Within ten minutes of leaving the luxury of the Nambiti Hills Private Lodge we were parked up on a raised dirt track. To our left in the dam below us was a small pod hippo, grunting to ensure we knew they were there. Down to our right, and around fifty meters way, in long grass we could see a serval cat on a hunt. The white markings on the rear of his raised ears resembled a pair of eyes looking back at us. In front of us, and our reason for initially stopping, stood a pair of elephants casually browsing.

The reserve has large open grass covered plains with occasional rocky outcrops where herds of plains game gather and graze. Warthogs wallowed in the mud on the side of the track we were following. Black and Blue wildebeest were both present but they grazed separately. We pass buffalo, eland, zebra, hartebeest and gemsbok. Giraffe stroll between flat topped acacia trees and stop to feed. They skilfully strip leaves from thorn covered branches with their huge tongues. Mixed in amongst the game are ostriches, light brown females very much lighter in colour than the black feathered male partners.

As we left the plains there was movement in front of us towards the top of a small raised bank. Obscured by thick tufts of grass and a scattering of rusty red boulders it looked like lions. When the huge male stood up there was no doubting it. He was a truly magnificent specimen with a beautiful wind swept golden brown mane. He was not alone. The noise of our approaching game vehicle attracted the interest of a mature lioness and four large cubs. It immediately became apparent that we were intruding on an extremely intimate moment. The adults were mating. What a special moment to witness, not only to see, but to hear the roars at such close range.

Our guide Brett ensured that we missed nothing. He spotted a pair of secretary birds walking slowly away from us foraging for a meal. An orange throated long claw stood on an ant hill and watched us pass. Brett was very excited to spot a quail finch drinking from a puddle. He snapped several photographs to show us the tiny but beautiful bird in more detail. Brett not only has a vast knowledge of the bush but he also a camera with a vast lens that he clearly knows how to use.

At one point he stopped and looked down onto the dusty road we were following. “Can anyone else see that?” He asked. Six puzzled guests looked down and one by one replied “no”. He jumped out took a stride and pointed down to what looked like a small groove running under our vehicle from left to right. Looking closely there were ants, hundreds of ants, walking in both directions along the groove. “It’s an ant highway, they have created this” said Brett. Walking a few feet from us he pointed out a small hole in the ground from which the ants were emerging and disappearing into. Fascinating and how did he see that?

The sightings and encounters were in keeping with the lodge. Our room, looking out into the bush, was spacious and luxurious yet subtlety and simply styled. The main lodge, from its raised position, looks across the reserve offering stunning views. We relaxed on the sun washed deck on large day beds before swimming in the pool and cooling off under the waterfall that flowed into it.

All meals were eaten alfresco, breakfast and lunch under shade from the heat of the sun and dinner under the stars. Dinner choices were tough and to name but a few: Tiger prawns or Cajun squid followed by venison or beef fillet?  Not to mention Crème Brule or Pecan nut pie for dessert. After such tough choices time is needed to take a seat around the fire pit and look into the flickering flames. From here you can enjoy a night cap and reflect back on your safari and the tough choices that follow it.

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About Author

People say that Africa has an effect on your soul and Mark Henson the ‘author’ of this site is no exception. He first travelled to South Africa and the province of KwaZulu-Natal in 1993 and has been coming and going every year since. Twice now most years!

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