Hippo vs Hyena

Hippos are not an unusual sight at Nambiti Reserve. You’re likely to spot the characteristic heads and ears protruding from any of the local dams any time of the day. Sometimes we’re even lucky enough to see them outside the water, grazing in the areas around the watering holes. We recently had a very unusual encounter though. As always, the day started off seemingly ordinary, but nature always has some tricks up its sleeve. We took our guests out on a drive and as we approached a dam we were delighted to discover that the group of hippos were roaming around outside the water.

As we closed in we noticed some activity among the group…a hyena was running between the hippos, taunting them! These scavengers are well-known for their habit of antagonizing other animals, drawing out a reaction from them and generally causing trouble. The hippos trudged up and down beside the bank, with the hyena barking behind them, taunting relentlessly. It wasn’t long before their patience wore thin for his antics though, and they decided to turn the tables on their jeering visitor. Clouds of dust filled the air as we watched the silhouettes of the now loud and stomping hippos, with cries and cackling of the hyena in between the mayhem. Finally the hyena ran off, uninjured but probably with a slightly sore ego!

Who knows when and where the next adventure will happen…
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A Letter From A Happy Guest

One of our guests recently sent us a lovely mail about her visit to our lodge with her husband. We thought we’d share this, as it reflects what makes us passionate about being here:

“Dear Nambiti Hills Lodge,

A few months ago, it was my birthday and my husband surprised me with a very unusual gift. I was sitting in bed and he placed a tray of delicious breakfast and a steaming cup of coffee on my lap, then smiled as he presented a gift bag. I peered inside and discovered nothing but a pair of binoculars. Puzzled, I frowned and looked at him with a confused smile. Peter wasn’t one for outlandishly weird gifts and this was unusual.

“I know this is cheesy but it’s a clue.”, he said. “Let’s just say you’ll be able to see your future with these. Because what I have in mind is a little while away but I think you’ll like it.” Then he presented another gift, this time a book on African wildlife. My heart jumped. I’d always had one dream vacation but there was never realistically time or money to actually even think of planning for it. I always wanted to set foot on African soil and see those beautiful red sunsets for myself, smell the rain and come within eye contact of a magnificent lion as it roams freely. Rain was softly pelting outside and it was the onset of a cold winter in the UK. The thought of an African safari was something I could barely imagine, but I was so excited that I counted the days until we got to leave.

A few weeks later we boarded a plane en route to South Africa. By now the anticipation was killing me. We arrived at Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge after a tiresome amount of traveling but though exhausted, we couldn’t wait to see what awaited us. The lodge was breath taking. We were welcomed by friendly staff and made to feel so at home, as our luggage was taken to our rooms and we were welcomed into the beautiful lodge reception area. There is a remarkable sense of calm there, something about the atmosphere makes you completely unwind almost instantly. We had a delicious dinner and decided to head to bed early, because the next morning we’d be up very early for the most exciting thing I could think of: our first game drive.

We woke up the next morning, got dressed and climbed aboard the Land Rover, ready to set off on an adventure.The air was crisp and refreshing as it brushed against my face. Today was finally the day that I’d waited for. I hoped that I would get the chance to see a lion in person but felt so excited to be there and just seeing any animal would be amazing. It was barely moments later when we saw something moving a few meters away and stopped to take a look. There were a few buck grazing casually, they seemed completely unaffected by our presence. As we continued our drive, we saw so many beautiful animals, each striking in their own unique way. Our ranger kept in touch with the other rangers to find any interesting sites and suddenly, he set off and changed direction and told us to hang on. We drove down another path and he began to slow down the Land Rover as we approached a curve. Another vehicle was already stationed there and we slowly drove up next to it. I peered out into the bush to see what everyone was looking at. And there they were. Two lions, a male and a female, were standing a few meters away. I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds, too scared to move, in fear that they would notice us and run away. The two casually lazed around, so calm and beautiful. I almost forgot to take photos and realized I’d been sitting frozen in place when Peter removed the camera from my hands and began to snap away. Finally we set off again and continued exploring the reserve.

I could just go on and on about the whole experience, but just wanted to thank you, Nambiti Hills, for the most unforgettable experience and beautiful memories I could ever wish for. We’re only just beginning to brush off the cold heart of winter this side and I so greatly miss the African warmth. I hope you are all keeping well!

- Sarah & Peter Jones
Basingstoke, UK”

A Sad Goodbye

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This week we said a very sad farewell to one of Nambiti’s most beloved animals. Vega, the leopard male from the Kwa-Cheetah project, a local wild cat breeding and protection institution hosted on the reserve, unexpectedly fell ill and passed away.

Most of our Nambiti Hills visitors came to meet Vega face-to-face, at some point in his short life, and fell in love with his majestic demeanor and playful spirit. After being found abandoned on a farm in the Underberg at the tender age of ten days old in November 2011, Vega was adopted by the Kwa-Cheetah family and soon became a treasure for all visitors and residents of the reserve. The team at Kwa-Cheetah nurtured Vega’s primal needs by building a special encampment for him, and further enlarging it a few months ago to facilitate his development. The plan was to finally release him back into the wild later this year – a dream that unfortunately would never be fulfilled.

Join us in paying a final tribute to this beautiful leopard and in memory of all the hearts he warmed and the awareness he helped raise for the cause of his kind.

Nambiti Hills

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Summer Heat And Watering Holes

Over the past few days temperatures have soared as we experienced our hottest week of the year here at Nambiti Hills. Even in the shade temperatures peaked well into the 40s, leaving everyone scattering to find somewhere to cool down a bit. As I write this, the sun is baking at a merciless 38 degrees Celsius, but a very welcome breeze has appeared this morning to keep us going.

Hot or not, our game drives have been continuing on schedule and we’ve spotted a whole host of animals hanging around the reserve’s watering holes. Clearly they have also been feeling the effects of this heat! We sighted an elephant herd, zebra and lions all refreshing around the oasis, with a duck family also joining in and casually paddling along.

We watched as the herd of elephants indulged in a sand bath – the sand acts as a sunblock and insect repellent for their skins, which is why they frequently coat themselves in it, especially in the warmer season. Here are a few pictures taken by our ranger teams – we hope to see you here soon!

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Elli Sandbath

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Yellow-billed Ducks off to school

Taking a closer look

We had the pleasure of having photographer James Gibbs with us recently for a special shoot of the lodge and reserve, and got the opportunity to see Nambiti Hills from his perspective. Among the collection of final images he sent us, there were a few close-up photographs which caught our attention.

We were suddenly reminded that with the abundance of natural beauty, vistas, sunsets, birds and animals of all sizes that are not seen every day, we often forget that there’s an entire world of photo opportunities waiting to be found directly around us…we need only look more closely.

Macro photography has become a rising trend in recent years. Essentially it is the photography of very small creatures or objects in full scale. A very close close-up, if you will, and unlike with trying to capture something far away without a telephoto lens, you don’t need expensive photographic equipment to pull this one off successfully. Whether you’re using a basic point-and-click camera, DSLR or even your cell phone, you can capture a very interesting perspective with close-up and macro photography.

Here are a few examples of this type of photography, from James’ collection:

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Give this a try next time you visit us or in your own time, you’re sure to be surprised by what you find!