Located on the banks of the Komati River in Mpumalanga, surrounded by towering mountains and impressive grasslands, lies the Nkomazi Private Game Reserve, managed by NEWMARK Hotels & Reserves.
This untouched tract of land, south-west of the Kruger National Park, stretches over 15 000 hectares and is home to a vastly diverse ecosystem, a plethora of animal species and an abundance of birdlife.
Now, the introduction of horseback safari experiences at Nkomazi means that visitors to this luxe glamping lodge, which is known as the ultimate safari offering, can enjoy up-close-and-personal five-star game experiences. Guests will be able to potentially spot the Big 4 – lion, leopard, elephant, and Cape buffalo – as well as the endangered cheetah, and a multitude of plain game. There are also over 300 bird species on the reserve.
The horseback safaris are operated by The Horse Safari Company which is based on the reserve. Owner and hands-on operating manager. Tamlyn Whitebread, explains that the safaris are best suited to experienced riders who can look forward to a bucket list experience.
“On a horseback safari, you go from being a spectator to an active part of the landscape and nature. Riders get off-the-beaten-track, following trails made by the herds into wilderness areas that visitors in vehicles cannot access – allowing for some exciting and intimate wildlife sightings.”
The horseback safaris operate throughout the year and groups of no more than six riders are treated to a two-hour (average, depending on sightings) unforgettable horseback experience that meanders through Nkomazi’s continuous beauty of open plains, hills, rocky koppies, rivers, and mountains.
Accommodation at Nkomazi is presented as 14 luxury tents that are either river- or bush-facing and all boast air-conditioning, an en-suite bathroom, king or twin-size beds, an electronic safe and a writing desk. Outside, the deck with private splash pool, outdoor shower, and standalone Victorian bath completes this deluxe African experience.
Driving from Johannesburg takes three-and-a-half hours, with a further 25 minutes to the lodge from the entrance gate. Those travelling by flight can take a one-hour flight to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport via Johannesburg or a two-hour flight from Cape Town, or they can fly in by helicopter. Guests in 4x4s and SUVs can drive directly down to the lodge while those in vehicles with lower clearance level are collected from the main gate.
Other offerings at Nkomazi include game drives, birding safaris, guided nature walks, catch-and-release fly fishing, visits to bushman paintings on site, and rejuvenating pamper sessions at The River Retreat spa.
Keen stargazers can take a closer peek at the glittering galaxy through the high performance Celestron telescope. For those who can’t resist a bit of shopping, the small boutique in camp offers a selection of locally sourced crafts, body products and branded merchandise.