It's one year on since we started posting a monthly news blog and we've received fantastic support and enthusiasm from our readers who look forward to each online issue. Looking back, it is a great way to keep track of events, highlights, special sightings, and occasions that take place over time at Tshukudu. We are more eager than ever to share our little slice of Africa with visitors from all over the world, and we hope that the next year of the blog will continue to give our past and future guests something to get excited about, and a way to keep in touch and follow our journey. In this edition, we're sharing some of our favourite moments in the bush, footage of a fun-filled boma evening, some interesting family-orientated guest activities, and some insight into our guide training component with EcoTraining. Read on and enjoy the best of August at Tshukudu!
ROOTS OF RHYTHM
Our boma evenings are something to look forward to: excellent feasting on multiple dishes and courses prepared and cooked by our talented team in the kitchen, starlight above, candlelit tables circling around a roaring fire, and the sound of the nocturnal animals in the distance. Fiery-necked nightjars sing into the night, while hyenas, lions, and leopards are heard emitting their iconic calls in the darkness. This time, our boma evening came with a whole new sound in the form of traditional African song and dance. Roots of Rhythm is a brilliant tribal dance group based at the Nyani Cultural Village in Mpumalanga, and they bring the local Shangaan energy right into the boma. It was a night to remember for us all and many guests got out of their seats to join in the dancing (it's harder than you think)! Thanks to Roots of Rhythm for joining us and putting on an unforgettable performance. Have a look at the video clips and photos from the night below.
ELEPHANTS WITH ATTITUDE, AND OTHER WILDLIFE HIGHLIGHTS
If you've been to Tshukudu or have been following our story, you'll know we have a handful of animals on the reserve that live wild among the rest, but that had a special start in life and had to be hand-reared. Our three cheetahs are among those animals, and so is Becky, our adult female elephant. She is the matriarch of her herd, and is a real character at Tshukudu. She arrived here as an orphan and today she rules the roost! On this occasion we found Becky and her herd come across a pair of rhino, and in typical elephant character, she asserted her dominance over the rhino. Last month we saw Becky do the same thing when she encountered a male rhino, and that rhino stood his ground (watch that video on our YouTube channel here). These two rhino, on the other hand, reacted submissively and made a quick escape. It looked like a mother rhino and her subadult calf, and we can assume she chose to run in order to preserve hers and her calf's safety, rather than risk their lives. Fascinating to see the interaction!
In other animal news, we've been treated to a rare leopard sighting, some truly awesome Lowveld sunsets, a pair of lions enjoying a feast of zebra, plenty of hippo and buffalo, and a crocodile who picked up a remaining limb from a lion kill nearby! Some photos below capture the magic...
Another special character at Tshukudu is Ntombi, our female cheetah. Her hand-reared upbringing (although she now roams wild on Tshukudu Reserve) has left a lasting impression on her and she particularly likes a bit of human affection. When we're in the right place at the right time and we find her on one of our morning bush walks, she likes to come and say hello. She's incredibly popular in our family and among our guests. In August we were visited by our good friends, the Viljoen family, who are long time guests and have known Ntombi for many years. We welcomed Marnus, Marizle, and Cor, while their son Corlius was off to do his Field Guide training through EcoTraining. Good luck Corlius! Another special moment was one shared between Chris and Ntombi... Long time playmates, these two!
ECOTRAINING LODGE PLACEMENTS
In August, we said goodbye to one of our students, Sam Arnone, when his lodge placement with us at Tshukudu came to an end after 6 months. Sam worked hard to learn and become and excellent guide after finishing his training at EcoTraining and spending 6 months with us where he gained practical experience in the lodge industry. We thoroughly enjoyed having Sam around and wish him all the best in his endeavours in the field. Becky the elephant found a little place in Sam's heart, and we are sure he will miss her the most!
Tshukudu has a long-standing relationship with EcoTraining, which is one of the leading field guide training institutes in Southern Africa. Once the level 1 field guide students have completed their theoretical and practical training and passed their assessments, they begin their 6-month-long lodge placement. Tshukudu is one of the lodges that takes on level 1 students to give them their lodge and guiding experience, and we have seen some excellent and highly promising students walk in and out of our doors. If you or anyone you know would like to know more about applying for a FGASA course, contact EcoTraining.
SOME SAFARI FUN
Tshukudu has always been about family. We are a family, and we welcome families travelling with children. Our staff and guides go out of their way to accommodate kids on safari and spend time getting to know their guests so that by the end of their stay, they leave with a lasting impression. This month, Juluka and Alister - two of our excellent guides - got creative on safari and showed their young guests how to make a plaster of paris cast of their favourite animal track! Below are some photos that demonstrate the process:
Combine the plaster of paris mixture
Pick out a suitable animal footprint in the hardened mud around a waterhole (Juluka's guests found a giraffe track, and Alister's found a rhino track)
Pour the mixture into the imprint in the hard mud
Build a temporary fort around the moulds to protect them while they set
Come back later and remove the hardened cast from the ground
Now it's the month of Spring and we are excited to see what the bush has in store for us! We continue to meet people from all over the world who travel to meet us all at Tshukudu and it is a pleasure to share some of the magic of safari with you all. Over the last month, we had the pleasure of meeting many guests and bidding farewell to friends. Thank you for spending your holidays at Tshukudu - we hope to see you again!
Photos of our guides with some of their guests, below:
Juluka with the Van den Herik family and the Bauer family
Tyrone and Alister with the Rognoni family
Juluka and Elphas with Ntombi - our own Tshukudu family! (Thanks to our guest, Gesa Mackprang, for this picture)