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South Africa

Eastern Cape game reserves holidays

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Easy peasy Eastern Cape

Safari holidays in the Eastern Cape are hugely popular. In the southeast of the country, this large province is conveniently located between two of South Africa’s large cities – Cape Town lies 450 miles to the west, while Durban is 550 miles away on the east coast. Nicely tucked away from the hustle and bustle, the Eastern Cape’s diverse plains – boosted by conservation efforts – host incredible wildlife, including the famous ‘Big Five’. But the key to the area’s success, perhaps, is its malaria-free status. This additional bonus makes the Eastern Cape game reserves a hassle-free option for your safari holiday, especially if you’re travelling with young children. 

Just a stone’s throw from the welcoming city of Port Elizabeth – where you’ll find great beaches for swimming, surfing and whale-watching – there’s a whole world of wilderness. Diverse national parks and private game reserves are filled with mammals, reptiles and birdlife. There are several Eastern Cape game reserves to choose from but, whichever one you go for, you can expect guided 4x4 game drives and cosy safari lodges. Amakhala Game Reserve, Kariega Game Reserve and Shamwari Private Game Reserve are all popular options, but you should also visit Addo Elephant National Park, if you have the chance. This place is famous for its 550 African elephants, as well as the rest of the ‘Big Five’ – buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard.

It’s best to visit the Eastern Cape game reserves in summer. South Africa’s seasons are the opposite of the UK, so summer runs from December to March. At this time of year, the long, dry days mean that the animals often congregate around waterholes, making them easier to spot on your safari. These sunny months are also a great time to see more of South Africa. You could extend your trip with a few days on the beach in Port Elizabeth. Or why not drive along the beautiful Garden Route, winding your way towards Cape Town? Whether you want to remain within the Eastern Cape or explore more of the Rainbow Nation, our travel experts will help you plan your perfect holiday.  

Shamwari Game Reserve

Kariega Game Reserve

Amakhala Game Reserve

Addo Elephant Park

Shamwari Game Reserve

Like many game reserves in the Eastern Cape, Shamwari has spent the last 25 years working to protect and preserve the area’s wildlife. Now, thanks to their efforts, it’s thriving. Home to all kinds of creatures, this exclusive spot has lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo, plus cheetah, giraffe and more. And, since Shamwari is a private game reserve, only those staying here have the privilege of seeing these incredible creatures. You’ll be able to head out on game drives at sunrise and dusk, with your knowledgeable guide on hand to point out the local wildlife.

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After your safari, you’ll return to your lodge to relax and reflect on your sightings. There’s a real variety of accommodation here, ranging from the luxurious Long Lee Manor to the tented camp of Bayethe. But Shamwari Eagles Crag is the star of the show. Nestled among the treetops, this five-star lodge has aerial viewing pods, where you can watch majestic eagles soar.

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Kariega Game Reserve

Stretching across 10,000 hectares, privately-owned Kariega Game Reserve is enormous. And yet, this malaria-free park only has a handful of lodges – so you can look forward to an intimate safari experience. When you stay here, you’ll go on two game drives a day in search of the ‘Big Five’. It’s highly likely you’ll see lazy lions, gentle elephants and painted zebra, but your guide will also be on the lookout for elusive leopards and shy rhinos. In between safaris, you can also enjoy a boat trip along the Kariega River, or go canoeing or fishing.

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Kariega has a selection of lodges to choose from. If you stay in Kariega Main Lodge, you’ll have fantastic views of the mountainous scenery, as each cabin has been designed to blend in with its surroundings. Or perhaps you’d prefer to stay in a luxury tented lodge? Down by the river, Kariega Settlers Drift has just nine tented suites, offering lovely views and all the modern comforts you need.

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Show Less

Amakhala Game Reserve

Amakhala Game Reserve is home to the ‘Big Five’ along with antelopes, monkeys, warthogs, zebra and more. But this place is also very proud of its diverse range of flora, so expect your safari guide to point out beautiful plants and trees, as well as the wildlife.

Show More
Show Less

The park may offer wonderful safaris and luxury lodges, but Amakhala Game Reserve has conservation at its core. This Eastern Cape game reserve came into being when local farmers joined forces to protect the area’s wildlife. Working together, they removed foreign vegetation and reintroduced native species, which went on to thrive. This commitment continues today at Amakhala, where dedicated teams monitor the progress of plant species and wildlife. The reserve also has strong connections to anti-poaching associations and the African Rhino Conservation Collaboration, to protect endangered creatures.

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Show Less

Addo Elephant Park

Covering 600 square miles, Addo Elephant National Park is home to all kinds of animals, including the ‘Big Five’. But, as the name suggests, the elephants are the park’s real pride and joy. Back in 1989, there were only 16 African elephants alive in the Greater Addo area. Today, thanks to the national park’s conservation efforts, there are more than 550.

Show More
Show Less

You can stay overnight in Addo Elephant Park, but it’s also a great place to go on a self-drive safari for the day – a satisfying to-do-list tick on your Eastern Cape holiday. Hop in your hire car and embrace your inner David Attenborough, as you meander along the game-viewing roads. The easy-to-follow network weaves across the park for 75 miles, and you’re sure to see plenty of grazing animals. But that’s not all. You can also hike along trails in to the Zuurberg Mountains, see ancient rock paintings in historic Kabouga, or go on a horseback safari.

Show More
Show Less

Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari Game Reserve

Like many game reserves in the Eastern Cape, Shamwari has spent the last 25 years working to protect and preserve the area’s wildlife. Now, thanks to their efforts, it’s thriving. Home to all kinds of creatures, this exclusive spot has lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo, plus cheetah, giraffe and more. And, since Shamwari is a private game reserve, only those staying here have the privilege of seeing these incredible creatures. You’ll be able to head out on game drives at sunrise and dusk, with your knowledgeable guide on hand to point out the local wildlife.

Show More
Show Less

After your safari, you’ll return to your lodge to relax and reflect on your sightings. There’s a real variety of accommodation here, ranging from the luxurious Long Lee Manor to the tented camp of Bayethe. But Shamwari Eagles Crag is the star of the show. Nestled among the treetops, this five-star lodge has aerial viewing pods, where you can watch majestic eagles soar.

Show More
Show Less

Kariega Game Reserve

Kariega Game Reserve

Stretching across 10,000 hectares, privately-owned Kariega Game Reserve is enormous. And yet, this malaria-free park only has a handful of lodges – so you can look forward to an intimate safari experience. When you stay here, you’ll go on two game drives a day in search of the ‘Big Five’. It’s highly likely you’ll see lazy lions, gentle elephants and painted zebra, but your guide will also be on the lookout for elusive leopards and shy rhinos. In between safaris, you can also enjoy a boat trip along the Kariega River, or go canoeing or fishing.

Show More
Show Less

Kariega has a selection of lodges to choose from. If you stay in Kariega Main Lodge, you’ll have fantastic views of the mountainous scenery, as each cabin has been designed to blend in with its surroundings. Or perhaps you’d prefer to stay in a luxury tented lodge? Down by the river, Kariega Settlers Drift has just nine tented suites, offering lovely views and all the modern comforts you need.

Show More
Show Less

Amakhala Game Reserve

Amakhala Game Reserve

Amakhala Game Reserve is home to the ‘Big Five’ along with antelopes, monkeys, warthogs, zebra and more. But this place is also very proud of its diverse range of flora, so expect your safari guide to point out beautiful plants and trees, as well as the wildlife.

Show More
Show Less

The park may offer wonderful safaris and luxury lodges, but Amakhala Game Reserve has conservation at its core. This Eastern Cape game reserve came into being when local farmers joined forces to protect the area’s wildlife. Working together, they removed foreign vegetation and reintroduced native species, which went on to thrive. This commitment continues today at Amakhala, where dedicated teams monitor the progress of plant species and wildlife. The reserve also has strong connections to anti-poaching associations and the African Rhino Conservation Collaboration, to protect endangered creatures.

Show More
Show Less

Addo Elephant Park

Addo Elephant Park

Covering 600 square miles, Addo Elephant National Park is home to all kinds of animals, including the ‘Big Five’. But, as the name suggests, the elephants are the park’s real pride and joy. Back in 1989, there were only 16 African elephants alive in the Greater Addo area. Today, thanks to the national park’s conservation efforts, there are more than 550.

Show More
Show Less

You can stay overnight in Addo Elephant Park, but it’s also a great place to go on a self-drive safari for the day – a satisfying to-do-list tick on your Eastern Cape holiday. Hop in your hire car and embrace your inner David Attenborough, as you meander along the game-viewing roads. The easy-to-follow network weaves across the park for 75 miles, and you’re sure to see plenty of grazing animals. But that’s not all. You can also hike along trails in to the Zuurberg Mountains, see ancient rock paintings in historic Kabouga, or go on a horseback safari.

Show More
Show Less

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