The fruit of the African Marula tree

RISKSA Magazine - - Travel -

You too have seen one of the ele­phants from Camp Jab­u­lani. Well, you have if you’ve ever en­joyed an Amarula sun­downer. OK, so you might not ac­tu­ally have seen him. But you’ve def­i­nitely seen a pic­ture of him. You see, Se­bakwe, the bull ele­phant of the herd, is syn­ony­mous with not just the area in South Africa where the Marula fruit orig­i­nates, but it is ac­tu­ally a pic­ture of him adorn­ing the la­bel of ev­ery bot­tle of Amarula. On Satur­day morn­ing af­ter break­fast, we headed out to Pha­l­aborwa to see the Amarula Lapa where we were able to wit­ness the har­vest process of the marula fruit (used to make the Amarula Cream liqueur) and visit a marula fruit col­lec­tion point. With the sea­son nearly at its end we were lucky to see the last few trucks ar­rive at the plant and watch the fruit be­ing pro­cessed be­fore the long drive to the Cape for fer­men­ta­tion. The Amarula Trust has been spon­sor­ing the Amarula Ele­phant Re­search Pro­gramme (AERP) since 2002. Headed by Pro­fes­sor Rob Slo­tow of UKZN, the project ex­plores ele­phant be­hav­iour as the ba­sis for con­ser­va­tion and ele­phant man­age­ment strat­egy devel­op­ment in public and pri­vate game parks. Amarula buys its fruit from vil­lagers who har­vest the maru­las. They gather the fruit from the ground af­ter it has ripened enough to fall from the marula tree’s branches. The fruit is then crushed and pulped, loaded into tankers and shipped to the Cape, where fer­men­ta­tion yields a marula wine that is dou­ble-dis­tilled to make a marula spirit, aged for two years in small French oak bar­rels. The fin­ish­ing touch to Amarula Cream is the ad­di­tion of fresh dairy cream. Camp Jab­u­lani’s de­li­cious menu uses the creamy Amarula drink as in­spi­ra­tion, and the food preprared by head chef, Dy­lan Frost, ranges from del­i­cately pre­pared poached pears to beef choux with Amarula Gold, and a smoked cashew Amarula ice­cream dessert. Camp Jab­u­lani caters for ev­ery­thing from a bush boma (ri­fle at the ready) to a fine dining ex­pe­ri­ence. We en­joyed the lat­ter on the last of our nights at the lodge that re­ceives 99 per cent in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors with re­turn guests (not sur­pris­ingly) pre­dom­i­nantly opt­ing for a longer sec­ond visit. Note to self: Re­turn to Camp Jab­u­lani. Pack ex­tra clothes.

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