Typically, Madikwe summers are hot. Hot with a chance of rain.
That would make this one a very typical Madikwe summer then, except with added hot. And rain on the side. In fact, on all sides.
In the last few weeks we’ve seen wave after wave of afternoon thunderstorms unceremoniously dumping a deluge into the reserve. Not that this rain is unwelcome or that we are ungrateful, far from it. It’s just that sometimes, when a bushbraai is rained out, or the umpteenth delivery truck is being pulled from a muddy ditch, we wonder how it would be if summer was a little less typical.
The thunder storms are nothing short of spectacular though, all the elements get involved to create a truly African display: wind, dust, rain, thunder and lightning all combine in a dazzling natural spectacle.
The storms are very often short and sharp and usually happen in the mid-afternoon, a welcome break from the heat. As the massive clouds shuffle overhead, the crescendo of cicada calls sizzling in the afternoon sun is slowly drowned out by the rumble of thunder. The storms abruptly pound the reserve with cold, refreshing rain before moving off as quickly as they arrived, the thunder rumbling off into the distance. Behind the garrison of storm clouds, the ground is left saturated, steam curling up off the puddles into the afternoon air. Rainwater drips from the trees, ephemeral diamonds glinting in the afternoon sun. The show over, the cicada’s resume their chorus and the air quickly fills with insects and a myriad of colourful birds as the mercury resolutely heads back to where it was.
The sun slipping down in the rain-washed sky creates spectacular, crisp sunsets, honey-scented by the moist, baked earth. There is no real twilight in Africa, the sun seems to drop from the sky in moments, a silent collision with the horizon, the fiery orb distorting into a rippling egg-shape before vanishing, the darkness highlighting the lightening flashing through the retreating storm clouds as they too slip over the horizon.
Guide’s Report for Summer 2013
With the rains as good as they have been this summer, the game viewing has been excellent. The hot days tend to force animals to move toward water to quench their thirst as soon as the heat of the day starts to drop. So it makes sense for game drives to head for the waterholes to watch as the various inhabitants of the bush come down to drink.
Back at the lodge, we are often seeing buffalo drinking in front of the main lodge deck shortly after the spectacular sunsets common at this time of year. Apart from a herd of twenty five or so, we are also frequently seeing a group of four old male buffalo together. These old bulls, usually solitary or in small groups of similar individuals, are usually referred to as “dugga” boys. (Dugga is a South African slang word for cement or plaster. These old bulls often wallow in the mud, which then dries out, caked to their skin and looking a bit like someone has tried to smear plaster over them. It would take a brave soul to attempt that though, these old guys are usually fairly irritable at the best of times). The buffalo are becoming incredibly relaxed around the lodge and also around the game viewing vehicles, providing us with fantastic photographic opportunities.
The herds of Elephant are back on our private ground in full force, they tend to move around the reserve quite a bit, but large herds typically return to Krokodildrift in the summer. Breeding herds, thirty to forty strong, are quite common in the afternoons, cooling off and drinking at the drift. Naturally this creates an effective barrier which does sometimes delay us from getting back to the lodge in time for dinner. Fuming chefs are asked to direct their complaints towards the closest elephant, an offer usually politely declined.
But the leopard and cheetah have been competing for the honours of providing the most spectacular sightings lately, with the viewing of both species being incredible over the last few months. With several new cheetah being introduced into the reserve recently, we have been having some excellent sightings of these supermodels of the cat family.
The leopard, whose territory covers the ground close to the lodge, is proving to be less elusive and more accommodating towards our vehicles, providing our guides and guests with some wonderful sightings and photographic opportunities over the last few months.
All in all, a very exciting time for game viewing in Madikwe!
Dylan, Head Guide, Makanyane Safari Lodge
A message from the Makanyane Safari Lodge Bush Spa:
All the summer colours have arrived here at the Bush Spa, in the form of the “Essie” range of nail products. Fun and vibrant, these products are the perfect way to brighten up your hands and feet!
Also new is a range of some of the latest essential oils, which will help you to feel invigorated and refreshed as well as thoroughly relaxed!
There can be nothing more soothing than an aromatherapy massage on the deck of your suite overlooking the river, surrounded by the peace of nature. So why not treat yourself to a relaxing full-body treatment using the Annique range of products. Annique is a unique, all-natural local product containing Rooibos tea, with its world-famous healing properties.
Last but not least, if you appreciate a holistic approach to beauty treatments, why not try a thirty minute reflexology session to revive the feet and rebalance the body, reaffirming your natural equilibrium or helping to resolve an ailment.
The choice is yours, you won’t regret it!
Louise, Makanyane’s Health and Beauty Therapist.
The good rains have created plenty of small waterholes across the bush, all of which have quickly become inhabited by a multitude of different frogs and toads, their calls all competing for female attention at night. This creates a unique soundtrack to listen to while guests relax and enjoy a sumptuous meal.
Here is a sample of the delights coming out of the kitchen at the moment:
Coconut and Coriander Soup
A light, fresh soup with a tropical twist.
Warm salad of Duck confit with a butter bean, chorizo, wilted spinach and roasted sweet potato salad in a brandy dressing.
Earthy flavours combine to make a rich, delicious starter
Grilled Red Snapper on a potato gallette with a crispy fennel and herb shoot salad
Fresh, succulent snapper is grilled in the skin, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper, fennel seeds and dried chilli, dressed with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and sundried tomato before being drizzled with a rich balsamic reduction.
Baked spiced plum and cinnamon brioche and crème frieche.
Delicious local stone fruit is used in this tasty end to a perfect meal.
You could then choose to end off the perfect meal, and an unforgettable day, with either a coffee or a cognac under the stars.
Sound good? With our special rates for 2013 having been released, (these can be seen on our “Special Rates” page -http://www.makanyane.com/reservations_specialrates.php) there is no reason not to make a booking as soon as possible!