Summer is in full swing at Shumbalala Game Lodge
This time of the year is one of the most magical and awe-inspiring times to experience the Thornybush Nature Reserve. Within a very short period the seasons start to change. All of a sudden, fresh spring weather turns into glorious balmy summer evenings and long, lazy days best spent around the sparkling pool with an ice-cold drink in hand.
During early October, temperatures at Shumbalala Game Lodge quickly climb into the mid-to-high thirties. Our brand-new private splash pools at our superior suites could not come in handier. Our guests, however, have realized quite quickly that they must share their human-made waterhole with one or two of the thirsty nyala bulls who regularly pop in for a quick, refreshing sip of water. To beat the midday heat, guests are rewarded with fresh early-morning game drive weather and pleasant evening temperatures.
Towards the end of this month, we’ve noticed a shift in the weather and we’re eagerly anticipating the first rains of the season. With increased cloud cover during the late afternoons, we have had some incredible, dramatically pink, cloudy sunset scenes during sundowners.
The game viewing has been magnificent these past few weeks. With grasses now completely dry and the bush at its sparsest, it is much easier to spot and photograph wildlife. Even an elusive leopard will have a harder time hiding away in the thickets. Not that our leopards are very shy here. Saseka is certainly one of the most relaxed female leopards around and she has been spotted regularly by our guests lately. The great news is that she has a cub at the moment, and though Saseka has become a bit famous for struggling ever so slightly at motherhood, her five-month-old cub is doing really well. Following in his mom’s footsteps, he is also very relaxed in the presence of game drive vehicles, offering our guests some amazing sightings. Have a look at our social media pages to see some footage of Saseka and her cub taken during October.
Even though it is really dry as we await the rains, the landscape has already slowly started transforming into a canopy of greenery. Many trees have started to push out new fresh leaves in anticipation of the coming rains. Although we might believe that they have a built-in rain radar, the trees are simply responding to changes in temperature and moisture in the air. With summer days lengthening and atmospheric temperatures rising, plant growth is stimulated. The giraffes with their handy elongated necks have been feasting on these fresh, new green leaves at the top of the trees.
For the rest of the animals it can be tough though, as food is getting scarcer. There is a greater need for wildlife to stay close to water sources to drink more regularly or cool down, and this can also be dangerous as the predators lurk around to catch their prey off guard. But his also means that there is a much better chance of spotting predators too as we follow the animals that congregate around the water sources. The Monwana pride has been very active and when you don’t catch them off-duty, lazing around in the shade, you have an excellent chance of spotting them devouring (or if you are even luckier, catching!) their latest meal.
Over the past few months, we've had some wonderful sightings of a pack of wild dogs with their pups, now old enough to leave the den. Wild dogs are extremely sociable and very active, which makes watching them as they interact with each other one of the most rewarding sightings you can expect during a safari. Another sighting that all our guests love to experience during their stay at Shumbalala Game Lodge is large herds of elephants.
With hot summer days here, we’ve had numerous sightings of large herds of ellies visiting the waterhole at Shumbalala Game Lodge to quench their thirst and cool down in the water. The young elephants often entertain us by rolling around in the mud or splashing around in the shallow waters.
Our waterhole also attracts buffaloes, impala, waterbuck, nyalas, warthogs, kudus and many more animals and birds to the lodge on a daily basis. The best thing about this is that your game viewing experience never really ends.
Unfortunately, the dry hot months also bring a real risk of runaway wildfires. At the beginning of October, a wildfire started on our neighbouring reserve, the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, and roughly 3 500 hectares of vegetation was burnt over a gruelling two days. All the lodges in the area came together to assist and it is in times like these that we really appreciate our special community and the lengths to which we all support each other during times of need. With the summer rains on the way, this area will bounce back quickly. Tree species like the knobthorn and even marula trees tend to flourish after enduring wildfires.
Back at Shumbalala Game Lodge we have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming more guests to the lodge this season. Our team has subsequently also been growing. Amongst others we have welcomed chef Benic to the Shumbalala Game Lodge family. Keep an eye on our blog next month as we share his story. We will also share with you one of his favourite summer dessert recipes, straight from the Shumbalala Game Lodge kitchen, to try at home.
Carey-Lynne has also joined our team recently. Her wealth of experiences in the hospitality industry coupled with her deep love for serving guests makes Carey the perfect addition to our hostessing team. South African born, she has always enjoyed being in nature and appreciates the peaceful environment at Shumbalala Game Lodge. Being a nurturer at heart, she loves looking after our guests ensuring that they have the best holiday ever. She is extremely well-travelled and has already ticked 40 countries off her travel bucket-list. When asking her which country she wants to visit next, she tells us that she would love to travel to the Great Wall of China and hike along the Inca Trail in Peru. We are thrilled that Carey has joined our team and wish her all the best.
With the festive season around the corner, remember to hurry up and book your stay with us while there is still some availability. Celebrating the end of the year with friends and family on safari is certainly one the most incredible ways to welcome the start of the New Year.
As I write this final paragraph, the skies have opened and there is a gentle drizzle of rain outside. The dry earth seems to be soaking up every drop and I notice minuscule green grass sprouts pushing through the thirsty ground. A leopard tortoise waddles past my window seeking higher ground, and a tiny millipede follows shortly after. It is indeed one of the most magical times to experience Shumbalala Game Lodge. We are looking forward to hosting you soon!