Eastern Cape Safaris
Malaria-Free Safaris near Port Elizabeth and The Garden Route
The Eastern Cape lies at the far end of the scenic Garden Route. It's a beautiful area packed with exclusive private reserves offering Big Five wildlife viewing in a completely malaria-free environment. The area is also home to Addo Elephant National Park, where you can have the thrill of self-driving through the bush and discovering the wildlife yourselves.
Opting for a safari in the Eastern Cape is a great way to combine a real safari adventure with a Cape Town and Garden Route holiday. Between a 60min and 90min drive from Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape is very accessible, so it's a handy way to cut down on time and money spent on travel. It's also a brilliant, worry-free option for families, as anti-malarials are not necessary.
With The exception of the Addo Elephant National Park, the wildlife reserves in the Eastern Cape are all privately owned and they range in size from 5,000 hectares to over 25,000 hectares. Each reserve operates independently and each one has its own stock of wildlife. The larger reserves of the Eastern Cape, Kwandwe and Shamwari, can sustain wildlife in bigger numbers, and this is why they are more expensive than the smaller reserves.
Shamwari Game Reserve is the longest-running private reserve in the Eastern Cape. Stretching across 25,000 hectares, it's now home not only to the Big Five, but also to wild dog, cheetah, hyena, hippo, giraffe and zebra. At 22,000 hectares, Kwandwe Game Reserve is the second largest of the Eastern Cape reserves, known for excellent cheetah sightings and popular with birders due to its population of highly endangered blue cranes.
The smaller reserves such as Amakhala, Lalibela, Pumba and Kariega range from around 5,000 hectares to 10,000 hectares in size, so they do need to place a limit on their number of predators. For example, a small reserve can only sustain one or two prides of lion or they would find their entire buffalo and zebra population wiped out by hungry big cats! However, although the wildlife population in these reserves is not quite natural, they still offer great game drives in a beautiful African setting and tend to be a little more affordable.
A couple of the smaller reserves are also what they call ‘split‘ reserves now, which means that the more dangerous wildlife is kept in a separate fenced off area to safeguard the wildlife population levels. This, of course, is not the same as an authentic safari experience through a natural habitat such as Kruger, but it can still be a convenient way to see the Big Five if time, or funds, are short in supply.
Another option is a day visitor safari. If you're staying in Port Elizabeth on a flying visit, a couple of the reserves - Pumba and Amakhala to name a couple - offer one day safari experiences. This can be a great way to get an African safari experience on the fly.
Last, but certainly not least, the Eastern Cape is also home to Addo Elephant National Park. It's a lush, forested area with rolling green hills, valleys and meandering rivers, and it's full of wonderful wildlife. Addo is home to 450 elephant, giving it the greatest density of elephant per hectare in Africa. Now that's a claim to fame!
They wander freely through the 180,000 hectare park and you'll often see them roaming in large herds - a breathtaking sight that will stick with you forever.
Guest Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
All of the 24 en-suite and air-conditioned private chalets are beautifully furnished and fully equipped to ensure your absolute comfort. Relax on your own private patio, star gazing and listening to the sound of the bush settling for the night.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
Relax on your own private deck, and if you are lucky you may see an elusive bushbuck or hear the cry of the African fish eagle. Each en-suite tent is equipped with military campaign style furniture similar to that used by the early explorers.
Guest Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 based on 21 ratings
The Woodbury Tented Camp is set in the heart of the reserve, and the tranquil surroundings of the open bushveld allow you to truly experience a quiet getaway. The centre of the camp is an airy, thatched entertainment area, where you can soak up the African sun.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 5 ratings
The 4 comfortable en-suite bedrooms at Reed Valley Inn are positioned in the tranquil working farmyard just on the outside of the reserve's game fences, and are completely separate from the main homesteads to ensure guests' peace and privacy. All meals are taken at Bush Lodge, which is about a 5 or 10 minute drive from Reed Valley Inn into the reserve.
Accommodation at Leeuwenbosch includes the historic Country House and the newer Shearers Lodge Suites. The Country House, built in 1908, offers 5 spacious en-suite bedrooms, and is layered with a collection of historical images, documents, and furniture dating back to the 1800s.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 3 ratings
Perfectly situated on the banks of the Kariega River, but tucked unobtrusively away into the vegetation, Forest Camp's 8 en-suite safari tents are built on expansive, slightly raised wooden decks and has long wooden walkways through pristine thicket. The smaller, more intimate River Camp has just 4 safari tents, ideal for families with children, or for sole-use specialist groups.
Twelve stone walled, thatched, air-conditioned suites lead off meandering footpaths and are set along the lake's edge. Each suite has a unique view of the lake and opens onto a private deck with outside shower and plunge pool.
The camp consists of just 3 mobile canvas (camping) tents sleeping a maximum of 2 people each. The camp site is unfenced to provide the true explorer ambience and tents are placed in fairly close proximity without encroaching on another tents privacy.
The accommodation at Kariega Main Lodge consists of 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom log chalets. Each chalet is decorated in an ethnic style and are very spacious.
Designed with great care to blend in with the natural surroundings, the 6 thatched stone sleeping lodges are comfortably appointed, with en-suite bathrooms, and each boasts a unique and breathtaking view from their wooden decks. There is a central dining room and barbecue area, plus a lounge bar and swimming pool for guest's enjoyment in-between game drives.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings
This intimate lodge redefines exclusivity with 4 individually styled suites plus 2 family suites, designed to capture the spirit of a bygone era, while providing the luxuries of contemporary lodge living. Each suite features a mini bar, fireplace, air-conditioning, private verandas, en-suite bathrooms with spa baths and showers, and a unique outside courtyard, ideal for starlit showers and each has uninterrupted views over the African bush.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings
HillsNek Safaris consists of just 3 individual luxury canvas safari tents set on expansive wrap around wooden decks with panoramic views. All 3 tents are linked to the main lodge by raised wooden walkways.
The 11 stylish air-conditioned suites with tented fronts all open out onto your private deck with its own plunge pool. The rooms also have a small separate lounge area.
River Lodge's 10 luxuriously appointed air-conditioned suites are all decorated to a very high standard. The Bushmans River flows beneath the deck of the main restaurant, and the outdoor dining is a magnificent experience under the abundance of stars in the African night sky.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 8 ratings
The 7 stone and thatch chalets and main lodge at Mark's Camp are decorated in a relaxed Pan-African style. Each comfortably furnished chalet has an en-suite bathroom and air conditioning.
The 15 elegant en-suite bedrooms and suites all have air-conditioning and underfloor heating. Sumptuously prepared meals are enjoyed in the main dining room or around the open blazing fire at the Barn.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
Sarili Lodge has 5 en-suite rooms in total - 2 luxury rooms with a balcony, 2 that open out onto a patio, and a suite. All the rooms have air-conditioning and a private minibar, as well as tea and coffee making facilities.
The lodge offers 8 secluded thatched chalets, each with air conditioning and a private observation deck to make the most of the views over the valley bushveld. There is an outdoor dining 'boma' for fireside dinners and open-air brunches in the summer months, as well as a gracious indoor dining area.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings
The lodge offers 11 thatched, glass enclosed chalets, each in it's own private bush setting - giving the ultimate feeling and experience of an African bush safari. Each chalet is air-conditioned, and has a spacious en-suite bathroom, with a separate bath and shower.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 13 ratings
Each of the 9 twin-bedded rooms are fully air-conditioned, and have a television and telephone, and a small lounge area. Private balconies from each room leads onto the beautifully landscaped gardens.
At A Glance
- Big 5 Safaris
- Malaria Free Area
- Easy Access From Cape Town
- Drive From The Garden Route
- Wide Choice of Safari Lodges
Selected Special offers for Eastern Cape
It's great to have choice, however sometimes it can all be a litte confusing when you are planning your first trip to an unfamiliar area.
If you'd like to talk to one of our friendly experts, then please give us a call on +44(0) 1932 428380 or alternativley you can enquire via the website.
When to Visit
The weather in this part of South Africa is at its best from October to April, when the region enjoys long warm summer days.
Having said this the weather is frequently warm and dry throughout the winter months of May to September with average highs still above 20c, and this is also the best time of year to find a special offer or lower price as a safari lodge.
Getting There and Away
There are regular flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth, and from there it will take 45 mins to 90 mins to get to your safari lodge by road.
Many visitors choose to start their holiday in Cape Town, and then drive along the garden route before ending with a safari in the Eastern Cape.
If you are driving along the Garden Route, it will take about 2h 45 from Knysna to Port Elizabeth, and then a further 45 mins to 90 mins derpending on where you are going to.
Top Tip: If you book with Travel Butlers, we will ensure you have the most appropriate transport arrangements for your safari.
Shamwari Game Reserve and Cape Town.
7 day itinerary.
Prices from GBP £ 1,080 US$ 1,684 ZAR 19,437 EUR 1,361 pp*
Shamwari Game Reserve, The Garden Route and Hermanus.
12 day itinerary.
Prices from GBP £ 1,088 US$ 1,698 ZAR 19,589 EUR 1,371 pp*
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