Why come to Nyumbani Estate Bush Lodge?

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It is true to say there are many choices of places to stay for your safari experience, within Africa.  We are pleased to be able to say that as it means we still have beautiful lands and lots of game and small creatures being sustained in these stunning natural environments.

However, you will find that every Lodge is different in some way or another, and, some more distinct than others.  Privately, Lodge owners often take short breaks at other safari Lodges, mainly to take a break and enjoy being the ‘guest’ and the ‘guest experience’ and occasionally just to see what their peer group owners are doing (this is a healthily competitive industry).
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At Nyumbani Estate, we decided to focus on a very personal experience for our guests, to achieve that, we have kept the Lodge as a 4 – bed (two double chalets) as this ensures exclusivity and privacy for our guests.  We are fully off-grid with solar power and personal water system.  We took the view that minimal impact on the environment was the best approach.  Also, we believe if you really wish to experience that oneness with nature, you need to minimise sound and light impact as this encourages more of a natural flow of wildlife through the camp and significantly enhances the guest experience.  The camp has been created utilising both timber construction (for the guest bar, lounge and dining areas) and brick built chalets with thatched roofs.  All chalets are en-suite plus have outdoor bush showers. Super king bed or separate 3/4 beds are provided, general toiletries, all linen (including towels) and mosquito nets are included within the cost.  On-site laundry can be accommodated for a reasonable fee, on request.
The service delivery at Nyumbani Estate is fully serviced, which means your meals, snacks, and a selected range of beers, wines and soft drinks are included.  We also include your game drives.  Additional experiences can be secured, on request.  You will have personal hosting, and bespoke house-keeping to meet your specific preferences and your own personal Game Ranger (usually only up to 4 guests on the vehicle at any one time).  You will be able to enjoy tailored ‘bush’ experiences, on request. Whatever you desire to maximise your experience and time in South Africa, we will apply our best endeavours to make a plan for you.
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Your bush experience will be tailored to provide you with a diverse safari experience and will include the option to make some local trips to nearby areas of outstanding natural beauty such as Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window, Kruger National Park, etc.  Visit the nearby Endangered Species Wildlife Centre (which includes the Cheetah Sanctuary), and take a trip into the safari town of Hoedspruit
(click http://www.nyumbaniestate.com/location.html to take you to the location page on our website for information on Hoedspruit and Kruger National Park.  You will also have plenty of opportunities to have your own ‘down time’.  The quaint village of Dullstroom is nearby with some of the best Trout fishing in the country.  If pampering is your thing you can enjoy a decadent Spa experience.  We know how important it is to relax and recharge mind, body and soul, due to the pace of the world these days and the growing demands on us all.
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Nyumbani Estate is located on the conservancy of Blue Canyon with a magnificent backdrop of the Klein Drakensberg mountain range.  The game drive offers some beautiful river bed drives, red soil roads, 4 x 4 driving and some amazing trees, plants, bird life and thousands of small creature entertainment.  All this, plus your big game experience makes Nyumbani Estate something quite special.
Written by Maxine Smith – Director, Nyumbani Estate

Conservation

The word “conservation” is defined as……. In the strictest sense of the word, a tourist on safari should have nothing to do with conservation, as the two are simply worlds apart. A tourist requires a lovely bed, fine dining, and a comfortable vehicle to view animals from. This will mean that the environment will have to be altered to build a permanent structure or structures in order to accommodate all of this. Roads will have to be built. Trees, grass and shrubs will have to be cleared to make way for the lodges. Water will have to be pumped into reservoirs, sewage will have to be disposed of, and of course all the refuse needs to be disposed of. The vehicles will burn fuel and cause fumes. All of this will have a major impact on the immediate environment and in effect heads in the opposite direction to conservation. However the reality is that without your love of animals and your desire to see them in their natural habitat, there would be no demand to protect these areas, and they would simply be swept away and wiped out in the name of progress. Without safari tourism money, there would be no employment for the local population and local communities would therefore struggle to sustain themselves. The animals would be hunted for the pot, and the land turned into agriculture. The money and demand created from safari tourism creates a need for conservation, to study and understand all the living creatures in an ecosystem, and the impact that any changes would have on them. Conservation helps us understand how to ensure all of this is managed and sustained for the enjoyment of generations to come whilst gaining knowledge and understanding of an environment rich in biodiversity. As a result, safari tourism and conservation actually go hand in hand, and it is seldom that the one can be mentioned without the other being considered.

Conservation is such a vast and widely diverse topic that one cannot even begin to try and embrace every aspect of the subject; from the studies of the tiniest microscopic insect that is restricted to a single tiny habitat, to the global effect of greenhouse gasses on our planet, and everything in between can fall under the category of conservation. We have concentrated on conservation within a safari environment in this introduction. The scope for expansion within this topic alone is vast, and can embrace the study of velvet mites, to the impact elephants have on a particular region during as a result of a severe drought, and once again, any one of millions of topics in between.

Written by Ian Smith – Nyumbani Estate

My First Safari

I was one of those urban folk, born on a pavement, living and working in a City, never having the time to explore the country I lived in and embrace the diverse outdoor lifestyle that is available in South Africa.  This was until one day, leading up to Easter break after an exhausting first quarter working year.  Having a chat with a business associate, I was asked of my plans for the Easter holidays.  I struggled to answer him; I really wanted to get away and do something totally different to what I would normally do.  My colleague suggested I go on a Safari, not only that, he picked up the phone, called a contact and bingo; my first safari trip was set in motion, we were all booked in to go to Bongani Mountain Lodge, Nr. Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

“I really wanted to get away and do something totally different to what I would normally do”

 I had no idea what to expect, all my colleague cautioned me about was the evenings and mornings may be a bit chilly that time of year and to pack some warm clothing.  Also, to pack my own set of binoculars, which is a piece of advice that I now pass on to others as the settings to get your bino’s to where you can get the best viewing takes a little time.  Imagine the frustration for someone else to randomly pick up your bino’s and tweak them around to suit them and when you get that sighting moment, you pick up your bino’s and everything is a blur – very frustrating!  That was the full extent of my preparations.  I went into my first safari experience with no knowledge and no expectations.

In our booking instructions to the Lodge, we were given directions and told to be at the gate by midday.  In our excitement, our route calculations were out as we planned to get there on time, but ended up arriving way early at 9am – so we had to entertain ourselves for 3 hours.  We found a dirt road near the Lodge gate and went off exploring.  It was great fun, having come out of the City to being in such a rural off-the-track surrounding was liberating, we had a great drive out and got back to the gate, on time.

At the gate we were told to park up and leave the keys of our vehicle with security, which we done.  The resident Game Ranger arrived in a game viewer to take us through to the Lodge.  Thus the beginning of our safari experience and our very first game drive ever taken.  Being on an open vehicle knowing that out there, in the bush all around us we were amongst the Big 5.  The feeling was exhilarating.  We heard every sound with all the varieties of birds, beetles, frogs and animals; all singing us in as we ventured on the windy dirt roads to the main lodge.  On arrival we received a warm welcome by the Lodge staff, was handed a refreshing face towel and given a welcome drink to refresh us from our journey.  Once registered as guests, we were given a briefing on the do’s and the don’ts of the bush before being taken to our room, which was a luxury bush tent.  That was the first of many ‘WOW’ factors, our cases were already there waiting for us.  We had a good nosey around to check the place out and was impressed.  We freshened-up, changed and headed back up to the main Lodge to embark on our first sunset game drive.

“Being on an open vehicle knowing that out there, in the bush all around us we were amongst the Big 5.  The feeling was exhilarating”

The next WOW was the pure beauty of the African sunset, coming out of the City, you simply have no idea of the wonderments of the colours in the sky as the sun sets within a backdrop of nature.  We had a chorus of bush sounds whispering in our ears as we looked into the sun as she set, toasting the evening with sundowner drinks, breathing that restful sigh that only a safari can stimulate.  Now, this was Africa, I fell in love!

With sunset over, almost as soon as it began (never fails to amaze me how quickly the sun sets in Africa), the darkness set in and off we headed for our first night game drive, in search of the night predators.  It wasn’t long before we came across our first experience of Lion.  Heading through the reserve, the trackers spotted Lion spoor (paw prints of animals) and sure enough in the not too distant track ahead was a beautiful pride of 12 Lions (Lionesses with cubs and Lions).  The first thing that struck us was the absolute sense of total power, utter confidence and domination that Lions exhume, without doubt, they are the Kings and Queens of the bush.  We were mesmerised from then.  We drove for hours, listening as young children would as their parents read a bedtime story; we were, all ears, all excited as we learnt of the animals of the bush.  Needless to say, our sleep that night was a restful one, I am sure I went to sleep with a smile on my face and awoke with one too.

The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn, washed, dressed and raring to head out to our first dawn game drive.  The morning was fresh and still very dark.  After some hot coffee and rusks, we headed out.  We didn’t have to go far as right there, at the other end of the camp we were greeted by a large male Leopard, a beautiful specimen he was, so elegant in his posture, his movement, his presence.  From that day, I have been besotted with Leopard; I crave to get sight of them.  The scariest thought for me was, what if we had not taken seriously what the staff had told me in our welcome briefing and had ventured out for a morning stroll when we got up.  We would have walked straight into that Leopard, what then – shudder down my spine moment.  We continued on drive with our eyes peeled onto the ground looking for spoor and our eyes also peeled into the bush with our spotting torches seeking out any sign of movement.  We were now well and truly bush crazy.

“We would have walked straight into that Leopard, what then – shudder down our spine moment”

We had only booked a three-night stay for our first safari and those days were so full with so many new experiences, so much knowledge and information.  The Head Ranger of the Lodge was our Game Guide, which was a real blessing as he was so knowledgeable and so passionate about the bush.  He knew everything and were we craving knowledge so it was a match made in heaven as he talked about everything he saw.  He taught us how to survive in the Bush, talked about the trees, the small creatures that you would never even think to consider.  He stopped for everything because in his opinion, everything was important, everything had its part to play and everything had an impact.  Being a naturally inquisitive person, I was enthralled and hooked from that weekend, our first experience into the African Bush.

The evenings, if not out on a night game drive, generally consisted of being hosted by the Lodge team with delicious wholesome homemade Bush camp dining, washed down by some of the best of South African wines.  What more could you ask for.  We were due to be pampered on our last night with some ‘Bush entertainment’, however, sometime during late afternoon the entertainers had to cancel, which left the Lodge with an empty entertainment slot for their guests.  True to form of ‘making a plan’ the team at Bongani were quick and between the staff, the Game Rangers and Management, they provided an evening of entertainment at the Boma (an outside coral surrounded by latte wood with a central large fire bowl).  After supper we were entertained with an array of cultural singing and stories, which kept us well entertained into the early hours.  I am sure the entertainment of that evening far outshone anything the paid entertainers could have provided, it was excellent, a perfect end to a magnificent trip.

On leaving, we were both exhilarated, yearning to learn more and wanting to own a piece of the bush – just for us.  You could say I came away with ‘Bush fever’ as it is something I have never recovered from since my first weekend in the African bush – it is a fever I never wish to be released from, ever.

Written by Ian & Maxine Smith – Executive Directors – Nyumbani Estate

How Buying a Second Property Abroad Can Significantly Improve Your Lifestyle

Buying a property in another country is not as unthinkable as some people make it out to be.  Like anything else, when spending money you need to do your homework.  Things like researching the opportunity, investigating the options, covering the practicalities, having a clear idea of costs etc., these are all key components to creating a success business plan.  This type of property acquisition is what we refer to as a ‘live’ investment.  There are many types of investments one can consider when it comes to property acquisition abroad.  For this article, we are referring to the following:

  • Owning a home in the sun
  • Owning a home in a unique and exclusive setting – African Safari
  • Low personal occupancy – not intending to have high occupancy of this home (periodic use only)

Let us explain,

To acquire a property that is (1) not in your base country and (2) not your primary place of residence; requires a range of support and protection assurances.  These are realised in the following requirements:

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These four factors are particularly applicable in foreign real estate portfolios as this requires hands-on property management and property services.  Only then will it be possible for you to enjoy the benefits of acquiring a diverse property portfolio, increasing your net worth, and acquiring a lifestyle opportunity; all of this whilst having the comfort in knowing your investment is working for you without the need of your time or intervention.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear this all the time (I hear you saying).  Listen up, we are not speculating here, this is a well tested working model were are talking about, here are the critical paths to a successful second home opportunity:

Location, location, location – when considering where to buy, there are some show-stoppers to apply to trigger the Yes or No button:

  • Is this a high demand location?
  • Is the land/property accessible?
  • Is the building and building services affordable?
  • Will the build quality be high?
  • What are the land topography considerations?  (An understanding of the fauna and flora)?

Legal & Tax Frameworks

  • Is there a route to purchase by a foreign investor?
  • Is there a robust legal system to uphold contracts and agreements?
  • Are there favourable tax routes for this investment?
  • What are the historical forex trends?

Service & Maintenance

  • Are there any maintenance and service contracts for the management of the property and land?
  • Is there a range of affordable labour options?
  • Is the property maintenance and service costs affordable?
  • Insurance options?

Sustainability

  • Can the property pay for itself?
  • Is there any commercial opportunities?
  • What are the selling trends of properties?
  • What are the development opportunities?

Is this an affordable opportunity for me?

  • Do I have any surplus cash that I do not need to depend on?
  • Can the investment be shared i.e. syndicate, consortium, partnerships?
  • Is there any security available?
  • What is the period(s) of investment?
  • Is this a cash or mortgage/bond investment?
  • Is this a trust fund or legacy opportunity?

As said in the introduction, if you take off any ‘rose tinted spectacles’ and apply a practical business approach to securing a second home abroad portfolio, the outline provided will create a clear road for you to make a worthy investment journey.  In our experience, second home opportunities hold high value in providing investment, lifestyle, and life-changing considerations.  Lifestyle trends within modern society dictate a living-to-work philosophy.  We believe embarking on second home abroad portfolio affords you the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labour whilst you are still fit and healthy to do so.

Maxine Smith – Executive Director – Nyumbani Estate

Monkeys in South Africa

Did you know there are over 250 species of monkeys around the world?  Quite a number, and when you consider the size of South Africa, only 2 of the 250 come from there.   These are the Vervet Monkey and the Samango Monkey.  Of the two species, Samango monkeys are not wide spread or common in South Africa as they tend to reside in the coastal forests of Kwa Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape, and the Afromontane forests of Mpumalanga.

Just like in the human world the female Vervet monkey is fiercely maternal.  She remains constantly with her young offspring, staying loyal to them for as long as she remains useful.  Unlike the male, who mates, then roams about from troop to troop, in different social groups throughout their years.

Like us, they are pretty affectionate and tactile creatures; I don’t mean by giving a nice cuddle or kiss.  No, their affection is displayed in their grooming rituals where they take the time to work through each others coats of fur, removing parasites, dirt and other bits.

So, whilst you are on your game drive keep an eye out for these funny little monkeys.  They can sometimes be elusive due to their many predators as they are vulnerable to Leopard, Caracal, Servals, Baboons, large Eagles, Crocodiles and Pythons, and more.

So many wonderful animals that make up the diversity of amazing game drives.

Sandra Stuart – Executive Support, Nyumbani Estate

Nyumbani Estate – Boma Camp update

We are very excited to be able to share with you the first part of the Nyumbani Estate development. The venture is to develop a private residential estate set in a big game safari reserve. The development will consist of no more than 18 luxury private residential 3 – bed homes, all serviced by a main lodge. The properties is being sold off plan, which means all aspects of the project has already been conducted; feasibility, architect, surveyors, design, planning, costs, legal, financial and preliminary marketing. The venture is ready for the next stage of development and marketing.

As with any high value product, we believe the best message to be delivered is the one that comes right out of the product itself. For that reason, we decided to develop a Boma Camp holiday opportunity on the Estate that could be utilised as a beautiful, rustic, private safari experience; prior to any infrastructure development of the estate. As you can imagine, this creates some challenges, but we have overcome them, the main ones being water supply, electricity and similar practical solutions for a land prior to formal development. Our solutions fall in line with the ethos of the venture. What is a ‘Boma’ Camp? A Boma is an enclosed area where people come together to share company, enjoy good food, experience outdoor living whilst having some form of protection usually via a wooden fencing within a camp. We have utilised that concept to create a Boma Camp setting for two well-presented double bed chalets, set against the backdrop of the Klein Drakensberg (Afrikaans for small dragon mountains) mountain range. Serviced by very comfortable, earthy and decadent lounge, dining and appropriately placed facilities to ensure your needs are accommodated without being too intrusive to your yearning for a natural experience and interaction in the Wilds. We believe in low-impact intrusion to land development, we believe in complimentary conservation with wildlife and humans. We believe creating a quaint, homely, fully serviced and very private Boma Camp in the Bush; will provide anyone who desires to experience the Nyumbani Estate in its infancy, whilst possibly considering purchasing a Nyumbani Estate private home off plan. This will be the best and most perfect opportunity for you to consider. You can enjoy a 3 – 5 day stay on Nyumbani Estate Boma Camp, with a real back to nature experience in a fully self-contained bush camp setting. The Estate will be high-end and fully managed. The Boma Camp offers a different, more discerning interaction on the Estate and in Safari. See video of the Boma Camp under construction on our Facebook page: Boma Camp construction

Maxine Smith – Executive Director – Nyumbani Estate

Love ‘in’ Safari ….

If you consider a honeymoon and the fact that it is one of the most indulgent, expensive holidays you may ever have. It will be over-loaded with high expectations and one of the most important decisions you can ever make as it is usually at the ‘let’s make a great impression’ stage of the relationship. It really puts the pressure on the question of “where do we book for our honeymoon, darling”?

If you research this question, you will come up with reams of paper calling you to lingering romantic sounding destinations such as; Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand, Bora Bora, Panama, Caribbean, Zanzibar, Cook Islands etc., the list is long. On that list, (if you stick at your research long enough), you will come across Cape Tow, South Africa. That in itself surprised us, but what was really shocking to us was the complete omission of South African Safari as a high on the list of honeymoon destinations. This intrigued us immensely because all you need to do is park yourself up at either Eastgate Airport, Hoedspruit, or the Hendrik Van Eck Airport, Phalaborwa (both South African Safari based airports) to watch the plane come in and see how many couples walk off, hand-in-hand, beaming smiles and with shiny new wedding rings of their fingers; a lot! We can say in all honesty that we rarely experience a safari interaction that does not have at least one honeymoon couple there. We would even go as far as to say ‘if you weren’t married when you first experienced your first safari, you will come back to your second as a married couple’.

Why is this so, well, there is an element of the romantic safari being one of the tourism industries best kept secret. We believe this is so in order to preserve that ultimate decadence of exclusivity, that exceptional dedicated service that makes you feel that you are the most important thing ever to that Lodge or that Game Ranger; as you are being taken around with due care and attention in making sure your experience is the best ever. We are talking of that unique personal greeting when you arrive of having something special, of one of your favourites likes. It may be having lavender scent on your face towel in your arrival pack (when your favourite scent is Lavender), or your favourite soft drink to quench your thirst in the heat of the African sun, or knowing to place you on the front of the vehicle (because we just happen to have taken the time and effort to find out that you get motion sickness if you sit at the back of the vehicle, especially on the back axel). It will be these kind of ‘special touches’ that come with the best of safari’s that gives you that second ‘falling in love’ feeling. It wasn’t enough that you fell in love with your partner, you will fall in love all over again with an African Safari, of that, we can guarantee!

As you disembark the airplane you have already shaken off the stresses and worries of your daily life and routines. As you take the drive from the airport to the Safari destination you will experience a deep and rich sigh. This is not a sigh of anxiety but one of that “aah, this is so beautiful’. In fact, prepare to be WOW’d, but in the most laid-back and natural way from things like; as you drive out of the airport “is that a Giraffe”? or, “oh my, what a stunning view”, as your eyes take in the breathtaking scenery. All this and you are still in transit. The next WOW is arrival at your luxury Lodge or Camp as you take in the splendour of the location, the accommodation and the hospitality. All of this, yet nothing will prepare you for your first experience of predatory game in their natural surrounds. Or, of the first sighting of a large lone bull Elephant as you are being driven through the Reserve. Whilst you may have grown up with images of Elephants, nothing will prepare you for the size of them, how quiet they walk through the Bush, how you can see nothing but trees and bush one minute then POW, an Elephant or a herd of Elephants is suddenly there ahead of you. Nothing will prepare you for that first sighting of Lion (the Kings of the Bush), or the athletic Cheetah, or the majestic Leopard.

When in love, you may be familiar with the whispers of sweet nothings in your ear from your lover. On Safari, you will experience the whispers of the Bush, as everything talks to you through the whispers of trees, of the birds as they busy themselves with their nest building or mating calls or hunting; of the Impala or Kudu or Waterbuck in rutting season, of the Cicada beetle in the summer season as their wings rub against each other or the frogs singing their mating calls.

Then you experience the pleasures of love through food. Exquisitely prepared cuisine enriched in flavours and so carefully prepared and decorated. South Africa has some of the best cuisine and the best wines in the world. Or the amazing sounds of African music and sight of African tribal dancing.

As our heading implies, there is ‘Love’ and ‘Loving’ when it comes to Safari in South Africa, it is one of the most romantic of destinations we can ever think of, in the world.

Maxine Smith – Executive Director – Nyumbani Estate