Big game, once driven out by settler farmers, has returned to the east of South Africa providing the perfect opportunity for a safari after exploring Cape Town and the Western Cape. The private game reserves support an impressive array of wildlife in a convenient malaria free area. From the hundreds of elephants in The Addo Elephant Park to the Big Five of the Kariega Game Reserve, these areas are ideal for a wonderful family friendly adventure made all the more favourable by being malaria free.
Addo Elephant Park was established in 1931 to preserve the 11 surviving Eastern Cape Elephant from extinction. Today, its thick, dry bush is home to over 230 elephant and other game, including black rhino, buffalo, kudu, eland and red hartebeest. More than 185 species of bird are found here.
East of Addo, several game reserves protect a wide variety of game, including the Big Five – elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard – though your chances of seeing leopard in this area are slim. They keep out of sight since, even today, many farmers are still inclined to shoot a leopard on sight. There are six major private reserves for you to choose from.
Two are very upmarket - Shamwari, which was the first in the area, and Kwandwe, run by &Beyond. Both are huge reserves with plenty of professional know-how behind them. Lalibela and Kariega are mid-price and professionally run. Amakhala is a little different as the reserve is the creation of five land-owners, all descendants of the 19th century British settlers, who run the different lodges individually; and there is a range of prices to suit most budgets. Finally, Inkwenkwezi is on its own, further to the east, and offers a different experience altogether.
All of these reserves cater for children, often in particularly family-friendly lodges, and there are also more secluded options for honeymooners or those wanting to get away from it all.
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