Nambiti Springbok Lodge
Impression on Arrival
So it has been a year since we were last at Nambiti, somehow it felt longer, but now once again we were packing bags and camera gear for our trip to beautiful Northern KZN. Our team has expanded a bit and with all the gear finally packed we hit the road from Durban in convoy, in our Jimny and Subaru, heading for Ladysmith. As is the case with most winter days in Natal, we enjoyed the most spectacular weather on our drive. Due to some team member commitments in Durban on Friday morning we only left at about 11:30 and were planning to arrive around 3:00, hopefully in time for the afternoon game drive. The drive was mostly uneventful and the road, even the last 5km of gravel, is very easily accessible even in a normal sedan type vehicle. It was with a little trepidation that we were travelling to Nambiti again - don’t get me wrong, we all absolutely love this place, and that was sort of the problem. We were a bit worried that Nambiti would not live up to the high expectation we had created and built up for it again but thankfully this was most definitely not the case.
While doing some homework before our arrival we learned that Springbok lodge is owned by the local community as part of a bigger community ownership project that also owns the actual reserve. The lodge is run by a management company and from our understanding it tries as far as possible to source employees from within the community. This all sounds really warm and fuzzy but our ranger, Promise, put this into much better perspective after we got chatting to him. Promised explained that having the community involved not only financially benefits the community that owns the lodge but has done wonders for counter poaching efforts. Having the eyes and ears of the whole community with a vested interest in making sure that nothing is poached or stolen as well as ensuring the safety of the reserve’s guests is an invaluable asset. Springbok lodge in our opinion is a true five-star experience and is a exemplary example of a community ownership and partnership.
Lodge and Room
Springbok Lodge follows a mostly traditional layout with a central lodge that caters for all meals, social areas, reception, swimming pool, spa and game drive departures. The rooms are all individual free-standing units and here is where it gets a bit different - the room is a luxury tent! Yes, you heard me correctly - we slept under canvas. Let me start here by putting any fears of roughing it aside, the tent is air-conditioned and heated enclosing a full bathroom and king size bed made up with crisp white linen. Really if we are honest, the room hasn’t got much in common with a tent at all or any form of camping. It really just has canvas walls and here is where the magic lies. There is something very special about sleeping under canvas in the African bush, the sounds of the bush seem to travel through the canvas in an almost romantic way. Our stay was in the middle of winter which gets really cold in the South African interior. So, we are lying in bed, it’s freezing outside, and we are cuddled up with the electric blankets on full power and in the silence, you start to hear the sounds of the bush. This makes the magic of this beautiful place come alive. I would assume the canvas is actually quite hard to maintain, and I hope it stays, we love it.
The culinary experience was outstanding! Days spent at private game lodges always seem to involve way too much eating and Springbok Lodge was no different. Breakfast and lunch are served out on the deck weather permitting and are served buffet style. Dinner is served in the dining room and sometimes in the outdoor boma, and there is a unique menu each night with a choice of starter, main and dessert. A great and very reasonable wine selection is also at hand and lastly a bar well stocked with Amarula. Let’s be honest, a bush experience just wouldn’t be complete without the sweetness of the marula fruit on the rocks.
GAME DRIVES AND SCENERY
Our visit to Springbok Lodge delivered the best sightings so far for our team while on the Nambiti reserve. No more than five minutes into our first game drive we came across a herd of elephants - this was followed over the course of the weekend with sightings of all the Big Five with the exception of Leopard. We were even privileged enough to see the only Cheetah on the reserve, the aptly named Houdini. I have romanticized before about the scenery at Nambiti, but it really is something special. On our last night towards the end of our game drive we were traveling back to the lodge along a grassy plateau, I think near the reserves airport, and from the vantage point we were watching the sunset over the Drakensberg mountains. The sky had turned orange as the last glimpse of the sun disappeared behind the distant mountains. I am a passionate landscape photographer and live for these moments. This time I was completely content sitting on the back of the land rover just enjoying the spectacle that mother nature was putting on for us. This moment for me must have been one of the highlights of our trip and reinforces our love for this place.
Springbok Lodge Spa
Springbok Lodge also boasts a Spa creating the perfect environment to relax and unwind. A full body massage was just what the doctor ordered followed as usual by a short sleep before our evening game drive. Another tough day in Africa!
To conclude, Springbok Lodge is a fantastic holiday destination for anyone looking to get away from the city and into the bush. It is family friendly and they can even accommodate small children. Its great for couples seeking a romantic getaway and even business people, I believe they have a conference venue. We really can’t think of a better setting to hold a conference, although it may be a bit hard to concentrate considering the backdrop. The staff were friendly and attentive, the room was clean and even passed our clean bathroom test. We have already professed our love for the canvas tents and the community ownership leaves us feeling as if we contributed to more than just conservation by visiting this beautiful place. We must take this opportunity to thank Springbok Lodge for obtaining permission for us to fly our drone on the Nambiti reserve. This was a real treat and a first for us. Please check our YouTube channel for some of the footage.
Will we be back? Oh yes we will - just as soon as Springbok Lodge will have us!