Itsy Bitsy Spider At Nambiti

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Photo by Frank Soloman

No, this photograph is not from Nambiti, but it could well have been. Because there are plenty of impala roaming the magnificent Nambiti Private Game Reserve. And a fair amount of spider webs, as you will notice particularly when going out on an early morning game drive with one of the game guides from Nambiti Hills Private Lodge. It’s one of my favourite things to see, in fact, especially when the temperature has dropped during the night and there is dew on leaves and branches of bushes and shrubs along the roadside. Every now and then, you will spot glistening droplets of water caught in a spider web that stretches between branches. You will most likely also see insects and leaves that have blown onto the sticky web and can now not extricate themselves. The early morning sun catches this small spectacle of nature and makes it shine like a diamond in the sky. Depending on the size of the spider, you will most likely see it too, lying in wait as it prepares for its three-course meal.

Just as I’m sure you have walked into a spider’s web at home when sorting through a dusty garage, or in the garden, so too do animals occasionally brush past webs in the wild. I’m sure there are many impala, just like the one in the photograph, that have walked into a web and become the new location for the resourceful spider. The ability to adapt is the ability to survive, and the spider featured above has done that magnificently, having spun its web between the unsuspecting new host’s horns.

So, next time you’re out on a game drive, make sure you take your binoculars, and look at all the buck a little more closely than usual. My guess is, you will find a few spiders who moved into their new and very stylish mobile homes.

- Siobhan Gunning, writer and wildlife enthusiast

Tips For Photographing Wildlife In Nambiti

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When you’re in Nambiti, there are plenty of opportunities for close-up wildlife photography. If you are shooting with a digital SLR, make sure you’ve got special close-up lens on hand, if you’ve got a compact camera, set it to a close-up mode that will allow you to fill the frame with even the smallest of subjects.

Try and capture a wild animal’s behaviour, not just his bum as he runs away. That said, I think my parents, avid wildlife photographers, had masses of photos of animal’s bottoms – the source of much mirth to visitors who had to politely endure some excessively long slideshows of our safaris.nambiti

Always be prepared
You never know when you’ll come across an animal so have your camera switched on and ready for action.
Make sure that you have a fully charged battery and a memory card with plenty of space.

Don’t shake
Camera shake appears worse when using a telephoto – use a faster shutter speed: at least 1/750 second if you are handholding a 400 mm lens on a digital SLR with a crop sensor. You can set a slower speed if you use a monopod as this one-legged support gives stability but also allows mobility.
If you are shooting from one of the Nambiti Hills Land Rovers, make sure that the engine is switched off. Engine vibration can cause camera shake, especially if the lens is touching the body of the vehicle.(You might want to take a sandbag along with you if you’re really serious.)

Stay focused
Particularly when shooting with a telephoto lens, as this lens has a very shallow depth of field. Want your subject to be sharp? Then use a wide pattern of focus sensors to pick up a subject that isn’t just in the middle of the frame, and a predictive continuous autofocus mode if your subject is moving. (In other words, your camera will try to lock on to any moving subject and predict where the moving animal will be when you take the picture for more accurate focusing.)
If you don’t have a telephoto lens or you’re shooting with a compact camera, compose the picture so that it shows the animal in its environment rather than slap bang in the middle of the frame.

Experiment
Try panning – moving the camera during the exposure to blur the background, not the subject.
Compose your shot, combining animals, vehicles, and anything else you consider meaningful within the frame.

Shoot in the early morning and late afternoon light

Not only is this the best light, but it’s also the time when you are most likely to see animals. The blazing midday sun will send them searching for shade and mainly hidden from view.

- Siobhan, writer and avid wildlife snapshoter
- Photos by Clinton Friedman

Nambiti – A World Of Texture And Detail

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Photo by Clinton Friedman

It’s a small world, as you’ll discover when you spend time at Nambiti Hills and go on drives through the Nambiti Private Game Reserve. Let me rephrase that. It’s a world where the beauty is as much in the small things as in the spectacular scenery, grand sunsets and massive elephants.

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Photo by Clinton Friedman

nambiti

Photo by Clinton Friedman

Let’s start with Nambiti Hills Private Lodge. Everywhere you look, there is something beautiful and fascinating in or around the lodge. From the eclectic décor, much of which is a contemporary re-interpretation of something traditionally African, to the thorns and seeds of plants that adorn the entrance area or lean against the railing of the deck out front. From the marshmallows in the big glass jar near the entrance to the leather or patterned fabric of the swallow-me-up couches. From the big wooden crocodile to the stone pathway and the plaster-of-Paris buck horns in the room. From the oval stone bath near the bed to the aloes outside, the nests, moss, lichen, cracks in the earth and lines on a rhino’s hide. Feathers, pebbles, animal bones. Everywhere you look there are patterns, textures, tones. A great man once said, “God is in the details.” and you can certainly see that at Nambiti.

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Photo by Clinton Friedman

- Siobhan Gunning, writer, wildlife enthusiast and admirer of small things

The Settings You Should Use When Photographing Wildlife At Nambiti

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Photo by Clinton Friedman

Camera shooting mode: Choose Aperture Priority mode when photographing animals at rest or Shutter Priority mode for animals on the move.

ISO setting: Choose the lowest ISO setting for the available light.

Auto-focus point: When photographing wildlife, choose a single auto-focus point in the centre of the frame. This lets you to pinpoint your focus on the animal which is especially important if you’re shooting it close up.

Drive mode: Choose Continuous Drive mode. This lets you to squeeze off several shots in succession. Just press the shutter button and you get a lovely sequence of images.

Tripod: Mounting your camera on a tripod ensures you get a sharp image, minus the camera shake. It’s perfect if, for instance, you want to shoot a herd of wildebeest.

Hope you take some great shots. Please upload the best of them to the Nambiti Hills Facebook page.

Nambiti Hills – The Perfect Place For A Honeymoon

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Photo by Clinton Friedman

Nearly every time I have stayed at Nambiti Hills, I have met honeymooners. They have joined us for the early evening game drives (not so much the early morning ones, I wonder why!), sometimes continued on to the bar and then the dining area afterwards, although usually retired to the glorious honeymoon suite. It is in the privacy of this palatial space that they can enjoy dinner for two on their own verandah overlooking the spectacular Nambiti Private Game Reserve. Alternatively, they could, weather permitting, have a table set up for them in the middle of the bush or in the boma and have dinner beneath a ceiling of stars.

Romance is everywhere at Nambiti, so it’s fitting that this is where two people would want to celebrate their union in hopefully a lifetime of love. The happy young couples that I have met up with at Nambiti Hills usually stay there for a few days and then continue their honeymoon elsewhere. One of the many advantages of Nambiti Hills is that it is en route to many other wonderful South African sites, from the great Drakensberg (uKhahlamba), the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, to the exquisite coastline of KwaZulu-Natal, the artistic community of Clarens, anywhere in Gauteng, and roads linking to everywhere else in the country.

Which is not to say that the perfect honeymoon couldn’t be spent entirely at Nambiti Hills. I think that would be glorious. Every day and/or evening going out into the reserve and communing with wild animals. Just sitting and observing from the comfort of the Land Rover, taking in the distinctive sounds and smells, and having an all-pervading sense of peace as you connect with and find your small place in nature. Whilst I personally would opt for doing very little at all, there is in fact a great deal to do in and around Nambiti. Game walks, fishing, touring the nearby battlefields, mountaineering and abseiling in the Berg, visiting caves decorated by the San people, seeing the Statue of Gandhi, and a great deal more.

One thing’s for certain, however long you decide to honeymoon at Nambiti Hills, your stay will be memorable.

- Siobhan Gunning, writer, wildlife enthusiast and romantic