Elly's stories October
October is an exciting month at Ximuwu in many ways. Firstly, the construction is in full swing now, and everything is still going according to plan. Marcel puts up Patrick’s last photo-prints in the central staff building and then our first step is completed. In the lodge, the brickwork is at max height, the floors are casted and the first steel beams have been installed. Now you can really see how it is going to look like.
As the season changes into summer a lot of our plain game seek shelter for the night on the large open plains in front of our new lodge and it is not difficult to picture the scene our guests will see when they will enjoy their cool drinks on the terrace . A rhino with a young calf walks past the terrace towards the watering hole at sunset. And a cheetah who uses the lodge to hide for a challenge on a newborn zebra.
Now is the season of a lot of young animals again. For example, just in front of the lodge, at the edge of the airstrip, we have a jackal den with 3 little ones. We discovered them about 10 days ago when walking with Nobu. When one of the little ones, screaming in fear of the dog, runs across the airstrip. They are so small, like fluffy rats. Fortunately, Nobu did come back on command that day :) Monique also discovers a hyena den, 2 slightly bigger ones but still with fluffy hair and 2 that are still completely black. Mum found a clever spot for her youngsters because the den is surrounded by deep dry river beds. That is why we cannot get close by car. Unfortunately, therefore no great photos.
Bad news for our lions; there is only 1 cub left.... There is unrest in the pride anyway. The 2 younger males that were sent out of the pride last year are seen more and more often here at Ximuwu but also the 2 dominant males come by regularly. Between the two of them, the tension is sometimes noticeable. A confrontation between these 4 is almost inevitable. We also saw the 2 young males once in company of the females with the 3 cubs and we are afraid something went wrong there. In their attempt to take over the pride , the cubs are often killed first. They were already a year old and were hopeful they would survive this time. But that's nature too!
In yet another excuse to have a party, Marcel and Monique organise a so-called biltong competition. Biltong is dried meat, often from a self-shot impala, which is marinated and dried in a special cabinet or room. Everyone has his own recipe for this and soon we find our friends from the reserve ready for another party . It was a very nice party. When a serious storm hits, singing and dancing is moved from the garden to the covered patio and the party lasts into the early hours. Some of the people stay overnight, others decide to drive home, for some a 2,5 hours journey through the reserve. The winner Willem our head of security in the reserve who has a passion for cooking goes home with the challenge trophy in the form of a painting. Life is different in the bush!
Then it is Patrick's birthday and Marcel and Monique invite Marian and her K9 sniffer dogs to give us a demonstration. They give a presentation how the dogs and their handlers work in the reserve in their search for poachers. Interesting to see how much fun the dog and handler have and this is very much Patrick's cup of tea. This is definitely something we like to show our future guests as well.
We have Mark and Jessica visiting. This is the couple we have been in contact with for a while to come and work with us. He is ranger and she a chef. After a few days of looking around here, lots of talking and cooking, we are convinced that they are exactly we are looking for and evenly important Ximuwu does also tick all the boxes for them as well. We are very excited that they will start with us in February. Mark has experience at 2 very prominent lodges and Jess, despite her young age, has experience at some of the finest restaurants in South Africa.
Coincidentally, M and M have 4 people visiting that week, so our new chef immediately takes care of the bush dinner for all of us. And Mark goes on a walking safari with everyone.
This weekend we had Donovan and Lee-Ann visiting for 1 night yesterday. They live a 2 hour drive from us in the north of the reserve. In the 16 years that they have lived there, Lee-Ann has never seen a cheetah in their area because of the much denser vegetation. We spotted ‘our’ 2 brothers for the last few days in a row, but now also the female with her male sub adult. But of course they were not around last night... At 6 this morning I couldn't resist the temptation to go and look for them. And yes here they are, the 2 brothers on the edge of the airstrip. I drove a bit further and then all of a sudden I saw the female and her male sub adult coming onto the airstrip. The brothers however did not agree as they consider this their territory. The female is clever and run from the airstrip into the drainage line but the young male does not realise that he is in danger and has to run for his life when he is chased by the brothers.
Lee-Ann isfortunate to watch this spectacular ‘movie' but a moment later we are getting concerned about the young male as we witness his insecurity, now that he is left without his mother. When the danger has passed, he stands on a termite mound looking and screaming for his mother. What a touching call a cheetah has !
Fortunately, Monique finds mother and son reunited after half an hour.
All of this on Sunday morning at 7 o'clock :) right in front of our new lodge.
Be sure to watch the movies!