It starts with the darkening of the sky and the distant rumble of thunder, a flash of lightning and the smell of the promise of rain. Rangers scurry to make sure that their ponchos are ready; it’s going to be a wet game drive! As a nature lover you welcome the onset of the rainy season and you are well aware of the need for the rain, but in the back of your mind you just want a dry drive. Here it comes, the first small drops land on your windscreen but you know that that is just the start of one of the afternoon thunder showers that we get so regularly here on Nambiti during our wet season.

October is upon us and spring is well underway as our once open grasslands transform into dense green thickets as the various Acacia thorn trees develop new leaves for the upcoming growth season. This brings with it various other factors including the sounds of the bush as well as an increase in the offspring of plains game. Currently, the eland herd has grown substantially with calves outnumbering adults in some cases as their nursery herds develop. Other antelopes that have calved already include many of our Red Hartebeest population, several of our Burchell’s Zebra mares and a handful of Blue Wildebeest. Our 10 ostrich chicks have only decreased by one this month; leading to nine healthy, fast-growing youngsters that are almost half their parents size. Of the bigger game species, a giraffe mother and calf graced one of our vehicles with a prolonged suckling session recently and our African Buffalo population has grown by one as of a week ago.

September, the month of SPRING, when we bid farewell to Winter and eagerly anticipate the arrival of warmer weather and hopefully rain. Reserve Management have been busy burning blocks all across the reserve as they do every year to encourage growth of new more palatable grasses, and to return nutrients back into the soil. We were fortunate to receive a small amount of rain, which encouraged the nutritious sprouts to burst through the seemingly barren, burnt soil. These burnt areas are now hot spots for our grazing animals such as blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, zebra, blesbok and warthog. The high concentration of these plains game brings along with it the grumbling stomachs of our hungry lions. Viewing these cats on the burnt surfaces is a real pleasure because of the lack of grass for them to hide in.

Nature is a cruel mistress, never has this been more evident that the savage death of our Kalahari Lioness-Tswalu. In last month’s newsletter we were so happy to announce that we had good reason to believe that this magnificent specimen of a lioness had been showing signs of being suckled upon and therefore we had a new bloodline to strengthen the future genes of our lion population, then in one seemingly mundane whatsapp message sent by reserve management to all the guides a great sorrow was thrust upon the Nambiti Guiding family.

It is hard to believe that we have passed the shortest day of the year already and that the lengthening days are the first sign that there may be a summer after all. Once the sun has set on the afternoon game drives the temperature plummets and ponchos are worn whether stylish or not.

It is not often that guests visiting a Big 5 Reserve get the opportunity to have a snow-capped mountain backdrop in their Lion, Elephant, Buffalo or Rhino and other plains game photos. At The Springbok Lodge on Nambiti Private Game Reserve we are privileged enough to get this opportunity during our colder winter months. We greeted the beginning of May with the first snow fall of the season draped like an icy blanket over the majestic Drakensberg mountain range; which is clearly visible from many parts of the Reserve. This sends a message that winter has arrived and it may be an extremely cold one.

As the beginning of winter starts to set in the game drive ponchos are being used more to keep the morning chill at bay as opposed to keeping guests dry during the summer months.  As always our game drive times are dictated by the rising and setting of the sun, so morning drives are leaving around 06h00 and the afternoon drive departs at 15h00. Guests are welcomed back at the lodge with warm face towels and a roaring fire which is usually the focal point of the lodge lounge.

March was a month with brilliant game viewing for both the rangers and guests at The Springbok Lodge.  Sightings of the 6 lion cubs are getting better and better as they become more habituated to the presence of the game viewers. We were rewarded one night with them playing beside our vehicles as their mother and older sisters watched on from a short distance away.

Another month has drawn to an end and with it comes the telling of our stories, experiences and adventures out here in the bush we call ‘home’. The first and most striking difference is another great month of rain (174mm) has been experienced, the guests and rangers may have  gotten soaked to the bone on more than one occasion this past month but that did not detract from the excitement anticipated by all at the onset of our three hour game drives, with endless possible sighting and interactions between nature in all her tempestuous glory.

Greetings from the Springbok Lodge rangers.

The rain is upon us with several heavy storms covering the reserve in the last few weeks. This month has delivered over 100mm of rain and has led to an extended rejuvenation and growth period for our vegetation as the Sweet thorn trees burst with yellow flowers and a pink hues from the flowering of the Natal red top grass cover the grass plains.

Another year has drawn to a close and another year is upon us. As humans we mark the changing from one year to the next, in the bush there is no such celebration. The bush ebbs and flows to the changing of the seasons, the coming of the rain and the rebirth of nature.

After many hot and humid days, this past month has brought us some refreshing thunder showers and beautiful lightening displays – followed by some glorious rain. At this time of year we are also so spoilt with the most stunning sunrises and romantic sunsets.

The days are becoming warmer and the nights not any cooler. The sun is starting to rise earlier and set later, this meaning that we are heading out on morning drive at 5am and our afternoon drives at 4pm – once the heat of the day has subsided slightly. We were blessed with 3 days of rain during October - a total of 28mm - not nearly enough to fill up dams but enough to allow the flora to start blooming. We will just keep praying for more and more rain….

We welcome Spring and a change in the weather with the days warming up and the morning game drive departure times getting increasingly earlier with the sun rising earlier and earlier into what used to be the last darkness of the previous night. Stunning sunrises are the order of the day at the moment but they are given a run for their money by the increasingly beautiful sunsets.

With the final month of our winter season coming to an end, we gladly welcome the arrival of SPRING. There has still been snow visible on the Drakensberg Mountains for most of the past month and while the days are now warming nicely the final effects of winter can still be felt in the early mornings and as soon as the sun sets.

There’s a chill in the air as we eagerly head into the wild for the morning game drive. Herds of blue wildebeest huddle together for warmth whilst the heated breath of the big cats materialises in the frozen night air. The snow-covered peaks of the surrounding Drakensburg Mountains blush with the much anticipated rising of the sun. It is safe to say that winter has settled in at the Nambiti Private Game Reserve.

With the icy grip of winter slowly tightening, and the effects of the long drought being felt by all it will come as no surprise that the next few months will be especially difficult for the herbivores. With this being said there is always a natural balance in nature and when one species suffers another will prosper, the carnivores are enjoying the bounty of the well stocked larder that is Nambiti.