More on my Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge Experience
After a long night of celebrating at our friend’s Logan and Debbie’s wedding and a hot four hour drive from the coast, we finally arrived our destination, Nambiti Hills Privage Game Lodge – boasting 5 Star exclusivity at its best.
Upon arrival at the reception area, it was clear we had swapped the hustle and bustle of Ballito. The braying of Zebra and snorting Wildebeest signalled our arrival in the heart of the African bushveld…
A quick opportunity to snap a group photo before being fetched in an open top game viewing vehicle by Joe, one of the rangers, and we were whisked off to the exclusive 5 star luxury of Nambiti Hills.
Upon arrival we received a heartfelt welcome from Vic and her team, and a welcoming drink to quench our thirst. Luggage was offloaded and taken to our various rooms while we took in the amazing view from the lodge and of course another opportunity for some snaps and a quick bite to eat.
And then it was off to find the ever elusive big five – Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo and Black Rhino…
Our First Game Drive
Having settled in and had a quick bite to eat, we all clambered into the two open-topped game-viewing vehicles and set off in search of some game – Kel at the helm of ours and his trusted partner (and former tracker) Joe at the other.
Given their combined expertise, it wasn’t long before we had our first sighting… And of one of the Big Five – Elephant. They were close enough for us to hear them calmly chewing on the grass – extracting as much nourishment as possible. In the distance we could see the trees swaying to-and-fro as they used their great bulk to topple them over, before pluckling the the luch green leaves off the branches with their enormous trunks and stuffing in their mouth. After a brief – but close encounter, we set off again…
Pausing at a nearby dam, we came across two young bull hippos dicing with each other for dominance – their gaping jaws exposing incisors that are clearly not used for anything other than to cause devasting damage.
“Joe is suggesting we swing by – must be something interesting.”
As focussed as I was on the action, I couldn’t help but overhear Joe, who was off with the rest of the group, say something over the radio about oxpeckers (a smallish bird that feeds on insects collected from the skin of large African mammals).
The response to my look on consternatin from Kel was a wry shake of the head before he burst out laughing… “Eish.. It’s the name of a road,” he said, “Joe is suggesting we swing by – must be something interesting.”
So we were off again in pursuit of our next quarry and it wasn’t long before we realised, given the activity on the radio, that there was something interesting unfolding ahead of us…
Sure enough, after a ten minute wait we came across a lioness, her pair of cubs and two of the reserves male Lion.
In the excitement, all common sense was put aside as the lion came heaving into view, strolling past us as casually as you like.
Leaning on the door of the vehicle, camera in hand, I was so intent on getting a picture I didn’t appreciate just how near us they were. It wasn’t until Kel hissed for me to keep the camera still that the cold realisation of just how close to the vehicle they were sank in. Tugging at the back of my shirt he encouraged me to lean back into the vehicle slightly because he’d noticed one of the males taking a keen interest in my camera lens.
And so it was I came to within two feet of the King of the jungle… So close in fact that I could hear their footfalls in the sand as they padded past us!!
An exciting end to an unforgettable Five Star game experience in the heart of Africa.
Morning Game Drive – Day Two
An early start and a quick cup of coffeee as we watched the sun come up over the African bush before we clambered abord the game viewing vehicles and set off to try and add to the list of critters we’d seen the day before.
Keen to see the ever elusive Leopard, Kel must have been growing tired of our endless banter about when we’d come across one of these shy cats which is more numerous than the African rhino. But knowing just how difficult they are to spot – it was akways going to be a challenge. Leopards use trees as observation platforms and for protection, so you have to remember to look up to see this solitary, beautiful cat.
Kel must have been growing tired of our endless banter about when we’d come across one of these shy cats which is more numerous than the African rhino
Despite having set the benchmark extremely high the evening before (with the sighting of the lion) the morning was incredible, with shots of giraffe silhouette against sun rising over the savannah were equally as breathtaking.
This outing was slightly shorter than the one the previous evening because we’d booked to to visit the nearby cheetah breeding project. So we headed back to the lodge and indulged in a quick bite to eat.
Kwa Cheetah Breeding Project
Being able to get up close and personal to the fastest animal to run on the earth was definitely an experience I wouldn’t miss. There are fewer than 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild – down from 100,000 a century ago.
KwaCheetah, which is situated on the reserve makes a valuable contribution to increasing the gene pool of these cats which are racing towards extinction due to greater competition for food from stronger predators and a loss of habitat. The rising trade in cheetahs for luxury pets in the Middle East hasn’t helped either.
We were treated to a display of agility as these predators sped after a lure, bobbing and weaving at full speed in an effort to hunt down their prey.
All the cats are taught to hunt and fend for themselves before being let back into the wild, adding to the ever reducing number of these great cats that once roamed the savanah in there hundreds of thousands.
All in all a very memorable experience and one I’m sure we’ll all rememebr for a long time to come.
After a day spent in the gruelling African sun we set off for the lodge for some much needed R&R.
Time for a G&T, some lunch and to laze around the pool soaking in some rays before our next excursion.
Evening Game Drive
This time we headed to the North of the reserve in search of buffalo and the ever elusive leopard.
This part of the reserve is a lot more open and the herd animals clearly thrive in this environment. Zebra, Wildebeest and even a herd of Oryx off in the distance.
We finally spotted the buffalo some way off and positioned ourselves along a route we hoped they would follow. They were however content to stand off on the other side of a reed bed, staring out at us as we tried to catch a glimpse of the large old bull who had spent all day wallowing in mud. This soon to be “dagga boy” had a very impressive boss and was eagre to make sure we didn’t encroach to close to his harem.
On the drive home, we spotted a lone lioness who frequents this part of the reserve, basking in the evening sunshine. She was so preoccupied with getting the last rays of the sun that she missed some blesbok sprinting past behind her. Had there been one more of them in the herd, we may very well have been treated to her hunting prowess… It was not to be however so we had to settle for sundowners at an old homestead on the property.
Finishing the day off in style under the African sky
After a successful penultimate game drive it was time to rendezvous with friends and family who had been staying at another camp in the reserve.
A chance to share a glass of champagne and enjoy a quick snack before the stars came out in all their glory.
Final Game Drive
Having enjoyed the five star treatment, and perhaps endulged in a little to much wine, it was a very sorry troop of travellers who emerged for the early start and our final game drive at Nambiti Hills.
We clambered onto the vehicles, the chill of the morning quickly sobering us all up as we set off in search of big game once again.
We headed to a popular lookout point, stopping to track the pride of lions we’d seen on the first day. We were not so lucky this time but the other vehicle, driven by the ever vigilant Joe “Oxpecker” Zwane, were fortunate enough to come across the males roaming around, no doubt in search of some food.
Arriving at the lookout point, we swapped stories from our latest adventure and took a quick snapshot of the group before heading back to the lodge.
But fortune favours the bold and after some chatter over the radio Kel deftly steered us to an old windmill where the buffalo from the day before were lazying in the shade of some acacia trees.