First off, Happy New Year from us at Tshukudu! It is our wish that the blank canvas of 2019 will be painted brightly, and that all of our friends and family (both global and local) have a prosperous year ahead. In this newsletter, we want to share with you some of our Christmas festivities, which, as always, were full of safari fun, laughter, and plenty of good food. We bon-fired on New Year's Eve, pulled Christmas crackers, lit candles, and decorated with tinsel. It was indeed a time of cheer and we thoroughly enjoyed hosting our guests who arrived full of holiday spirit. We were lucky to spend time with family and to have our guests bring their families to us. Take a look at some of the pictures and videos captured over the last few weeks here at Tshukudu - in the boma and on safari!
Ntombi and her Christmas feast
This time of abundance in nature means that there is plenty of grass and foliage for the herbivores to eat, lots of water to quench the great thirst, and many vulnerable, newly born animals that fall victim to the predators of the bush. Ntombi - our 9-year-old female cheetah - had stomach complications when she was little and she has been operated on numerous times to try and "untwist" her intestines. She is very healthy and capable, but we do need to supplement her feeding at times. When we find she has made kills and managed to eat her own prey, it is very rewarding. Here she is before Christmas tucking in to a young impala lamb she took down successfully. Safari guide, Alister, took the opportunity to set up a camera and put together this time lapse of her feasting.
Christmas Eve festivities
As per our annual tradition, we celebrated Christmas on the evening of the 24th with a big boma feast complete with gammon, sparkling wine, and luxurious desserts. The team at Tshukudu decked out our African boma with tinsel, wreaths, and silver crackers (and some even decorated themselves - Margaret!) It was a very (very) warm evening this year, and we were treated to a truly South African Christmas, which might have been a shock to those guests who are usually geared up in snow shoes at this time of year. Nevertheless, our party went on and it was undoubtedly one to remember. A few days later, the heat build-up finally reached capacity and we were rewarded with more than a little rain! It poured heavily and flooded the ground with the first great downpour of the season. On New Year's Eve, our guests headed out on game drive and watched the sun go down for the last time in 2018, and we ended the evening with a huge bonfire in an open clearing in the bush.
Making lasting friendships on safari
At Tshukudu, we are privileged to meet and make friends with wonderful guests from all over the world. Even for the Sussens children, it is very special when lasting friendships are made with guests that return year after year. Thank you to Philippe and Stephanie Berthault from France for the fun photos of Vicky and Chris' daughter, Isabella, and the Berthault's daughter Thea, during a recent visit. Girls just want to have fun!
The last of 2018's wildlife and sunsets
During the busy festive season, our guides and guests spent many hot afternoons out in the bush, searching for wildlife and watching the sun go down in an explosion of colour. The start of the new year included much of the same thing, and we captured some of the good bits on camera to share here! Some of the sightings worth mentioning include seeing the terrapin on the run, and the giraffes lying down. Marsh terrapins are little turtle-like creatures that live in the water, but due to all the recent rain, the watering holes have filled up again so there are a lot of water sources close to each other that are sometimes connected by runoff. So this is the time of year we see the marsh terrapins darting quickly from one water source to another. In the case of the giraffes, it was rare to see them lying down. In the photo captured by Chavonne, both were resting on folded legs with just their necks up straight, but as they arrived in the vehicle, the one giraffe got up quickly. They are extremely vulnerable in this position and are therefore very skittish lying down They also don’t spend a lot of time in this position due to vulnerability to predation.