The Beauty of a Winter Game Drive

Lion cubs at Nambiti Hills
It’s freezing outside. You’ve been woken up before the sun and you’re still wiping the sleep from your eyes as someone nudges you out the door and into the fresh, but icy morning air. And then you jump into the game rangers vehicle, the engine roars to life and you start off into a waking wilderness. Wrapped in a soft poncho and thawing from the hot water bottle left on your seat, you immediately begin to appreciate the moment. And you realise that this is why we love a winter game drive. It may be cold to start off, but that’s the beauty of it. Wrapping up warm, sipping on hot coffee and getting excited as we creep into the morning lives of the wild animals.

TLions at Nambiti Hills
This week, an early start let us witness a male lion chase and kill a warthog in an eroded gully. The three young cubs, who, can you believe it, are almost a year old now, are beginning to take part in the communal hunting process. After watching and learning from their mother and brothers, they’re quickly getting the hang of it. They’re most active in the early mornings and we really love getting to see them grow and develop on a daily basis.

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We’ve also been spotting our sole male cheetah in the early mornings, marking his territory as he makes his way around the reserve. As long as we don’t get too close with the vehicles and invade his personal space, he doesn’t seem to mind us following him around. Sometimes it feels like he’s showing off when he casually hunts down a small impala or duiker. You know, just an average day for a male cheetah. It looks like he plays it safe with the smaller prey though, which is probably to lower his chances of injury.

Us rangers network throughout the reserve and keep in comms via radio so that if someone sees something, they call it through and we all head off in that direction in hopes of a great spotting. But generally we all have our secret go-to spots where we know the views are magnificent and the route filled with interesting finds. I’d love to take you on a journey through the African bush.

See you soon, for your next adventure.

Kelwan.

A Walk on the Wild Side

There’s no doubt about it; winter… has arrived!
And while the bitterly cold mornings are somewhat of a struggle, it’s a great excuse to venture off on a late morning guided walk through the reserve. We love it, the guests love it, and there’s always so much to see.

The reserves only Cheetah enjoying his killRecently, I had the absolute fortune of spotting the only Cheetah in the reserve, right in front of the lodge. I was on the viewing deck and couldn’t believe my luck as we were scheduled to head off on a guided walk minutes later.

I told the guests about the Cheetah, and in excited silence we observed from up high as he enjoyed a recent kill. When he left the site we took the opportunity to do a little bit of what we like to call Bush CSI. The rangers like to piece together all the evidence; the skuff marks, broken shrubs, tracks in the sand… and try to figure out what actually happened moments before the kill took place. In this instance, we concluded that a young kudu cow had not been fast or smart enough to out run her predator.

With our hearts now set on seeing the Cheetah again, we kept an eye on the kill spot, and to our delight, later that afternoon, he returned for more.

Wilderness & its beauty as far as the eye can see
A few days later, while out on a walk, the guests and I were taking in the quiet tranquillity of the beautiful landscape. As far as the eyes could see, and as far as the ears could hear… this was Africa at her finest. And then, in the sandy clearing of the path we were travelling, we were treated to another exciting find; fresh male lion spoor.

What a treat! Fresh lion spoor

Very cautiously, and very safely, we continued along the path until we spotted him through a gap in the thicket. Unaware of our presence, he strutted on in search of his brother, following his previously marked scent. We know this, because later we found the two of them reunited and relaxing in the open plains.

Mighty & Majestic ...what a magnificent animal!

Whether it’s big game viewing, intimate insect finds or binocular-aided bird viewing, there’s never a dull moment on a guided walk through Nambiti Hills.

I hope to take you out there soon.
Kelwan.

The Nambiti Hills Big 5

Landscape

If we said ‘Big Five’ and you immediately conjured up images of a Lion, Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo and Leopard, you most certainly would not be wrong.

But here at Nambiti Hills, we’ve become famous for our very own Big Five.

ONE:
5 Star Luxury
SuitesIntimate and luxurious, our 8 Luxury Suites and 1 Honeymoon Suite invite you to unwind in decadent style. It’s not difficult to put your feet up and forget about your everyday stresses when you are surrounded by the beauty of the wild terrain.

TWO:
Gourmet Dining
Fine DiningWe call them culinary artisans for a reason. The gourmet meals prepared by our in-house chefs taste, smell and look mouth-wateringly delicious. Inspired by the settings and using ingredients from the surrounding farmlands, it’s not just an African journey, but a culinary one too.

THREE:
The Perfect Location
LocationTravelling to the heart of the African wild doesn’t mean you have to travel for days to get there. Your escape is only a 3 ½ hour drive from Johannesburg and 2 ½ hours from Durban. It really is a hidden gem that’s just within your reach.

FOUR:
Malaria-Free Zone
Malaria FreeSet on 20,000 acres of malaria-free bushveld, you get to enjoy the beauty of Africa without having to worry about, well, anything at all.

FIVE:
The Big Five
Big 5If our wealth was measured in wildlife, we’d like to think we’d be pretty well off. Home to the infamous Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino, Nambiti Hills boasts sightings of these glorious creatures on a daily basis. As well as over 30 other animal species such as giraffe, hippo, hyena, impala, springbok, zebra, and of course, a wealth of birdlife, our rangers want you to see it all.

Experiencing the Nambiti Hills Big Five is something we want you to treasure. Being here, enjoying the luxury, appreciating the wilderness and knowing that tomorrow will bring yet another day filled with African magic… that’s why we love sharing Nambiti Hills with you.

Enjoy your Escape.
Reggie.

The Buffalo Soldiers

Buffalo ant Nambiti Hills
While lions are largely sought-after and considered to be the most dangerous of the Big Five, I like to disagree. Don’t get me wrong, we all have our favourites, and these charismatic killers are an absolute must see on any bucket list. But while each member of the Big Five has its own noted strengths and skills, it’s the Buffalo that impresses me the most.

Never before have I witnessed an animal as brave as the Buffalo, as tough as the Buffalo, and as dedicated to the herd… as the Buffalo.

Hugely sociable, Buffalo move around in herds of hundreds. Our large herd here at Nambiti Hills has been relatively active over the past couple of days – with winter setting in and the need for water becoming increasingly more important. Big dust clouds are often a telltale sign that the herd is approaching and witnessing them at a watering hole is a noisy but exciting experience.

The phrase power in numbers applies to the Buffalo herd as predators are intimidated by the sheer mass of strong bodies; and many a tale has been told of how a herd of Buffalo has come to the rescue of a fellow Buffalo or young calf being attacked by a predator.

Buffalo are deceptively big and rather unpredictable. So when we come into close contact with them on a guided walk, we exercise the utmost caution. Wounded Buffalo, in particular, are considered very dangerous and it’s best to keep out of their way. This came into effect one morning this week while we were out on a game drive and two bulls came head to head, literally, in a standoff. There was a brief spout of loud head bashing and horn twisting before the stronger bull chased the other off into the Acacia thicket. As tempting as it was to follow him, we knew that a wounded bull best be left in peace.

So the next time you cruise past what appears to be a docile herd of Buffalo, lazily munching on the dry grass – stop for a moment to appreciate this mean, moody and magnificent creature. Any animal that makes a lion quiver in its paws is deserving of our praise.

Which is your favourite of the Big Five?
Join us for one of our famous game drives and get up close and personal with the Big Five.

See you in the wild,
Reggie.

Mud-encrusted & moody, the Buffalo is a deserving member of the Big 5

Mud-encrusted & moody, the Buffalo is a deserving member of the Big 5


Tête-à-tête: What an experience to witness a Buffalo fight

Tête-à-tête: What an experience to witness a Buffalo fight


Beautiful in their beastliness

Beautiful in their beastliness

THE ART OF CAMOUFLAGE

Reggie at Nambiti Hills
One of the first things we learn about the wild outdoors… is that Mother Nature is both a smart and beautiful thing. Smart, in that everything has a place and a purpose and it all works together within the greater circle of life. And beautiful, well, it’s plain and simply one of the most beautiful things to look at.

Here at Nambiti Hills, we are privileged enough to experience this beauty every single day. But that’s a whole other blog story. There is a lot we can learn from Mother Nature, and today I want to share with you what I call ‘The Wisdom of The Wild’.

I’m sure you’ve seen us rangers all sporting the latest khaki trends, with our matching sand coloured shorts, shirts and socks. This is nothing more than our own simple attempts at camouflage – a natural concept designed to necessitate survival. Basically, we’re trying to blend into the surrounding landscape before the animals spot us and head for the hills. But when it comes to camouflage, the animals at Nambiti Hills win hands down. Or should I say paws, claws and talons.

Take for example, the Zebra. To us, they stick out like a sore thumb. But this crafty pattern of zigzagging black and white stripes is a deviating blur to a chasing predator. Zoologists believe that their striped pattern resembles that of tall grass, which can confuse a colour-blind lion. When you’re smaller, or slower than your predator, camouflage can save your life.

The stealth master of disguise is undoubtedly the Cheetah. Their intricate spotted pelts are as unique as a human fingerprint, and help to conceal them in almost any environment. An effective patchwork of gold and brown, their prey doesn’t see them coming. Until it’s too late.

The fawn coloured Eland that blends in with the brown grass, the tawny coat of the lion, the leaf-resembling spots of the giraffe, the mud-encrusted crocodile hide and the ever-changing colours of the chameleon…

Finding animals in the wild is no easy feat. Especially trying to find an animal that doesn’t want to be found. But it’s what we’re trained to do. Using their textured furs to disappear before our very eyes, concealing themselves amongst the clutter of the background trees… we can only but marvel at the brilliant ways in which these animals perform their vanishing acts. And every day here at Nambiti Hills is an exciting challenge to out-spot them.

There’s nothing better than the whispered cheers of our guests as we point out hidden animals among the earthy canvas or when we get to observe as a predator puts his camouflage to the test.

Have you captured the Art of Camouflage? Send us your pictures and share your stories with us – we’d love to hear from you.

Until next time.
Reggie.

Sometimes it's hard to see where one Zebra starts & another one ends.

Sometimes it’s hard to see where one Zebra starts & another one ends.


Spot the spots?The Cheetahs camouflage helps conceal its whereabouts on a hunt.

Spot the spots?The Cheetahs camouflage helps conceal its whereabouts on a hunt.


Motionless & poised, the Eland blends beautifully into its surroundings.

Motionless & poised, the Eland blends beautifully into its surroundings.