Memories from the N’wanetsi Concession

For the past two and a half years, I have explored the beautiful N’wanetsi Concession that is home to Singita Lebombo and Sweni, and I have had the privilege of sharing this wilderness with a number of guests from around the world.

On so many occasions, being in this wilderness area has taken my breath away.  Leaving this area now is conjuring up many emotions — emotions that are ultimately being transformed into ever-lasting memories.

If I think about what makes me cherish the N’wanetsi Concession so much, I’d have to say that it’s the area’s sheer unpredictability. Nestled in the central eastern parts of the Kruger National Park, the wilderness of the N’wanetsi Concession is bordered by more wilderness. There are no other safari operators in the area, no other lodges, no other people.

Every day, we guides and trackers rely totally on ourselves to find animals. We are equipped only with a keen eyesight, tracking skills, and our knowledge of animal movements and habitat preferences.

Excitement mounts as we search for any clues that may lead us to find a specific animal. Patience is required as well. When we do find what we set out to look for, the search for animals can end up being extremely rewarding. When we do not find what we were looking for, frustration can creep in. Nevertheless, because the results are unpredictable, the search is inevitably exciting.

I have had the good fortune to work almost exclusively with Sunday Ndlovu, one of South Africa’s best trackers. His skills, passion, patience, and determination make him an incredible partner when one is searching for animals. And Sunday’s engaging personality, sense of humour, and contagious smile make him a pleasure to work with on a day-to-day basis. I retain vivid memories of our experiences together, many of which I cannot help smiling about when recollecting them. Sunday and I have made a great team, and I will sorely miss not working with him.

As I prepare to leave the N’wanetsi Concession for Singita Sabi Sand, I would like to pay a small tribute to the incredible moments that I have experienced over the past two and a half years. Here are photographic highlights of some of my favourites.

Giraffes are generally quite abundant on the N’wanetsi Concession, and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing these beautiful giants in this unique landscape.

The striking beauty of some of the rocky tors often took my attention away from looking for animals. Here, we were lucky enough to enjoy both the elephant and the landscape at the same time.

Here is another view of one of the more impressive rock structures that I was able to admire every time I drove along the Granophyre Ridge.

I never tired seeing a classic Lebombo sunrise with silhouetted Euphorbia trees.

Although rhino viewing here can be quite challenging, we were lucky to come across this beautiful white rhino bull thanks to Sunday’s incredible spotting skills.

The Mountain Pride, despite not being as numerous as some of the other prides in this area, has been my favourite to follow. The core of their territory is in the heart of the N’wanetsi Concession, and as such, we have gotten to know these lions quite well.

This small group of zebras wander off at dusk in preparation for the night. The high density of zebras in this part of the Kruger has been incredible to witness.

A large flock of Cape Glossy Starlings drink from a drying pan. These birds are strikingly beautiful, especially when the sunlight reflects off of their iridescent feathers.

Some of my most exciting mornings on the N’wanetsi Concession have always started with tracks. In this case, we found a set of fresh lion tracks along the road. After following them with the vehicle and on foot, we were eventually able to find the lions.

My good friend and colleague Sunday Ndlovu poses with some elephants in the background. Sunday’s last name, Ndlovu, means “elephant” … so I find this photo rather fitting.

This large pride of lions, known as the Shishangaan Pride, made a surprise appearance on our concession late one morning. With the N’wanetsi Concession being part of an open wilderness system, you never know what you will come across. It truly is unpredictable.

To celebrate the end of our two and a half years of working together, Sunday and I enjoyed a wonderful sundowner on top of the Lebombo Mountains.