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


  1. OMG! magnificent!..amazing! I want to spend the rest of my life here. Whoever wins this terrific prize is soooo lucky! Thanks for the chance to win anyway :-)

  2. How I would love to win the prize and get to stay in this awesome Lodge with my husband. Nambiti Plains Lodge looks stunning.We would soak up the beauty of Africa