Makweti Marmite And Cheese Bread Recipe

By / 1st October, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread. Actually, we lie. Eating freshly baked bread probably tops the smell, but both are heavenly. This home-baked bread is a Makweti favourite, made with a local ingredient that South African kids grow up on: Marmite. Add loads of cheese and you have a recipe for a dreamy snack or the perfect accompaniment for a meal. 

Make it at home and let us know what you think of the finished product.

Ingredients

  • 175ml full cream milk
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 100g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 4 tsp Marmite or Bovril
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • 250g mature cheddar, grated coarsely
  • Black pepper

Method

  • Warm the milk in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, butter and 2 teaspoons of Marmite, until the butter has melted. Cool to lukewarm
  • Sift the flour and ½ teaspoon salt into a large bowl, stir in the yeast and make a well in the centre
  • Pour the beaten eggs and milk mixture into the well and mix quickly to a soft dough
  • Knead for 10-15 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes in a food mixer with a dough hook on a low speed, until elastic. The dough should be very soft and quite sticky
  • Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size. This should take about 1½ hours
  • For a richer flavour and easier to handle dough, allow the dough to rise overnight in the fridge, after an initial 45 minutes of rising time at room temperature
  • You’ll need to bring it back to room temperature for at least an hour before proceeding
  • Knock the dough back and sprinkle over half of the grated cheddar, season well with black pepper and knead for a minute or so until smooth and the cheese is well dispersed
  • Break the dough into 19 equally-sized pieces (about 50g each), pinch the edges of each piece together together and roll to create a smooth ball
  • Lightly brush a 25-26cm springform cake tin with a little melted butter and arrange the balls of dough in concentric circles around the tin. If you don’t have a tin of this size, arrange the dough balls in a 26cm circle drawn on baking paper, on a baking tray
  • Sprinkle half of the remaining cheese in the crevices between the balls of dough, taking care not to sprinkle any on top, and set aside to prove for 1½-2 hours, until the dough is well-risen and feels soft and pillowy
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6
  • Bake the bread for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven
  • Mix the remaining Marmite with 2 teaspoons of just-boiled water and brush the mixture over the bread to glaze
  • Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the bread is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
  • Serve warm to enjoy the melty ooziness of the cheese

‘A O Bone Peolwane?’ – Did You See The Swallow?

By / 24th September, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

Red-breasted Swallow (English) Peolwane (Northern Sotho) – Hirundo semirufa

Early on Monday morning, we headed out on the game drive just before 6am. It was a cool morning, typical of spring but the sun was starting to rise above the hills that surround the Makweti Gorge. We had discussed birding the night before around the table and were keen to see what morning birding activity was on offer. 

We approached Pienaar’s Crossing and were just about to cross the now quite shallow water crossing when we stopped to watch some African hoopoes across the bank. Whilst sitting in the morning light and fresh air, we were instantly rewarded with a spectacular sighting of a pair of red-breasted swallows. 

About three weeks back, I had returned from a morning drive and mentioned to Jessica that we had seen the first pair of red-breasted swallows to return for their Summer breeding on the reserve, and here before us was the very same pair. They were swooping in low over the pools of water in the crossing and were dancing in tandem with a pair of lesser-striped swallows. After a while, the pair of red-breasted swallows settled on the mud patch just across from us and started to prepare to collect mud for their nest-building. The pair diligently went about collecting small balls of mud in their beaks before flying off, giving way for the other swallows to follow suit. They returned about 15-minutes later and repeated the activity for their house-building.

Red breasted swallow near Makweti
Red-Breasted Swallow

The North Sotho phrase “A o bone Peolwane?” or “Did you see the Swallow?” was so apt in this scenario and summed up the moment perfectly. Did you see the swallow? Had you noticed the change in the seasons? Spring is coming, have you looked around and noticed the world is spinning around us? Or are we still too busy worrying about ourselves to be cognisant of where we are? Spring has indeed arrived, and although we are only in the early phases of change, it’s happening right here before us.

The red-breasted swallow is quite unmistakable with its rich rufous colour on the throat, chest and rump. A fairly large swallow with blue-black shoulders, back and tail and typical swallow flight habits. This widespread species is found from Angola, Zambia and DRC south to NE Botswana, Namibia and into South Africa as far south as the Orange River. Once regarded as extinct from the Free State, it is not a common sight. It has been actively breeding in this province for the past 40 years. Records of its distribution south of the Free State are absent with few isolated records in the Eastern Cape. This species is regarded as an intra-African breeding migrant, where it breeds in the southern regions returning to the central-African regions over winter. They usually arrive in Zimbabwe mid-July, Botswana late-July and NE South Africa early-August. The breeding season stretches to March or early April, when the pairs start leaving South Africa again to head north. Often seen in pairs or in singles, they perch on high twigs near their nests, basking in the early morning sun. The adult pairs will roost in the nests at night, even before egg-laying has commenced, so nest-building occurs early on arrival in their preferred areas. 

Redbreasted Swallow at Makweti Safari Lodge
Red-Breasted Swallow Mating Pair

The last three years, I have watched a pair return to the same nest site on the reserve. This pair nests in a culvert under the road heading towards to the central areas of the reserve. To date, they have always been the first pair I have seen to return, bar this year with the arrival of the pair we witnessed on Monday morning. They mostly feed on aerial arthropods especially during termite emergences following rain. The monogamous pair’s bond lasts several years with both male and female involved in nest-building. The nest is a typical mud gourd made from mud pellets as we witnessed being collected. The nest has a long entrance tunnel with the cup being lined with feathers. Although the pair we have witnessed nesting in the past was associated with a man-made structure, natural nest sites include the roof of an aardvark’s tunnel, hollow termite mounds or the underside of fallen trees. One to six eggs are laid, usually between September and April and in two – five clutches. Incubation usually starts after the last clutch.  The eggs all hatch within 24-hours of each other. The chicks are born altricial; blind and pink. The usually fledge after 25 days where they start to leave the nest for the first time.

European Bee-Eater

Although a common summer visitor, this swallow brings about the first signs of change for Spring. Every year we have eagerly awaited all our summer migrants to return and relish with every new day bringing someone new back home to enjoy the green summers with us on the reserve. It’s just the beginning, and over the next two months we will see our skies and canopies filled with returning friends. The European bee-eater will come in great numbers, followed shortly by the woodland kingfishers, whose characteristic calls echo through the valleys from dawn till dusk. We look forward to welcoming old friends back.

Woodland Kingfisher

So, when next you feel a little caught up in your own moment, stop and ask yourself, “Did I see the swallow?”

Text and photographs: Neil Davison

References:

  1. Personal observations by the author on Welgevonden Game Reserve and other Reserves in Southern Africa
  2. Roberts Birds of Southern Africa 7th Edition; PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean & PG Ryan, John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Jacana Publishers, 2005

Cape Brandy Pudding Recipe

By / 23rd August, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

In keeping with our Women’s Month theme, we thought we’d share something sweet and delicious with you; a recipe for Cape Brandy Pudding. It’s not just any recipe, no… this is something special. It has a history as rich as the dessert itself.

Cape Brandy Pudding originates from a popular South African dessert known as Malva Pudding. Malva is rumoured to have been around for over 800 years, and was named after a South African woman named “Malva”. It first arrived on South African shores in 1652, served to Dutch settlers in the Cape of Good Hope. It was served with a sweet dessert wine called ‘Malvacea’, which hailed from the small Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. 

There are some stories that say Malva Pudding was named after “Malvacea” and not a South African woman named “Malva”… you can decide for yourself which story you prefer.

We do know for sure that when supplies for ingredients ran low, they would have to substitute a few items, using dates for sweetness and Cape brandy to make it that much more indulgent. And so the Cape Brandy Pudding was born! Make it yourself in your own home this weekend. Here’s how…

Ingredients

  • 250g pitted dates 
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecan nuts
  • 2 eggs beaten

Method For Pudding

  • Chop up the dates and divide into two parts
  • Add bicarbonate of soda to the first half and pour the boiling water over
  • Stir to mix and leave to cool
  • Cream butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs
  • Sift dry ingredients and fold into the butter and sugar mixture
  • Add the second half of the dates and mix
  • Then stir in the nuts and bicarbonate of soda mixture
  • Mix well
  • Turn batter into a large baking dish
  • Bake in the middle of the oven at 180 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until it’s turns a rich, caramel brown

Method For Sauce

The sauce requires that you boil all of these ingredients for 10 minutes:

  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar

Then remove from the heat and combine the following ingredients into the mixture:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Pour the sauce over while the pudding is still hot out of the oven, and serve with homemade custard, fresh cream or ice cream. Or you could be incredibly indulgent and top with all three!

Photo: Ross Wilson Photography

Cape-Brandy-Pudding-Makweti

The Lion Queen – African Lion Panthera leo

By / 16th August, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

The old phrase “lightning never strikes twice” is born in myth and truth depending on how this phrase is used. Most storm chasers will have you know that this is false and given enough time it is certainly quite inevitable. Lightning can and will strike the same place twice at any time.

There are many things to be learned from nature, and certainly the lesson that stands out the most is that nature cannot be ‘forced’, and its predictability is totally unpredictable. 

It was with much surprise (and yet none at all) that we were witness to one of natures repeats right on our doorstop almost two years after the first, to the very day. July 2017, we were to witness the behavioural changes in the Western Pride Lionesses, who were preparing to be mothers for the very first time. The larger of the two sisters was showing signs of carrying cubs first, and her behaviour was evident that it was nearly time for her to give birth. Early on the morning of the 27th July 2017, her tracks were found in camp after the morning drive had departed. She had walked up the valley gorge to the camp and headed past the kitchen, continuing to the Indaba.  Her clear sand pug marks were found walking over the deck past the drums right through reception. Approximately two weeks later she gave birth to two healthy boys.

9th July 2019, it’s a cool winter’s morning and the recent refurbishment in camp is coming to an end. The lodge team has been back for four days, fervently putting things in place for our first group of guests arriving on the 11th. Having just completed the morning briefing, the team drifted to prepare for the day and there we found clear evidence of the same lioness in camp.

There were the distinct sand pug marks over the deck again, but this time it was different.  She was not alone. The Thembe male had been with her. His tracks are clear in the image with the red arrows, complete with his need to mark territory on the deck with a short urine spray. 

Although he was not bold enough to tread where she had before, he had been within 2 metres of the reception door. The lioness had proceeded across the deck past the drums as is evident in the photographs. She continued on the path down towards the kitchen, again where her tracks are clear. We lose them close to the boma deck but can ascertain that she did not continue past the kitchen to room 3. Having looked around we assumed she headed back to the waterhole and met up with the Thembe male before they headed down to Fig Tree Plains.

It’s always exciting having game come close to camp, and we are fortunate enough with the waterhole attracting a variety of mammals and birds on a regular basis. Our trip cameras have caught many exciting “behind the scenes” images of animals using the area while we all sleep away the nights.

Although on this occasion she was not alone, nor suspected to be pregnant, she felt the need to revisit her original route when searching for a suitable den to give birth two years prior. We felt this was her stamp of approval on the recent build and refurbishment work we had completed in camp and this was her signing off on our new kitchen.

Text and photographs: Neil Davison

References:

  1. Personal observations on Welgevonden Game Reserve and other Reserves in Southern Africa
Lioness-Makweti

Celebrating Our Wonderful Women

By / 9th August, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

South Africa celebrates the women of our country on the 9th of August every year with a public holiday that is unique to our country. We see it as as opportunity to celebrate the bravery and strength of South African women, a day which was first acknowledged in 1995.

The History Of Women’s Day

Women’s Day stands to commemorate the fearlessness of South African women in very desperate times. In 1956, 20,000 women of all races marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to stage a peaceful protest against legislation that required African people to carry a pass.

The pass was an identification document that allowed black people to enter and move freely around white areas. It restricted movement for black people, segregating them and separating them from white people under the Apartheid rule. This first instance of women coming together in solidarity was a massive feat that required courage and determination, definitely something that South African women are not short of.

While we are long past that day, it’s important to always remember why we celebrate it. Not only to honour the women who marched on that day, but also to remember how when women come together in a united cause, incredible things can happen.

We look at the women of Makweti, and we know this to be true, because without these strong, caring and compassionate women, we would not be the lodge we are today.

To each and every woman here at Makweti, in South Africa, and beyond… we salute you this Women’s Day.

Two-Tone Roasted Yellow Pepper And Tomato Soup

By / 5th August, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

This two-tone soup is made from a roasted yellow pepper soup and a separate tomato soup; both rich in flavour and colour. It is a real treat for the senses and so easy to make.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 yellow peppers
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp thyme, chopped
  • 250 ml vegetable stock, plus extra to thin soup if required
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / Fan 160 degrees C / Gas 4
  • Place the peppers on a roasting tray, rub with olive oil and roast them until the skin has browned ever so lightly
  • Remove from the oven straight away, place in a plastic bag and seal
  • After 30 minutes, remove the peppers from the bag and gently peel away the browned skin
  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the onion until soft
  • Deseed the peppers and roughly chop them
  • Add to the onion
  • Add thyme, vegetable stock and heat through
  • Remove from heat and puree the soup using a hand blender

Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 300ml vegetable stock, plus extra to think the soup if required
  • 2 tsp basil leaves, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat
  • Add the garlic and sundried tomatoes and saute for a minute
  • Stir in the tinned tomatoes, potato and stock and bring to the boil
  • Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is cooked through
  • Add the chopped basil and remove from the heat
  • Puree the soup and add seasoning, if required
  • To serve, you will need two ladles
  • Fill one ladle with pepper soup and the other with tomato soup
  • Pour the ladles into a bowl at the same time, slowly so as not to mix them
  • Garnish with fresh cream and chopped chives

We’d love to hear if you try one of our recipes. They are all straight from the Makweti kitchen, and if you’ve stayed with us before, some of them might be familiar. Enjoy and happy cooking!

Meet Ellard Banda – Makweti Field Guide

By / 26th July, 2019 / People Of Makweti / Off

Ellard Banda is an exceptional field guide at Makweti, and one of our most trusted members of the extended Makweti family. He came to our lodge in 2013 to fulfill his role as our maintenance man. It wasn’t long before he became completely captivated by the nature around him and chose to study to become a field guide.

He passed his FGASA Level 1 with the greatest of ease and is currently studying Level 2.

Ellard was born in Lilongwe in Malawi, which is a good 1700km’s from Makweti. He is one of four siblings (one step brother and two step sisters) and was motivated to join our safari lodge by his cousin Lazarus, who had worked at Makweti before.

Ellard appreciates every moment he gets to work in such beautiful surroundings: “The best part is that every day you get close to nature and you have peace of mind due to the quietness and fresh air.” Isn’t that the best part about being deep in the heart of the wild South African bushveld?

When Ellard isn’t leading our guests through the magic of our surroundings, he spends his leisure time with friends, family and loved ones. Among those loved ones are his little boy, Ellard Ketso Junior, who is the apple of his eye.

Ellard comes from a Christian family who believes that family comes first as the most important thing in life. We couldn’t agree more.

When asked to tell us a favorite story about his time working at Makweti, he has this to say:

“One morning when we were finishing breakfast, the first group of guests were ready to depart. They said to me that “Ellard, this is our last short drive back to the gate, we will have to come back for that leopard.”

All of sudden the local monkey troop in the camp were calling at the Indaba building as there was a leopard at the waterhole killing a warthog female. This leopard lived around the camp, and we were just talking about it. It was an amazing and sad experience all at the same time. It was sad to watch this warthog, who we knew well as she had grown up in the camp, now being taken by a powerful leopard – but we understood that this is nature.”

That is the bittersweet truth of nature, and we get to see it everyday. Thank you to Ellard for sharing his story and for being a part of our Makweti family. We are so honoured to know you and we know our guests feel the same way.

Ellard Banda - Makweti Field Guide

Legend Of The Nyami Nyami Walking Stick

By / 26th June, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

In Conversation With Test Malunga

This walking stick is a piece of art that can be found at Makweti, and it has an incredible story behind it. It is beautifully crafted and is representative of the Nyami Nyami, who is the Tonga tribe river god that inhabits the Zambezi valley.

The walking stick resembles a snake at the top because the Tonga tribe’s god (the ancestral spirit) exists in form of a snake or a serpent-like creature living in Kariba Dam. The snake is so big that nobody can guess its size, and it is believed that when the Nyami Nyami swims past, the water turns red.

The gorge where Kariba dam wall was built was called Kariwa, which means “a trap”. It was so named due to several fisherman who went close to the location and were sucked into a whirl pool, never to be seen again. When the English arrived, they mispronounced the name as Kariba, which is how it is known worldwide today. The district is known today as Nyami Nyami district. The then chief Musampakaruma is the only person who believed that he once saw their river god.

There is a man and a woman depicted on the walking stick, both of whom represent the prayers that were said by man and woman, whenever there was a drought. They would ask the river god for rain by brewing opaque beer that would be left to ferment for seven days before consumption. They would then spend the whole night playing drums and singing. During this ceremony, the clouds would gather and it would start to rain as a response from the river god.

The arrival of the Europeans caused a lot of disruption in the area when they built the dam wall. It is believed that this construction separated the male and female, with the male getting trapped on the upper course and the female on the lower side. Kariba residents experience tremors occasionally, which is believed to be the male angrily pushing against the dam wall in the hopes of reaching his wife trapped on the other side.

In February 1950 after the construction had started, the river god got angry and a cyclone from the Indian Ocean swept the valley, which had never happened before. Subsequently, there were three more disastrous events, where they found dead animals hanging in the trees, and homes flooded and washed away. The dam wall foundations were washed away several times as well.

The ball trapped inside the cavity on the walking stick explains the cultural preservation and protection by the Tonga people. Sadly, the missionaries worked so hard to erode this culture and belief system, that the stories are not known to the new, younger generations. 

Storytelling is such an important part of cultural longevity, which is why we are so honoured to keep this artwork and be able to tell the story behind it.

Words: Test Malunga, former Head Guide, Manager and great friend of Makweti.

Hippo “Look N’Gai, No Fishes!”

By / 19th June, 2019 / Uncategorized / Off

Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius

It’s early winter in 2018 and Rhino Dam is a hive of activity. The last week of April saw the arrival of four adult hippos to the dam, having moved from Kromellenboog Dam far in the north of the reserve near Nyala plains. This group of hippo had often made the trek between these water bodies in the past, but something seemed different this time. The reserve had poor Summer rains at the beginning of the 2018 season, and although the rain improved in Autumn, this was too late for any substantial grass growth for grazers in parts of the reserve. We suspected the hippo had made the move to greener pastures because Kromellenboog Dam’s level was lower than usual.

Shortly after their arrival, two of the adults from the group left and made the journey back to Kromellenboog Dam. This is no mean feat as the distance covered in the night is close to 20km, as the crow flies. They left behind two adult hippo at Rhino Dam, which we suspected was a cow and a young adult bull. It was the last week of May 2018 and the mystery unfolded by way of a newborn hippo calf.  This little hippo, whom we assumed is a male, kept us delighted as we watched him grow up to be a healthy one-year-old earlier this Winter.   

Male hippo calf, DOB 23 May 2018

When he was about three months old, the second adult hippo we assumed to be a bull, left Rhino Dam, and the mother and her calf were left to fend for themselves, enjoying the space and peace the dam and surrounds offer.  With plenty of good grazing in the area, the mother and son were content to remain at Rhino Dam.

It’s April 2019, and once again as Autumn begins, the three adult hippo from Kromellenboog Dam have made the 20km journey back to Rhino Dam, some 10 minutes from Makweti Safari Lodge.  They have re-settled with the cow and her nearly one-year-old calf, and are enjoying the relatively good grazing in Fig Tree Plains and surrounding areas, following the good early Summer rains. What seems now to be a routine annual migration to this area, has once again turned into a birthing spectacle. It’s the 14th April 2019 and our hippo community in the northern part of the reserve welcomes a newborn calf.

It has been exciting to watch this little hippo discover the new world. We assume she is a female, although it’s difficult to tell at such a young age.  She is often seen out in the mid-morning sun, with her mom, stretching her legs and exploring the dam surrounds with her one-year-old playmate. 

Female hippo calf, DOB 14 April 2019

Interesting Hippo Facts

  • A single calf is born to a female usually the end of Summer, although this can occur all year round
  • Hippo calves are born under water in the shallows of the dams or water bodies that their mothers occupy
  • A newborn calf weighs about 50kg and within a few minutes after birth, they are able to go into deep water
  • Calves, like adults, cannot float, but can stay submerged underwater for up to two to three minutes, whereas adults will submerge themselves for close to six minutes
  • A mom and her calf will stay away from the main group following the birth, to allow for the critical imprinting period for the calf, which is usually the first 10-14 days
  • Female hippo are mature enough to give birth at four years, birthing at two-year intervals, where males only mature at 7 years
  • Calves will suckle underwater, remaining underwater for short periods of about 30 seconds
  • Calves will graze a little from one month, and more actively by five months, weaning completely at eight months
  • Hippos are select grazers and will feed nocturnally up to 1km from water, eating up to 40kg in a night
  • The noise that hippos make for territorial and courtship purposes is known as wheeze-honking

Watching the calves suckle is interesting.  Early mornings, we will see the calves being more active, nudging their mothers and generally making a nuisance of themselves until the mothers relent. The mothers will roll onto their sides half submerged in shallow water, allowing the calf access to her mammae situated between her back legs.  They will then submerge for short periods, emerging to breathe for a few seconds before drinking again.

The dominant bull for this group has taken on his role as protector of both young hippos seriously, and over the past four weeks I have seen increased territorial markings close to Rhino Dam and down into the Fig Tree and Ibhubesi Plains.  

Dominant males will mark territory using their dung, which they scatter using their tales as a paddle. This is typically done on a small bush where the scattered dung will cover the bush accentuating his scent and act as a display to rival bulls that this territory is occupied.  

It is interesting to note that this activity has stepped up, as I have previously not noticed this behaviour in this area of the reserve. Because of hippo’s social structures, dominant bulls usually only have access to a few females with which to mate. We can only assume that this male is the ‘father’ of both offspring born, as he has accepted both calves. Hippo bulls are known to display behaviour known as infanticide, where young calves are killed to encourage females to come into oestrus. Hippo calves rely on their mothers for a long period, up to three years.  During this period, the females will not come into oestrus, as the production of milk limits their hormonal changes which brings about oestrus. Females with calves are not available to dominant males to mate with, and this creates tension for the bull in his group. Testosterone-charged bulls become frustrated and will at times harass calves, even killing them to stimulate females to come into oestrus.  Hippos have a relatively short gestation period of eight months, and calves are usually born seasonally, at a time when rains are good, and water and food are sufficient for a mother to graze and produce sufficient milk. Male calves are at particular risk of infanticide as they get older, as dominant bulls will view them as a threat to potential females. Female calves are left alone, as a result of dominant bulls not viewing them as a threat to their domains.

An African Folk Tale

There are many wonderful, colourful and enchanting folk tales in Africa, and few as animating as the Kikuyu tale that speaks of the hippo and his dilemma with the Lord of Creation, N’Gai. The Kikuyu people believe that long ago, N’Gai the Lord of Creation planned all the animals and creatures for earth and decided where to put them, placing the hippopotamus in the forests and plains of Africa. But the hippo was greedy and fed hungrily on plenty of good food around him, making him fatter and fatter. The bigger he grew, the more he struggled in the midday heat of equatorial Africa.   Everyday that he waddled down to the water to drink, the hjippo would gaze into the cool waters and was envious of the fish that swam freely in the waters supplied by the melting snows from Mount Kenya. The hippo pondered his dilemma for days and one day decided to approach N’Gai to ask him if he too could occupy the cool waters.

But N’Gai was not taking any of this, as his fish were precious to him and he was not convinced that the hippo would not change his feeding habits and eat his precious fish, and so hippo was denied his request. The hippo sadly returned to his plains and forests and hot midday sun. For some time, he pleaded with N’Gai to let him move into the waters and each time his request was denied. Hippo decided he simply had to convince Lord N’Gai and he came with up a solution. 

Adult Hippo at Makweti

And so the hippo told Lord N’Gai that he would lie in the cool waters by day and at night come out and graze along the banks of the river and the vleis.   He promised not to eat or disturb the fish. Lord N’Gai was not easily convinced and he did not believe the hippo would leave his previous fish, he needed proof of this promise. Hippo told N’Gai that at night he will come out of the water and every time that food passes through his body, he will scatter his dung to spread it out in Lord N’Gai’s sight so he could see there are no fish bones. His request was accepted and now it is said, that every night the hippo will emerge from the waters to feed and scatter his dung, looking to the heavens and saying “Look N’Gai, no fishes!”

Photographs and words: Neil Davison

References:

  1. Personal observations by the author on Welgevonden Game Reserve and other Reserves in Southern Africa
  2. Mammals of the Southern African Sub Region, J.D Skinner & R.H.N. Smithers, Second Edition, University of Pretoria: Mammal Research Institute, Pretoria, 1990
  3. Smithers Mammals of Southern Africa: A Field Guide, R.H.N Smithers, Third Edition, Southern Book Publishers, Johannesburg, 1996
  4. The Best of African Folklore, P. Savory, Struik Timmins Publishers, Cape Town, 1991
  5. Beat about the Bush – Mammals, Trevor Carnaby, First Edition, Jacana, Johannesburg, 2007

Sunset, Inverroche And The African Bush

There is something so indulgent about a gin and tonic at the end of the day. Winding down with the crisp, fragrant notes of your chosen flavour is something to look forward to, and at Makweti, we do it in style. The popularity of G&Ts has extended so far as to become a culture. In the last decade, this refreshing combination has morphed into an experience, rather than a drink… and we embrace this wholeheartedly, while using the African sunset as a backdrop.

Gin And Tonic - Makweti

Inverroche is one of our favoured brands of gin served at the lodge and on our game drives. It’s a local brand that hails from a family-owned, artisan distillery in the Cape. What we love about Inverroche is how it has captured the essence of South Africa in a number of different flavoured gins by using Fynbos and traditional botanicals.

These three captivating Inverroche gins are always available at Makweti Safari Lodge:

  • Gin Amber
  • Gin Verdant
  • Gin Classic

Combined with fresh ingredients that bring out the subtle flavours of each gin, Inverroche is a local feast for the senses for all our guests. This is how we drink our gin and tonics on safari at Makweti.

Pictured above from left to right, we have the following combinations of flavours:

Gin Amber

This is a firm favourite with our guests. It’s distinctively aromatic with a slightly spicy undertone. The amber colour comes from tannin-rich coastal botanicals that are used to mellow the gin after distillation. It is best served on lots of ice, a pink tonic, some fresh, chopped strawberries, pomegranate jewels and pink peppercorns.

Gin Verdant

This is a very delicate gin that has the fragrance of flowers blended into the Inverroche African botanicals. It also has a spicy undertone, as well as very subtle juniper, licorice and sweet citrus flavours. Served best with loads of ice, Indian Tonic Water, fresh cucumber and a sprig of rosemary.

Gin Classic

The Gin Classic is crisp, flavourful and slightly dry to the taste. Served with plenty of ice, your chosen tonic and sliced lemon or lime, you cannot go wrong with the classic.

Which is your favourite?

Photo credits: Ross Wilson of F Stops Photography.