May is the month of the greatest tourism networking event of the year, Africa's Travel Indaba, which this year took place in Durban from the 8th to the 10th of May. Vicky and Christine Sussens were rearing to go as they travelled down to the coastal hub of Kwazulu Natal to represent Tshukudu to thousands of people in the tourism industry. It is a huge event, full of energy and African pizzazz, as everyone who's anyone gathers to meet and greet their colleagues, reestablish old relationships, create new ones, and tell the tale of Tshukudu to the best in the business. Three days of non-stop meetings and plenty of information exchanges, there is a big bash to finish it all off, bringing the whirlwind week to an end.
One of our Indaba highlights has to have been the Platinum Award for Tourism Marketing Organisation given to Dreams 4 Africa, whose portfolio Tshukudu has belonged to for many years. Congratulations to Mark and Angela Collins and the Dreams 4 Africa team on this prestigious achievement.
From one proud moment to another, we are very pleased to have received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2018, which makes five in a row and gives us a special place in the TripAdisor Hall of Fame! We place great value our guests' feedback and rely on it to continuously provide the best service we can and create safari memories to last a lifetime. Thank you for every 5-star review we receive on multiple social platforms, and for our high ratings on TripAdvisor, which has landed us this incredible honour!
Tshukudu forms a special place in every guest's heart, and when we bid farewell, we say goodbye as friends. So many guests return to Tshukudu and spread the word to their friends and family who then come and visit us for themselves with stories that their friends have told them! We couldn't be happier when we see familiar faces arrive at our lodge, and we are equally as thrilled when new guests arrive to celebrate special occasions and create their own memories on our grounds. This month, newlywedsIkeda Yo and Shimizu Ayano travelled came all the way to see us with their wedding outfits in tow so they could get their dream wedding photographs taken in the company of our obliging cheetahs. Here are a couple of their special snaps, which will forever remind them of their stay with us.
Out in the reserve, our daily bush walks and game drives have turned out some fantastic sightings, but perhaps the most exciting animal action this month has taken place much closer to home! The rehabilitated animals on the Tshukudu Reserve are flourishing on their own, as they have been for many years, but every so often, they turn up at the lodge to say hello. Over the last few weeks, we have had the pleasure of not one, but three of our old friends visit us at the lodge.
First was Becky, the elephant, whom many of our past guests might know as the matriarch who likes to get her trunk right onto the seats of the game viewer. This female elephant is now almost 37 years old and she arrived at Tshukudu as an orphan when she was only two or three. She has had four calves over the years, two of which survived and live wild lives on our reserve. Becky has never forgotten her bond with us, and often she shows her affection. Most recently, she paid Chavonne and Alister a visit early in the morning and they were able to enjoy this wonderful, close encounter.
Another exciting and unexpected animal interaction took place at the lodge when Ntombi the cheetah and Nyiri the caracal playfully chased each other around the lodge grounds as we looked on with our guests. It is very unusual to see two individuals from different species interact like this, and it is once again a unique sighting that can be attributed to Tshukudu's special history with these animals. Both Ntombi and Nyiri were hand-reared after they were orphaned and were successfully integrated into the reserve where they now live. We don't always see Nyiri the caracal, as he disappears for months at a time, so this was a very pleasant surprise!
Superior sunsets have graced us with their presence each evening, and early mornings have dawned with equal beauty as we head out on foot and by 4x4. Out on safari we've spent hours watching the two male cheetahs, who always stick together, and feast together. We found them sharing a young waterbuck prey, and on another occasion, followed them on foot as they led the way up one of the reserve roads. It is fair to say that these two are serious crowd-pleasers, and every moment we get to spend with them is a lucky one.