Located close to the Garden Route and a short drive from the popular sunny beaches, the Eastern Cape is the perfect choice for a safari experience. Malaria-free, truly stunning scenery and minimal crowds – it sits amongst our top choice for a game drive.
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is situated 65km north of Port Elizabeth, in the area of the Sunday’s River Valley. The game is extensive and includes elephant, lion, Burchell’s zebra, grey duiker, kudu, ostrich, black rhino, red hartebeest, warthog, Cape buffalo, eland, black-backed Jackal, leopard (Zuurberg), Cape grysbok, bat-eared fox, spotted hyena, and small-spotted genet. If you are a twitcher, Addo National Park is also home to an incredible 320 recorded bird species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle found almost exclusively there.
When it comes to accommodation – look no further than Gorah Elephant Camp and Gorah House. Situated in a 5000 hectare conservancy, it spoils guests with a classic safari experience with luxurious touches. The Camp is perfect for those romantic getaways with ten stunning thatched tents, all equipped with comfy beds, private en-suite, and a view across the plains that will not be quickly forgotten. At Gorah House – a National Monument building – you can watch the elephants gather around the waterhole before retreating to the boma for an authentic meal. With two game drives per day, bush walks and the option for game viewing by horseback, you will never leave with the feeling you missed out on something.
Amakhala Reserve provides some of the finest game viewing – with all of the Big Five heavily present. What that will be especially memorable here are the sightings of cheetah and elephant that can be witnessed. You have to remember to be quick with your camera though, as you can also witness vast herds of antelope, wildebeest, and giraffe - not to mention the prolific birdlife.
For a romantic stay we recommend the Amakhala Bush Lodge. Offering an unforgettable and intimate stay, you can escape during the day on game drive, to return to your luxury tent with private plunge pool. Sit back, relax and accompanied by a sun-downer, watch Africa’s famous sunsets. If you are looking for something more child-friendly take the troops to Leeuwenbosch Country House, a beautifully restored, colonial house with five suites, a baby-sitting service and a children’s programme. A top tip is to retreat to the local stone pub after a game drive, and listen to the tall tales of the property’s original owner who still lives on the reserve.
Samara Private Game Reserve
Samara Private Game Reserve is a 70,000-acre reserve in the heart of the Great Karoo, near Graaff-Reinet. The owners, Mark and Sarah Tompkins, are passionate about maintaining this impressive expanse of land as well as the endangered species that live here - the Cape Mountain Zebra and South Africa's national bird, the Blue Crane.
There are three lodges: Karoo Lodge, the Mountain Retreat and the Manor House (sole-use) have awe-inspiring views over the Karoo, which can be enjoyed from their expansive verandas. Rooms carry an elegant décor and are perfectly suited for those seeking privacy, romance and authentic charm. Children are very welcome and baby-sitting services are available. However, only children aged eight and over are allowed on scheduled game drives. For under-eights, Samara offers a shortened, kiddies-only ‘Bumble Game Drive’. Take advantage of the proximity to Graaff-Reinet and visit this historic town, and the nearby quirky Nieu-Bethesda - home to the famous Owl House. The Valley of Desolation, within the Camdeboo National Park, provides one of the most breathtaking vantage points across the Karoo and is well worth a visit.
Kwandwe covers an extensive 25,000 hectares of farmland, which was restored and restocked with African wildlife. Today, thousands of animals including lion, black and white rhino, buffalo and elephant roam this fascinating reserve. Kwandwe, appropriately meaning "Place of the Blue Crane" - is home to a population of these rare birds, making any bird watchers day truly special.
This area is all about small, secluded and stunning properties. Two of our favourites, Ecca Lodge and Great Fish River Lodge are based here, and will make for a fantastic stay. Ecca Lodge, with its six spacious suits, is stylish with a contemporary flare, and with it being built on a hillside it offers out-of-this-world views across the reserve. While on the flip side Great Fish River Lodge has a classic feel with natural, earthy tones. There are nine suites which take advantage over the scenery and offers fantastic game drives.
Speak to one of our travel experts for more information on Eastern Cape safaris, or call 020 7843 3500.
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