Monday 26th November 2018
Nambiti Game Reserve, in the incredible dawn light
As is often the case we were holding on tight as we lurched and bounced forward, but unusually the wind rushing past us was dry and full of dust, all around were greens and browns instead of our normal blues and the dark grey animals close by were elephants not whales. We have had a weekend away from the boat, enjoying a safari in the Nambiti Game Reserve, staying at the rather lovely Nambiti Hills Safari Lodge.
The lodge had a fabulous pool and terrace area
At only 22,000 acres the reserve is relatively small but is rich in biodiversity containing grasslands, savannah, rivers and dammed waterholes, woodland and thornveld (grassland rich in thorny acacia bushes). This variety of habitats means the park can support over 40 different species including the Big 5. The big 5 aren’t actually the five biggest animals in Africa, the title originates from the days of hunting when five animals stood out as the most dangerous to hunt on foot. Now thankfully most people only hunt with cameras and we were lucky enough to get shots of four of them, lions, elephants, rhinoceros and cape buffalo. The fifth of the big five is the leopard, which our friendly and knowledgable guide Siya informed us, finds you rather than you finding them, sightings are rare.
The park cuts down the rhino’s horns to make them worthless to the poachers
Siya was extremely good at spotting the animals at a distance and expertly manoeuvring the open truck up, down and around the rough tracks of the park to get us as close as possible to the animals. And at times we got very close, the game pretty much ignoring us as they grazed, or strolled pass.
Highlights were many and included in the distance, a female cheetah streaking across the hill capturing an impala for herself and two nearly grown cubs and one evening, right next to us, another female striding along with us marking her territory. A group of lions, suddenly rousing from their slumbers, startled us as they ran past the truck. A male letting out a roar just meters away, leaving us in no doubt about who is king of this jungle.
Up close and personal with the lions
A young bull elephant, ostracised from a herd we had seen the day before, angrily crossed in front of us, a herd of cape buffalos content in cropping the grass at one point completely surrounded us and magnificent giraffes strolled stately past.
A real privilege to be so near to these mighty beasts
On a smaller scale, one evening as dusk darkened to night, Siya caught a genet cat in his spotlight, being nocturnal they aren’t often seen. About the size of a domestic cat they have a striking appearance, their bodies are of white fur spotted with black and their long busy tails black and white stripes.
Not to be out done, colourful land and water birds were in abundance, a few having some very curious features. The prize for most ridiculous bird must go to the long tailed widowbirds. A medium sized bird, the males during the mating season have tail feathers that are about half a meter long, these may make them attractive to the females but make flying clumsily difficult.
We also saw two large secretarybirds with an appearance that is part eagle, part crane. With feathers extending half way down their long legs, they look as if they are wearing a pair of long furry shorts. The odd name originates from the crest of feathers that the adults have on the back of their heads, these were thought to resemble the quills that 19th century clerks stuck in their wigs.
A young secretarybird takes flight
To increase sightings the game drives took place in the surprisingly chilly mornings at five after a 4.30am wake up call and in the afternoon at four as the hot temperatures of the day decreased. They were punctuated by stops for coffee and tea in the morning and gin and tonics in the afternoon. In fact the food and refreshments at the lodge were all delicious and almost too plentiful. Between drives we indulged in some spa treatments and enjoyed our rooms large bath that looked out over the bush. We read, slept and revelled in the luxury. Today we return to Raya and the ever long to do list.
Enjoying the quiet of the Bush with a gin and tonic
It was so difficult to know where to stop with the photos and I couldn’t resist adding a few more below.
Amazing ears of the female Kudu
And the curly horns of the males
Delightful legs of the African Wattled Plovers
And the priceless expressions on the faces of the giraffes