Garden Route, 4 hr drive from Cape Town, Mossel Bay 6500, South Africa
Bar/Lounge, Business Center, Free High-Speed Internet, Free Parking, Kids Activities, Kitchenette, Restaurant, Room Service, Shuttle Bus Service, Suites, Swimming Pool, Wheelchair Access
Most visitors to South Africa will want to head towards the north of the country to view the Big Five...
Most visitors to South Africa will want to head towards the north of the country to view the Big Five and enjoy the best of the Southern African wildlife. Along the Garden Route, 4.5 hours out of Cape Town, or 45 minutes from George airport, Gondwana Private Game Reserve offers the best of all beasts and the indigenous Cape Floral Kingdom spread over 11,000 hectares. It’s the only reserve in the Southern Cape that offers all of the Big Five roaming free.
You’ve got a bit of a bumpy ride once you exit the R327 towards the reserve, and even more of a journey when it rains. But the red earth, ostriches and cows on either side of the road prepare you for an authentic wildlife experience. The villas, many of which are privately owned and rented to Gondwana, are suitable for families, large groups of friends and longer stays.
The 14 rondavel huts at Kwena Lodge sleep two and contain all the amenities you need for a luxurious stay. The in-room wood fireplace can get a little smokey, but it’s a lovely touch on a winter’s night. The temperatures drop fast after the sun dips in winter — so be prepared.
Open 4x4s take you on an early morning and early afternoon drive around the reserve. On the 2.5 hour long rides you can see lions, zebras, giraffe, elephants, rhinos, hippos, a variety of buck, leopards and cheetahs, if you’re lucky. I wasn’t as lucky during my stay, but that’s the beauty of a small-scale wildlife adventure.
Because you are living within a nature reserve, you aren’t allowed to walk around without a guide (makes perfect sense) and at night, a ranger will fetch you for dinner.
Lunches outside the restaurant, enjoyed in the sun overlooking the lovely pool and the valleys, which are splendidly green, reinforce that you are somewhere unique. At night, a fire is lit outside and guests can enjoy a drink before dinner. Simple but hearty 3-course menus feature the earthy flavours of South Africa. Some meals are a bit hit and miss though, but the service is sincere.
If you’re not keen on the rigorous program of game viewing and eating all day, indulge in a spa treatment or two — these aren’t well advertised, so ask at reception.
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