The Bush House - exclusive private game lodge in malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa - Game viewing drives to see the Big 5

The Bush House

Sue & Gordon’s Notebook – Second Quarter

Sue and I write very differently, and about different things. The last few newsletters have been expertly written by Sue (lots of flowers and cute things),but now it’s my turn again (more pics and stories of the big, impressive stuff) – something to do with Venus and Mars, I think!


We are just at that point in the year when we start to experience the change of seasons. I guess you would call it Autumn, as we move from Summer towards Winter. This transition in our part of the World is normally a quick one, and therefore is usually not thought of or referred to as Autumn – just moving out of Summer into Winter.


Summer is hot and wet; Winter is cold and dry.  We have been very blessed this summer, as in the previous two years, where the rains have been far better than the normal averages here.  Although rain can be “a small nuisance” when interfering with game drives or boma dinners, we will never wish it away. Our part of Africa is often dry, and good rains are a huge blessing.


Although taken at very different times of the year, the pictures below illustrate the point of how good the the last three rainy seasons have been.  We took the first picture just after we bought the Lodge in October 2006. (start of Summer, before the rains of that year).


October 2006


This picture is above the coffee station in the lounge at the Lodge, and guests often comment on the difference to what they currently see when looking at our waterhole.


April 2011


Forgetting the fact that the first is brown and the other green (pre rain and post rain), the difference in the growth and thickness of the bush in just four and a half years is incredible and clearly shows the benefits of the good rains.


The effect has been the same with the veld grasses, and has meant that the condition of all the “vegetarians” (browsers and grazers) in the Reserve has and continues to be superb.


One might think that all this “thick stuff” would mean that game viewing has not been that great. Far from it, and a tribute to our Field Guides who really do a great job. When guests make a reservation to stay with us, we will never promise what they will see – any Lodge that does so is irresponsible, and is setting themselves up for creating huge disappointment for their guests.


Having said this though, the majority of guests who stay with us for two nights or more experience 4 of the Big 5 out on drive, and lately, even the illusive Leopard has been coming to the party to complete the full set! Again, full credit to our Field Guides, when there is the odd quiet game drive, they are great at pointing out all the “little stuff” out there, which can often be more interesting than a lion just sleeping under a bush – which they seem to spend two thirds of their lives doing.


The waterhole too has been busy with regular visitors.


Giraffe always look uncomfortable when they drink, and are normally very cautious when doing so, as this is often when they are at their most vulnerable.


Giraffe at night


Buffalo don’t just surround the waterhole and drink from the edge. They get right in, and take the opportunity to cool themselves down, as well as quenching their thirst.




The large pack of wild dogs has also been kind to us – visiting several times in the past few months and feasting on several Impala which they have killed in the area of the waterhole and along our fenceline. The dogs are amazingly intelligent, and often use a fence to help trap their prey. With skills such as this, it is no wonder that these creatures are by far the most successful hunters in the willd, far more successful than any of the other predator species.


Wild dog


We regularly have herds of elephants stopping in for a drink, and as is normal behavior for them, they will chase off all other species that may be at the waterhole at the same time. Warthogs, Impala, Wildebeest, Zebra and even the mighty lions scatter and disappear as these giants of the bush take control. And why not – if you are that big and powerful, why should you share!


Ellies Having fun


Interestingly enough, when the pack of wild dogs were last here just relaxing at the waterhole after a successful hunt, a herd of elephants arrived, and as normal performed, screamed and chased the dogs. This performance went on for some time, but the dogs were having none of it. They moved a short distance when charged by the elephants – lay down again, and so on, but never ran off. The elephants eventually gave up – had their drink and moved on, leaving the pack of wild dogs in charge of the waterhole!


In contrast to this, sometimes you do get large species sharing, and co-existing in close proximity. There will always be a healthy respect between them though,and both will be keeping a very close eye on the other for any signs of aggression.


rhino and Lion


As we experience more evidence of the change of seasons – the Egyptian geese and their young having left us for their winter home – the frogs, noisy at night in the Summer months now silent, and so on, we look forward to what will hopefully be an exciting, but not-too-cold winter.


If you are planning a visit to us in the coming months, and we hope you are, remember to bring those extra winter layers with you, just in case!


Take care, and hope to see you soon,


Gordon & Sue and the Bush House Team

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