Located in South Africa’s beautiful Eastern Cape Province, Kariega Private Game Reserve lies in the upper reaches of the beautiful Kariega River Valley. Kariega is a malaria-free game reserve stretching over 10 000 hectares, and the landscape of the reserve features impressive vistas of forest, savannah grasslands scattered with abundant wildlife and encompassing two rivers: the Kariega and the Bushmans rivers.
Visitors can spot the Big Five as well as a variety of other animals including giraffe, eland, zebra, wildebeest and an array of bird species; paddle a kayak, jump on a game drive or a river cruise for a close encounter with the reserve’s plentiful wildlife.
We just love Kariega because of how easy it is to get there! The closest airport is Port Elizabeth at just an hour and 20 minutes’ drive away, and once you get onto the reserve you certainly won’t feel like you’re anywhere near a city. Port Elizabeth airport has regular flights coming in from core cities across the country including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban which means it’s super easy to combine with a wider itinerary.
Kariega Private Game Reserve is a family owned and operated spot which is home to five beautiful lodges across 10,000 hectares which is roughly as many football fields! Each of the lodges have a different feel to them, and we know them perfectly so can place you in the one we think will fit you the best. Settler’s Drift is a five-star offering with just 9 tented suites, each 110m2 big, in the heart of the Kariega wilderness. If you’d like to have a river setting, we highly recommend the ten-suite River Lodge which is nestled on the banks of the Bushman’s River, all airconditioned and beautifully thatched. Ukhozi Lodge is probably the most romantic, with ten luxury suites all with their own private plunge pools and stunning panoramic views out over the river plains. If you are in search of more buzz and facilities then we’d highly recommend a stay at Main Lodge which consists of 24 log chalets, a perfect base for those with kiddies to keep entertained. Finally – those who want true exclusivity would just love The Homestead, a privately catered home for up to 14 people and ideal for groups of friends travelling or indeed that extended family trip you’ve been talking about!
Given its location on the beautiful Garden Route, Kariega is ideal to visit at all times of year as the weather is usually mild and pleasant. When the bush is dry and thinned out from lack of rain, the game can be easier to find (in the winter and springtime months of June through to October) and that can be great fun as you can more likely find a variety of game around the waterholes. This time of year can get quite chilly however with temperatures dropping down to a nippy 5-7C at night and in the early mornings. If you want to visit when the weather is warmer (or even hot!) then the summer months can be ideal as temperatures reach up to a balmy 30C and the heat can be broken up by beautiful short sharp rain storms. These bring the bush to life and the contrast with the greens is absolutely magical. Game can be harder to find however this time of year is a paradise for photographers and birders alike so it really does depend and we can help you plan it!
Kariega is a Big Five reserve which means you can tick off those all-important biggies including lions, buffalos, rhinos, elephants and if you’re very lucky you may even spot leopard (pun definitely intended)! The Big Five were so named as they were the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot ‘back in the day’ and seeing them up close is one of the most magical experiences in the world. The guides at the reserve all know the landscape inside out and are therefore best placed to help you seek out the huge amount of game that the reserve is home to including hippo, hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, eland, kudu, waterbuck and a variety of other antelope, as well as a myriad of bird species including the nesting crowned eagle, martial and fish eagles. You best have your camera ready as this is such a special spot and one we know you’ll want to brag about when you get home!
Oh, yes. The reserve is most definitely family friendly and in fact one of our favourite places for kids to enjoy learning about Africa with their parents in tow! Kariega Main Lodge and The Homestead are both perfect for kids and have a dedicated Kids on Safari programme which is set up by a dedicated coordinator, ready to wow youngsters into action. There are guided trails where kiddies can learn all about the miracles of nature including plants, animals and animals tracks (and poop which is always a great laugh!). Children are given the opportunity to create moulds of animal tracks with plaster of Paris, create ‘Bushman paintings’, and even get a chance to receive a Junior Ranger Certificate following a full-on educational experience as a ‘ranger’. Add all of this to the Playroom at the Main Lodge where there are wildlife and other fun DVDs, books, toys, puzzles and even a table tennis table, you know your little ones will be well cared for. The lodge even offers baby-sitting should you want to have a little down time in the evening!
Conveniently located in the Eastern Cape, Kariega is indeed malaria free which makes it perfect for anyone particularly concerned about taking anti-malarials. It also makes this reserve perfect for kids!
Centred around a beautiful lawn and pool overlooking the surrounding African bush in a remote part of the Big 5 reserve. The Homestead is for the exclusive use of a group of up to 14 people. This farm-styled home-away from-home lodge offers guests the luxury of planning their own schedule, as well as a private chef and game ranger... Learn more
The perfect destination for groups of friends and families seeking a special safari holiday of a life time. The Main Lodge balcony, bar and restaurant offer the very best views at Kariega, featuring magnificent panoramic vistas of green valleys and winding rivers. The log chalets at Main Lodge are perched from a similar vantage point and share in these amazing views... Learn more
A beautiful river-side lodge offering peace and tranquillity to the most discerning of guests. This stunning stone and thatch safari lodge comprises 10 luxurious and air-conditioned suites decorated in a blend of traditional safari and crisp modernity. The Lodge itself offers spectacular dining over-looking the river, an outdoor pool and an exclusive library... Learn more
A 5-star luxury tented lodge located in the Big 5, malaria-free Kariega Game Reserve. Kariega is a 10,000 ha private game reserve offering a combination of close up Big 5 game viewing and an expansive variety of fauna, flora and birdlife in a landscape spanning 5 eco-systems... Learn more
A vibrant and luxurious safari destination overlooking the rolling hills of the African landscape. Ukhozi Lodge offers guests a chance to capture the intimacy and romance of an African safari – with exquisite indoor and outdoor dining and lounge areas, luxurious lodge accommodation and unforgettable safari experiences... Learn more