Saturday, March 12, 2016

What is a VIP unit?

As an eco lodge, we have no running water.  This sounds a whole lot scarier than it is.

We do not have plumbed, running water. We do have big bowsers of beautiful, fresh, clean borehole water which we bring in every day, and is available all the time.

(We use this water for drinking, showering, flushing the loo, washing cars, cooking, washing up - everything.)

Our toilets are amazing. 
They are called VIP units - Ventilation Improved Pits.
They are lovely porcelain toilets, with wooden seats. 
The only way you know they're not like your toilet at home is that there is no s-bend and you "flush" with a jug of water instead of a chain.
So it's a "long drop" with a chimney built into the toilet, which keeps the air flowing and makes it odour free and fly free.
It works like a charm.

But there is one restriction:

We were all sitting down at the big dining room table and enjoying lunch.
One of the guests said, "So, you know your, um, VIP toilet?"

I replied in the affirmative.

"So, is there any way of getting something out if you've, um, dropped something down there?"

I replied in the negative.

Turns out he had been looking down the toilet with his torch (no, I do not know why, or what on earth he expected to see), and his sunglasses had fallen off the top of his head. He got such a fright when they fell down the toilet, that he dropped his torch in after them.

It continued to shine for 6 hours.

Friday, March 11, 2016

How do you deal with the cold?

We're getting loads of enquiries for the winter months, and people are asking the "how do you deal with the cold" questions.

Winter is really a superb time to visit Madikwe.  It's the dry season so the veld is low, all the animals congregate at the water holes, and game viewing is a doddle. The wild dogs den in June/July and then: puppies (need I say more?).

We remind you to bring a proper jacket and all the paraphernalia you would if going snow skiing (seriously, bring gloves and scarves and hats).  Because, whilst we go out later in the mornings, and come home earlier in the evenings, the temperature can still drop below freezing on those game drives.

We have a huge camp fire, extra blankets, hot chocolate and sherry.

And, our special little surprise - an old fashioned hot water bottle snuck into your bed by the fairies while you're having dinner. 

Well, that’s what we used to do.
No more. Here's why:

It was a winter’s night, the guests had all been on amazing game drives, defrosted around the fire and enjoyed a hearty dinner. Everyone headed off to bed.

One lady got to her room and saw a curious shape in her bed.

Tentatively, she touched it.
And it moved. (And made a noise.)
So she beat it to death with her walking stick.

Now, we hand the hot water bottle to you after dessert - we felt it safer to remove the element of surprise!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Well, my mom said ....

As with many lodges, we have a child policy and we don't take little ones under the age of six years old.  Our age limit used to be eight, but we learned pretty early on that parents are quick and happy to lie by two years and were bringing their 6 years olds anyway. So we changed it a few years ago, and funnily enough, they don't lie anymore.
When the limit was eight, I was welcoming in a couple who had just arrived with their child.
"Hello," I said, to their very little boy, "what's your name? And how old are you?"
"Well," replied young Robert, "actually, I'm five. "But," he added secretively, "my mom says that this weekend, I can be eight!"
He was jolly proud. 
Out of the mouths of babes!
(His mother just sunk her face into her hands.)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

10 Things you need to know about going on a Game Drive

Seeing animals in their natural habitat is the main reason to visit a game reserve. 

For many there is nothing tricky about a game drive - just grab your camera, jump on the truck, and head on out.  But for some, it is a first time thing.
Our game drives go out for 3 ½ to 4 hours.  Departure times vary depending on the time of the year.  We have lovely new Land Rovers with individual (really comfy) bucket seats.

Our field guides carry with them:
·         .375 rifles (and are trained to use them, although have never had to do so out of their monthly practice sessions);
·         a comprehensive first aid kit;
·         extensive qualifications, knowledge and experience;
·         a fabulous sense of humour!
They will tell you the rules just before you go out.  

  1. DO Bring a camera (remember batteries can be charged at the camp) and a pair of binoculars;
  2. DO Wear a hat and sunglasses (and other weather appropriate clothing);
  3. DO Ask questions. You are in your guide’s world and this is what they do and where they shine;
  4. DO Remember to tell your guide what drinks to pack for you;
  5. DO Tell your guide if you need a comfort break – s/he will then find a suitable spot to stop.
  6. DO NOT  Have a list you are feverishly trying to tick off. Please just take each moment as it comes;
  7. DO NOT  Hang any limbs out of the vehicle, stand up, move around or get off the truck. Your guide will tell you when it is safe to do so;
  8. DO NOT  Try to communicate with the animals. Don’t click your fingers/call/whistle/shout or throw anything at the animals to attract their attention or get them to “do something”;
  9. DO NOT  Drop or leave any rubbish in the bush.  This includes toilet paper, apple cores, and cigarette butts - as the old saying goes: leave only footprints;
  10. DO NOT  Be anxious. Your guide will never put you in any situation where you are in danger.

Your game drive experience can be a quiet time of peace, meditation, contemplation and serenity. 
It can be a crazy time of adrenalin fuelled excitement.
No two drives are the same.
Get out there and enjoy every moment!!

Thanks to Clint Parsons for all these photos from one of his game drives with Jonny -

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mosetlha Newsletter October 2013

It has been an exciting month here at The Bush Camp. We have welcomed back Fran to our kitchen and housekeeping staff after being away for most of 2013, the camp won an Eco-Award for our water usage, and we have had many, many exciting visitors of the four legged kind. Our three buffalo bulls still come and prowl the bird baths, come water holes, every evening. The first half of October saw no rain and so many of Madikwe’s zebra, kudu, warthog and scrubhare could be seen daily coming for a drink in front of the owners' house. Our resident Brown Hyena - Harry - and the Civet still visit us every evening and the Honeybadger has come round a time or two this month, thankfully not upsetting anything at Mosetlha! Four Wild Dog were seen in camp on the 12th running from drinking at the Main House and then down into camp for another drink and to say hello to the early rising guests in the lapa! A pride of five lions left their fresh tracks through camp early in the month as well.

Game Drives have been jam-packed with wonderful sightings. Kgomotso and Justice had thirteen Wild Dog playing in the shade of their vehicles. The pack had a kill nearby and the Alpha Female brought some food for the pups, regurgitating the morsels into their mouths mere meters from the Mosetlha vehicles.

Earlier in the month Jonny and Kgomotso found the Kwande Male lions at Vlei Pan eying a herd of Wildebeest. The chase was unsuccessful but still exciting to photograph and watch. Later in the month the Kwande Males were found by Justice and Kgomotso on a Wildebeest kill, stuffed full to the brim, but happy to give our guests a show of how lions like to eat their meat.

The giraffe, zebra, kudu, hartebeest, warthog, tssessbe, and even gemsbok have been seen aplenty as well.

Kgomotso was lucky enough to find a Caracal on the way back to camp during the evening. It was busy hunting a Steenbok, unsuccessfully unfortunately. Caracal, or Rooikat as they are known locally, are mostly seen at night but can be seen during daylight hours, especially in the cool winter months. They are one of the smaller cats found on the reserve and specialise in eating small antelopes like Steenbok and birds like guinea fowl and francolins. Not often seen so relaxed, this was a rare and special sighting indeed.

We have had many old friends come and visit us this October once again at Mosetlha. One afternoon a baby Bushbaby fell from its nest in Cabin Nine. It sat on top of the cabinet calling and calling until the parents came out from their nap and grabbed him by the neck and jumped him up to safety. Ron was kind enough to come and fetch us and some of our guests to come and have a look at the youngster, who after being rescued, poked his head out to spy on the gathering crowd. Thank you Ron for sharing such a special sighting with us!

The Lesser Galago, more commonly known as a Bushbaby, are nocturnal primates no larger than an average sized person’s hand. Their eyes are fixed in the sockets and are quite large so as to utilise the small amount of light at night to find their prey of insects. They also favour tree sap and are known to visit almost three hundred trees a night in search of sustenance. They wee on their hands and feet before jumping to a new tree so as to mark their territory as they go. They nest in holes in trees or in the eaves of our cabins or other bush buildings. In other places in Southern Africa one may also find Thick-Tailed Bushbabies, or Greater Galagos.

The rain is coming more often now, thank goodness, and the bush is starting to sprout new leaves. The frogs are slowly making an appearance along with cicadas calling as Summer is finally here. The sightings are still wonderful with the end of the month seeing Jonny and Justice finding two lionesses and their six cubs, Wild Dog feeding their pups, lots and lots of elephants with small calves as well as our four cheetah brothers making a kill of a young Hartebeest for Kgomotso and her guests.

Here is a short story to get you in the mood to revisit the bush. Can you guess from whose perspective the story is told? (Answer to come in our November newsletter.)

Streeeetch...Waking up is not high on any favorites list, that is for sure. Well, here we go again. Stretch, pause, have a nice look around. Amongst the sound of Southern yellow billed Hornbills clacking and a family of francolins hurriedly digging through the underbrush, you can hear long low guttural sounds coming ever closer. No, not the same as that of The Family ambling on their way, their soundless steps padded with time and purpose. The heat is almost unbearable. Flies attracted to any bit of moisture plague the eyes, nose, mouth. It is almost time. Maybe just a bit longer. The guttural sounds have stopped. Stretch, yawn, slap flies, stretch again. The heat, unbearable, sticky, like trying to breath through water. High pitched screeches, long in the wind, blow past. Clear blue skies dotted with dancing forms on thermals from the heat of the day, give way to a flock of Red Billed Quiellas blowing past like dead leaves. Their pursuits in touch with one another down to the most minute change in attitude, longing, wind direction. They seem to float, to flit, but then become strong as they pick up speed only to flit, to float once more like dusty dry leaves. The sound is closer. It is almost time. Stretch one more time. The heat is abating, moving lazily down the horizon into an explosive orange glow. The family of francolins has stopped rustling to call an alarm, cut short by lack of a threat, only to rise up again, and cut short. They go back to scratching in the parched dirt. You can almost smell the rain now. The cool wet lurid smell. The dirt seems to cry out in agony. The flies now pestering all over and the sound, that low guttural sound, is crawling ever closer now laced through with a low sing song noise. It is usually this way. It is almost time. One more stretch. A quick bath and on to cleaning the work tools. Unsheathing each one by one, making sure to get every nook and cranny. You have accomplished much when you can look at a meal you have brought down for your litter and see the gleam of hunger in little eyes replaced by happiness, by satisfaction. The guttural sounds have stopped succeeded by the sing song noises. Bathing finished, tools sharpened, a bit of ‘Downward Dog’. The clicking noise starts as I roll-over, arise and slowly walk away, tawny fur catching the last of the light, towards the waterhole where The Family drinks, their long trunks extended into the crisp clear water. The sing song voices rise in glee, replaced with click-clacking and the guttural noise comes alive, following close behind as the wind picks up and gives hint to what will be brought home to the little ones tonight. Last loooong stretch, ‘Downward Dog.’ Tools glinting in the sun. Click-click, click-click. Drops fall. The guttural sounds increase and float away. Rain’s here.

All of us here at Mosetlha hope to see you all again soon to come and get more African dust on your feet...

Friday, June 14, 2013

A weekend in May ...

This blog is made up of photographs and comments from our guest, Ryan Viljoen, who came with his fiance, Sarah, to stay just one night with us in May ... these are just a few of his pics from their amazing sightings in only two drives.

African Wilddog photographed in Madikwe Game Reserve, currently the reserve has two packs. This dog is part of the larger pack of approximately 18 dogs.

A baby white rhino posing for this portrait shot, I really liked the various colours on him from the dust and dirt with the little piece of grass between his lips and lastly the beady eye staring at us.

Sun setting on the African bushveld after an afternoon safari...

We had come across this lone female lion walking down a game path pretty intently. Our guide had mentioned that she was part of a large pride of females with sub-adults however none where in view. We followed her for along the path until finally she stopped and gave a gentle roar before the rest of the pride came bounding up to meet her...

This young lion was taking a breather in the later afternoon golden sun after playing with his fellow brothers and sisters. He was staring at the others with interest by couldn't muster enough energy to rejoin the games.

Lion cub in the late afternoon peering over at us on the game drive vehicle while on safari. Love the late golden light highlighting just the cub.

One in a coalition of four Cheetah's current feigning interesting in something in the nearby bushes having just woken up from their afternoon nap. We had arrived while they were still sleeping and after not long they started yawning which is always a sign that they are about to become more active. Finally this one propped itself up...

It is not often that you get to see black rhino, never mind out in the open. This is one of those fortunate moments where this mom and calf were out in the open, it only took them a few seconds to realise we were there before scurrying back into the thicket behind them. Black rhino's have a triangular mouth for browsing and are generally smaller then their white rhino counter parts... they also tend to be some what moodier.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

From the bird bath ....

As you can tell, we are not exactly on the ball with blogging .... Facebooking we're pretty good at, but blogging, sorry, not brilliant.

However all that is about to change! Bart, Mosetlha's new manager, is a fanatical photographer and bush boy ... and he has a new lens to play with. 

This post consists of a few pics he's taken at our bird bath, with his new toy, of:

A fluffed up Fork Tailed Drongo

Golden breasted bunting

A grey go away bird coming in to land (I still think it's a really stupid name, Grey Loerie was MUCH better!)

Melba Finch (or green winged pytilia) and

 violet eared waxbills

Look at this gorgeous little thing! Pearl spotted owlett in the water :)

And in the tree in the setting sun ....

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