The 1st of September marked the start of the spring season, here in South Africa, and it is a much celebrated day. Most schools have a special “civvies” day (casual clothing worn instead of uniform) with perhaps a picnic or fun event; and everyone anticipates the gradual climbing of temperatures and the start of the rainy season; as well as seeing a few impala lambs skipping about. Well, for us here at Cheetah Plains, and for all the surrounding lodges, we all feel that spring may have taken a “rain-check” for next year and invited summer over for an early stay. Already we have had temperatures reaching well above 36°C (96.8°F). They always say that humidity is the deal-breaker, and out here in the heart of the Lowveld, that is quite true!
However, recent weather activities, such as the rollercoaster temperatures and strong gusts of wind in the late afternoons has dragged in some lovely clouds which brought down a thirst-quenching 44mm in a space of 4 hours! This was enough to fill our bone-dry pan to at least shin-depth. As anyone can imagine, this is fantastic news for all the animals; and of course, those pesky mosquitos. Folks visiting us can have a gander at our weather board – a useful bit of info to help decide whether a dip in the pool or a day in bed will be the preferred activity.
Yes, along with the new growth of grass and flecks of green, the collection of rain water and accumulation of heat in that water means that mosquitos will now be more frequent and increasing the need for malaria awareness.
Another group of critters that roll in with the summer months are our night-crawlers: Snakes, scorpions, millipedes and beetles. Now, we don’t worry about the beetles, they happen to just be present; ambling across your path or buzzing overhead – no harm in whatever is driving them to move about. The ones which we do advise a precaution for are the scorpions and snakes. A good shaking out of shoes and clothing before dressing is a good idea, as these creatures tend to prefer dark places and a shoe provides more than enough hiding space. Avoiding a sting from one of these is a preferable ideal.
If you do happen to feel a bit shaken from a scorpion sighting, then perhaps a few minutes spent watching the red-headed weaver as he zips to and from his nest to feed his mate will pleasantly preoccupy you. Recently, days around camp have become quite melodious as there is a sweet chirrup and a rhythmic twitter singing from almost every direction.
Sighting-wise, it has been one for the lions. The Nkuhuma cubs continue to grow and the Styx cubs, while shaking off an odd case of mange, are definitely ever-so-curious, having ventured into camp one particular evening, whilst their mothers were a kilometre or two behind.
As it goes, guests come and go, taking a little piece of Africa home in their hearts and we at Cheetah Plains are honoured to host each and every one. During the past couple of days, we had the great pleasure of having Jerry and Catherine Kaehu visit us for three wonderful evenings. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Jerry and Catherine opted to move over to Germany where they have been for the past year and a half. Africa had been a life-long dream and growing up on national Geographic magazines and NatGeo specials, it is only right to be filled with every bit of romantic perception of this amazing continent. What captured our attention, and most of all our hearts, was the genuine warmth and just the pure awe of being able to set foot in a country such as this. On the evening of their first night, Jerry and Catherine opted to forego the game drive and rather ease into their holiday with us. After receiving a warm welcome from Gary and Candace, Jerry was asked as to what the odd shaped instrument was that hid inside of a small bag. He produced a ukulele and played, singing an island-style rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”. Now, if you can picture this: it was a quiet, cool evening and a few impalas were roaming about near the water trough, with the starlings whinging in the background and other birds chirruping; it can easily be seen just how perfectly apt it was. We always encourage folks to be receptive and relaxed when staying with us and these two were one of the few who truly enjoyed South Africa. Jerry and Catherine, the staff of Cheetah Plains thank you for your visit and your songs and we hope to definitely see you again next year!!
A September ends and summer hits full tilt, we look forward to meeting everyone and urge all to stay hydrated!