A lone duck carves a liquid v in the water with her wake, hippo’s yawn with mouth so wide one could easily deposit a hundred Chomps in her chops and as the sun peeps one eye over the hillside, illuminating all of 22 000 hectares of the Nambiti plains, my mug of hot coffee and Membry’s Walnut & Choc chip cookie that was made, too early to mention that morning, taste like none other.
I spent last weekend at the Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge in the Nambiti reserve with two girlfriends. The reserve rubs shoulders with the infamous Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal. The infamous Battle of Isandlwana was fought here; where the British Army incurred their greatest defeat until that time and was subdued by the mighty spear of the Zulu army and yet, in utter contrast, Nature rests gently where once brave soldiers bled and fell.
I get a bit p*d off with the prototypical National Geographic portrayal of our beautiful bush. Camera pans over a watering hole teeming with wildlife, a crocodile has a go at an Impala drinking water, which by some adrenalin fuelled miracle, manages to wrestle itself free and darts off at an incredible pace, at speeds of nearly 100km an hour, in moves mother cheetah who brings down the impala with feline grace, clamps her jaw around the beasts neck and it’s all over, all while her four cubs are watching! Give me a break National Geographic; you had an entire crew of camera men camped out at that watering hole for six weeks in order to obtain enough footage for the editors to piece together with vinegar and brown paper! Shame on you!
The reality of the African bush is so different to said television portrayals. The delicate balance between fauna and flora is as beautiful and delicate as a sunrise and literally takes ones breath away. The Nambiti plains stretch out as far as the eye can see and proudly boasts the big five. There is no bating of animals here and one is never guaranteed sightings by overzealous rangers; this sits well with my soul. I don’t like the idea of luring animals to viewfinders with dead carcasses. The Nambiti Hills Lodge is the epitome of contemporary good taste, the décor is fabulous and ones’ every whim is pre-empted right down to a nice cool or warm face cloth drenched in authentic African Aromas and the appropriate libation to cool or warm ones cockles. Your stay is wrapped in the tones and textures of the Nambiti Plains and the food an African celebration. Our dinner in the lantern lit Boma was outstanding – with meat perfectly braai’d and with all of the accoutrements of a traditional bush braai – from homemade spiced pumpkin bread, roasted seasonal veggies, cabbage salad (to die for!!!), potato salad, beef fillet, luscious lamb cutlets that were just out of this world, boerewors, pap and sous … dessert was a biscuit cup containing two table spoons of heaven!
With a carpet of magical stars above us and lanterns all around us, the sounds of the bush and a crackling log fire, dinner felt like a bit of an African fairy tale. It was an agonisingly exquisite moment!
When your soul needs soothing and your heart needs warming, when ailing energies need reviving and friendships are worthy of celebrating, I suggest that you head for the African bush. We are so incredibly blessed to be able to see our wildlife in their natural habitat, to smell the heady aroma of bush mint at sunset and to be humbled by the paralysing stare and majesty of Madoda, the Alpha Male lion who didn’t take his eyes off us but did allow us to watch his three, four month old cubs at play. To see a massive mother Rhino gently attending to her baby was such an unforgettable sight and, who knows, if in ten years we will still be able to do so. We arrived with the stress and strains of life, love and work strapped to our backs and left light footed a smiling from ear to ear.
Membry Maphanga’s Forest Walnut & Choc Chip Cookies
I have to share Membry’s awesome choc chip cookie recipe with you. I rise at 4.45am every day to go and swim at the beach bathes and when I get home I love a steaming hot cappuccino with either a rusk or a biscuit. One bite and you will be magically transported to one of the many watering holes on the Nambiti Plains …
I love Africa!
½ cup margarine
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup castor sugar
2Tbs vanilla essence
2 cups sifted flour
1Tbs baking powder
1Tbs Bicarbonate of soda
400g chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups oats
Cream margarine, butter and sugar together until fluffy
Add eggs milk vanilla essence until smooth
Sift and add baking powder flour and bicarbonate of soda
Fold in oats nuts and chocolate chips
Cover and refrigerate for one hour
Roll into golf ball size and place on try, flatten with for decoration but DON’T demolish
Bake at 180d for 8 – 10 minutes Should make 40 – 50 medium sized biscuits
and may your week be as relaxed and beautiful as this …