Celebrating Our Wise and Wonderful Elephants

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As the world’s largest land mammal, weighing as much as 7 tonnes and living for anything up to 70 years of age… it’s no wonder that the elephant has earned the right to be celebrated and preserved for one official day of the year. Each year, the 12th of August is celebrated as World Elephant Day; an International Day aimed at building awareness around the plight of the elephant.

It’s a way for us to create and support conservation solutions that will hopefully make the world a safer place for elephants; conserving their habitat and ensuring our future generations are able to appreciate the beauty, grandeur and magic of these mighty giants.

Here at Nambiti Reserve, we are fortunate enough to have a large herd of over 40 elephants that roam freely across our open plains. Hardly a game drive goes by where we are not spoilt by the eventful sighting of elephants effortlessly de-barking a trees stump, hosing each other in the muddy waters or simply stomping along, single file, down the freshly mowed tracks.

As an ode to the elephant, we’d love to share some of our latest sightings with you. But of course, a picture is never as good as the real thing, so join us for a wild African adventure and see these beautiful and wise creatures up close and personal.

Until then.
Ranger Kel

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Meet Ranger Iris – Our most passionate tourist yet!

Ranger Iris - Nambiti Hills

The young, foreign and passionate Iris Thiriaux talks to us about her love for the African bush, her strong family ties and what it is exactly that she loves about being a Ranger at Nambiti Hills.

What is one of your earliest bush memories?
It was a special time, back in 2011, one that I will always remember as the start of a lifelong love and passion for the outdoors. I was on the Zambezi River with my family, chugging along in one of those tiny boats, watching two elephant bulls fighting on the river bank. They were oblivious to our presence and we got to witness the wildness of Africa first hand.

What is one of your favourite things about working at Nambiti Hills Private Game Reserve?
All of us who work there are all so different; in our traits, our personalities, our work ethic… but that seems to work. I love being able to call myself a part of the Nambiti Hills family. But aside from that, I love everything about this place. I love getting to show guests wild animals for the first time and seeing the joy and wonder on their faces. I’ve even had guests shedding tears after seeing elephants for the first time! I love making people happy, and it’s easy to do that here. It’s moments like those, which remind me how special my life really is.

Tell us in detail what a typical day entails.
I’m an early bird. In every sense of the word. Regardless of summer or winter, I’m up at 4:30 every morning. Coffee, as you can imagine, is a must! The rest of the day is filled with adventures of wild life, meeting new and interesting guests, discovering new routes and making great memories. Sometimes, there is half an hour to catch up on my studies, nibble on a snack or get some rest before continuing with my day. But keeping myself busy with the things I love is what makes it all such a pleasure. The last game drive of the day lasts until about 7:00 at night, when the guests come back for dinner and we entertain with stories and wildlife tales around the campfire.

Which is your favourite wild animal?
Everyone who knows me, knows this answer; the Cheetah! I can’t control myself when I see it and most times people can’t understand a word I’m saying on the radio when I do spot one. Since as long as I can remember, I have felt inspired by this beautiful animal. Fragile, yet capable. Fast, yet graceful. Beautiful, yet dangerous. What’s not to love!

What makes gong on a game drive with you better than with anyone else?
I don’t believe that any of the Nambiti Hills Rangers are better than each other. We all bring something unique to the lodge and offer our guests a personal experience, the best way we know how. The thing that is unique about me, is that I have been on the other side; I’m a tourist at heart. Even the smallest of details don’t go unnoticed and appreciated.

Tell us more about your private life:
I have three siblings; 2 sisters and 1 brother. We are all very different but obviously love each other unconditionally. And our pet, Babou is very fat and old but he’s part of the family too. Family time is priceless and I’m so grateful for having such a supportive family structure. Coming from Belgium, home is very far away so I only get to go back about twice a year. And of course, my family much prefers coming over to South Africa to see me – it’s a great excuse for them to come to this beautiful country.

What do you do to relax, for fun or as a hobby?
I love to read and write, while listening to music. And there’s something really calming about just watching wildlife through my binoculars. It puts my mind at peace. I also love studying. I know it sounds odd, but I enjoy searching in old dusty books and researching new things. I just can’t seem to stop trying to upgrade my qualifications, and I won’t be satisfied until I do. Apart from wildlife, horse riding is my other passion. I first sat on a horse when I was 2 years old, and have never stopped since then. The thought of taking guests on wildlife safaris on horseback really excites me. Watch this space.

Relaxation is what we do best

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There’s a reason why we all look forward to the end of a long work day or the end of a long week. And there’s certainly a good reason why we all long for a relaxing holiday away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

You can almost imagine a sense of ‘calm’ which overcomes you as you drive through the African bush in search of the Big 5 and other wildlife. Or that feeling of pure bliss as you enjoy your favourite drink, marvelling at the panoramic views and untouched landscape before you while lazing around a heated pool. Or indulging in gourmet delights while getting closer to nature, breathing in the fresh air, watching the sun rise and set, and then rise again and relaxing with that book you’ve been meaning to start for ages.

It’s that wonderful “Ahhh” moment you feel when you get away from it all and there is nothing like spending time around nature to experience such a feeling. Being surrounded by nature has proven to reduce stress levels, rejuvenate your body, and re-energise your mind.

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After our recent lodge renovations at Nambiti Hills, you can be sure of even more breath-taking views, wide open spaces and the finest quality facilities that will help you forget about everyday life and let you focus on what really matters: You! So visit us soon for a time out that you deserve. Don’t forget to pack swimming gear, with our new heated swimming pool, you’re guaranteed fun and relaxation all-year round.

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Snakes, Planes and Ranger Kingsley

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From a very early age, this ambitious young Ranger knew that being outdoors in the wild open African bush was exactly where he wanted to spend his time; both for work, and play. That’s what makes Ranger Kingsley such an asset to Nambiti Hills Private Game Reserve. We love him for his passion, his family values and his ability to turn every day into a wonderfully wild adventure. This is what Ranger Kingsley had to say about life at Nambiti Hills.


Tell us about life before Nambiti Hills.

Well, in a nutshell…once I left school, I registered for a two year course to study Game Ranging and Wildlife management. After I completed the theory, I had an opportunity to do a FGASA level 1 course, which I did at Karongwe with Rob Francis in 2007.

The course opened my eyes to a whole new world and once I completed it, I knew that being a guide was exactly what I wanted to pursue as a career, for life!

At the time, I was too young to apply for my PDP (large vehicle driving license) so I got into the hospitality industry, working in hotels, restaurants and bars until I was old enough to apply. The African bush was calling me, and soon after gaining my PDP I registered for a two week Ecotraining survival course in Botswana.

Back in KwaZulu-Natal, I worked for 3 years at Tala Game Reserve, where I gained invaluable experience, and am now living out my dream job as a Ranger at Nambiti Hills. I have now been here for 3 adventure-filled years.

What is your favourite thing about Nambiti Hills Private Game Reserve?
Well, you’d think that would be an easy question to answer! But it’s really not. There are so many things I love about this place…the freedom, the natural beauty, the unknown. If I had to choose something, I guess I would say; the team.

We’re all like one big family, we get on well and work well together. It makes working here even more of a treat. Even when I’m meant to take my leave, I stay here at the lodge. My family now lives in Australia, so Nambiti Hills is definitely home to me.

Which is your favourite animal?
Guests often ask me this, and are shocked at my answer. But my favourite animal is definitely the snake. Yes, even over the Big 5. Everything about them fascinates me; especially the Adders and the Vipers.

If I had to choose a favourite mammal, it would be the Honey Badger. It amazes me how the bigger, mightier animals have so much respect for this little creature. Not to mention the fact that they can flush out snake venom, by simply taking a nap. How’s that for a survival skill?

What is your best time of the day?
Any time that I’m out in the bush doing what I do and love best!

Do you have a special or secret spot that you always take guests to?
I do. You’ll have to join me on an adventure to find out for yourself.

What is your earliest bush memory?
I was impaled by a Nyala once. Honestly!
I was 8 years old and at a game lodge with my family. A Nyala Bull approached our deck, and I started to hand-feed him, as he seemed very relaxed. But I was wrong, and as a sign of dominance, he put his head down and stabbed me in the stomach with his left horn. It wasn’t too serious but I learnt a very valuable lesson that day. Nature is precious and wild, and deserving of our respect.

What do you do for fun?
I’m actually learning how to be a pilot. So any spare time that I have, I spend it with my nose in the books. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge, and cannot wait to be able to take to the air – imagine the views of all the wildlife from up there. I also love exercising when I get the chance, and going for walks in the bush keep me close to what I love.

Meet Kelwan: Our Go-Getter Ranger

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Filled with ambition, a passion for the outdoors and all things South Africa, we recently caught up with Kelwan to find out what life is like for a ranger. This farm boy, turned bush boy has been a ranger at Nambiti Hills for two years now and this is what he had to say:

Tell us in detail what a typical day entails.
As head ranger and assistant lodge manager, every day is different. But my main focus is ensuring guests have the best time out in what we like to call “our wild backyard.” So I wake up at 05h00 and prepare the morning snacks and coffee for our early game drive which departs at 06h00. We’re back just in time for a full breakfast at 09h30. I then check in any new guests, wash the cruiser, and get ready for the afternoon game drive that heads out at 15h00. Dinner and socialising with the guests is how I end my day until about 08h30. Then I retreat to my room after a long day and prepare for another new adventure in the morning.

What do you love about this country?
The fact that we get guests continuously arriving from around the world, is a testament to the kind of country we live in. There is such a special and unique heritage here, it’s hard not to fall in love with South Africa.

Do you have a secret spot on the reserve that you always take guests?
I do. And I’m absolutely not going to let my secret slip. Let’s just say, it’s a rewarding feeling taking guests there and watching their amazement as they witness Africa’s natural beauty first hand.

Which is your favourite animal? Why?

I am in awe of the Leopard. It’s always the most challenging to track and find – which is half of the thrill I guess – but it’s also the most beautiful; disappearing as quickly as it appears. I love the unpredictability of a Leopard.

What do you love most about your job?
Meeting guests from around the world is really special. Not everyone has that luxury in their day-to-day jobs. Just as each day here at Nambiti Hills is different, so too are the guests; with new stories and different things they want to see. It’s what makes it all so gratifying for us. I also love that guests are keen to be “educated” when they’re here; they come with open minds and a passion for Mother Nature, which makes our jobs so much easier.

Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
This has been a passion of mine since high school, and maybe even before then. I grew up on a sugar cane farm on the South Coast of Durban. After University, I immediately started working at different private game reserves to gain more experience. After graduating as one of the top three students at Bush School in the Limpopo Province, I was ready to get stuck into my dream career. And still to this day, I have no regrets!

How often do you go home and what do you do to relax?
I get to go home every 6 weeks for 2 whole weeks – which is great because I get the best of both worlds. When I am home I spend a lot of time helping my dad on the sugar cane farm, and at the beach. I’m also quite keen on firearms and love spending time at the shooting range with my friends. Off-road bikes, quad bikes and anything that gets the adrenalin pumping is what I call fun.

Who inspires you?
Anyone with a sense of self-motivation, self-preservation and an open mind.

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