Thursday, May 22, 2014

Elephant Rock Safari Lodge - Winter Special

Elephant Rock Private Safari Lodge

 Nambiti Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal 

 Winter Special - R1595 per person, per night sharing

3 Night Package
50% OFF per person on the 3rd Night

The 3 night package is available on any of our 'special' rate offers.


Valid until 11th December 2014.
Rate Includes : Full board (3 meals a day) all hot beverages and
two game drives & snacks per person per day.

Contact Far & Wild Safaris to Book Now :

Friday, May 16, 2014

WINTER SPECIAL - Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge

Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge

Why wait for the competition winners to be announced -
BOOK this amazing Far and Wild Safaris cc Winter special now.
The best time of year to visit our Game Reserves.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

WIN a Safari at Nambiti Plains Game Lodge, Nambiti Game Reserve

WIN a 2 Night Stay for 2 Adults sharing
at Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge, Nambiti Game Reserve,
Big 5 Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.

LIKE Far and Wild Safaris cc Page and SHARE with Friends to Enter!

This prize includes Luxury Accommodation, all Meals and Guided Game Drives. Ts&Cs Apply.

Make a Booking or Read more about Nambiti Plains Lodge


Terms & Conditions
  • Winner will be selected by Lucky Draw on the 28th August 2014.
  • Winners would have to travel before 15th December 2014.
  • Luxury Double or Twin Accommodation for 2 adults sharing.
  • Dates may include weekends or midweek nights but are subject to availability.
  • All drinks from the bar and personal purchases for your own account.
  • Spa treatments and extra excursions such as the Kwa Cheetah Project for own account.
  • Guests would have to make their own arrangements getting to and from the Lodge.
  • Photographs of and or by the prize-winners and a report on their visit may be used by Far and Wild Safaris and Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge for promotional purposes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nambiti Plains Lodge 2014 - Prize destination - Jeremy Williamson

In a land far, far away – well maybe not so far away, we find the magnificent Nambiti Plains Private Lodge in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands near Ladysmith – Elandslaagte actually. Set in bushveld savannah looking out over the rolling hills of Zululand, one really could be far far away – the Nambiti Private Game Reserve

This luxurious Five Star Private Lodge – amongst the finest in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve - is fast becoming a favourite of ours.  Unpretentious staff offer a warm welcome, where one rapidly slips easily into luxury Safari mode. The Lodge, brick and stone under thatch, with interesting little decorative alcoves and secret gardens is well thought out, with comfortable seating in various locations; 

 The deck, with a well visited water-hole just meters away, has this amazing panoramic outlook over the plains beyond, it too, has comfortable loungers and is a favourite breakfast and luncheon venue where one dines, generally with a parade of animals coming to drink. 

The deck is shaded by a huge fig tree which has a variety of birdlife attracted to its ripening fruit and harboured insect life. Waterbuck, wildebeest, kudu, impala, nyala and zebra were all there at different times to slake their thirst. 

On one occasion some nyala came bounding in, full of the joys of life, gambolling about in front of us, super to share. 

The elephant are regular visitors to the sparkling waters of the swimming-pool. On our previous visit we had BFE, the dominant bull elephant arrive for a drink.
 Glassing the more distant vista, I found eland, giraffe, blesbuck as well as more herds of antelope and zebra. That’s 7 antelope species plus the other animals right there – this must truly have been like Africa before man’s intervention! Possibly the most interesting outlook of all the Lodges in the Nambiti Game Reserve.

The Main Lodge area is lovely and welcoming. Indoors there is a bar, a separate dining area where teas and coffees may be enjoyed all day – note there is a charge for speciality coffees - and then a cosy lounge with intermittent WiFi. It was not quite cold enough for fires in these rooms as yet, but I remember on a previous occasion how we rushed in after an evening Game Drive to warm ourselves here. 

 Another warming venue is the cosy Boma where dinners around a fire and under the stars are often enjoyed. I deem it a pity that Lodges do not make the effort to offer this alfresco dinner more regularly – your thoughts?
The suites are a delight. Large, private and very comfortable. 

 What I liked was, as it was a warm day, all the doors and windows were open, allowing the cooling breeze in – so refreshing. Quite a novel idea, which we really liked, was a questionnaire, as to how we would like the ‘turndown’, from the bed prepared for the night, fan on or off, screens up or down, etc? With the room’s outlook so private, we opted to have the screens left up – what a sunrise experience early morning, as we watched the sky slowly change in all its magnificence. Indoor and outdoor showers, a free standing bath in the open plan bathroom where one could delight in pampering oneself with the range of Africology soaps and creams.

Why does one visit a Game Reserve far, far away ? Is it to be Far and Wild (He hee)?  Yes indeed for me, it’s to be out there, to enjoy the bush and its wildlife.  The Nambiti Private Game Reserve offers a remarkably good wildlife experience, pretty much as good as one can get in KwaZulu-Natal. Well this visit did not disappoint either. We saw all of the Big Five, bar leopard, which, as we all know, are particularly elusive in this Province. We did however get a 'call-in' for a leopard sighting on our first morning game drive. Unfortunately it was too far away and the leopard soon disappeared in the long grass after climbing down from its vantage point in a large Paperbark thorn (Acacia sieberiana) a lovely umbrella thorn type tree prolific in this area.Lucky guests on that vehicle! Maybe next time, as these beautiful cats are being seen more frequently here. Other vehicles saw cheetah and serval, close to where we were, but when we arrived at the spot,(Pun? Ed) they were gone. Such is the nature of animals in the wild.

The modus operandi for most Lodges and Nambiti Plains Private Lodge is no exception, is; guests arrive at the gate Parking area where a game viewer vehicle is sent to collect you and your luggage and transfer back to the Lodge.  We had some super sightings of giraffe and zebra on the way in – it might be wise to have ones camera on the ready. Welcome drinks, a refreshing face towel , warm smiles and we had arrived at Nambiti Plains Lodge. Geoffrey, who was to be our guide for the duration of our stay helped us with our luggage to our room – Jesse gave an orientation and rules of the Lodge and we settled on the deck to watch the zebra and nyala incumbent there. A delightful lunch of smoked salmon salad, 

 followed by dessert, a crème anglaise with fruit salsa. Mike, in the kitchen, is quite the patissier, the Lodge produces some super fare under his guidance. The most divine bread rolls, cakes and his swiss roll one afternoon was particularly excellent.

After a delectable luncheon there is time to unwind before the afternoon tea and cake before departure on the afternoon /evening game drive which departed at 16h00. Prior to departure guests were asked what their preferred ‘sundowner’ drinks on the game drive would be and we were off. Lovely light and some action too that afternoon.

Back at the Lodge more welcome smiles, an Amarula shot, warm handtowels and time to freshen up or straight to the bar and dinner. Dinners were a delight.
From Tomato Tartlet starters to Chicken Roulade with Fondant  potatoes and veg with a Chocolate Pot dessert. Another evening it was African spring roll as a start, followed by Rack of Lamb, soft corn polanto, veg with a red wine jus ending with Panna Cotta – delish. Having a bit of a sweet tooth I so appreciated the boxed “Sweet Dreams” chockie on my pillow.

Game Lodge visits are characterised with early morning starts – getting out there to see what action there had been during the night – and to find the animals in their more active phases before settling down over the mid-day period.  To then, to be out there again, for that lovely afternoon light and hopefully to see some of the cats waking from their siesta in preparation for their nocturnal activity.
We were fortunate to see some Lion in the far distance spook some giraffe and we spent a while hoping they would come closer but to no avail. These were obviously hungry and weren’t going to wait for nightfall?? Nope they opted for a nap rather. So the game viewing went, a black rhino, the breeding herd of elephant, some individual elephant, 

a herd of buffalo as well as the odd Dagga boy (an elderly Buffalo Bull usurped and chased from the herd by a stronger younger  bull, they are generally found solitary or in bachelor herds spending their days wallowing in the mud – dagga – and generally being grumpy, these are normally the guys to be careful of) and then loads of antelope, with kudu in extra profusion, 

 impala in rut with the dominant male making the most awesome vocals,

with numerous dazzles of zebra 

and towers of giraffe

– boy these collective nouns, so the sounder of warthog was fun too.

At Nambiti Plains Private Lodge expect to be pampered, swathed in luxury, well fed and watered. Along with this, one will normally enjoy a pretty good guided game experience. Geoffrey is an amiable experienced guide, he shared his knowledge and found a host of wildlife for us. Took us to the Cascades on the Sundays River too for its scenic beauty and to stretch our legs.

I appreciated the way he drove on the rather bumpy roads – although he did have a rather comfortable Land Rover Safari vehicle well modified for comfort, to drive, the other vehicles generally used as Safari vehicles are a lot more firm and one really has to hang on tight in those. Easy access, soft ride and even a light so one could gather all ones gear on exiting the vehicle after the evening drive, made for a pleasant and interesting game drive.

The period between the morning and afternoon game drives  normally sees Lana and I enjoying the vista and the wildlife about the Lodge and here at Nambiti Plains Lodge this is particularly rewarding.  One is able to arrange to go fishing in a dam, visit nearby battlefields or even take in a Spa treatment – best to arrange this before arrival though.
Lana commented on how easy it was to collect all ones gear from the room on leaving – open and neat, the room indeed was easy to leave – well not really, we would have rather spent a few more days at this wonderful haven in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal.
Nambiti Plains Private Lodge is a really super, well run, well situated Lodge within the Nambiti Private Game Reserve. My compliments to Brent Scott and his team for offering an exceptional experience.

You and a partner could win two nights at this luxurious Lodge by merely 'Liking" our Far and Wild Safaris Facebook page,  then share with your friends and you will get an extra entry in the draw.

 All photographs by Jeremy and Lana Williamson

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Better, an Easter Tour – Keith Marallich

I had two very charming ladies with me on tour for nine days, which included the Easter weekend – a kindly grandmother from the U. S. A. had decided to treat her 13-year old grand-daughter to a safari of the Kruger Park and Arathusa Safari Lodge in the adjacent Sabi Sands Reserve.  Lucky grand-daughter! We headed out to the Panorama Escarpment and the Lowveld from Johannesburg on the Thursday before the long Easter weekend, and the roads were very busy.
I was quite concerned about this tour as we had been informed a few months ago that the current restaurants in the various camps in the Kruger Park would be closed and that new, improved dining establishments would be in their place. We were initially led to believe that the new restaurants would be up and running by about March. During March (and now getting closer to departure) we received further notification that there were no clear dates for the opening of these restaurants, and that this event could be delayed by months, varying from camp to camp! I could just picture us eating our meals out of tins, with dry bread and maybe paper plates on our laps to lend a touch of class!
To make matters worse and add to my concern, these two ladies had a “wish-list” of animals they HAD to see, and among these were cheetah and bush-baby. I must also say that during my many exchanges of correspondence with her, the grandmother was very concerned about danger and diseases, from malaria to rabies and everything else in-between - as well as animals possibly being able to get into their rooms, who would escort them from the vehicle to the rooms, how safe was it, etc, etc. I am happy to say no-one became ill, no-one was attacked, as far as I know no-one contracted any disease, no-one had to eat out of tins or off paper plates and a fine time was had by all.
Now in keeping with my title, so shall the content be…
The Good:
(a)    The weather of course. Daytime temperatures varied between 32º and 37º C every day. We also experienced clear blue skies for all of the days, except for one day which was overcast with a very slight drizzle.

(b)   Wildlife and bird sightings were very good for most of the time, in both reserves, with fairly close-up viewings to be had. Especially prolific in the Kruger Park were baboon sightings (and who can’t sit for hours enjoying the antics of baboons?), lots and lots of Lilac-breasted Rollers and other birds, and then of course elephants – more than enough, almost around every bend in the road. Elephants were so often seen that we tended to eventually just drive past them without too much interest – unless they were blocking the road.

(c)    What I particularly enjoyed were the birds inside the camps and at Skukuza, even a Rock Monitor close to my bungalow in the middle of the day. I don't take mid-day naps, I prefer to sleep at night. In the day when not driving, I rather prefer to walk around the camp with my camera in the hope of seeing something worthwhile to photograph.

(d)   There was also a dead hippo in the Sabie River just below the bridge downstream from Lower Sabie camp, which had attracted a few crocodiles, and this spectacle was pretty interesting – just a little too far out of camera range. Crocodiles were taking a mouthfull of hippo meat, and then going into their "death-roll". Crocodiles cannot chew, so they bite a chunk of meat, and with the vigorous roll of their body, usually manage to get a sizeable piece of meat separated from the carcass, which they then swallow whole. 

(e)    A hyena had made her “den” in a culvert on the main road between Satara and Olifants and a young pup, which had no fear of vehicles, was quite happy to pop his head (and the rest of him) out every time someone stopped here. I took many photos of this chap, but alas, he was the only one to show himself at this culvert – and we visited here twice. In the Kruger Park it is not unusual to find that hyena's had made a den in the culverts under the roads and they tend to use these same dens on a regular basis.

(f)    A good clear sighting of a cheetah (one of the animals on their “must-see” list) near Satara, but too far from the vehicle for a decent photo, but what a privilege to see a cheetah in the wild. Ten minutes after seeing the cheetah, we came upon two lionesses lying in some shade – this all during the mid-morning. Another animal on their wish-list that we saw was a thick-tailed bush-baby – on two consecutive evenings – at Olifants Camp whilst we enjoying dinner. I did manage to light him up by torch-light (for my American friends, a torch is what you call a “flashlight”) so we had an excellent view of him on both occasions. 

(g)   The Restaurants of Lower Sabie and Satara. We enjoyed breakfast at Lower Sabie Camp on one of the hottest days of the tour, when the temperature was up to 37º C. For those who don’t know, Lower Sabie now has a fully operational Mugg & Bean Restaurant, with their full menu items available. Here I had the best coffee that I have ever had in the Kruger Park – the barista even knew his latte art! The Mugg & Bean at Satara had only opened the day before we arrived, but alas, this barista’s latte art skills weren’t up to scratch – he’ll improve, he only had 24 hours of practice. The Mugg & Bean On-the-Go at Satara had the full on-the-go menu items available as had the Debonairs Pizza, but the Mugg & Bean Restaurant only had three items from their main menu available at that stage. (I am aware that they too, just like Lower Sabie Camp, are now fully operation, having opened their full menu two days after our departure). Olifants and Letaba Camps will shortly be up and running. For those of us living in the towns and cities of South Africa, this is no big deal – we all know Mugg & Bean and Debonairs, but for those of us that regularly visit the Kruger Park, what an improvement Mugg & Bean is on what used to be on offer.   

The Bad: 

(a)    This has to be the roads in the Mpumalanga Province. In South Africa it is a fact that we drive on the left side of the road, but in the Mpumalanga Province we drive on what’s left of the road! In the middle of the town of Graskop there was a pothole as big as a Volkswagen Beetle, the road between Belfast and Lydenburg is still as bad as was reported on TV recently and the roads in the vicinity of Acornhoek are, to use a phrase popular with politicians in South Africa, a “challenge” 

(b)   Lake Panic, one of my favourite spots in the entire Kruger Park was a disappointment. There had been a tremendous amount of rain in the Kruger Park during the rainy season, particularly the last few months and there was just too much water at this hide. Those dead trees and grasses on which the birds had always perched, and the sand-bank that was visited by crocodile, hippo and an array of other wildlife, was under water. The result was that birds were only seen in the undergrowth in the far distance – way out of reach of my lens. This is the same issue that I experienced at the Sweni Hide in the Satara region - too much water. Hopefully the water subsides during the dry months and we can again experience the tranquility of these two hides.

(c)    Breakfast at Satara. (How can this be bad, it was talked up in the Good section above? Ed) Well, I made a mistake of asking the young lady to choose the table and she chose one in the sun. I tried subtlety to get her to change her mind and to choose the shade, but she was having none of that, so in the sun it was. We waited some time for our order, (remember, this was on the Saturday of the Easter Weekend, and the camp was busy) and as we waited it got hotter and hotter. When she finally wanted to change to the shade, all the tables were already taken and customers were queuing to get in (I told you Mugg & Bean was a major improvement – I had never before seen anyone in a queue at a restaurant in the Kruger Park for breakfast). The upshot of this was that we finished our breakfast in a hot, sweaty, uncomfortable mode, but the lesson was learnt – I will in future call the shots as regards seating.

(d)   A traffic log-jam on the main road between Lower Sabie and Skukuza, which took me about 45 minutes to pass. Now I was aware that every bed in every camp in the Kruger Park had been taken for this long weekend and that the authorities had imposed a gate quota at each gate, so the park was full, very, very full. This traffic jam was caused by a leopard, lying in the deep shadow about 40 metres off the main road, with only a flash of white from its belly visible and all and sundry trying to get a better look at it.

(e)    Dinner at Skukuza on both nights we were here. Skukuza still has the old restaurant and Take-Away section operational, both of which were very poor in quality and service, but we survived. I can’t wait for the new restaurant to open here. This below is an extract from a SAN Parks media release: “The Skukuza Selati restaurant will be operated by Ciao! and are expected to start operations in December 2013 and the main camp restaurant and take away will be serviced by Cattle Baron and Bistro. Operations will start in May 2014 because of extensive refurbishment”. When we were there the Selati Restaurant was closed and it did not seem as if any work was taking place or had been done here, but maybe both will be up and running at the same time in the near future.

(f)    The weather on one of the days was overcast, with a slight drizzle, and this day sadly had to have been the one full day at Arathusa! Do you know what a difference a photo makes when taken in good light as opposed to one taken in shade? 

The Better:

(a)    This has to be Arathusa Safari Lodge. I really urge any person, but particularly an international visitor who may only ever do a safari once in their life-time, to visit an authentic private lodge/game reserve - it can be any lodge in the Sabi Sands Private Reserve, but Arathusa is well-priced, comfortable, with great game drives and is excellent value. You will not get better, close-up sightings of wildlife than in the Sabi Sands.

(b)   The small lion pride in the riverbed in the late afternoon, which consisted of two females and three cubs, quite inactive, but still a great sighting. Man, those cubs are cute.

(c)    The leopard we saw in the early morning (which sadly was also the only leopard we saw during our stay here), but alas, this was the day that it was overcast and rainy. I must just add that speaking to other guests at the lodge (those that were not on our vehicle), they did see different leopards at different times, but our guide was intent on showing us the Big 5, which he succeeded in doing. However, for me personally, I would rather see a variety of leopards than, for example, a rhino, but hey, that’s just me. I was hearing from other guests that they had seen two leopards together (unusual, to say the least), a female with two young cubs and another, older male on his own – and these were only during the one drive! As far as leopards go, we only saw one young male.

(d)   The hyena den (this one a real den, not a culvert under a road as in the Kruger Park, a real den in an old abandoned termite mound) where a mother and her young cub interacted beautifully. I could have sat there the whole day, but hey, again, that’s just me. Unfortunately, this was the same overcast morning as the leopard sighting.

(e)    A murmur, band, pack, whatever, let’s just say a group of dwarf mongooses. These cute little guys were atop a termite mound when a tree squirrel ran up the one side of the mound. This caused the mongooses to bound (Do dwarf mongooses really “bound”? Ed) over to the edge of the mound to see what the squirrel was up to. They did this just because they are inquisitive – a tree squirrel is no threat to the mongooses. 

Hereunder are some random photos taken at the Kruger Park and Arathusa – enjoy.

This female baboon was in the Sabie River slaking her thirst.

These lads were grooming one-another and were obvlivious to the nearby humans

Does one have to say anything?

The thoughful one

This kudu visited the water about five minutes after the baboon

The young hyena near the "culvert" den in the Kruger Park

A surprised young impala

The Rock Monitor inside the Skukuza Camp

Whilst waiting for the gate to open just before 06:00 at Satara Camp - I photographed this from the vehicle

A Black-collared Barbet inside Skukuza Camp 

A White-backed Vulture in the Kruger Park

A Red-billed Hornbill

One of the many Lilac-breasted Rollers that I photographed

A male Ostrich in the Satara region

A European Roller - cousin to the Lilac-breated Rollers

A Brown Snake Eagle - note the yellow eye, common to all snake eagles

The small lion pride at rest on the first afternoon at Arathusa

The young male leopard at rest in an open area

and then heading off on a stalk

This when he was in a tree, after stalking tree squirrels

The mom and youngster at the den in the Sabi Sands

Gentle play

The youngster having a closer look at us

A young male in pose mode

and in bored mode

This is the rhino we saw in lieu of more leopards - Arathusa's other vehicle is in the background

The Dwarf Mongooses having a look at the squirrel - which is not in frame, it was at this stage at the base of the mound

Just a zebra