Thursday, April 28, 2011

Springbok Lodge - Nambiti Game Reserve

Springbok Lodge is situated in the Nambiti Game Reserve near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal. A malaria free area, this reserve has excellent game viewing and in particular of high profile animals such as lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, cheetah and giraffe. Leopard do occur here but are rarely seen.

We arrived at Nambiti’s southern entrance gate where the gate guard let the Lodge know that we were here. We then drove through to the nearby secure shaded parking area where a vehicle from the Lodge collected us and transferred the four of us the short distance back to the Lodge. The game viewing commenced immediately on this drive , with a magnificent kudu bull and warthog with youngsters seen on the way. We were warmly welcomed at the Lodge with a drink whilst we checked in, our bags were dispatched to our rooms. Lunch was eminent so we opted to relax on the expansive deck which has a lovely outlook into the bush. Breakfasts and lunches are generally on the deck and in the evenings dinner is served in the boma around a fire, all dependent on the weather.

We settled into our spacious luxury tents after lunch and prepared for the afternoon game drive.

15 elevated Luxury Tents sleep a maximum of 30 guests, offering opulence in the African bush. The tents are air conditioned in the warm summer months and heated in the chilly winter ones, with electric blankets keeping guests extra snug. Each of the tents have their own viewing deck with comfortable chairs, inside a kingsize bed (also available as twin beds), bathroom en suite - bath indoors with outside private shower, a hospitality tray, complimentary sherry, safety deposit box and a hairdryer.

We walked back to the main Lodge buildings, cameras and a jacket ready ready for he afternoons drive. Tea and biscuits and off we go in the “open” game drive vehicles.. These purpose built vehicles normally seat 10 passengers. We headed north to the open plains area and bingo, on the road a coalition of three cheetah on the hunt. They were quite relaxed in our presence and were very close when they walked past the vehicle before disappearing in the long grass. There had been excellent rains during summer and also heavy storms just before our arrival. Wonderful for the bush but the road infrastructure had suffered somewhat, especially in the valleys and at stream crossings where the access had been eroded.

The open grassland areas at Nambiti Game Reserve are particularly enjoyable as one is normally able to see a variety of animals in almost any direction , we had a marvelous drive seeing so many different antelope.

As the sun was setting we came upon a lioness and her three sub-adult cubs. She was particularly interested in a nearby herd of impala. With the darkness we departed to leave her to best source food for her cubs. An eagle owl, night jar and scrub hare and the eyes of many a plains game on the way back to camp. So it was we returned to Springbok Lodge with rain drops beginning to fall. That was a pretty good game drive ! Due to the possibility of more rain the boma dinner was not to be and we dined instead in the cosy main lodge dining room. After a super dinner, excellent conversation and a night cap we were driven back to our tents.

We had a Fiery-necked nightjar seemingly sitting on our tent, so close its call sounded – one of the joys of tented accommodation is that one is normally able to hear all the sounds of the bush more clearly. I slept so soundly that even lion roaring did not wake me.

Early wake-up call and a 06h00 departure, as we sought out Nambiti Game Reserve’s wildlife. A pair of black-backed jackal scavenging were the first animals seen, then a hippo returning to the safety of its preffered water sanctuary. A bit later on we had a really good sighting of a large breeding herd of elephant. We sat quietly and they came past in all sizes, each a character, some cheekily coming closer, others challenging a sibling and testing strength. So entertaining! This game reserve has a wide variety of wildlife and I wish to believe that when on the open grassland areas – this is what Africa must have been like before man arrived – for as we looked in each direction so there was a herd of zebra here, some wildebeest and blesbuck there, some giraffe, hippo and waterbuck in the wetlands and eland making off in the distance.

Our guide took us to a lovely view-site on the Sundays River where we could see the “Cascades” – with the river reasonably high this was quite a sight. A very varied topography throughout this reserve makes for a wide species diversity. We even saw Gemsbok. These antelope really belong to the west of the country in the Kalahari. Somehow the local Park authority had issued permits for this species to be released here and so they remain – thriving too.

That is quite some game viewing for just two guided game drives. This is really an excellent value destination with game viewing as good if not better than we have in our local provincial parks. Here the game drives are included in the tariff and made so much more interesting by the knowledgeable Rangers.

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