LOOK: 5 of the best places to experience a luxury safari escape in the Eastern Cape

Enjoy a sunset safari drive in a Jeep at any of these Eastern Cape safari destinations. Picture: Unsplash

Enjoy a sunset safari drive in a Jeep at any of these Eastern Cape safari destinations. Picture: Unsplash

Published Feb 23, 2023


For the wanderlust seeking to travel off the beaten path, the Eastern Cape is a beautiful safari vacation destination.

The province is truly one of South Africa’s hidden gems waiting to be uncovered.

Although the province may be known for its wild coastline and pristine garden routes, the bush experience, synonymous with the Kruger National Park, is not uncommon.

The Eastern Cape has a varied selection of luxury safari lodges offering wonderful opportunities for family safaris or exclusive private safaris as well as honeymoon safaris and weddings.

If you’re are keen on visiting South Africa’s under-dog safari destination, here are some of the provinces top safari destinations waiting to be explored.

Gorah Elephant Camp: Addo Elephant National Park

A herd of elephants at Addo Elephant National Park. Picture: Unsplash

Gorah Elephant Camp is a luxurious tented camp, with a gracious manor house overlooking a waterhole teaming with game in the heart of the Addo National Park.

The Addo Elephant National Park is the third largest National Park in South Africa close to Port Elizabeth and is home to elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard, spotted hyena many antelope species.

Gorah Elephant Camp has safari activities that can be appreciated by the whole family. Picture: Instagram

The camp offers a classic romantic mystique and visitors can watch a herd of elephants stroll by, while sipping tea on the veranda of a stately colonial manor house. It is the only private concession and camp in the middle of the famous Addo Elephant National Park, home to the densest population of elephants on earth.

The camp boasts 11 luxurious tented suites sheltered under thatched canopies with private decks and bespoke private en suites.

A stay at the camp starts from R 21 913 a night for two people.

Bukela Game Lodge Amakhala Game Reserve Safari

A male and female lion surveying their territory. Picture: Instagram

Amakhala Game Reserve has a variety of lodges to choose from but for the luxury traveller, Bukela Game Lodge and Bush Lodge are the five-star options.

The reserve is an hour away from Gqeberha and Bukela Lodge is is a romantic and secluded safari destination tucked away into indigenous trees and bushes at the top of a hidden valley at Amakhala Game Reserve.

All rooms at Amakhala are influenced by African Tribal designs. Picture: Instagram

The main lodge comprises of four suites and 10 luxury safari tents are each individually styled in African simplicity while never compromising on luxury.

The lodges thatched suites offer a remarkable private wildlife-viewing experience and guests can indulge in sumptuous lunches and private candlelit dinners or fall asleep to the sounds of elephant and buffalo making their stately progress through the unfenced camp.

A stay at the lodge starts at R 16 398 a night for two people.

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

The African Buffalo and a little feathered friend. These animals look gentle but are considered one of the most dangerous of the ‘Big Five’ game animals in South Africa. Picture: Unsplash

Guests visiting Kwandwe Private Game Reserve can choose from two lodges and three villas on the 22 000 hectares of pristine wilderness. The lodge is also home to the famous Big Five and close to Port Elizabeth and the Garden Route.

Comprising 30 rooms split across six intimate lodges, villas, and camps, providing understated luxury and one of the highest land-to-guest ratios in South Africa.

Enjoy a romantic candle light dinner in the bush at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. Picture: Instagram

The reserve also offers guided nature walks and open game drives, bush breakfasts, sunset drinks or dinner in a variety of scenic locations.

Kwandwe also offers variety of wellness treatments to be enjoyed in the privacy of your suite.

A stay at the Great Fish River Lodge starts at R36 500 a room for two whilst the Melton Manor Private Villa costs R95 810 for eight people a night.

Samara Karoo Reserve

The first sighting of leopard on the reserve in 24 years. Picture: Instagram

The Karoo is split into roughly two sections: the expansive Great Karoo to the north-east and the smaller Little Karoo (Klein Karoo) in the south-west. Samara Karoo Reserve sits within the Great Karoo, which covers more than 400 000 km², an area larger than Germany. The name Karoo comes from an ancient San word meaning “Land of Great Thirst”, a reference to the arid landscape and harsh climate.

The Samara experience is all about absorbing the serenity of this landscape we call home, staying in luxurious lodges and exploring the reserve by vehicle and on foot. Picture: Instagram

The Samara lodge is 45 minutes from Graaff-Reinet and home to over 60 mammal species including the Big Five and cheetah, as well as 225 bird species. Two intimate lodges welcome 26 guests at a time for slow, meaningful and exceptional safari encounters.

The reserve offers a variety of experiences including game drives, a star bed in the open Karoo sky, mountain biking, picnics and cheetah tracking to name a few.

A stay at the reserve starts from R16 410 a night for two at the Karoo Deluxe Suite

Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve

Situated in a secluded part on the Camdeboo Plains you will find two eco-friendly pods that blend in with the natural landscape. Picture: Instagram

In the heart of the Great Karoo, Mount Camdeboo offers a variety of accommodation types, from luxury manor houses and a romantic private cottage to secluded safari eco-friendly Pods.

The eco-friendly Pods are tucked away in a secluded spot on the Camdeboo Plains and blend in seamlessly with the landscape perfect for couples, honeymooners and wildlife lovers.

Apart from the game drives and viewings at the reserve, Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve offers some of the best stargazing opportunities in South Africa.

In contrast to the tough exterior, the interiors of the cabin pod are soft & warm. Picture: Instagram

Guests can take a special late-night drive up the mountain to a clearing where they can stargaze and learn about the patterns and how to navigate using the stars and also have the chance of spotting lesser seen, nocturnal creatures such as the aardvark, genet, aardwolf, caracal and bat-eared fox.

You can also visit the Valley of Desolation and take a walk on a guided trail of Camdeboo Mountain where you can view ancient KhoiSan rock paintings.

A stay at Mount Camdeboo starts from R9 738 a night for two or R28 407 a night for the three-bedroom villa with mountain view.