The fruit of the African Marula tree
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.