Days 7-10: Nambiti Game Reserve in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa
There is something magical about seeing animals in their natural habitat. Nambiti Game Reserve is an amazing reserve about a half-hour drive from Spioenkop. It is the only reserve in the area with the Big Five (rhino, lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo) in addition to over forty other species of animal that include cheetah, giraffe, hippo, hyena, impala, eland, and zebra. The reserve’s 22,000 acres boast incredible biodiversity: savannah, riverine bush, acacia trees, rivers, waterfalls, and extensive grasslands that mirror the plains of central Africa. On top of that, Nambiti is completely malaria free, falling far outside the low risk belt.
There are numerous lodges in the Nambiti Reserve that each offer a little something different. The lodges all include three meals and game drives. My top recommendation is the Springbok Lodge, it offers an excellent value for money (approximately $150/night per person), friendly and hospitable staff, and luxury tented accommodations. The en-suite tents are permanent structures with thoughtful amenities like outdoor showers. Another stunning lodge is Nambiti Hills Lodge that offers slightly more upmarket accommodations. It is very easy to split your time between the two lodges as both offer free transport to each other.
Whichever lodge you choose, you will have an early morning game drive before breakfast as well as an evening game drive each day. The early morning game drive is normally around three hours and is a great way to experience the magic of African mornings as the animals awaken and the sun rises. The rangers have eagle eyes and will ensure that you see a wide array of wildlife and birds. Halfway through the drive, your ranger will stop for hot drinks and homemade muffins. When you return to the lodge, a huge breakfast is served. Afterward, you can relax by the pool, take a walk, go trout fishing, or visit the Kwa Cheetah Breeding Project where you can interact with baby cheetahs and stroke a leopard!
The afternoon/evening game drive leaves after lunch. Around sunset you will stop for drinks and nibbles while soaking in the incredible colors of the sunset. After the evening drive, your ranger will drop you off at your room to spruce up for dinner. You certainly won’t go hungry here as the dinner is a three-course affair of delicious, local produce. Some of the lodges also have outdoor “bomas” where they host traditional South African dinners, often followed by African dancing.
On the tenth and last day, it will take around 2.5 hours to drive to Durban airport from Nambiti. If you are lucky enough to have a little more time, spend a few days on the beautiful beaches around Durban or take a flight to Cape Town. South Africa has so much to offer!
Kathleen is a contributing editor to En Route Traveler. From a young age, Her parents took her and her sister on many adventures all over the world. Kathleen has lived in South Africa, London, and Paris. After five years of being a stressed corporate lawyer, she gave it all up to move to Nicaragua where she trained as a yoga teacher, learned to surf, and worked at the eco-lodge, Buena Vista Surf Club. Kathleen loves fitness, vegetarian cooking, contributing to the wellness blog, Hip and Healthy, and managing her own sites Yum Yoga and Super Fit and Super Food.
Have you ever visited the Drakensberg area? Share your recommendations below in the comments area.