As we write this, there are dark clouds eerily suspended above the lodge and we all look up in great anticipation as it has been over 5 months since the last green season.
Yesterday, we had our first real rainfall since May and the smell of the rain hitting the sun baked lava sand and guest areas of the lodge is definitely something that we have missed and as soon as the very brief rain stopped, the birds and the butterflies came out in full force filling the view from the mess with flashes of colour and the air with beautiful bird calls celebrating the rain.
Over the next month or so we are hoping that the end of year rains will fall, transforming everything that we see from a golden sea of grass to a brilliant emerald green, bringing a whole new energy to the vast plains before us.
October was a month of amazing sighting and guest experiences. One of the most exciting sightings was by a few of guests who were on a night drive. Not too far from the lodge an aardvark was spotted. These strange looking animals have amazingly strong front legs which they use to break though the hard exterior of Termite mounds, they are designed extremely well for this as they have nostrils that they can close to prevent inhaling dust and of course, a long sticky tongue for maximum collection of ants and termites. That is the first sighting this year and very exciting for the guests, also extremely exciting for their guide as in Maasai culture, if you sight and aardvark, you will live a long and happy life!
The “Cheetah Boys”, as they have been dubbed, have once again made an appearance this month. They are still roaming as a group of five and have delighted our guests on numerous occasions with their majestic presence. Amazingly, the boys are seemingly not phased by the guide vehicles allowing us to get close enough for some great viewing and of course photographs.
Not all amazing sightings are of the four legged kind and the viewing of Kilimanjaro this month has been some of the best this year. The lack of rain has kept the clouds to a minimum and this in turn draws back the curtains that shield Kili to allow our guests breath- taking views both morning and evening. When the rains come, Kili with be cloaked in its trademark apron of white, just another reason for us to look forward to the rain.
One of the best views of not only Kili but the entire area is from one of this month’s most popular picnic spots. We call it the Kibwezi view point and it really feels as though you are on top of the world. The drive up takes you high in to the Chyulu Hills and as you climb, the plant life visibly changes and many different species of plant and flower can be seen, including the incredible flame tree. Guests have enjoyed picnic breakfasts, lunches and hikes all the while being surround by the sweeping views of the plains and the Chyulu Hills.
Our gardens are continuing to flourish and the lettuces have just taken over! All of the products are growing so fast and we are soon to be harvesting more beetroot, tomatoes, peppers and courgettes for the chefs to work their magic on. Our tapas menu have been a huge hit and the creativity of the kitchen is well appreciated by our guests. Two of the most creative dishes this month were a prawn and avocado “salad” with a Kachumbari gazpacho jelly and the other dish was a fried breaded brie with a curry flavoured coating served with a beetroot and ginger granita. Both dishes were amazing and we simply cannot wait to see what comes out of the kitchen next!
On a more personal note we would like to congratulate our store keeper, Dan Tipape for passing his bronze guiding exam, Dan aspires to be a guide and follow in the footsteps of the other great guides at ol Donyo and Great Plains. Nice work Dan! We could not be more proud of the dedication of our team.