Winter this year was a bit odd in Madikwe, somehow it never seemed to take itself too seriously.
While it certainly got cooler and we did have some typical winter frost, cold breezes, dust and dry grass, it all seemed a bit of a half-hearted attempt somehow. We even had some rain in July, usually unheard of!
In any event, spring is here now, with summer not far off, the cool nights are being softened by warm breezes and the sun is going down in its red dusty haze a bit later each evening. Hopefully the rains will arrive sooner than they did last year, bringing with them the rich grass and greenery that will transform the reserve.
Summer in Madikwe is full of colour with flowers, butterflies, birds, huge blue skies, red soils and unforgettable sunsets competing to catch your eye. The lean times of winter are quickly forgotten as the herbivores grow fat on the rich vegetation and the predators grow fat on
well, the herbivores really.
Guides Report for Spring 2011
Winter certainly does not have a negative effect on game viewing, the vegetation dies off and we are provided with clearer views of our wildlife. The mornings may be a little chilly, but nothing that a hot water bottle and an Amarula-laced coffee cannot fix.
Even so, summer is always welcome in Madikwe. Warm nights, crisp mornings and the arrival of the birthing season are always looked forward to!
We were recently graced with the presence of two female giraffe that decided to wander across the drift and explore Makanyanes giraffe-free habitat. They seem to be quite happy and have decided to stay, lingering far longer than the other giraffe that have ventured across onto our private ground in the past. We hope that they decide to take up permanent residency, we would be most happy to accommodate them here on our ground!
Our six resident rhino are also doing very well and have been very active around the lodge. We are finding signs of them in areas that they previously avoided, this can only be a sign that they are now happy and relaxed enough to explore and now venture out into more open areas, providing us with some exceptional sightings of them.
Buffalo are frequently being seen in the eastern parts of Makanyanes private land, the population steadily increasing as more and more animals cross the river to join the resident herd, which is now usually found in the grasslands to the east of the lodge. Even closer to the lodge, we often find a few of the solitary Dugga boys (old buffalo bulls displaced from the herd) even closer to the lodge. With their mud-caked hides, broken horns and menacingly appearance, they are quite a bunch of characters.
Towards the centre of the reserve, a leopard gave birth to three cubs recently and, although she keeps them safe up in the rocky outcrops, she has been allowing us to view her new bundles of joy from below. Through a pair of binoculars, we are able to see every detail and action of the new spotty family members as they begin to learn how to hunt by means of very energetic games of cat-and-mouse. Hopefully they will become used to the presence of our vehicles by the time the hunting becomes more serious!
Although wild dogs are well known for being elusive, this has certainly not been the case recently, they actually seem to be looking for us at the moment! They have also been spending much of their time on our private ground, much to the disgust of our resident Impala herds. The dogs have never been shy of the lodge, but their boldness seems to be growing, every time they visit Makanyane, they seem to make a point of providing us with exceptional sightings right at the lodge itself.
Head Field Guide
As Dylan mentioned, the area around the lodge has been a hive of activity recently. Hyena have also been frequent and very vocal nocturnal visitors, we regularly see Brown hyenas on the plains just behind the lodge and we often hear the Spotted hyenas whooping in the night close to the lodge. With arrival of the migratory nightjars and their distinctive nocturnal calls and the chirruping of Bushbabies out foraging in the trees between the suites, the night-time chorus is the perfect accompaniment to a wonderful meal under the stars.
Here an example of the fare at the moment:
Turnip and Mango Soup
Farm fresh turnip is combined with locally grown mango to create a light, delicious soup.
Tempura fried Quail with a green pawpaw and peanut salad, served with spiced salt and sweet soy
Pawpaws are also grown in this area. When combined with peanuts, this salad compliments the succulent quail, creating an irresistible starter with a Thai twist.
Saddle of Lamb stuffed with spinach sage and marscarpone, on grilled white asparagus, wilted baby spinach and red pepper sabayon
South Africas famous Karoo lamb is subtly enhanced with sage and marscapone
Roasted kabeljou with hummus, mint yoghurt, cumin salt, balsamic reduction and a crispy onion salad
A succulent fish dish with terrific texture, zing a middle eastern influence make for an unforgettable main course
Orange and Cardamom cream tarts with fresh Turkish dates
A smooth and refreshing end to a perfect meal!
All this enjoyed under a canopy of a million stars, with a glass or two of wine and the lions roaring nearby unforgettable!
But dont take my word for it, come and experience all this for yourself!
Hope to see you soon,