Actress, singer and new mom, Simphiwe Ngema retreats on a getaway to the Klein Karoo’s Sanbona Wildlife Reserve with her parents, Given and Ethel Ngema.

Simphiwe Ngema shot to fame as Thuli Nkosi on SABC 2’s Muvhango. Since then, she’s loved and lost, became a mom, and welcomed her baby boy, Tinyani into the world. In need of a well-deserved break to relax and reflect on the year that’s been, Simphiwe retreats into the Klein Karoo with her parents to connect with nature and with her family.

Simphiwe Ngema and her parents, Ethel and Given, share a welcome drink at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve.

Set along Route 62 at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains in the Klein Karoo is a wildlife reserve like no other. Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is conservation success story and has seen the Big 5 returning to the area after being hunted centuries ago.

Sanbona’s Paul Vorster shares what makes their little corner of the world so special, saying, “We have 60,000 hectares of land but we only have 3 commercial lodges that hosts only 27 rooms”.

There’s the Gondwana Family Lodge, a 12 suite lodge specifically for families to share. Next is the Tilney Manor, an old farm house behind the mountain. Finally, there’s the secluded Dwyka Tented Lodge that rests on a cliff facing a beautiful river bend.

For new mom Simphiwe, this family retreat is a breath of fresh air. With little Tinyani happily spending time with his aunts back home, Simphiwe can really soak up her first experience of travel since lockdown.

“Being a new mom has been challenging, but it’s been beautiful at the same time. The first two months are hectic with all the sleepless nights and trying to get to know your baby. But eventually, once you get it right, it’s an amazing experience and it’s worth it”, shares Simphiwe.

After tragically losing her late husband only a few months after they were married in 2017, Simphiwe found new love with model and TV presenter, Tino Chinyani. To protect their privacy, the couple chose to keep the pregnancy a secret. Simphiwe explains, “My pregnancy journey was something for me”.

It’s Simphiwe’s parents who taught her the greatest lessons when it comes to life and motherhood. Many of these lessons Given and Ethel taught their three children, Simphiwe promises to pass down to her own baby boy.

“They’ve always taught us that family is so important, and that at the end of the day, family is all you have”, Simphiwe shares. “That relationship has to be stable and strong because when you have people around you that love you, you can achieve anything”.

The Ngema family connect over the activities and sites at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. Spread across 60,000 hectares of arid Klein Karoo land is the home of free-roaming game and predators. With conservation at the heart of Sanbona, their aim is to restore and maintain.  

Given, Ethel, and Simphiwe enjoy the game drives across three difference biomes and natural habitats where they spot giraffes, elephants, cheetahs and even the endangered white rhinos.

The aim at Sanbona is to create balance between these critically important ecosystems, endangered wildlife, and flora so that they prosper for future generations to enjoy. 

The Klein Karoo is rich in plant species. The arid area is unparalleled in the world. Senior ranger, Casper Bester explains, “The Little Karoo is home to more than 4,000 species of plants. Roughly half of that 4,000 species is endemic to the Little Karoo area, meaning they won’t be found anywhere else in the world”.

Sanbona are also proud custodians to some of South Africa’s natural heritage: Rock Art. This ancient art is some of the only evidence that remains of the San and Khoi people and their way of life. The art dates back to as far as 5,000 years ago and offers a glimpse into a world that used to be – one that is symbiotic with nature.

As the Ngema’s round off their retreat, Simphiwe shares, “This feels like God is here. It feels like we’re one with nature and it feels like beautiful place where you can just pray”. What made the trip even more special was spending it with the two people who will love her unconditionally.

Heading out into nature with family was the perfect way for Simphiwe to pause and reflect before continuing on this exciting chapter in her life: being a mom.