Monday, 14 March 2016


Where do we go when we have a family get together - the African bushveld of course (well, sometimes the casino but this time the bushveld!)  So on a rather cloudy February morning, with one brother, one sister, one brother-in-law, and one husband, another road trip began, this time relatively short - only 4 hours from Johannesburg.  After the obligatory Wimpy breakfast on the way, we arrived at Nambiti Private Game Reserve just west of Ladysmith early in the afternoon.  Nambiti is a relatively new reserve, and one we had not tried before.  After much research we decided on Ndaka Safari Lodge, one of the northernmost lodges and we liked the idea of the luxury tented accommodation. And luxury it was!  The tents are huge with a lounge/seating area, large bedroom area and enormous bathroom with both inside and outside showers.  All rooms overlook the plains and mountains of the reserve, which is nestled in the green, hilly countryside of KZN.  Very, very different from the dry, grassy reserves of Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

On arriving at the reserve, guests park their car near the gate and are picked up by a game vehicle, so that is where all responsibility ends.  Just sit back and relax and someone else takes over your routine.  All you have to do is make sure you are ready for the twice daily game drives, and in the dining area to eat the delicious meals prepared for you.  Good home cooking is how I would describe the food - nothing too fancy but everything fresh and tasty.

Our first game drive was the most productive of all.  We saw four of the big five plus loads of plains game.

The second day we were there was a family birthday and a champagne breakfast was a treat outside on the veranda.  The chef made a delicious chocolate cake - which we made a valiant effort to finish, but there was just so much food!  More game drives, with a rest in between, and a lovely way to spend a birthday.  The next morning we decided to have a lie in and our ranger was actually disappointed.  It is so nice to see someone loving their job so much that even though he does two game drives a day for six weeks at a time with no break, he still gets excited about the prospect of going out there.  I suppose that's what keeps us going back time after time.  No two drives are ever the same.

As we had only seen the one lion on the first drive, and she was a little hidden in the bushes as she was stalking the herd of eland, on the last evening we left in a bit of a hurry as a pride had been spotted quite nearby.  So we rushed off and were rewarded with a wonderful sighting of two males and three females, right outside the rather aptly named Lions Valley Lodge.  The males were a bit far away for a good photograph.

We stayed with them for a while and then our ranger took us to the top of a rather steep hill up a bumpy road to have sundowners with a view of the whole reserve.  It was quite spectacular and would have been made even more so with our gin and tonics in hand.  Unfortunately he had been so keen to show us the lions he had left the cooler box at the lodge!  So after a rather short break we headed back for our  pre dinner drinks and another delicious meal.

This was a very very special weekend.  Having been to the "larger" reserves, we were a little skeptical about what could be on offer at Nambiti, but the reserve and the lodge surpassed all our expectations.  A highly recommended experience.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Madikwe March 12

Just a colorful little chap who caught my eye in camp
 So I was lucky enough to join Professional Wildlife Photographer Colin Mead on another trip to Madikwe.  The sightings, as usual were amazing, the company delightful.  Below just a few of the shots I was happiest with.  I am off to Timbavati with Colin and co in August - lucky me!!!

Natal Frankolin

I call this "looking for trouble!"

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Namibia May 2011

May saw us on a two week tour of Namibia - well only a small portion of this vast, beautiful country can be seen by road in two weeks, but we didn't do too badly.  Despite the roads being quite difficult following record breaking summer rains, we got around in our little Honda CRV quite easily.  One can drive for hours and hours and not see another soul - the first time we overtook another vehicle was on the 150 km stretch of tar on the way back to the airport.

Flying in to Windhoek we overnighted there (we could probably have made it on to the Sossusvlei but as newbies to the country we decided to err on the side of caution).  The next day bright and early we set off for the dunes, and they were everything we expected them to be, and more. The only mistake we made was not staying in accommodation inside the park, but next time we will know better.  From their Walvis Bay to Swakopmund, the latter I can give a miss next time, but I had the best calamari of my life in a little waterside pub in Walvis Bay.  On to the Seal Colony at Cape Cross - yes it did pong!  Luckily the wind was in the right direction for us not to smell them from the hotel.  What a setting - nothing on either side of the hotel/colony for hundreds of kilometres.

Then we drove a beautifully scenic route into Damaraland where the ancient volcano has spewed giant rocks into the air to land precariously on top of each other and remain balanced like that for millions of years.  Fascinating scenery, and equally interesting rock carvings and paintings at Twyvelfontein.  We didn't bother to go on the excursion to see the Desert Elephants as our next stop was Etosha for five nights and we figured we would see plenty there.  WRONG!  There had been so much rain the bush was still thick and lush, and the animals had plentiful water without coming to the pan or the watering holes.  We saw a single ellie the first night which came right up to the lodge watering hole, plenty of plains game, a fleeting leopard and birds birds birds.  It is truly an amazing place, the pan was full and glimmering in the sunlight.  We were sorry to leave after our five nights in the park but keen to get home and look at all the photographs!  There were many.  Below are just a few to give you a taste of this country which brings to mind lots of superlatives but I am not going to use any more here.

Ostrich against a dune. The colours are real

David attempting to walk to the top of Dune 45.

Walking through "Dead Vlei"

At Sesriem Canyon

See what I mean about the remoteness of Cape Cross!

Going to view the rock art at Twyvelfontein

Early morning mist from our lodge in Damarland

The lone Etosha Elephant

Early morning drive - Springbok

Lilac Breasted Roller

Black faced impala

Usually one can drive right out to a view point - not this year!

We just sat at this watering hole and the game came to us!

We quad biked to the top of this mountain