Manager’s Report November 2015

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

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

The final countdown has arrived… Just one more month till we welcome a brand 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 born this month, there is never a dull moment out on game drive.

Breakaway pride lioness by Neil Coetzer

Breakaway pride lioness by Neil Coetzer

Each year November, we have a “birding day” at the lodge where our staff forms a team to compete against our neighbours, Arathusa Private Game Lodge. This has now become tradition and with the winning team being awarded their name on the birding trophy, it is all great fun. The competition does not have many rules and the goal is to identify as many different bird species between 05:00am and 07:00pm. If you see it, you can claim it. Last year, Elephant Plains took the lead and we won the competition with 7 species. This year, we were unfortunately defeated with 6 species, but we accepted our second place with great pride. With the birding trophy proudly presented in our reception area, we are looking forward to next year and once again engraving our name on the plaque as the 2016 winners.

Buffalo bulls by Louis Liversage

Buffalo bulls by Louis Liversage

Some time ago, we decided to start producing our own organic compost at the lodge by using leaves, grass and tree cuttings from our gardens as well as vegetable peelings, fruit waste and teabags from the kitchen. With our compost heap now active and providing us with wheelbarrows full of nature’s most rewarding soil amendment, we decided to get a new project up and running, namely our very own herb garden. Our maintenance team was very creative and made use only of leftover building materials from old projects to put up a frame and cover it with mesh to keep out our resident bushbuck, monkeys and baboons. The end result is a strong little structure in which we can grow the freshest variety of herbs for our kitchen. I cannot wait to get the first plants into the soil. Watch this space!

We welcomed two new staff members to our team this month. Ciske Van Zyl joined us on the 2nd and will be assisting in Front of House and Reservations.   Jacques Swart is our new Head Chef and I must say, his cooking skills are amazing, but not too good for my figure! Ciske and Jacques both decided to leave the buzzing city life in Cape Town to settle in a more tranquil environment. Where better than in the African bush?! Welcome to our team guys. I am certain that you are going to make many friends and lifelong memories at Elephant Plains. We also have a visitor at the lodge. Aisling Bury, a student from Bath, England is currently completing a ten week practical period with us. Her future goal is to graduate from a Swiss hotel school with an MBA in Hospitality Management. She has been a great help all around the lodge and we are excited to share as much knowledge as we possibly can with her.

Nkuhuma pride lioness by Neil Coetzer

Nkuhuma pride lioness by Neil Coetzer

This month we had only two birthdays at the lodge. Lanette, our spa therapist, celebrated her birthday on the 25th. Lanette does not only pamper guest in the spa with relaxing treatments, she also helps out all around 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, head chef Jacques shares a mouth watering recipe. Steamed Berry Coconut Pudding is the perfect combination between juicy fruit and a soft vanilla sponge.

Steamed Berry Coconut Pudding Base

Steamed Berry Coconut Pudding Base

Steamed Berry Coconut Pudding
Base

200 g Black berries
50 g Caster sugar
1 Tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp water

Sponge

100 g Butter at room temperature
100 g Caster sugar
100g Self raising flour
50 g desiccated Coconut
2 eggs
Custard or cream to serve

Method

Lightly butter 4 x 250 ml ramekins.

Put half of the blackberries into a small sauce pan, mix the sugar, corn flour and water together and add into the pan with the blackberries. Cook till berries are soft and the sauce is thick. Add the rest of the blackberries and allow cooling.

To make the sponge, put all ingredients into a bowl and beat till it’s smooth.

Spoon the blackberry sauce into ramekins, and then add the sponge on top of the base. Place it into an oven safe dish, add water to the dish to cover 1/3 of the ramekin.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes at 180°C.

Remove from oven and remove the foil. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the dish.

Loosen the edges of the desert from the ramekins with a round nose knife and turn it out onto a plate.

Serve with custard or cream.

Serves 4

As our next newsletter 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 2016. Whether you have a holiday planned, or you’re just relaxing at home with the family, make the best of every second and travel safe!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report October 2015

Wild photo of the month by Trevor and Julie Legg

Wild photo of the month by Trevor and Julie Legg

Wow! What happened to the year!? It feels like it was only yesterday that 2015 started and now we only have two months to go before the end of the year. I guess you can say “time flies when you’re having fun!” There is always lots of fun to be had in the bush.

Southern ground hornbill silouette by Neil Coetzer

Southern ground hornbill silouette by Neil Coetzer

We had a little bit of rain during the month and the bush began transforming 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 to see newborn 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.

Female giraffe by Louis Liversage

Female giraffe by Louis Liversage

The lodge is looking amazing as the Bougainvillea’s are in bloom. The trees have bright green leaves and the gardens overall have taken on a fresh, summer look. With summer here, we also see a lot more caterpillars, butterflies, insects and reptile species around the lodge. One reptile species that we see more often now than a few weeks ago, would be snakes. I was very fortunate to see a Zambezi Garter snake one morning on my way to the Luxury Suites. While walking on the pathway, I came across a beautiful black and white snake. At only about 15cm long, his beautiful little body had me in awe! At first, we were unsure of the species, as it is not a common snake to our area. Our trusty snake guide pushed us in the right direction. What an amazing sighting. We learned that this little snake is non-venomous, not very common to our area and mostly moves around during the night. They will avoid contact with humans and hardly ever become aggressive.

Young Tsalala pride male lion by Neil Coetzer

Young Tsalala pride male lion by Neil Coetzer

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 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.

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. On the 8th Khanyisile celebrated her birthday. Khani is the short, friendly waiter, keeping our guests entertained during meals. 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. 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.

This month we said goodbye to one of our staff, head chef Reimond. Reimond decided to make his way southwards, towards Citrusdal, a small town in the Cape area. We wish him all the best and I am sure he will have many joyful days in his new kitchen. We have a new head chef joining our team during November and we are all waiting to welcome him to our team.

This month, sous chef Henk is sharing a traditional South African recipe. The ever favourite Jan Ellis pudding. I still remember this warm baked pudding as a little girl in my grandmother’s kitchen. It is similar to Malva pudding, but this one has an interesting twist.

Pear Baked Jan Ellis Pudding

Ingredients

Pear Baked Jan Ellis Pudding

Pear Baked Jan Ellis Pudding

375ml Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp Apricot Jam
2/4 Cup Milk
2/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Softened Butter
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
5 Pears Peeled and Cut into slices

Dissolve the baking soda in the milk.  Mix all the other ingredients together, then add the milk and mix well until smooth. Place the cut pears in the baking dish. Pour the mixture on top of the pears and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180°C or until a skewer comes out clean.

For the Syrup

1/2 Cup Boiling Water
1/2 Cup Cream
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Grated Orange Zest
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

Caramelize the sugar in a pan and temper with cream to form caramel. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer. Pour over the bakes pudding and serve with custard.

Serves 6

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report July 2015

Wild photo of the month by John and Linda

Wild photo of the month by John and Linda

Having passed the first half of the year already, the most common thing to say is “I can’t believe how fast time flies!” And that is indeed true. We are already in the beginning of August and Spring is quickly approaching. We’ve had lovely temperatures this month, with only one or two chilly days in between. Towards the end of the month we had lovely warm days, so much so that our guests enjoyed lounging around the pool area. The lodge was buzzing this month with honeymoon couples, photographers and lots of family groups. With the bush not being as dense as during summertime, sightings and photo opportunities were breath taking and I am sure everyone left with some amazing memories!

Cheetah female by Morné Fouché

Cheetah female by Morné Fouché

Our roof maintenance is still going strong. Rondavel 2 got a complete makeover. It now has a new roof, a fresh layer of paint and even the floor was stripped and redone. So it looks like a brand new room! We also completed the project on the waterhole on our open area, in front of the lodge. The end result is, just as I thought, amazing. Since the moment we switched on the pump to refill the waterhole, we’ve had unbelievable elephant sightings. To fill such a large empty waterhole with water takes a few days under normal circumstances. Now you can just imagine, with the elephants constantly slurping up the fresh water and adjusting the borehole pipes every now and again, it is quite a tricky situation to get the waterhole full to the brim.

Elephant bull by Jonathan Vogel

Elephant bull by Jonathan Vogel

This month, the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust took lodge managers on an educational tour to the surrounding villages. Their main goal is to develop small businesses and to encourage the lodges to support local entrepreneurs. I was amazed at all the projects and ideas going on right on our doorstep. We visited our local Utah village vegetable and herb garden, where we already receive weekly supplies of fresh produce. We also got introduced to a tyre repair and wheel alignment workshop and a gentleman who supplies and fits glass. Another stop on the itinerary was at a local tour guide, conducting cultural tours and we were treated to a performance from a local dance group. To our surprise, we also got to visit the local Tilapia fish farm. Our last stop for the day was at the local Shangaan sangoma. Freddie is a very friendly guy and we were given a short presentation on how his readings work when he “throws the bones”. It is only when you are exposed to these enthusiastic entrepreneurs that you realize how creative the human mind can be. Sometimes, less really can be so much more than you thought.

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

This month we placed the trapcam at Kraaines Pan. Kraaines is on the western side of our airstrip and animals often visit it for a morning or afternoon drink. We caught this shot of impala and zebra having a drink and two buffaloes relaxing in the shallow water. We did have a few warm days during the last stretch of the month, so it comes as no surprise that some of the larger and older boys of the animal kingdom decided to go for a swim. At the moment we are really having bad luck with our Trapcams. As you will remember, last month our Trapcam was broken by a very intuitive elephant. We got a new, “tamper proof” Trapcam, complete with a steel housing and thought that this would keep the animals at bay. But to no avail though… Three days after placing the Trapcam at Kraaines, we found it in pieces all over the place. Luckily we could still download the pictures. The culprits this time? The Breakaway lion pride! The photos were taken at night at you can see lion silhouettes and whiskers in close-up shots. Because we know that they were in the area that evening, it had to be them! Luckily we managed to get this very nice photo of the herbivores enjoying the waterhole before it was destroyed.

The last week of July was packed with staff birthdays at the lodge. The rhythms of the Happy Birthday song was just about echoing uninterrupted, as rangers and ladies of our housekeeping team aged another year. On the 24th Dawie celebrated his birthday. Dawie has been a ranger at Elephant Plains for a few years now and he is very popular with our guests. The 26th was shared by one of our housekeeping ladies, Eummy and another ranger, Neil. Eummy is mostly active in and around the main areas of the lodge. Neil is the newest addition to our staff and this was his first birthday at Elephant Plains. I am sure there will be many more to come for both of them. On the 29th, another ranger, Jonathan, enjoyed his special day. Jonathan is truly a bubble of energy and with him around, there is never a dull or silent moment. Busi ended of the celebrations on the 30th, when she had her birthday. Busi is also part of our housekeeping team, ensuring that our guest rooms are in top condition for an enjoyable stay. Happy birthday to all of you! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during July, I hope your day was filled with happiness and laughter.

Our new menus are up and running like a well oiled machine. It has been a big success! This month, head chef Reimond’s recipe is the delicious Cinnamon Rolls, served as a pastry option for breakfast.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

(15 Portions)

Dough

1 ½ Cups warmed milk
3 Eggs
125ml Melted butter
6 ¾ Cups flour
¾ Cups castor sugar
1 ½ Packets dry yeast
1 tsp Salt

Filling

1 ½ Cups muscavado sugar
3 ¾ tbsp Cinnamon
90ml Softened butter

Icing

127g Cream cheese
6tbsp Softened butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Pinch salt

Method

Mix the flour, castor sugar, salt and yeast. Mix the butter into the eggs and slowly add the milk to the butter and egg mixture. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Knead until you have dough that springs back when a finger is poked into it. Allow to rise in a warm place until double in size. Mix the muscavado sugar and cinnamon for the filling. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle until it is about 5mm thick. Spread the butter evenly onto the pastry, then sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over this. Making sure that it is all over the pastry, then press down gently. Roll it up. Portion the rolls and lay them into a baking tray. Allow to rise, covered with foil in a warm place for 30mins. Bake for 20 mins. with the foil still on. Make the icing whilst it’s in the oven. Mix the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt together until smooth. Immediately after the cinnamon rolls are done, spread the icing over the top so it can melt into the rolls. They should be completely covered. Allow to cool, then separate. Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report June 2015

Wild photo of the month by John and Linda

Wild photo of the month by John and Linda

And so we have reached the halfway mark for 2015! Hot summer days are something from the past and we are enjoying crisp winter temperatures. This month, we placed the patio heaters and burners back in the boma and we also have the blankets and hot water bottles back on the game drive vehicles. Temperatures have been dropping day by day and I think it is safe to say that we are now in the midst 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 all in bloom. The gardens are painted with strokes and blotches of orange, pink, red and yellow. The aloe flowers also attract the most amazing birds, making them just a little more special.

Elephant Plains guests at sunset by Jonathan Vogel

Elephant Plains guests at sunset by Jonathan Vogel

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 thatch roofs a small 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. Before such a project can start, the roofs need to be 100% dry and now that we are outside of our rainy season, it is the best time to tackle a project like this. As thatch roofs age over the years, the top layer of grass start to rot and they take on a pale, black appearance. 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 areas 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 like new. It is quite amazing to see the contractors in action and what a big difference a good brush can make. We are done with the main area of the lodge and will now slowly start with the rooms, one by one. Another project our maintenance team is busy with is the waterhole in front of the lodge. The main focus is to make the water hole a bit deeper by removing excess dried mud. Although some animals might not be impressed with our plans at the moment, I am sure that the end result is going to be amazing.

Yellow-billed hornbill by Louis Liversage

Yellow-billed hornbill by Louis Liversage

Now, being in the middle of the bush can sometimes get a bit challenging and one should always be ready for the unexpected. Something that we have learned in the past, is that accidents happen when you least expect them. Being situated where we are, it is important to ensure that our first aiders are able to administer emergency care, until professional medical help arrives. This month, 7 of our staff members from different departments completed a Wilderness First Aid course. The training programme used is tailor made for wilderness and remote environments. Students are given simulations of incidents that could happen, or have happened at lodges in the past, in order to prepare them to keep calm and handle a medical emergency. Thank you to Africa Safe-T for the training provided. I am confident to say that we are very much prepared to handle a medical emergency, should the need arise.

GoPro photo

GoPro photo

Last month, our Trapcam became victim to a very curios elephant. While the trapcam was situated at Rampan, one individual of a breeding herd decided to test her photography skills. Although the cow did manage to not only turn the camera completely upside down and take some pictures of the herd, she also removed it from the tree. The end result was unfortunately: Elephant 1 – Trapcam 0. So, with our trapcam now in the shape of an elephant’s footprint, we decided to use a GoPro photo this month. Thank you Dawie for this picture of your tracker, Dumisani, sharing a special moment with an elephant cow.

Staff birthdays were few and far apart at the lodge this month. We celebrated only 2 birthdays during June. Remember, our friendly waiter, celebrated his birthday on the 7th. Those of you who have visited the lodge before would know him as the bubbly personality, assisting during meals and in the bar. Then 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 introduced our new menus this month. The chefs have been hard at work, mixing and matching several options to get just the correct dishes pared and in place. In the past, we used to have a plated menu every second night. We have decided, with the new menus, that we would have a plated menu for 3 nights, followed by a traditional braai buffet on the 4th night. So far, so good. We have already received many compliments on the new menus.

With the new menus in place also comes a load of options for the recipe of the month. This month, head chef Reimond thought it good to share a soup recipe. There is nothing better to fight of a chilly winter’s day like this Chorizo, Potato and Spinach soup.

Chorizo, Potato and Onion Soup

Chorizo, Potato and Onion Soup

Chorizo, Potato and Onion Soup

Ingredients

5 Chorizo Sausages
1 Large onion
10 Large Potatoes
4 Cups Chopped Spinach
2 Teaspoons Garlic
Pinch of Salt and Pepper
1Lt Water
500ml Cream
100ml Chopped Spring Onions

Chop and fry the onions, garlic and spring onions until the onions turn translucent. Finely chop 1 chorizo sausage and fry with the onions for a few minutes. Now add the chopped spinach and fry together. Boil the potatoes until soft. In a big pot, mix the cooked potatoes, water and cream. Now blend with a stick blender until smooth.  Add the onion, chorizo and spinach mixture to the soup and stir trough. Cut the rest of the chorizo and fry in a saucepan till slightly crispy.  Portion the soup and garnish with the crispy chorizo pieces.

Makes one big pot of soup.

Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report May 2015

Wild photo of the month by by Paul, Sue, Mark and Kirsty Johnstone, Brisbane, Australia

Wild photo of the month by by Paul, Sue, Mark and Kirsty Johnstone, Brisbane, Australia

We are at that time of the year again, winter has arrived! Now that the bush is wearing its winter coat, game viewing is getting better and better each day. The trees and grass are not as lush anymore, which gives you a better view of all the amazing wildlife living around us. At the lodge things were buzzing as always. We had many big groups at the lodge and some nights during dinner the staff entertained us with their cultural dances and songs. If your heart still desires a Big 5 experience like no other, please contact our reservations office to check some last minute, winter special availability.

Breakaway lion pride by Louis Liversage

Breakaway lion pride by Louis Liversage

In the beginning of May, Etienne, Marlet, Amanda and I took on the journey to Durban to attend the annual Tourism Indaba and it was another huge success. Our stand looked amazing, decorated with striking blue walls and crisp white leather couches. Thank you to each and everyone 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.

Elephant bull by Jonathan Vogel

Elephant bull by Jonathan Vogel

In order to be a qualified guide at Elephant Plains, guides have to pass an advance rifle handling assessment. This is known as ARH in our industry. The qualification is valid for two years. This month, Morné and Jonathan 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 lion charge, accuracy and timed shots on two different buffalo targets and general aiming skills. Both Morné and Jonathan passed their assessment with flying colours. Congratulations guys! To fire that many accurate shots does not lie in everyone’s barrel!

 

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

As we are at the start of winter, our waterholes have become a general meeting point for loads of different animal species. Elephant herds frequently visit these water sources and this month we saw a lovely herd taking a mud bath at Rampan. The youngsters made the most of the soft mud and some of them almost disappeared in it, as they rolled and covered themselves. We still get some warm days every now and again and this is their way of escaping from the harsh rays of the African sun. When the mud dries and falls off their enormous grey bodies, it takes along all the ticks and parasites that got stuck in the mud. What a unique way of pest control…

This month we also welcomed a new ranger to our team. Neil Coetzer joined our team at the beginning of the month. It did not take long for him to fit right in. Neil has been very busy learning roads and now that this is under the knee, he will begin with game drives. This is not his first time guiding in a Big 5 reserve and his knowledge of the bush and animals is of a very high standard. Welcome to our team Neil, your contagious laugh is already echoing throughout Elephant Plains!

As 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. Then, just after the first two, Phillip celebrated his special day on the 5th. Phillip is part of the magical team keeping the gardens at the lodge in tip top shape. Last up for the month was Henk, whose birthday was on the 15th. Henk is the newest addition to our team of chefs and his cooking is mouth-watering. Happy birthday! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays in May, I hope your day was filled with happiness and laughter!

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

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

1½ Cups Butter
3 Cups Sugar
5 large Eggs
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa

Melt the butter and then stir in the sugar. Now add the eggs and vanilla until everything is well mixed. Add the salt, baking powder, flour and cocoa to the butter mixture and mix until smooth. Pour batter into a prepared baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 35-40 minutes.

Ganache
250g White Baking Chocolate
225ml Heavy Cream

Chop chocolate into smaller pieces. Mix the chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat the mixture in a microwave for 1 minute at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted. Allow to cool in the fridge. Pour over the brownies once cooled. Makes 24 servings.

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

Manager’s Report April 2015

Wild photo of the month by Paul, Sue, Mark, and Kirsty Johnstone, Brisbane, Australia

Wild photo of the month by Paul, Sue, Mark, and Kirsty Johnstone, Brisbane, Australia

April was another wonderful month at the lodge. We had some rain and the bush and surrounds have transformed from pale brown to a slightly greener colour. One can still see that we are heading into winter though. Game viewing was magical and we had many groups at the lodge this month. I am sure that everyone enjoyed the awesome sightings.

Anderson the male leopard by Louis Liversage

Anderson the male leopard by Louis Liversage

Now that winter is creeping up on us, we have changed our daily schedule at the lodge. We have moved our morning game drives 30 minutes later, now departing at 06:00am. The afternoon drives depart 30 minutes earlier at 15:30. With daylight changes, we need to also change our schedule to ensure the best possible experience for all our guests. Daytime temperatures are lovely, but as soon as the sun sets you need some extra layers against the chill. So if you are planning to go on safari during the next few months, remember to pack some warm clothes as well. Should you forget something, our well stocked curio shop has a wide variety available.

Breakaway female lion by Louis Liversage

Breakaway female lion by Louis Liversage

As mentioned last month, we are slowly giving each of our rooms a facelift. This month our maintenance team was all about painting rondavels. The rondavels have been part of the lodge for many years. These buildings were some of the first on the property and have accommodated thousands of people over the years. This month, they received a fresh layer of paint on the outside walls. We are constantly busy keeping our buildings in tip top shape and use any possible chance we get to give every building that extra bit of special attention, where needed.

It is that time of the year again, show time! April and May are two very busy months with tourism shows in South Africa. The World Travel Market took place between 15 and 17 April in Cape Town and our lodge was again represented by our marketing representative, Samantha Chatham from Somewhere South. Soon Etienne, Marlet, Amanda and I will travel to Durban to attend the annual Indaba Tourism Show, which is held 9-11 May. The show is held at the International Convention Centre in Durban and we are very excited to present our wonderful product once again. We enjoy spending some time with our agents and are also keen to get to know new and upcoming agents and tour operators. If you are attending Indaba this year, feel free to visit our stand at any time, ICCG05. Hope to see you there!

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

This month the trapcam was placed at Kraaines Pan. We caught this small herd of blue wildebeest late one afternoon. They are often sighted on our airstrip, along with zebra and other plains game. They most likely came to the water for a last drink before sunset. Blue wildebeest live in herds, but it might also happen that a young male will walk with impala or zebra when he gets chased off by the dominant males.

We also had some birthdays at the lodge this month. On the 3rd Simon celebrated his birthday. He is one of the gardeners who keeps the lodge surroundings in tip-top condition and assists with general day to day maintenance. On the 13th, Etienne had his big day. The love and pride Etienne has for the lodge is bigger than anything I have ever seen. He is an inspiration to all of us and a wonderful boss to work for! Just one day later on the 14th, Amanda also aged another year. Amanda’s bubbly personality is well known in our reservation department. Short on their heels was Janine, who celebrated her birthday on the 18th. She is the friendly face that will check you in during your arrival and make sure your stay is an unforgettable experience. Then, last but not least, Joyce celebrated her birthday on the 30th. Joyce is one of our cleaners that make sure that the rooms are comfortable and cleaned to perfection. Happy birthday to all of you! I hope you had wonderful birthdays and may you enjoy many more at Elephant Plains! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during April, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!

The recipe for this month is perfect for any occasion. Chocolate Fondant will never let you down.

Chocolate Fondant

Chocolate Fondant

Ingredients

200 g Dark Chocolate – Finely Chopped
200 g Butter
200 g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
4 Egg Yolks
200 g Flour
50 g Melted Butter (for brushing)
Cacao powder (for dusting)

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Prepare your moulds by brushing the melted butter with upward strokes to cover the inside surface. Place the moulds in the fridge to cool and dust the inside with cacao powder.

Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a slowly simmering pot of water. When the chocolate is melted remove from heat and allow to cool down.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold the flour into the egg mixture until well mixed.

Gently fold the melted chocolate into the flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix.

Portion the mixture into the prepared moulds and allow to set for a few minutes.

Bake the fondant for 10-12 minutes and remove from oven. Gently loosen the sides of the fondant before tipping out onto a serving plate. Serve with ice cream, cream or custard. Makes 6-8 servings.

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché