It’s extremely rare for the very exclusive 5-star Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge not to be full but I arrived in the middle of a cold front and the Nambiti Hills staff was enjoying some much deserved downtime. Temperatures had apparently been -3ºC early that morning. By the time I left the next day, guests were being escorted in and it was back to business as usual.
For me, being at Nambiti HIlls on my own was perfect (even more perfect would have been if my partner – who I had left behind sick at home – could have joined me). But then I probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure of dinner with head game guide, Brett Hoy, who gallantly accompanied me during yet another spectacular meal at Nambiti Hills (cooked up by Joyce this time) and proved to be a wonderful and inspiring dinner companion. Thank you Brett.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. A big advantage of being the only guest in the lodge was that I got to spend quality time with the Nambiti Hills management and staff. Just like the wild in which this beautiful lodge is situated and the seasons that come and go, leaving their mark on the landscape, so too has Nambiti Hills gone through some significant changes. Kevin and Gemma (plus imminent baby, I gather – blessings to them all!) have left to embark on another chapter in their life. Their departure made way for Ryan and Chantal who have been at the lodge for just over two weeks. Also new on the scene is Amos. Ryan is the new game guide, Chantal is the Front-of-House Manager, and Amos the new Services Manager. I could see straight away that they make a great team.
Ryan was willing to take me out on a game drive that evening but I opted to stay in. Not only was the temperature outside dropping fast, but I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity I had to engage with some of the men and women who make everyone’s stay at Nambiti Hills so wonderful. Last month’s Game Guide of The Month, Ross, and the first-class tracker Joe, were away. Even through head game ranger Brett had been at Nambiti Hills for awhile, we had never been in the same place at the same time. So, on this visit, I have the very great pleasure of sitting down for late afternoon coffee and delicious chocolate cake with four people who I hadn’t met before. Needless to say, after a couple of hours of sharing bits of our lives and doing a fair bit of joking and teasing, it felt as if we had known each other for years. Often it is rare encounters like these with shared and truthful moments, that prove the most significant in one’s life. The comfort of strangers, a bond across age and culture between people who are passionate about what they do, have a great love for Africa, and a deep connection to the wild. I felt more than just the only guest at Nambiti Hills, I felt part of an exclusive family.
- Siobhan, writer and wildlife enthusiast