Text by Candace Grey

As we all know, the festive season is looming large. Some of us cringe at the memory of hearing “Deck the Halls” jingling merrily through the doors of the nearest shopping centres before October has even warmed up. The 1st of December kick-starts the urge to lace our homes with all things jolly and shiny; our noses all the while tingling at the scent of moth balls and tinsel. Cheetah Plains is of course never a stranger to the festivities. We like to add a little splash of green, red and gold just to remind folks that it is that time of year, even though it is dry out here, and it does not “feel like Christmas” when you are watching a leopard gnaw determinedly at a wet and tattered impala.

Image by Candace Grey

Image by Candace Grey

A couple seasonal birds have made their return: the Woodland Kingfisher in all its cerulean brilliance, and audacious “Tick-trrrr” chatter; the Emerald Spotted Wood Dove, who chooses to be seen and not heard as its call gently bounces in the background; and the weavers’ nestlings are all beginning to emerge from their cosy homes.

Image by Candace Grey

Image by Candace Grey

Speaking of homes, we have recently commissioned the Bush Cottage for a facelift, nip and tuck. More on this in next month’s blog!

It won’t be long before we are able to serve freshly harvested pumpkins and fragrant herbs from our own little produce garden!!

Image by Candace Grey

Image by Candace Grey

It has kept Lineth and Respect quite occupied to tend to this garden when they are not tending to their regular duties of cooking delicious meals and maintaining the camp grounds.

The quickest herb to grow has been our rocket leaves which has already been served up with the juicy appetizer of smoked Springbok Carpaccio with a sweet balsamic reduction. The watering of this garden has been maintained by means of a strong filtration system that makes use of grey-water (dish water, shower water and laundry water) and has proven to be great as we watch sprouts and stems push up through the compost.

Probably the change most noteworthy at the lodge is our Rhino station. This can be found at the entrance to the reception area of the lodge. The idea of the rhino station is to give folks an idea of all the interesting things about them. The station will highlight facts such as:

–          The difference between the black rhino and white rhino, and how their tracks noticeably differ from one         another

–          The feel and resilience of rhino skin

–          The idea of just how heavy these animals are – and not just because of their skin and muscle mass; their bone structure adds to the bulk.

–          How its teeth are perfectly designed for its diet

The station will feature examples of bones and tracks as well as an interactive bit that will allow guests to feel how rough rhino skin is.

Image by Candace Grey

Image by Candace Grey

The idea came about when Gary saw the old skull of ours, sitting outside of the curio shop and grinning at guests as they walked by. Being aware of the inquisitive nature of nearly all that stay with us prompted the idea of an edu-station to share knowledge and emphasis on the importance of these animals.

So far, the station has be well received as guest pause and read the signage, ready to ask a question or three.

A majority of guests look forward to seeing a rhino during one of the game drives and are genuinely fascinated by the way it is. The hope is that with a bit of education, more and more people will join the fight against the poaching of these animals.

As we begin preparing the gammon and sharing amarula on crushed ice, we cannot wait to share the festive season with all our visitors!

Image by Andrew Khosa

Image by Andrew Khosa