Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ndaka Safari Lodge, Nambiti Private Game Reserve – by Jeremy Williamson

The Ndaka Safari Lodge in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve, just outside of Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal is a gem in the making. The Nambiti Game Reserve was farmland which was bought up and consolidated into what is now an 10,000 ha Big Five Malaria free Game Reserve, that produces some really good game viewing with its rich diversity of species.

At Ndaka Safari Lodge the original farmhouse had been converted into a modest 6 bedroomed game Lodge, “Nambiti Falls”. Mark and Tracey visited the Nambiti Game Reserve, fell in love with it and started on the journey which has culminated in Ndaka Safari Lodge in the making. With the change in name, came many changes, with their dream being the creation of a super, child friendly luxury tented Safari Lodge in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve. Children of all ages are welcome at Ndaka and will be allowed on the guided game drives there. This has started!

The first six of the individually decorated luxury tents are up. With panoramic views over an extensive plain and some hills beyond, Ndaka has a rather wonderful outlook that regularly has animals passing by. When we were there, we had a lone bull elephant come and inspect the integrity of the electric fence which surrounds the Lodge. The fence held, the elephant departed, allowing guests to continue enjoying the freedom of roaming the Lodge grounds.

Lana and I recently spent some time at Ndaka Safari Lodge and were rather impressed with their tents. These are not the conventional Safari tents one is accustomed to, here we have the main bedroom and what is tantamount to a separate Lounge in a double adjoining tent.

Leading off the bedroom is a brick and roofed structure housing the backdrop to the bed and the sides of this section,

an entrance foyer, a cupboard and then a luxurious bathroom which has a private loo,

a large bath and an even larger shower,

then there is a door leading out to an outside private shower with a view,

in fact the entire siting of these tents and design is about the view, the lounge, bedroom, bath, indoor shower, outdoor shower all have this magnificent outlook.

The view from the bed is enhanced as the doors leading out are large windowed panes of glass vs the mosquito netted other openings. The netting can be rolled up but we found that not necessary. Imagine waking up to this from your bed!

or step outside and look south

The tented camp is presently serviced by the old infrastructure, waiting on the construction of two family tents and the main lodge facility. Once these are completed the logic of the location of the new structures all falls into place, as that new complex would then be more closely integrated, with the farmhouse and its facilities more distant and becoming rather excellent staff quarters. Presently guests may take advantage of booking the luxury tents, or the less costly lodge bedrooms.
The public rooms comprise a lounge, dining room,

a lapa leading onto a fire pit area as well as a dining deck with a view over the plains, 

with a swimming pool on the sunny side.

In the lapa there is a rather space age hot drink producing machine – from a variety of teas, chocolate, a couple of coffees and probably a variety of concoctions, this wizard answers to a press of a button, rather handy, it made me an excellent cappuccino without complaint.

On visiting Ndaka one needs be aware of the two variations in standard between the new and the old, this however hardly detracted from the good service, food, and what we are all here for, the wildlife experience.

Ndaka is located close to the Memorial Gate in the Nambiti Game Reserve which affords easy access to Ndaka Lodge on arrival, one parks ones transport at a covered parking area and your guide will collect you there and transfer you to Ndaka Lodge. Well located to easily access all roads in the Nambiti Game Reserve.
Arriving at mid-day, we were collected by our host / guide and shown around the Lodge facilities and to our very comfortable abode for the duration our stay. Lunch in the lapa,

time to sort our cameras etc for the afternoon guided game drive and we were off.
Lana and I have visited the Nambiti Game Reserve on numerous occasions and each time we generally have excellent game viewing experiences, this was to be no exception. 

Four of the Big Five in one game drive and seeing these high profile animals so closely, these along with the so many other animals that proliferate here. Then there is the birdlife 

Greater double-collard Sunbird

Grey Heron

and of course the flowers.

Verbena aritigera Fine-leaved Verbena from South America

There is much to be done at Ndaka Safari Lodge and Mark and Tracey have some really wonderful ideas. These folk have already created an amazing venue, that is luxurious, functional with super food and friendly experienced staff. The facilities and staff make for a very family friendly venue. The lounge area in the 2 bed Safari tents can comfortably house an extra bed or two, making these units suitable for families with younger children.

The Lodge is presently able to accommodate 24 guests in their current range of accommodation types. Presently the 6 Safari tents then there are 3 double bedrooms each with private bathrooms en suite in the main lodge. Two of these rooms could be utilised as an adjoining family suite. Then there are three suites in an annexe.

With adequate vehicles and guides Ndaka Lodge and the Nambiti Game Reserve should provide an excellent wildlife experience.

All photographs taken by Jeremy and Lana Williamson

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ndaka Safari Lodge located in Nambiti Private Game Reserve,

Visit Nambiti Private Game Reserve's NEW Safari Lodge, Ndaka Safari Lodge.

A luxury tented camp catering for all, and in particular children.
Book your Big5 Safari Holiday at Ndaka Safari Lodge.
Click the link to make a booking or read more about the Lodge
or email Far and Wild Safaris -
#nambiti #ndaka #big5 #safari #southafrica #farwildsafaris

Springbok Lodge, Nambiti Game Reserve – Jeremy Williamson.

Springbok Lodge has really matured into a truly fine rather luxurious Game Lodge in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve, since Lana and my visit almost 4 years ago.

Springbok Lodge now has 21 tents, with 6 new versions of the ‘ultimate’ safari tent?

The six recently completed safari tents at Springbok Lodge have...... drum roll ..... concrete floors and brick walls!  Yet hardly discernible from the existing , very comfortable tented camp.

The new ‘tents’ also all have air-conditioning and King-sized beds, but what is new in the design are the private toilets and more secluded baths. A selection of Fabrar Earle soaps for guest's use - divine.
Then there is a tea station with a selection of teas, coffee (even a bodum with ground coffee), comfortable chairs in the tent and also on the ‘veranda with a view’.

Around the back, is an attractive outdoor shower – this worked so well with its efficient gas water heater.  

So in all, fairly similar to the other tents with the private loo probably the most notable plus, just upping the standards somewhat – it still really feels like you are in a tent, very clever..
The canvas screened windows are a delight, keeping out any bugs, and despite it being late November, we did not need to run the air-conditioner, due to the lovely through breeze, just the gentle flip, flap.. of the canvas and the sound emanating from the wilds beyond. Black-backed jackal calling, and in the early hours of one morning, lion roaring.

Now that is why I so love the tented game Lodges, one gets to be so much part of this natural World, especially with the sounds not being blocked by solid windows,  these new tents allow the early morning bird chorus and the nocturnal sounds to filter through. I am sure the long term costs of maintenance and more efficient insulation, easily justify the initial higher costs of the structure. Some guests might even prefer these to the full on canvas tents.

Springbok Lodge is in my opinion equivalent to our South African rated 4 star lodges, and then some. The cuisine is an epicurean delight. Lana and I were rather impressed with all the meals. The care, preparation and presentation was admirable, with the standard of food way above what one would expect for the very affordable tariff one pays to stay at Springbok Lodge.   
Dinners are occasioned in different venues at Springbok Lodge, dependent on the weather, with the outside Boma under the stars all seated around a fire, a favorite.
Then there is coffee on the go – a well stocked bar and notably very friendly efficient service from all the staff.  

The public areas are large and comfortable, allowing couples or groups to have their own private huddles. With a number of people on a vehicle, maximum 10 guests, a couple like ourselves soon get to meet new friends, making for rather social after game drive gatherings. The Ranger staff, have representatives present in the evenings, which so adds to the pre and post dinner discourse, what with their knowledge and insights of the days sightings.

The Lodge staff are vital to the running of such a facility, but its the Ranger that has the closest and longest liaison with guests, such an important person. I have met many, here at Springbok Lodge I admire the standard, knowledge and integrity of their Rangers. A delight to be with, they add so much value to the game experience.
Springbok Lodge is wheel chair friendly, which includes the charming rock swimming pool - set about with comfortable sun loungers - the place to be during the day, unless you are enjoying a Spa treatment.
The Nambiti Private Game Reserve has really good general game viewing, with the Big Five being present, (although the leopard are pretty shy and rarely seen), guests do get to see a wide diversity of species and loads of the high profile species. Here at Nambiti one feels that one may stop at any vantage point in the reserve and looking around, will see some sort of animal, somewhere.

This is unfortunately not the case with most of our National and Provincial Parks. Love this reserve for the quality and abundance of sightings. Springbok lodge very generously, presently offer a 50% reduction for the last night on a three night booking. Three nights at Springbok Lodge, in my opinion should be the minimum stay, in order to have a tremendous wildlife experience and then to truly be able to relax and enjoy your break at Springbok Lodge in its very comfortable accommodation, divine food and attentive service.
The Game drives in the Nambiti Game Reserve can be rewarding. A lioness calling to her three young cubs,

a herd of elephant,

.... herds of wildebeest,

impala in herds,

.. ready to drop their young, all full bellied, coats gleaming and looking so healthy, a female alone away from the herd, having just given birth to her baby. We watch as it staggers to it’s feet and doggedly follows mum, as she retreats protectively from our view, concerned over the safety of her latest charge. She will introduce her offspring to the herd when it’s capable of a better turn of speed. The bachelors, socialising in herds for protection, before dispersing for the rutting season, not too far off. It was not only the impala that had reached termination of their pregnancy, it’s late November and there was a bounty of young ‘uns around. 

The very dry bush and scorched earth had miraculously transformed, from the Midland’s browns of winter, to the verdant greens of spring. This despite the area still needing the dams to be replenished, more rain would be welcomed in the Nambiti Game Reserve. We did have some magnificent cloud formations

and the sunsets

and some light rain– well! The hippo will be a lot happier with the selection of dams filling and becoming a safe retreat for them again.

The Nambiti Game Reserve and Springbok Lodge are really worth visiting, it replenishes my soul out here.
Thoughts and comments are my own. All photographs taken in the Nambiti Game Reserve whilst visiting Springbok Lodge there.

All photographs by Jeremy and Lana Williamson

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Oliver’s Lodge, White River, Mapumalanga – by Jeremy Williamson

Oliver’s Restaurant and Lodge just outside White River in Mpumalanga can certainly offer wonderful hospitality, luxurious rooms and fine dining, they even have a Spa too. Lana and I drove through from Durban to arrive mid afternoon, in time to check-in and explore the Lodge and its facilities. 

We were planning on departing early the following morning, so no time then as its off to a Lodge on a private Concession in the Kruger Park.
Oliver’s Lodge is a lovely, rather grand building, set on the edge of the White River Golf Course, with refreshing views over the greens – it was very tranquil, rather therapeutic even, relaxing comfortably on our elevated veranda off our suite, watching the colours deepen, the golfers depart, the odd jogger following close behind their retreat, and the last frenetic gathering of food by the colourful cosmopolitan birdlife.

View from our lofty Balcony

There are different categories of room at Olivers Lodge, which makes the venue suit a slightly wider clientele, from family to pretty top notch accommodation. 

Our rather opulent bathroom - shower to my left out of view
Our suite

There is now an additional accommodation unit, Oliver’s Family House, which has 4 suites, a lounge, kitchen and veranda, this must be booked as a unit by a single party.
Tea stations, bar fridges, air-conditioning, under floor heating and sumptuous bathrooms with all amenities and heated floor and towel rails.

Oliver’s is the ideal place to wind down after a hectic travel schedule, before moving on to one of the luxury wildlife Lodges in the area.  Take in a relaxing Spa treatment, a round of Golf? or just to relax in the opulence afforded by this five star facility. 

We had arrived on a Sunday, the night the principal kitchen staff and our hosts take time off. A reduced menu it was to be, well ! what a choice and what we ordered was truly of five tar standard. Makes one wonder what a normal nights fare would be like? Well done Oliver’s Restaurant. This is the reduced menu.

Sundowners in the comfortable lounge adjacent to the bar.

A brazier with a warming fire on the veranda.....

 ...and then to a candle lit dinner in the dining room, in a section so much like a Conservatory. The fresh fragrances of the gardens wafting in, complementing those of our delightful meal. 

This is where we were to have dinner in Oliver's Restaurant

Breakfast on the patio early morning was a delightful affair and the coffee was excellent. 

Breakfast patio

Off the the Kruger Park, only about 45 minutes to the Pabeni Gate via Hazyview on good roads. We could so easily have returned after visiting the few Lodges we were going to in Kruger and the Timbavati, such visits can be tiring with early morning and late afternoon into the evening game drives with latish dinners, so there’s a thought, on departure too.

Gardens at Oliver's

Public rooms and lounge
Oliver's Bar with picture window

All photographs by Jeremy and Lana Williamson