Friday, October 26, 2018

Umzolozolo Private Game Lodge - Jeremy and Lana Williamson

We arrived at the Woodlands Gate of the Nambiti Private Game Reserve in a cloud of dust. I think we were rather keen to visit this supper game reserve again. Lana and I had been on safari to the delightful Umzolozolo Private Game Lodge on previous occasions and were rather excited to see the modifications and additions made since our previous visits. We were not to be disappointed.

The game viewing commenced as we parked our vehicle at the undercover visitor's parking and watched as the Umzolozolo Game Drive vehicle made its way along the road, to collect us. It slowed for a herd of kudu crossing the dirt track and then this happy face arrived welcoming us to our next few days of a delightful luxurious bush experience, Loaded with all our katunda we headed east on the gravel road to the large African Hoopoe sign depicting the entrance to Umzolozolo Lodge. Above the clatter of the diesel motor a harmonious melody increasing in tempo was discernible, we arrived to a group of lodge staff gleefully singing an isiZulu welcome – what a lovely touch.
My how the Lodge had grown! Four additional chalets have been added along with a total revamp of the main lodge facility. In keeping with the original style of stone and brick under thatched chalets.

The main area has been extended and there is now a vast lounge / dining / bar area with a number of comfortable chairs and couches grouped in clusters.

which leads onto a terraced deck and then to the rim-flow swimming pool and more lounging and seating areas. All tastefully appointed. This all looks out over the rolling hills of the Nambiti Game Reserve, what a setting!
With warm welcomes, the formalities attended to, we were ushered to our luxurious suite that looked out forever over the bush veld, it just starting to show the first blush of green from some recent rains. 

The view had not changed but the Lodge facilities certainly had.  I bounced on the large King sized bed, perfect. 

All one would expect of a luxury Lodge was here. Stacked bar fridge, tea station, heated blankets, it was going to be rather cold overnight with snow predicted on the nearby Drakensberg mountain range.

The delightful view bathroom sports both an indoor and outdoor shower with complimentary soaps, bubble bath and moisturiser.

Lunch on the deck, pleasantly warm with clouds building up in preparation for an evening's precipitation and snowfall. We were presented with the dinner menu and consequently could spend the afternoon until our return from the afternoon game drive, salivating in anticipation for what was to be a magnificent meal. Umzolozolo Lodge historically produced fine dining on our previous visits, had they upped their game? That wouldn't be easy !

Lana and I were aware of the pending cold snap and dressed accordingly. I had brought my totally waterproof Pelican camera case which prevented any possible damage to our camera equipment from the expected showers on the game drive. This rain made for a particularly icy drive despite the waterproof ponchos and our warm garments, scarf, gloves and beanies.  We visited the very picturesque Cascades on the Sundays River with loads of plains game and some specials en route too, a large herd of buffalo were making their way to our guide's chosen sundowner stop, necessitating a slight delay to drinks and snacks 

There is such a wonderful sense of space in this game reserve!

The glass of sherry and warm hand towels on our return were so appreciated along with the logs flaming and glowing in the fireplaces which we all crowded around, excitedly recounting the earlier sightings on the game drive, until we had thawed out and drifted off to our respective dinner tables and a divine meal accompanied by an excellent wine. Being on a low carb / sugar way of eating, a cheese board for dessert was offered as an alternative – this had to be one of the best selections of cheeses I have encountered at a Lodge. Thank you, we normally have to skip the desserts.

With a 05h30 departure it was early rising and to the Lodge for teas and coffees then out into the fresh morning with our guide and convivial fellow game viewers. The Drakensberg mountain range in the distance was aglow with that early golden light striking the escarpment which was sporting a new mantle of snow.

Lana and I were prepared and with the addition of a hot water bottle on our laps under the lovely warm wooly blankets, we coped with the chill. The drive did not disappoint and as a bonus our guide was an enthusiastic birder which I find to be a big plus. One gets to see the big game in any event, the birding adds value to the drive. He showed us a young Lanner Falcon testing its wings, and virtually at the point of exploring beyond its nest. Mum was in attendance at a discreet distance, keeping an eye on her young bundle of feathers. 

After breakfast and possibly a delicious cappuccino is time to enjoy one's surroundings at the Lodge, take a Spa treatment at the Lodge's excellent Spa facility, enjoy the sun and the rim-flow swimming pool, then there is lunch. An help ones self assortment of delicious fare. With refreshments before departure, the vehicles arrive to take the enthusiastic compliment on more travels through this mixed grass and woodland teeming with a wide diversity of wildlife, the guides adding value with more information with respect to the passing parade. .

There is a romance at sundown - so often wonderful hues to the sky, a comfortable Lodge with enticing pool.or would it not be wiser to huddle the firelace with a warming sherry? It all really depends on the weather and seasons.Umzolozolo Private Game Lodge has all the possible options to make your stay comfortable and especially memorable, The Nambiti Game Reserve adds value with the normally excellent game viewing.

Umzolozolo has indeed upped its game, the expanded central facility makes for any sized group accommodated at the Lodge able to consort or find their own space such is the availability of a variety of seating and dining options.

All photographs by Jeremy and Lana Williamson

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Rhino Sands Safari Camp by Jeremy and Lana Williamson

Rhino Sands Safari Camp is the epitome of olde world tented luxury in the bush with a touch of romance.
In keeping with its very environmentally friendly footprint in the riparian forest of the Msunduze River in the Manyoni Private Game Reserve, this luxurious venue is "completely off the grid" with all aspects of power requirements being achieved in the most eco-friendly method possible with solar power integral to the running of the camp. A most admiral endeavour.

Four large really comfortable tents each with private bathrooms en suite, may have the canvas / screen walls unzipped creating a canopied shelter under the canopy of the large Sycamore Fig and other riverine trees. 

These beautifully appointed large canvas tents each with the option of King or twin beds,

 a comfy lounge area

a separate bathroom with a slipper bath, 

as well as indoor

and outdoor showers, 

ceiling and free standing fans, sun deck with private plunge pool and comfortable loungers 

all linked to the main Rhino Sands Lodge facilities on raised wooden walkways.

At the central facility there are various dining venues including a sheltered boma where a central fire adds to the African ambience, look up and there in that wilderness without skyglow, the light pollution emanating from towns and cities, the canopy of stars will astonish. We are far from these light polluters here at Rhino Sands! 

Then there is a very comfortable lounge, deep arm chairs and lovely squishy couches, 

 an undercover and sheltered tent dining area that has walls that may be zipped closed during inclement weather.

 Then there are expansive deck and bar facilities.

This exclusive venue accommodates 8 guests in a beautifully appointed tented camp. Children older than 13 may be accommodated, with younger guests being welcomed only if the entire 4 suites are booked by a single party. Rhino Sands Safari Camp's sister camp, Rhino River Lodge is particularly child friendly and traverses the same bushveld as Rhino Sands Camp.
Two guided game drives in the 23,000 ha Big 5 (Magnificent 7 with the inclusion of cheetah and African wild dog) Manyoni Private Game Reserve are conducted early mornings and late afternoons into the evening where nocturnal animals are sought by the Ranger after sunset by means of a spotlight from the open game drive vehicle.

Return to a gourmet 3 course dinner with full bar facilities available. The early morning guided game drives are from sunrise for approximately 3 hours to return to the Lodge's excellent cusine at breakfast. Its not all about food, but lunch will be served and that too will be a gastronomical delight. Between meals guests are able to take in a bit of me time and relax in the bush at one's lux tent or at the central facility. Keen birders will be enthralled by the variety of birdlife in camp as too some relatively tame resident antelope believing the area to be a safe haven?

Focus a little further, past the trees and into the river bed where any of this large game reserve's wild animals can and do pass by. When the river is not flowing there are some areas where the underground water is accessed, probably by elephant digging down in the soft sand, which also attracts a variety of wildlife to this section of the river for a drink. The large cats like the open pathway that this dry river bed affords. This to seek out their prey and to move between areas of their choosing. Keep an eye out for these special sightings achieved unobtrusively from your deck-chair or pool. Is that a glass of something refreshing in your hand?


This Rhino Sands Safari Camp comes highly recommended by ourselves. One has to admire the owner's integrity and determination to offer an amazing wildlife venue holding proud their environmental ethos with as minimal an impact as possible on this fragile ecosystem in this game rich part of Zululand.
Should you wish to make a reservation go to;

All photographs by Jeremy and Lana Williamson