Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lions Valley Lodge - Nambiti Game Reserve

Lions Valley Lodge is situated in the northern sector of the Nambiti Game Reserve. A luxury 5 star venue with beautifully appointed rooms and main lodge area. It’s an approximate half hour drive from the secure parking enclosure to the Lodge through some very scenic country. As we drive to the Lodge one has a view of this beautiful venue nestled on the slopes below, overlooking a waterhole. Anticipation running high.

The reception area and Porte Cochere is vast with access directly through to the expansive swimming pool terrace and rimflow infinity pool – inviting!. The view is really lovely with the bush close enough for one to be able to see some of the animals there quite clearly.

Refreshments and towels to greet, our luggage is transferred to golf carts and taken to our rooms whilst we are ushered on a main lodge familiarization. There is really loads of space here for the 20 guests. A lounge and library area, another lounge at the bar, then a selection of options as to where one may dine. The boma fireplace is open to the sky whilst the dining section is covered, such a clever idea,. It would only be in really inclement weather that one would needs retreat to the dining room. The d├ęcor is really beautifully accomplished. African chic mixed with a more sedate style, much sourced locally. I loved their Kudu Bling, The head of a kudu in wire and mirrored glass mounted in the dining room.

I had the opportunity to visit a number of the suites – all decorated independently, one quite daring /interesting as in the Spaza suite. All rooms have an identical footprint and similar general layout. The Jacuzzis on the decks will all become plunge pools only , in an endeavour to conserve electricity. The more distant rooms have pathways linked to the main lodge and guests are ferried to and fro on golf carts.

Sitting on the deck there is a lovely outlook into the bush and we had a variety of animals to watch with a herd of buffalo rushing down to the water-hole one morning. High tea was beautifully presented with superb selection - and a quiche to die for!

We had a very interesting afternoon game drive. Some of these rangers are just so knowledgeable. The road infrastructure in the northern sector of the Park seemed to be in far better shape than further south and with the animals so widely spread there is just so much to see. The size of the reserve is such that Lodges are normally able to structure their game drives to include areas throughout the Park where high profile animals have been seen, thus improving guests chances of seeing most of the sought after species. The large cats are collared – in case they escape the reserve into the community areas surrounding – however this telemetry is not used to secure daily sightings, this is left to the skills of the Rangers. My game viewing experience at Nambiti has been particularly good with excellent game drives daily.

We returned to the Lodge after a most successful afternoon / evening game drive, pre-dinner drinks at the bar, superb dinner and then twin baths and bed. I would have preferred air-conditioning, or even ceiling fans in the rooms to the retro styled standard floor  fans. These were noisy. With no easily opening windows the ventilation aspect should be addressed.  The early morning wake-up call was the fairly close roar of lion. These lion however eluded us on the morning drive which our Ranger made into the area where the calls seemed to emanate. Much of Nambiti is rehabilitated farmland with dams, homesteads in various states of disrepair, even windmills. The fences have however been removed, the maise fields rehabilitated to grassland – none of which now looks like previously farmed areas – what I really appreciate is that this marginal farmland has had its land ownership issues resolved with ancestoral land claimants and Lodge owners having reached a mutually beneficial working partnership to the benefit of the people, the wildlife and ecosystem.

Visiting the Nambiti Game Reserve from Durban or Johannesburg is such that after the morning game drive, breakfast and check-out, there is time to drive home to be there mid-afternoon. Ideal to unpack and ready for the days ahead.

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