August News from ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya
With the winter clouds ever decreasing we are starting to see signs of clearer and warmer days and the stars at night are forever brilliant in the African night sky.
August, like any month, brought about some amazing sights and events.
One of the highlights this month for a few of our guests was the opportunity to see a large breeding herd of about 40 elephants. We were alerted to this sight by Annie, our Ride Kenya manager whilst on her way with their horse safari guests to have lunch on the amazing kopjes which offer some of the most spectacular views of the plains, Kilimanjaro and the Chyulu Hills.
Elephants have a very high and ordered social fabric, especially in the breeding herds where the stable social group is made up of closely related females and their offspring of various ages. Adult males join the breeding herds when a female is on heat and the younger males leave the herd to form their own “social club” of bachelors, which have a very loose and unstable structure, boys!!
The breeding herds can congregate, socialize for a while and then break up again.
We immediately jumped into a car with one of our great guides, Konee, and high tailed it to the area in the hopes to catch a glimpse of the herd. Considering the size of the herd (and the size of an elephant!) they proved to be quite elusive. After about an hour and a half we finally spotted a dark object sheltering under a tree which in turn revealed one shape after another, the breeding herd!
When we got closer we were in awe of the size of the herd but also the variation in sizes. There were small babies all the way up to the grand matriarch of the family with some of the biggest tusks we have seen. The matriarch dictates the movement of the herd and they communicate using various methods, including touch, visual cues and audible communication which are barely audible to the human ear and are a very low frequency.
A safari vehicle was a foreign sight to this herd and it was not long before the matriarch wasn’t taking any chances and mock charged us, even though we were quite a ways off. It was an exciting sight but the kicker was that two of the smallest elephants felt it was their duty to follow in the giant footprints and did a very mini charge, very very cute! The Matriarch just turned to them and if he could speak I am sure he would have said something like “yeah, we showed them!”
Our guests always take advantage of the many activities here but some events simply cannot be arranged……….. we had two great guests from the U.K., Ian and Jane, that were making their way up to the lava tubes, an amazing hiking area where you can walk though caves and tunnels created by the lava just over 500 years ago. On their way, they came across a 1 hour old baby lamb along the side of the road….. They immediately scooped it into the vehicle and went to the nearest village. Our guide Konee went around the various goats and sheep looking for a clue as to who the baby belonged to, soon, they quickly found that it belonged to a small boys flock. The young boy had no idea that the sheep had given birth and was incredibly thankful to the guests for the safe return. The grateful village decided to name the baby lamb, “bahati”, meaning- lucky in Swahili!
With the exciting days, the perfect way to unwind is with a fireplace and a nice meal. We are currently planting our second harvest in one of our 2 green gate gardens. This time around we are planting mesculan greens, red onions; mixed peppers and herbs, all the while, our other garden is still yielding juicy red tomatoes, cayenne peppers and beetroot.
The chefs are really taking advantage of the gardens and the food is simply amazing, with lunch buffets highlighting many garden items to the 3 course plated dinners opening the doors to the chefs creativity not only with flavours but also plating techniques.
With the cool temperatures at night, we have been missing the opportunity to do dinner on the plains or in the bush. We recently however finished the newest addition to the lodge, a satellite kitchen area complete with a wood fired barbeque! This allows us to produce the grilled food which we do at bush dinners, on site. We launched the kitchen with a fantastic barbeque of skewered duck and habanero orange glaze, mini beef steaks with house BBQ sauce, jumbo shrimp with sweet chilli and vegetable and Halloumi skewers, all served with various and delicious sides.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as the saying goes and that seems to be a staff motto as they know how to balance work and fun. One of favourite past times of the staff is to play volleyball on a daily basis behind the lodge. They are extremely good and welcome the guests to play as well which is a lot of fun to watch. Some recent guests that came through were very generous and sent new volleyball uniforms from the States for the boys. They now are proudly sporting red or blue tops adding to their already passionate and competitive teams! Thank you Richard, Wawa, MC, Harriet, Tanner and Lydia!!!
So the sun is setting on another beautiful day and it is time for another delicious dinner, we can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!