Friday, June 12, 2015

Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge – by Jeremy Williamson

Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge is a wonderful example of how some Game Reserve Lodge  facilities in South Africa are able to offer exemplary,  accommodation, meals and in particular – what it is all about, the extremely good guided wildlife experiences.
Nambiti Plains Game Lodge is centrally situated in the rather excellent Malaria free, Nambiti Private Game Reserve, at Elandaslaagte, close to Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal Province. Approximately 11,000 Ha and expanding a bit, the Nambiti Game reserve hosts the Big Five as well as a rather unusual diversity of antelope species.  Located at a more elevated altitude, species such as Black Wildebeest, Eland, Blesbuck and Red Hartebeest thrive.

The drive from Durban on the N3, through Ladysmith and to the Nambiti Game Reserve’s northern Memorial Gate (commemorating the Battle of Elandslaagte  of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War) took Lana and I, a comfortable 3 hours, sign the indemnity and entrance voucher at the gate, then a short drive to an enclosed shaded car park, where our vehicle would remain for the duration of our stay – no private vehicle driving around in the Nambiti Game Reserve. Well - we did however, on one occasion, come across a small hire car with ashen faced occupants, who had somehow made an incorrect turn, and were inadvertently “doing their own game drive”!  

Dave from Nambiti Plains Game Lodge was there to greet us and transfer the two of us the short distance to the Lodge. He was to be our guide for the next 2 days, one gets such an insight to the wilds from these experienced Game Rangers.

Nambiti Plains is a delightful small Five Star venue , presently consisting of 5 suites, two of which are immediately adjacent, with a common entrance foyer offering private access to either room, or convenient as a family suite, where the foyer could provide safe access between the two rooms. Another family suite is presently nearing completion, then allowing the Lodge a guest compliment of 14. A well run Private Lodge - managed by the affable Brent Scott.

The family suites

Main Lodge, water-hole, boma suites 1 and 2

Main Lodge, water-hole, swimming pool, rooms 1 and 2 to the left, family suite on right
Welcomed by the ever helpful Lodge staff, a warm towel, refreshing drink and an intro to the Lodge facilities by the lovely Jesse. Dave had in the interim transferred our considerable luggage and photographic equipment to our suite. We wended our way to our room through the bush, almost brushing past some particularly friendly Nyala, to our delightful  thatched Chalet.

What a room. Mosquito draped King-sized bed,

A welcome note and information with regards to the Lodge and surrounding area;

... loungers on the deck with a lovely unobstructed view over the Nambiti Plains!

Bird watching from the deck
  Table and chairs for a “Private Dinner” on the deck one evening, perhaps ?
 I liked the separate loo with the rest of the facilities being open plan. Outside shower with a view.
Private toilet and outside shower

Double vanity, bath and indoor shower

I might just indulge in the outside shower whilst Lana would probably prefer the indoor one.

To lunch, tables laid on the expansive deck, under a large Strangler Fig Tree, with those panoramic views out over the Nambiti plains and to the water-hole too, merely meters from the deck.

There was quite a passing parade of animals visiting this source of refreshment, nyala, water buck, kudu and zebra. Whilst enjoying lunch,  a herd of elephant arrived – the muddy waters of the water-hole were chosen by only a few in the herd, what the majority wanted, was the clear waters of the swimming pool. It was angelic seeing the diminutive youngsters, who really could hardly reach this source, useing their trunks to siphon off their tipple.

The private Lodge programme’s normally allow for a fair amount of time between the game drives, meals and later activities for guests to relax, sun bathe, swim in the sparkling elephant friendly pool - enjoy Africa at its best..
Nambiti Private Game Reserve has some ruly scenic venues, the Cascades and Gorge of the Sundays River is particularly beautiful.

The suites have a handy tea station and the bar is open.

As does the Main Lodge..

The tea station in the dining room
The main Lodge has a large comfortable lounge  with cozy fire place

.. a convivial well stocked bar..

At Nambiti Plains Game Lodge, the wildlife enthusiasts are able to be almost constantly engaged , what with the animals visiting the water-hole, those in the camp, those on the plains and then the plethora of birdlife in the surrounds.

Ant-eating Chat
African Hoopoe - Zulu ; Umzolozolo

Luncheon with a really good bottle of wine from their cellar, 

relax and then back for tea, cake and departure on the afternoon game drive. Nambiti Plains has a rather unique open game drive vehicle that affords easy access, especially for us older folk, the one side drops down for low egress.

Morning comfort stop

In the foyer of the main lodge there is an easel with blackboard with the daily menu, one was
Lunch 13h30
Roast BBQ Pork Chops with chef salad.
Dessert -Mango Panna cotta – delish
Dinner 19h30
African Spring rolls with sweet chilli dipping sauce. Braised Oxtail with sweet potato mash.
Dessert - Caramel peppermint mousse.
The following evening we were treated to an alfresco Boma dinner, seated under the stars and adjacent to a warming fire – a wonderful experience and with a traditional South African Braai (Barbecue) for dinner followed by another local dish Sticky Malva pudding for dessert

The Boma in preparation

Then return to our cozy suite, turned down and with that little extra 'to bed' treat for the chocaholic !

Turn down
A bath?

During the 4 guided game drives we went on, there were some excellent sightings to be had. It is on these drives that one can have amazing encounters. We had the Nambiti Game Reserve’s largest elephant, BFE and a mate of his, one morning,


Minor road block

then later  a pride of lion with one of the males giving us an incredible photo opportunity.

 Later we had warthog , looking  all shiny and spruced up after a wallow.

 This game reserve must have the most relaxed kudu, and abundant they are too!

Kudu male
Nambiti Plains Lodge with Nyala drinking at the water-hole
 In all, the game viewing was up to expectation and some, with most of the high profile animals seen, and seen close to our game drive vehicle, sometimes too close, as one Australian guest felt , when a “roadblock” of elephant one evening, had them milling around fairly close in the gloaming. At least she would be staying an extra two nights to experience more, 4 nights in the bush, the ideal duration in my mind for such a Lodge visit, at the Nambiti Game Reserve. Nambiti Plains Private Game Lodge is an excellent choice.

All photographs by Jeremy and Lana Williamson


  1. This place looks awesome almost like a scene from Alice in wonderland. I got to say this private game reserve looks very inviting, I’ve actually been to a private game reserves kzn and it was as magnificent as well. Thanks for this very well-written and informative post.