Tuningi Newsletter August 2008

By gavintonkinson on August 1, 2008

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Greetings to you from all of us at Tuningi!

We are happy to announce that the worst of the cold has disappeared and that most of August as been warm and sunny. Although a bit windy and very dusty out in the bush, the game sightings have been phenomenal this month. The new shoots are just starting to show on most of the thorn trees and green grass is pushing through in the areas where we had to do some fire breaks to prevent run away fires this dry season. We are already dreaming about the first thunderstorm that should take place in September when spring will officially be here. The animals are still coming to the lodge water hole every day for a drink and the odd rub, as there is not much water to be found out in the bush. The elephants have taken it upon themselves to expand our water hole by playing and rolling about in it for hours each day. They have also found that our boma railings are the perfect scratching post to every ones great surprise!

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We have fantastic news for you this month!!!

After two years of dreadful, endless paper work, we have finally received gun licenses for the Lodge. This means that we can now take you on adrenalin rushed, highly informative WALKS in the bush. The walks are not necessarily aimed at walking into, or finding the big, dangerous animals out there, but are really geared to give the rangers a chance to show you the smaller, very interesting things around that you can not spot on a drive. They will teach you how to track an animal and how to identify a poisonous plant and how to make a tooth brush in the veld. They will find bird’s nests and eggs, rhino scrubbing posts and teach you about the termite mounds. You will identify pooh and clutches of hair left on a thorny bush. The knowledge they have to share with you is endless! Just be aware that by law children are not allowed to go on the walks in such a dangerous big five area. This is just for the adults. While the grown-ups are on the walk, we will gladly entertain the kids back at the lodge with t-shirt painting, treasure hunts, clay molding and lots more. You will just have to come back now to experience Tuningi from this new, different angle!

More good news is that we have just received the Diners Club PLATINUM award for the Wine list of the Year competition. Last year we won Gold.

What this means is that we have added even more amazing wines to our existing wine list. We now have added more auction wines, some imported wines and even an organic wine. The judging criterion includes content, in the number of wines, original and innovative choices and cultivars sourced from appropriate regions. Balance between modestly and expensively priced wines and between local and imported wines. Suitability, in the matching of the wine with the cuisine. Presentation of the wine list in showing the vintages and regions correctly is also judged and we had to send menus and samples of the type of glasses we use in the dining room.

We are very proud of this achievement and are inviting you to come and join us here at Tuningi for a glass of the best!

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The last few weeks have again been unbelievable as Madikwe continues to entertain and educate all of us on Africa’s beautiful natural heritage. I could write about the Batia Brothers, the oldest lions in Madikwe, who have been spending an unusual amount of time around Tuningi’s waterhole or the way the environment is starting to raise from the ashes after all the controlled fire breaks we had to do this year but I am going to focus on one specific day. A Big day. A Big 5 day!news07_lg news08_lg

7 August 2008 – Five out of Five!!
Just when you think it could not get any better you get an evening like this. Going to try and give you the shortened version…
After having found almost all of the Big Five, Wild Dog and Black Rhino my very lucky guests and I headed out to find the one animal that still eluded us – the spotted cat, Panthera pardus; the leopard! Grant was still taking a few days off and decided to come along to take a few pictures. Looking back now… a very good decision!

The drive started off with us driving into breeding herd of more than thirty elephants. Great sighting as the grey ghosts of the bush walked towards us with the sun playing on their large grey canvases. The majority of them passed behind us as they disappeared quietly into the thick tree line but a few of the young males decided to come and eat right in front of and to the side of our vehicle. Awesome sighting (Probably going to say that quite a few times in this post). Grant got a few images of the young guys dusting themselves. The guests, whom by now had seen a lot of ellies, enjoyed being with the youngsters and watching them up close. This mom gave us a clear warning not too come too close but we were very happy to watch the large animals as they disappeared into thicker bushes. A beautiful scene.

As we moved on we were quite happy to just bumble our way along to the dam where we were hoping to find a large herd of buffalo. We then bumped into the three Sereti brothers. These male lions are around 4 years old and absolutely beautiful. The sun was still a little awkward and sharp but this did not stop us from making the most of the chance to photograph these beautiful animals.

Even happier to slowly make our way to the dam we bumbled along and stopped to watch the millions of Red-Billed Queleas as they continued with their late afternoon ballet in the sky. It is amazing how these little birds don’t bump into each other as they mimic a great cloud of smoke.

We sat for quite a while watching, not knowing what would happen next. As we approached Tlou dam we heard that the Buffalo were leaving the water so we took a little link road that we hoped would take us right to where they were heading. Perfect timing as about 2 minutes later we found ourselves in the middle of a herd of buffalo about 100 strong. Photography was a little bit difficult as by now it was already pitch dark and we were using the spotlight to view the animals all around us. Being part of nature and getting so close is what it is all about. Having the animals look at you, accept you and carry on with their normal activities. Awesome!

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So we decided to move towards the water where we bumped into 5 White Rhino as they all milled around the water. They were just as relaxed and again it felt like we were part of their world rather than being observers. Surely this was enough and it was now time to move on. What are the chances of finding the ever elusive leopard and getting a glimpse of this beautiful cat. Apparently our chances were quite good!

A few days ago a rather large male leopard killed a zebra right next to one of the roads. Since then people have been popping into the area every now and then with only the occasional sighting. What we found however blew our minds! We edged towards the kill and there was one of the largest males I have ever seen feeding on his kill.

This was no ordinary leopard sighting as he was extremely relaxed and seemed also to accept us as a part of his world. We all sat in complete awe of the beautiful spectacle that was unfolding right in front of us. Now photography was also quite tricky as we had to contend with the spotlight but we all made the most of it and both Grant and I will hopefully be uploading quite a few more of the images to the Photo-Africa Stock Library soon.

A Big Five Drive. Brilliant! Just when you thought it could not get any better; the fact that all the animals made us feel a part of the African story is what made it really special. I could have turned this into a marathon post, and will remember this day for quite some time to come but for now will leave you with a great quote from Sir Ian Maccallum which is exactly what you feel like after a day like today!

“Welcome home to your wild origins. Learn whatever you can from our animals, our wild coastlines and landscapes and from those who have identified themselves with this continent. Africa can teach you a lot about who you are and your place in the world. But you must come soon, before it’s too late.”

As always I look forward to hearing from you!
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Well, is time to say goodbye again. Do not forget to book our special birding week ends coming up in November. We guarantee lots of fun as well as serious ticking in your bird books! Just phone our bookings office to find out more about it.

Until we chat again, keep well and start planning your return trip to Tuningi.

With kindest regards,

The T-team

PS: Please remember to have a look at our fabulous kids art gallery!.

For enquiries please contact :

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