Photo above by Kayleigh-Rose Humphries
Wow! Our first Newsletter of 2022 and the year is already well on its way! We hope that our previous and future guests alike, all enjoyed a well-deserved Christmas holiday break, together with family and friends.
Elephant Plains is doing very well under, still undesirable, hospitality circumstances. If Covid-19 taught us anything, it is that the unpredictable is still very much predictable. Green shoots of recovery in the market are sporadically showing and we’ve seen an increase in international travellers making bookings. More flight routes are opening up and this also brings along the prospect of recovery. As we are starting to get ready for the Travel Expo Season, we are optimistic and excited. Challenges always bring about change and it’s up to you, whether these inevitable changes are positive or not. Adaptability is key and we’ve always been known for our tenacity and creative, forward-thinking abilities. Without our trusty staff members, the past two years would have been impossible to endure and we are looking forward to a great future for the lodge. Without their teamwork, none of this would have been possible. We are looking forward to a great 2022, doing what we’re passionate about – spoiling our guests with unbelievable sightings, great hospitality and sharing and instilling our love of nature with them.
The bush is slowly, but surely, changing to the dryer season, as fall is fast approaching. Although we’ve had 250mm of rain for the year, the grass is turning paler by the day. Despite this natural cycle, our dam and grass load levels are looking good. Game viewing has been great. There is a new male leopard in the area, Xitsalala. He is about three years old and we are excited to get to know him better. Tiyani and her cubs are doing well and the cubs are starting to hunt on their own. They’ve been seen drinking water from the water feature at reception on a number of occasions. Xidulu also gave birth to two cubs. We are seeing them more regularly, whilst still giving mom and the cubs the opportunity to bond. Ndzutini, Tiyani’s previous cub, also seems to be back, as we’ve been seeing her on a more regular basis, after spending some of her time in Mala Mala. The Tortoise Pan male, is still our dominant male, although he seems to be getting more and more pressure from the Flat Rock and Hosana male leopards. The hyena den still doesn’t cease to amaze us, and we are currently entertained by six cubs.
We are excited to announce the acquisition of an additional 4000 ha traversing rights at Djuma and Buffelshoek, to the northeast of Elephant Plains. These areas are well-known for their large watering holes and big open areas and we are looking forward to the added wildlife diversity. We have always had the philosophy of “tread lightly” and with this additional traversing, we are spreading our vehicle impact on nature. We are still continuing the fencing of big Marula and Knobthorn trees and have started using a local contractor, Rexon Ntimane and his team, from Nkaxa Habitat Management Services.
The new signboard at the entrance to the lodge is looking amazing! We are also busy renovating the Zebra Luxury Suite. This project includes a new roof, new windows, repainting and extending the outside viewing deck. We are also busy revamping the interior and we are looking forward to seeing the end result. In our next newsletter we will be able to share some photographs. Our brand-new wine list will be introduced in the next couple of weeks and it includes a very special selection of some of South Africa’s best-known wines.
There has been a number of staff changes, which brings about some fresh dynamics to the EP team. Ruan Momberg was promoted to Lodge Manager, but is still available as ranger, on request. From there on, it’s girl power all the way! Lorien Henning is now Head of Reservations. Barbara Nolte took over the role of Office Administrator and Relief Manager and will fill in at Reservations for Lorien during her leave cycle. Originally from Potchefstroom, Barbara has a B. Com degree in International Trade and Marketing. She also recently acquired her guiding qualifications. With a passion for nature, she is fully enjoying her new adventure at EP. Mariska Booysen is our new Head of Housekeeping. She is also Chef Yolandé’s fiancé. We wish them the happiest of futures together! Originally from Pretoria, Mariska has an eye for attention to detail and is a welcome addition to the team. From the start, she fitted right in. Clarissa Fourie was employed as Relief Office Administrator and Human Resources. She also does relief for FOH and Housekeeping. She grew up in Johannesburg and finished her B. Com degree in Industrial Psychology and Labour Relations. She worked in Centurion as an HR consultant, before joining the EP team. Last, but not least, is Kayleigh-Rose Humphries. She is our newest ranger and already a proud member of the team. Her passion for the bush started at age 4 and she started her guiding career in 2017. She has a special interest in plants and traditions. With all these new additions to the EP team, we are looking forward to a very bright future!
We hope to welcome you to EP and its magic, in the very near future!
The Elephant Plains Team