Spring is in full swing down here in South Africa, and that means the bush is abloom with colour! It is quite something to think that the greys and browns of winter we've become so used to seeing are now transforming with the arrival of bright yellows and purples. Who knew the tough knobthorn could produce such a delicate little flower? (See the pic below of the red-headed weaver perching between these blooms). Now we are getting increasingly closer to the hottest months of the year, and by the feel of it - it's bound to be a scorcher! Migratory birds are arriving and soon we are going to see the warthogs' bellies grow as they get nearer their birthing season. Things are always changing out in the bush, and there isn't a season we don't appreciate. What never changes is our amazement at the wilderness we live in, and the fantastic safari sightings our guests experience with us.
In this newsletter, we are sharing the photos of our newly renovated rooms, our news from the Lilizela Tourism Awards, some fantastic photos and a beautiful video by our guest Mr Chenxuan Xu, and the ultimate World Rhino Day surprise! Read on and enjoy.
LILIZELA TOURISM AWARDS EVENT
Some of you might be wondering about the outcome of the Lilizala Tourism Awards, which were announced this month - so many of you so kindly took the time to vote for us! In the end, Chris and Vicky attended the event representing Tshukudu as finalists in the Accommodation category, but unfortunately we did not walk away with the prize. A big thank-you to you, all of our loyal supporters, for taking us this far! Nevertheless, Vicky reported that the event was a night to remember, including a red carpet, champagne, traditional dancers, and enthusiasm in the South African tourism community:
"It was a wonderful experience to be in a room filled with people whom all share the same values and principles when it comes to tourism and guest experiences. We had a wonderful evening which was kicked off by a traditional African dance company as all the invited guests arrived on the red carpet. Champagne was served in the foyer of the Convention Centre of Meropa Casino in Polokwane where the awards took place. Keynote address by the MEC: Economic Development, Environment & Tourism as well as a message of support from the Chairperson: Limpopo Provincial Tourism Association, recognising and rewarding tourism players and businesses who work passionately and with pride to deliver a world-class product and service and whose delivery grows South Africa’s global destination competitiveness. After the awards, a sumptuous dinner was served and the celebrations continued until late. A special thank-you to Limpopo Tourism Agenct as well as all the organisers for another great event." - Vicky Sussens
NEW ROOMS REVEAL
Back in June we renovated three of our bedrooms to give them some structural and soft changes to create more space, further accomodate families, and to incorporate updated fittings and style. We created a new family unit with an interleading door, and all three rooms received new bathroom finishes, new tiles, and added Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and telephones. Well, since we showed you what they looked like as building sites, we would love to reveal their new look now that they are being lived in and enjoyed by our guests. Take a look at these pics of our newly renovated rooms courtesy of Duty Manager, Chavonne. We are very pleased that they are simply stylish and entirely comfortable with a some African flair in the form of skilfully folded towel elephants and the animal portraits on the shower glass!
One World Rhino Day (22 September), we had the perfect video clip to share for the occasion: a mother and her calf having a little conversation (wait until the end of the clip!) The special sighting was a reminder to us of how very lucky we are to sit in the presence of these precious herbivores whose future is so threatened due to poaching and the demand for their horns. To see a little family, happy, wild, and free is a privilege, and we enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to our guests about the threats that face these beautiful mammals. What we didn't expect on World Rhino Day was to spot a brand new baby we had never seen before - born on a special day indeed! On game drive that evening, guide Alister took some photos and video of the the mother rhino and her newborn, while the rhino's older calf was being sternly kept at bay. This is typical rhino behaviour we were delighted to see first hand. A calf will stay with its mother for as long as possible until the next calf comes along, by which time the first born is ready to live on its own. Sometimes they need a little push! Watch the videos and see the adorable photos below.
BEST OF SAFARI SIGHTINGS
It's always exciting when we start to hear the cuckoos and the woodland kingfishers and see the yellow-billed kites and Wahlberg's eagles arriving for summer. These birds disappear over winter and come back for the rainy season, so the "bird nerds" out there have something extra to look forward to in a summer safari at Tshukudu. We snapped photos of some colourful birds hanging around the lodge and one of them was one of the much anticipated migrants, the Klaas' cuckoo. Equally as striking, but not migratory is the red-headed weaver, which was also spotted amid the pretty Spring knobthorn flowers.
Lions and leopards featured heavily this month, and we were especially lucky to see male cheetah, Hunter, with a freshly killed impala. He had chased and killed the impala in the mud, so when we spotted him both he and his prey were rather a mess! Just goes to show, these elegant felines are prepared to get dirty when necessary!
Another great afternoon game drive resulted in some good lion viewing at one of the dams where a male and female pair were seen drinking at dusk. This is the best time to see lions on the move - they have got a strict sleep schedule!
We receive endless joy from our surroundings and our guests, and we hope that through our newsletters we are able to share just a sneak peek at the life we love here on our game reserve. September has been full of activity and we are looking forward to what the upcoming month will hold! Look out for a new feature blog coming your way mid-October...