Today sees the final post in this South Africa series (for this year at least!) as we head to Nambiti, a small private game reserve in the province Kazulu-Natal, just a few hours drive from Durban near the town of Ladysmith. We had umm’ed and aaah’ed about where to stay on this leg of our trip, with M’s parents joining us we knew it was going to be a special experience and wanted to get it just right.
Finally, we settled on Lions Valley Lodge, swayed by their stunning rooms, unfenced lodge and the fact that the swimming pool looks over the watering hole. And boy were we not disappointed.
From the moment we arrived, we were spoilt. Collected by our ranger Tyrone in the game viewer – soon to become our second home – we were driven from the reserve entrance past buck and zebra to the lodge, ready to be greeted with fresh juice and a hot towel.
Each room at Lions Valley Lodge is a suite, and each has its own different theme. We were staying in the safari suite, decorated with safari memorabilia from times gone by. I cannot say enough how therapeutic our entire experience was, it had been a rough and hectic year to say the least and this break came as the most welcome escape.
M and I noticed throughout how much calmer we felt, we barely even looked at our phones, pretty much ignored social media and apart from my camera I don’t think I really had any contact with technology throughout our stay. And, gawd, I felt so ZEN. My constant underlying anxiety (more on that later) drifted away for three whole days and I felt 100% myself and so. darn. good.
Our room was perfectly designed for relaxation with two of everything – twin baths, twin indoor showers, twin outdoor showers, twin sinks… Obviously we had to try them all out! After a long day out on the game viewer in the rain, it was so comforting to come back to a hot bath and candlelit room.
Each day would start with a 5am wake up call from Tyrone. We would stumble out of bed and pull up the blinds to look out over to the watering hole before Tyrone came to pick us up on the golf buggy and take us to grab a quick coffee before heading out on the drive.
We soon became used to spending our days outside in the most stunning nature you ever did see. One of the many wonderful things about Nambiti is that they will only allow two cars per animal sighting. This means that, at times, you may have to wait in a queue for a little while but your ranger will keep you intrigued with stories of the animals and the reserve. Then, you have beautiful intimate experience with your little group and the animals.
Each morning we would stop for coffee and to stretch our legs, giving plenty of opportunities to meet little fellows who may otherwise pass you by.
After a couple of hours exploring in the morning, we would return back to Lions Valley ready for breakfast and to freshen up in our rooms before hitting the pool. Since we went the week before peak season began, we were the only people in the hotel and had the run of the place to ourselves. Or, at least that’s what we thought. Turns out some big eared folks wanted to join in the fun!
I mean, what better way to spend the day than splashing around in your own private pool with just some friendly elephants for company?
Before we knew it, we were jumping back into the game viewer ready to go out exploring once again. There’s something so magical about feeling so connected with your environment, in a way that never really happens in daily city life.
And when we got to stop for gin and tonics to watch the sun go down in the middle of the South African bush… a certain reflective feeling came over me that I can’t quite describe. But damn it felt GOOD.
Now we just need to plan our next visit…