The below article was featured in Mzanzi Travel magazine (December 2019).

Two hours of driving from Durban took us first through the Valley of a Thousand Hills, then the picturesque Midlands, and finally through the dirt back roads to Nambiti Hills Private Game Experience.

Despite growing up in this majestic corner of South Africa, I’d never visited the reserve and my anticipation was intensifying as we drove through the gates.  Greeting us with a massive smile, was our guide Biggie, eager to drive us through to the lodge that would be home for the next three days. Even on the short drive in we were already ticking off game sightings.

Nambiti Hills Private Game Experience is a spacious lodge that crests the top of one of the higher ridges in the 26,000-acre reserve. The central lodge area branches into a restaurant on the left and lounge and bar to the right. Walking through the doors, however, is where the magic starts to happen! Besides a pool, fire pit and several lounge areas, the deck offers spectacular views of the landscape that rolls out below.

The accommodation suites are luxurious offerings that stand not far from the main lodge and give comfort and sanctuary in-between game drives.  Of course, I made sure of spending enough time enjoying the free-standing bath – when swung open the adjacent doors removed all obstruction to the outside, and the dulcet bush sounds and a glass of red wine were more than enough to wash away any remnant of city stress.

Make no mistake, Nambiti Hills Private Game Experience lives up to its name: the landscape is made up of ripples of hills and exploring them on safari is an exhilarating adventure. Taking the twists and turns you never know what lies around the next corner, which for us included in one instance, three lions who didn’t seem as excited to see us as we were them!

As great as game sightings can be, at the end of the day, your Safari experience depends on your guide. Biggie had expertly guided us for the past three days, and we couldn’t have hoped for a better ranger. Nineteen years of guiding, SA’s highest guide qualification, and a degree in wildlife management means he knows his stuff. He also had us in absolute stitches with some of his stories.

Of course, if you’re interested in South African history, it’s worth bearing in mind that many of South Africa’s wars played out within a stone’s throw of the reserve. The sites of the Battles of Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift, the Siege of Ladysmith and the Battle of Blood River are all close by.

Only four hours’ drive from Johannesburg and three from Durban, makes this 5-star lodge a popular choice for locals looking to lap up some bush luxury. Explore more at

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Jared Ruttenberg travel-blogs under the name @JAREDINCPT – you can read more of his articles at