

Winter has arrived and the bush is wearing its winter attire once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore, which gives you a better view of all...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Rangers Report October 2017

What an awesome time out in the bush. The temperatures were pleasant most of the time, but the month ended with a heat wave of note! The average maximum temperature for October was a wonderful 32°C. We were once again on the tip of our seats, with all the amazing...

Rangers Report September 2017

Spring is finally here and with it, came some wonderful rain and temperatures. With 18mm of rain, the bush received a total facelift in the form of wonderfully bright, green colours. The average maximum temperature for this month was 32°C. All the browsers in the area...

Rangers Report August 2017

It is strange how the unexpected can happen at any time and any place. The month started off with a bang and everything was out and about, going really well, until that one day. As most of you know by now Salayexe, our resident female leopard, passed away on the 18th...

Rangers Report June 2017

It is hard to imagine that we are half way through the year, when it still feels like we celebrated new year’s yesterday. I now know why people always say that time flies when you are having fun! The winter is finally here and we had a few very crisp mornings and some...

Rangers Report May 2017

With the impala rutting season in full swing, there is no shortage in the action department. Broken horns, bloody faces and puncture wounds on their bodies are only a few signs of the fights this month. These bloody battles can even be heard late at night, as the...

Big 5 Sightings 05 to 11 February

Monday, 5 February 2018 (34ºC) Pack of ten Wilddogs running south of Mhisi Mati Sibuye the female leopard resting on Hofmans Wessels cutline Six Buffalo bulls walking on Ekiso Road One Elephant bull at Safari Open Area Hosana the young male Leopard drinking water...

Big five sightings 29 January to 4 February

Monday, 29 January 2018 (38ºC) The Styx lion pride resting on Grass Cut Road A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Kudu Drift Six buffalo bulls resting on Milkberry Road Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on EP open area Ten buffalo...

Big 5 Sightings 15 to 21 January 2018

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Hukumuri male leopard   Monday, 15 January 2018 (35ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard scent marking on Xidulu Road Six buffalo bulls resting in the water at Kraaines Pan A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on...

Big 5 Sightings 1 to 7 January 2018

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see one of the Birmingham male lions drinking water at Rhulani mud wallow Monday, 1 January 2018 (25ºC) The Styx lion pride resting on Airport Link Tiyani, the female leopard, feeding on her kudu kill at Kimbeans crossing The...

Big 5 Sightings 25 to 31 December 2017

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Styx lion pride resting on Little Gowrie/Wessels cutline Monday, 25 December 2017 (23ºC) The Hukumuri male leopard moving south from Shinzele road The Xidulu female leopard moving west on Rhulani Two Lionesses from the...

Big 5 Sightings 18 to 24 December 2017

The Big 5 highlight of the week was Xidulu female leopard, resting on termite mound at Simbambili firebreak Monday, 18 December 2017 (42ºC) A bachelor group of buffalo bulls resting on Rhino Ring East Tiyani, the female leopard resting on EP airstrip A breeding herd...

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Manager’s Report August 2017

Manager’s Report

August 2017
Wild photo of the month - Salayexe and cub by Paul, Sue and Mark Johnstone

Wild photo of the month - Salayexe and cub by Paul, Sue and Mark Johnstone

August is the month of leaves!  At first, we thought that we welcomed the beginning of spring a bit earlier this year. But just as we got comfortable with the idea of the pleasant spring days, we were surprised by some very chilly winds during the last few days of the month. We were almost blown straight into September, leaves and all!  Temperatures are, however, rising day by day and as soon as we have a little rain, the bush will start transforming too.  The Jackal Berry tree in front of our dining room is just about done shedding its leaves and this cannot happen fast enough.  With big trees come lovely shade, as long as the leaves stay on the trees, though! The lodge gardens are still in full colour, with all the shades of pink and purple covering the bougainvillea bushes.  We have a wide variety of bird species around the lodge at the moment and they have provided keen photographers with some amazing foto opportunities the last couple of weeks.

Last month I mentioned that our games room in the original camp was getting a makeover.  I am excited to announce that the project has been completed.  Guests can now relax, while enjoying a book in the reading corner, or just unwind amongst the cool, fresh, green and yellow hues that were used for the project.  Why not challenge someone to a game of pool, table tennis, foosball or even darts? We tried to re-use as many of the original furniture and fittings as possible, adding a few extra pieces here and there. Even the original lamps were transformed into a beautiful masterpiece by Hendrik, our maintenance manager. The building has a homely atmosphere and we are very happy with the end result.  If you have a trip booked in the near future, be sure to come and have a look.

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

This month, our trapcam was placed on a very busy little game path on the open area in front of the lodge.  Wow, what a highway of different species we got!  From the smallest little genet, to a very curios elephant and everything in between. We were very surprised to even see two porcupines moving along the trail late one evening.  One picture that drew my attention was a buffalo bull with a death stare.  His view is almost fixed on the camera, as if he was waiting for it to move out of his way.

We celebrated only two staff birthdays at the lodge this month.  Happy birthday to Precious, who celebrated her birthday on the 14th.  Precious has been part of the Elephant Plains housekeeping family for many years and I am sure that she will still be, for many more to come. Gerrit, the newest addition to our ranger team, celebrated his birthday on the 24th.  To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during August, I hope your day was filled with happiness and laughter.

Our recipe this month is a delicious Chocolate Fondant, shared by head chef Mia.  I am sure that these will be award winners at any dinner party!

Chocolate Fondant

Chocolate Fondant

Ingredients

100g Dark chocolate, chopped
10g Butter, softened
3 Large eggs
85g Muscovado sugar
100g Cake flour
2 tbsp Cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

Method

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth.
Whip the eggs and muscovado sugar together in an electric mixer until triple in size.  The mixture should be light, fluffy and thick.
Sieve the flour, cocoa and salt together.  Fold the chocolate mixture and dry ingredients into the eggs alternately.
Grease and dust 6 ramekins with a little cocoa powder.  Fill greased moulds with the fondant mixture and allow to rest in the fridge until ready to bake.  The mixture can even be prepared the day before serving.
Bake at 180°C for 10-11 minutes.  Loosen the edges of the fondant form the mould.  Served turned out on a plate, with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Makes six servings

All the best till next month!
Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report November 2017

The final countdown has arrived… just one more month until we welcome the new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies that were born...

Manager’s Report October 2017

Wow! What happened to the year!? It feels like 2017 started yesterday and now we only have two months to go before the end of the year. I guess you can say that “time flies when you’re having fun!” There is always lots of fun to be had in the bush. We had a little bit...

Manager’s Report September 2017

Spring is in the air!  Birds are singing, trees are blooming and the bush is a slowly turning into a painted canvas of green delight!  It seems as if everything almost transformed overnight, after we received an extremely welcome shower of rain just before the last...

Manager’s Report August 2017

August is the month of leaves!  At first, we thought that we welcomed the beginning of spring a bit earlier this year. But just as we got comfortable with the idea of the pleasant spring days, we were surprised by some very chilly winds during the last few days of the...

Manager’s Report June 2017

Note from the webmaster: We've been working on upgrading the Big 5 Blog the past few months, and for this reason we have not been able to publish our regular manager- and ranger reports. We apologise for this but hope that you will enjoy the flood of news that has...

Manager’s Report May 2017

Winter has arrived and the bush is wearing its winter attire once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore, which gives you a better view of all...

Rangers Report November 2017

  Finally, the long wait is over and the first babies of the season started arriving during November. The first impalas arrived between 10 and 13 November. November is the start of the rainy season and that directly translates into baby season. The majority of the...

Rangers Report October 2017

What an awesome time out in the bush. The temperatures were pleasant most of the time, but the month ended with a heat wave of note! The average maximum temperature for October was a wonderful 32°C. We were once again on the tip of our seats, with all the amazing...

Rangers Report September 2017

Spring is finally here and with it, came some wonderful rain and temperatures. With 18mm of rain, the bush received a total facelift in the form of wonderfully bright, green colours. The average maximum temperature for this month was 32°C. All the browsers in the area...

Rangers Report August 2017

It is strange how the unexpected can happen at any time and any place. The month started off with a bang and everything was out and about, going really well, until that one day. As most of you know by now Salayexe, our resident female leopard, passed away on the 18th...

Rangers Report June 2017

It is hard to imagine that we are half way through the year, when it still feels like we celebrated new year’s yesterday. I now know why people always say that time flies when you are having fun! The winter is finally here and we had a few very crisp mornings and some...

Rangers Report May 2017

With the impala rutting season in full swing, there is no shortage in the action department. Broken horns, bloody faces and puncture wounds on their bodies are only a few signs of the fights this month. These bloody battles can even be heard late at night, as the...

Big 5 Sightings 05 to 11 February

Monday, 5 February 2018 (34ºC) Pack of ten Wilddogs running south of Mhisi Mati Sibuye the female leopard resting on Hofmans Wessels cutline Six Buffalo bulls walking on Ekiso Road One Elephant bull at Safari Open Area Hosana the young male Leopard drinking water...

Big five sightings 29 January to 4 February

Monday, 29 January 2018 (38ºC) The Styx lion pride resting on Grass Cut Road A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on Kudu Drift Six buffalo bulls resting on Milkberry Road Another breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on EP open area Ten buffalo...

Big 5 Sightings 15 to 21 January 2018

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Hukumuri male leopard   Monday, 15 January 2018 (35ºC) Hukumuri, the male leopard scent marking on Xidulu Road Six buffalo bulls resting in the water at Kraaines Pan A breeding herd of about twenty elephants feeding on...

Big 5 Sightings 1 to 7 January 2018

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see one of the Birmingham male lions drinking water at Rhulani mud wallow Monday, 1 January 2018 (25ºC) The Styx lion pride resting on Airport Link Tiyani, the female leopard, feeding on her kudu kill at Kimbeans crossing The...

Big 5 Sightings 25 to 31 December 2017

The Big 5 highlight of the week was to see the Styx lion pride resting on Little Gowrie/Wessels cutline Monday, 25 December 2017 (23ºC) The Hukumuri male leopard moving south from Shinzele road The Xidulu female leopard moving west on Rhulani Two Lionesses from the...

Big 5 Sightings 18 to 24 December 2017

The Big 5 highlight of the week was Xidulu female leopard, resting on termite mound at Simbambili firebreak Monday, 18 December 2017 (42ºC) A bachelor group of buffalo bulls resting on Rhino Ring East Tiyani, the female leopard resting on EP airstrip A breeding herd...

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Manager’s Report June 2017

Note from the webmaster: We’ve been working on upgrading the Big 5 Blog the past few months, and for this reason we have not been able to publish our regular manager- and ranger reports. We apologise for this but hope that you will enjoy the flood of news that has reached you the past two days, as we catch up with all the outstanding newsletters.

And so we have reached the halfway mark for 2017! Hot summer days are something of the past and we are enjoying crisp winter temperatures! This month, we placed the patio heaters back into the boma and guests are also enjoying the blankets and hot water bottles on game drives. Temperatures have been dropping day by day and we are now in the full swing of winter.

Although the bush can get very dry and pale during the winter months, there is a rainbow of colours around the lodge. The bougainvillea bushes and aloes are in bloom. The gardens are painted with strokes and blotches of orange, pink, red and yellow. The aloe flowers also attract the most amazing birdlife, making them just a little more special.

Plains zebra by Morné Fouché

This month we started a new maintenance project at the lodge. Our old bar is getting a makeover. The structure as it stands today was built in 1993. This building used to be the original bar and dining area. Nowadays the old bar acts as the games room, where guests can relax and enjoy a game of foosball, table tennis or pool. Hendrik and his maintenance team have already made loads of progress. The floor and walls have been stripped and covered with a fresh layer of paint. Old lights have been revamped for an authentic look and are shining a bright new light. Watch this space! Our fresh new look, with a few exciting additions, is coming in July…

In order to be a qualified guide at Elephant Plains, the guides need to pass an advanced rifle handling assessment. This is known as ARH in our industry. The qualification is valid for three years. This month, Morné and Louis and Dawie Lombard reached the line where it was once again time for them to renew their ARH qualification. This assessment is made out of multiple range, speed and accuracy shooting. It consists of a simulating hippo charge, accuracy and timed shots on two different buffalo targets and general aiming skills. Morné, Louis and Dawie all passed their assessments with flying colours. The examiner was very impressed with their shooting skills. Congratulations guys! To fire that many accurate shots does not lie in everyone’s barrel!

Trapcam photoLast month, our trapcam was back at our resident hyena den, just west of our airstrip. I am now convinced that their favourite early morning activity is to lie around in the shade, doing as little as possible. What happens at night is another story, though. Busy bodies move around the den from dusk to dawn. The biggest count we’ve had at the den is 28 individuals and the range from old, to young, to very small black pups.

Staff birthdays were few and far apart at the lodge this month. We celebrated only two birthdays during June. Remember celebrated his birthday on the 7th. Those of you who have visited the lodge recently would know him as the bubbly personality at front of house, assisting during check-ins. We are so proud of him. He started off as a waiter, then a barman and now he is a real busy body in our reception, keeping all the ladies on their toes. On the 26th Dudu celebrated her birthday. Dudu is part of our housekeeping team and also makes a big difference in the scullery, never missing a spot on a plate or glass. I hope you both had wonderful birthdays. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during June, I hope your day was filled with happiness and laughter.

I am very excited to announce that we will soon introduce our new menus. The chefs are hard at work, mixing and matching several options to get just the correct dishes paired and in place. So far, so good. With some final touches and adjustments to make, our new menus will soon be complete. Watch this space.

This month, head chef Mia, shares a recipe for some deliciously Éclairs. Be careful when baking these, you might just over-indulge!

Éclair

Ingredients

Éclair250 ml Boiling water
125 ml Butter – cut into blocks
250ml Flour
2 ml Salt
4 Large Eggs

Cream Filling

500 ml Fresh cream
75 ml Icing sugar
1 ml Vanilla

Chocolate Topping

300 ml Icing sugar
75 ml cocoa
15 ml soft butter
30 ml water

Method

Put the water and butter in a pot and bring to the boil.
Add the flour to the water mixture.
Stir until the dough forms a ball. Remove from the heat and mix for 1 minute.
Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time and mix after each addition.
Pipe the dough onto a well greased baking pan. Leave some space in between for the éclairs to expand.
Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for another 25 minutes.
Prick each éclair when it comes out of the oven, let it cool.
Whisk the cream until soft peaks, add the icing sugar and vanilla. Fill each éclair with the cream mixture.
For the chocolate topping, sieve the icing sugar and cocoa together. Add the butter and boiling water until the correct consistency.
Spoon mixture over the éclairs, serve and enjoy!

Makes about 30 small eclairs.

Serve and enjoy! 

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

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Manager’s Report May 2017

Winter has arrived and the bush is wearing its winter attire once again! We have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles and game viewing has been spectacular! The trees and grass are not as lush anymore, which gives you a better view of all the amazing wildlife living around us. We’ve had a wonderful month at the lodge with guests from all over the world. If you have some last minute safari plans, be sure to contact our reservations office for some last minute availability during our winter special rates. Come and enjoy an evening around the fire in the boma with us and witness the most beautiful night sky Africa has to offer!

Elephant bulls playing by Morné Fouché

In the middle of May Etienne, Marlet, Anel and I once again took on the journey to Durban, to attend the annual Tourism Indaba. Our stand, tastefully decorated in crisp white and wicker, drew a lot of attention and we received loads of compliments. Thank you to each and every one who visited our stand. We met with loads of our well-known agents, but also got to meet a few new and upcoming ones. I am sure we will have many more years of good business relations with all of them.

Trapcam photo With winter creeping up upon us, we see more and more activity at our waterholes. This month, the trapcam was placed on the road next to Leeukuil pan. There was a lot of traffic on this specific road during the time we had the camera up. We captured this beautiful waterbuck bull, gracefully moving towards the pan.

We welcomed a new but somewhat familiar face at the lodge this month. Dawie Lombard joined our ranger team just before the month said its last goodbyes. Dawie actually gained some practical experience at Elephant Plains in 2009 as a young student guide, fresh out of EcoTraining. It’s great having him back at the lodge and almost feels as if he never left, but just went on a very, very long holiday. Welcome back Dawie!

Dwarf Mongoose by Morné FouchéAs always, we had some staff birthdays to celebrate. I celebrated my birthday on the 3rd and just the following day, Oom Etienne Swart had his special day. Although Oom Etienne lives in the Free State, his birthday is still special to us. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays in May, I hope your day was filled with happiness and laughter!

Our recipe for the month is a creamy chicken sensation. These chicken phyllo cups are very easy and great for lunch. If you prefer to make a big pie instead of the single portions, just line a big pie dish and fill with the creamy chicken.

Creamy Chicken Phyllo Cups

Ingredients

Creamy Chicken Phyllo Cups1Kg Chicken breasts, cut to small pieces
Salt and pepper
Garlic & Herb spice
1 cup Frozen peas
1/2 cup Chopped spring onions
1 Roll Phyllo pastry
Melted butter to brush

Method

Fry chopped spring onions in oil till soft. Add the chicken and fry till cooked but not dry. Add the frozen peas and fry till soft.
Spice with salt, pepper and Garlic & herb spices.
Make a basic white sauce, about 500ml, and add to the chicken.

To make the Phyllo cups

Cut Phyllo pastry in 10cm x 10 cm squares. Layer 3 sheets on top of each other. Place the pastry squares in a muffin pan and brush the sides with melted butter. Bake for about 5 minutes at 180°C till the sides are brown. Set aside to cool down.

Once cooled, fill the phyllo cups with the chicken mixture.

Makes 12 individual portions

Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month.
Tersia Fouché

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