The word Shayamanzi is Zulu and means to ‘hit the water’. And what a beautiful way to do it. Reclining on a deck chair with the breeze tickling through my hair as I sip champagne from a flute and reflect on the azure skies.
This is what you can experience on Shayamanzi 1, the 25m by 8m pontoon houseboat launched in 2002 with 6 en suite cabins, 4 crew, 2 tender boats and a 12 seater jacuzzi. Taking a per cabin cruise ensures you have a wonderful game viewing, fishing and relaxing experience wrapped into one, while having the freedom to meet new people and participate in the crew’s hospitality.
Depending on what your objective is for your trip, there are different times of the year to pack up your troubles and head to Northern KwaZulu-Natal to Lake Jozini to lose yourself in this adventure. From May – August is Cruising time. This means terrific game viewing and bird watching with cooler weather where temperatures average at about 22C. From September – April is prime Tiger fishing time – with morning and afternoon being the best where temperatures average at about 34C.
For me Tiger fishing is exhilarating. I caught both my first and biggest Tiger here under the watchful eye of the humorous Captain Bramson and will never forget the feeling of elation I had as I returned my opponent to the water and the sun sizzled below the horizon. I have lost many since then and caught a few too, but it remains neatly filed in my memory banks under ‘Great Adventures’. I have also had the pleasure of witnessing a herd of elephant with little babies head to the water to drink while lazy crocs evacuated and hippos yawned wide a ways off.
One of the more unusual experiences was having a crocodile youngster surface a few metres away from the tender boat the one afternoon when out fishing, only to have it silently slip under into the depths never to be seen again. This left me with a silly grin and my heart beating almost out of my chest.
Lake Jozini, like many large bodies of water in South Africa is currently only 35% capacity with the drought marching on. Even with the water levels being low, visiting this area is still a beautiful experience with hills of green and sparkling Lake that seems to go on for hours.
The other thing that gives me great joy is socialising with people over a meal. This is one of the great joys of visiting Shayamanzi. The meals are generous and lovingly prepared. There is no time to experience a gnawing hunger in the pit of your stomach because there is food aplenty. Thank you to Captain Anthony Mzileni, 2nd Captain Adam Mereki and Chef Mike Phiri, as well as the rest of the crew for such an engaging experience.
Look, I am going to be honest. I have been blessed to have visited this destination a few times. I have always walked away trying to plan the next trip. I came to thinking ‘what is it that creates such a winning experience?’ The superb hospitality and genuine care displayed, the exquisite food, the beauty of the surroundings, the quiet of the night and the excitement of a formidable quarry. May I recommend something though? The most magnificent experiences I have had that lure me back into my dreamworld are always the ones I have shared. To know the joy of the participation and to see it reflected in another’s eyes is always a thrill for me and doubles my joy.
So, here is to hoping you are able to get a booking soon and sense what it is like to kick back with a coffee while watching the golden light fade and having your reel whine while a Tiger runs off with your bait. Be blessed.
You can follow the adventures on:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/shayamanzisa/
Until next time…….See you on the road.