Nimeng Safaris – a quiet place
Nelius Mostert of Fieldsparrow writes about his experiences during a visit to Nimeng Safaris in February this year.
My trusted double-cab’s wheels hummed a song and cool air blew in through the open window as I drove north on the open road toward Vivo – and more importantly, Nimeng Safaris, where I knew another adventure awaited me. As always, calmness beset me the moment I passed the last buildings and signs of city life.
There is something revitalising about a long road trip that allows you hours of thinking time and at the same time gives you a feeling of really getting away from it all – far enough to make you actually forget the rat race. But let me tell you where it all started.
It was on a quiet December day in Louis Trichardt (Makhado) when I walked into the local bow shop to have some repairs done. We all love hanging out with these friendly shop owners and staff, talking about past hunts and planned safaris. This is where I first met Etienne Ernst.
At first we talked about hunting in general, but it soon became clear that Etienne had a passion for two things. One was the opportunity to give back to Africa the majesty of the wild beasts that once freely roamed its beloved plains, and the other was a passion to do things right, concerning building a house for bow hunting and archery that would stand the test of time and become a legacy for future generations. A big bite off a big apple, you will agree. But there was enthusiasm akin to that of a child and the authority of a man I saw in front of me that calmly projected the experience of someone who had taken on bull-fights of the same magnitude in the past and had clearly stepped out victoriously.
Etienne told me he had been so fortunate as to become the owner of almost 3 000 Ha of prime hunting land not far from Vivo and Alldays in the Limpopo province, South Africa’s hunting capital. That is why I found myself on the road again – to go and see for myself why he and his team would make a difference on the proverbially well-used road of hundreds of game farmers, trying to either make a quick buck in our fast-growing bow-hunting industry in South Africa or simply trying to do just the same.
Standing at the entrance, overlooking a lush green and healthy bushveld creating a valley up to the foothills of the Soutpansberg mountains’ magnificent cliffs reaching into the blue, I also knew that Nimeng Safaris has some awesome photographic moments waiting to be explored.
Eduard Nel, Nimeng’s manager as well as professional hunter and guide, greeted me at the lodge and made me feel welcome in no time. He showed me around and I must say the facilities were more than good enough for even the discerning hunter. Nimeng boasts two lodging plots, totalling eight rooms hosting 17 single and double beds. Some rooms even have en-suite bathroom facilities. There are three self-catering kitchens with enough comfortable equipment to make a cook feel at home instantly. When construction are done there will be accommodation for a total of 30 people.
That evening Etienne told me how he planned to make Nimeng Safaris one of the finest hunting destinations in South Africa. I enjoyed his practical ideas with a cool drink and a perfect little fire that created a warm atmosphere under one of the large trees that made up the roof of the boma.
After a good night’s sleep and a quick breakfast, we got onto the game-viewer Cruiser and against the backdrop of a beautiful African sunrise were off to have a look at what Nimeng was actually about. There had been a late thunderstorm the previous evening and everything was washed clean, leaving a crispness in the air and a little chill that promised cool winter times ahead.
Our first stops were at all of the current seven blinds Nimeng had to offer. Four are pit blinds of about 1,3 metres deep, laid out with cement and bricks, high enough for even a tall fellow with a longbow and large enough to host hunter, guide, observer and cameraman. It became clear that Etienne and his team had gone to some lengths to research the needs of the modern bow hunter. These blinds will be popular because they have thatched roofs to combat extreme temperatures. They are comfortably big and have good viewing ports. I could see immediately by the spoor around the watering holes that there was action around the hides already, providing a wide variety of animals to the hunter. Nimeng also has two ground blinds and one elevated blind and another five blinds of different types are currently in construction.
There having been no hunting on Nimeng for around four years has made most of the game quite “tame” and we could get close to them for pictures and enjoyment. These things are the pride of what we bow hunters leave for the next generations.
Concerning the rest of what a hunter and trophy taker needs, I was very impressed with the meat-care facilities. Only the best equipment was available and there was enough space to work on at least three large carcasses at any given time. The cold-room was large enough to hold around twenty kudu-sized animals.
For the eco-tourist there is much to enjoy as well. Game is plentiful and if I wasn’t looking at animals from the vehicle, I was enjoying the spoor left earlier after the thunderstorm and which clearly showed me that the animals were well spread over the bush.
Nimeng currently hosts more than 200 kudu, along with loads of impala, zebra, wildebeest, Cape and Livingstone eland, giraffe, warthogs, bush pigs, steenbuck, duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck, and blesbuck. Animals still to be relocated here are nyala, sable and Cape buffalo.
Current predators are brown hyena, spotted hyena, jackal, and leopard, of which there are plenty. Birdlife is abundant and bird watchers will enjoy seeing red-billed oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus), gompou or kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) and blue crane (Anthropoides paradisea), to name but a few. This area of Limpopo also is famed for its wide variety of large trees, with the famous baobab (Adansonia digitata), marula (Sclerocarya birrea) and tamboti (Spirostachys Africana) spreading welcome shade all over.
Plans to offer a very challenging 4x4 track, hiking routes, 3D archery range, corporate venue and archery competitions are on the drawing board already and promise to boost Nimeng’s popularity in the months to come.
For this coming hunting season, I give Nimeng a definite excellent self-catering thumbs-up. It is definitely a must-book for hunter, family and friends. Though I felt sorry to leave, I knew I would see myself driving through these gates again, next time hopefully with time to hunt a trophy and show Nimeng to my hunting buddies.