About Us

Contact Us





First Chapters
September Issue
October Issue
November Issue
December Issue




Jo Plumridge


Want to be a Travel Writer? Click here

Another week has passed and I will soon have been here for three weeks (although it feels like a lot longer). We are as busy as ever here ñ in fact snowed under would be a more accurate description! The good news for Richard and myself is that we now have two brand new computers up at the Head Office they are being installed as we speak and should be fully operational by the end of the day. Unfortunately, they seem to have their fair share of teething problems the printer setup is all in some weird computer language which no-one seems able to alter and the whole thing seems to be running very slowly for no apparent reason. But I have managed to fix the scanner (no, I have no idea either how someone so technically inept as me managed this!) and as soon as the new computer is hooked up to the internet I will try and send some photos for you all to have a good laugh at!

Instead of Photoshop we have a new Microsoft package called Photodraw which is just so easy to use. I spent all of yesterday making a mock-up for a new poster which will just generally advertise the park. If I can get the funds we may even use it for billboard advertising which would be quite an achievement for me! Last weekend we had a terrible storm it was very impressive but quite frightening when you are sitting in a thatched house with no lightning conductor! I was quite calm and collected about it all until a bolt of lightning struck the ground right in front of the house and then I have to admit I got a bit jumpy! Poor old Jamie though, was stuck out in the middle of the bush doing a braai with only a tent for cover, and Rich so nearly got struck by lightning that when he came back in all his hair was standing on end! The bad weather did cause no end of problems for all the outside events, and the resulting fiascos has convinced all of us that changes need to be implemented, and soon, to make sure that the Reserve continues to attract customers. In fact it was a bit of a disastrous weekend all round Puso went away on Thursday and on Friday morning his poor dog Bundu died. She was only two but had never really recovered from tick bite fever but it was still somewhat unexpected and terribly bad timing. To top it off, Jo had rescued a yellow weaver baby bird which had become very tame and that managed to fly into a door and break its neck. So we had a rather sad little burial service outside our volunteersí house with poor Jo in floods of tears because she had shut the door on the bird herself! Oh dear, all this bad news but that is the way of things out here it is amazing how quickly you get used to dealing with difficult circumstances in a way that would never occur to you in England.

Onto more positive news though! I was lucky enough last Saturday to be invited to go on an elephant walk with the Reserve's four tame eles. Rich and I were the only staff members who were invited and it really was the most wonderful experience. The four elephants here are all orphans from a cull in the Kruger National Park and are being raised here to show people that African elephants can be trained and are not always the dangerous animals that locals here think they are.

There is one male Shaka and three females -Thandi, Sukuri and Seeni. They each have a trainer who literally spends 24/7 with their animal. One of the mahouts is from Sri Lanka and it really is amazing how the elephants listen to him. They seem to actually regard him as an elephant! We walked through the bush for two hours until we got down to the Lake which is on the other side of the park, and then of course we had to walk the two hours back ñ fine for the mahouts who were riding on the elephants ñ but quite tiring for Rich and I ñ but good exercise I suppose. At one point, down by the lake, we were completely surrounded by all four of the elephants and they were as close to us as you are to another person when you are talking to them. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world, although I did think at one point how surreal it really was. The elephants often walk past our house in the morning I often think how people in England would find this the most amazing
experience; here it is the most natural thing in the world!

It really is the most wonderful thing to be so close to these animals it certainly gives you a sense of perspective. Something that I will never forget at any rate whenever I am walking down a crowded street in the future, I will think of walking in the bush with elephants and know that I have done something fairly unique. I could go on for hours about what a wonderful walk it was but it is difficult to really capture it in words hey, I guess you will all just have to come out here and experience it for yourselves! I went to feed the cheetahs the other day ñ I was hoping to get some good photos but it has to be said that after eating their chickens, neither Duma or Letotse were very interested in posing. I did give them a quick fuss though and they really are the most beautiful animals. Their fur doesn't feel like a domestic cat it is much rougher, and the cheetahs themselves are a lot smaller than you might expect. I have always loved cheetahs though and to be so close to them, is, for me, probably the thing that I love most about Mokolodi. Because I am the official park photographer I am going back to the cheetahs all on my own next week to just spend the morning with them and to photograph them in a relaxed state. I have to say I can't wait; it is the one thing that I have been dying to do since I got here and about the only thing that I haven'tt managed to find time for! Last night all three Plumridges ventured to the ONLY pub in town The Bull and Bush. We were also out with Jo, Rudi (one of the staff here) and Brenda (who is this American girl who is out here for a month working on a university project). Pub licensing laws being slightly more lax out here, we eventually got home at 3am, and then we were up again at 6.30am yuck! It has to be said that I don't think any of us are operating on top form today I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open! There was the ubiquitous dodgy cover band playing, so we danced most of the night an interesting experience when you are surrounded by very drunk, very large and very uncoordinated men! An experience I fear we may be repeating on a far too regular basis! There really is so little to do here in the evenings that it is nice to get out and about at least once a week.

Jo is the daughter of the British High Commissioner, so we started the evening at her house which is, as you can probably imagine, of a rather higher standard than the house where we are living! Not, of course, that any of us are jealous in the slightest! Most people here tend to go away at Christmas and so the three of us are being asked to house-sit left, right and centre. At the moment we have two houses to look after which are on the park and are fortunately right next door to each other. One of them belongs to the guy who donated the land for Mokolodi in the first place so you can imagine what it is like! Oh the hardship of having to live in a place for a month with a swimming pool, satellite tv and, oh yes, a phone!!

! We drove through the park the other night with the animals eyes glowing in the dark, and the African sky and stars shining down on us ñ and that, to me is the time when I feel truly happy to be in such an amazing place. I am always nearly falling flat on my nose at night the roads are very bumpy and I have this terrible habit of just staring at the stars for hours. It is just so beautiful here and so wild ñ so difficult to put into words. The wind, the rain, the stars, the sun and just this amazing landscape that will always be Africa to me. It is no wonder that I remember so much of my first visit to Africa when I was four! You should always have a little bit of Africa in your soul! I could see all of Africa or nothing more than Mokolodi and I think I would always be drawn back to the continent whatever. Enough philosophising though! I must close before this mail gets anymore out of hand than it already is! Strange as it may seem I do sometimes miss the vibrancy of London but I am sure it will still be there when I return! Much love to you all, wherever you are in the world and thanks for wading through this hope you find some of it interesting!

© Jo Plumridge (

More from Africa

< Back to Index
< Reply to this Article
< Link to: -