Go wild, more than your average roadside attraction

Road trippin'

Go wild, more than your average roadside attraction

The Eastern Cape is one of the most ecologically diverse areas and boasts multiple high quality game reserves, providing some of the most amazing game viewing experiences. Chris Coleman rounded up some of the best local attractions.
Barbara Manning

For both local and foreign tourists malaria scares many in the hunt for good game viewing. Luckily, malaria is not an issue in the Eastern Cape and you can get to see all of the famous species, including the “Big Five”.

The Big 5

Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion and Leopard
In some like the Greater Addo National Park, there’s the addition of coastal and oceanic biomes at Colchester and Woody Cape – the Big 7 – namely Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Whale and the Great White Shark.

The Big 7

Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Whale and the Great White Shark
We’ve concentrated on game viewing close to the city but we have included contacts for “going wild” further afield at the end of the article. Do remember that there are so many private game reserves and conservancies around these days, so individual experiences can be tailor made by using Google (with your budget in mind) from family packages to luxurious ‘blow the budget’ options aimed at the US dollar or Euro market.


Game viewing around the city

Inkwenkwezi Game Reserve is arguably one of the best reserves in the country with a wide array of environments, wildlife and activities. Game viewing is good all year round due to the five biomes in the reserve.  There are three scheduled game drives per day. A sunset drive is available for R995 per person including a dinner during the three hour trip. Morning and afternoon game drives lasting 2.5 hours are available at 08h00 and 14h00 for R695 per person. Lunch is available at an extra R125 per person. Inkwenkwezi is situated on the Schäfli Road near Chintsa East, 35km from East London. See: www.inkwenkwezi.co.za

Mpongo Private Game Reserve is close to the city on the N6 and affords visitors one of the most densely populated private game reserves in the area. From lion to elephant, buffalo, rhino and hippo, the list continues to small game such as Red Hartebeest and the Bontebok. Whether you drive yourself, for only R50 per adult and R30 per child, or book a game drive you are certain to see a wide variety of animals. The game reserve is open until 6pm every evening. Game drives cost R835 for a single person, R550 per person for two people, R430 per person for three people and R340 per person for four people. This gives you a three hour game drive with drinks and snacks or for an extra R75 per person, you can enjoy a meal. Night drives are also available on request. See: www.premierhotels.co.za/locations/mpongo-private-game-reserve/

Areena Riverside Resort is one of the more adventurous resorts in the area with multiple guided activities such as abseiling on awesome riverine kraantzes, camping and river cruises. These are complemented by interactive game drives which are available on quad bikes for R400 per person for a two hour drive with all safety equipment provided. A full day sea kayak or canoe tour costs R200 per person and is an ideal group activity. Restaurants and accommodation are also available. See: www.areenaresort.com


A little further afield

Endalweni Private Game Reserve is also very accessible as it is not far from Kei Mouth on the R369 and only around an hour away from the city. This reserve has a large variety of buck species, including Water Buck, Blue Duiker and Kudu. Zebra and Giraffe are also a common sight. A big highlight of this reserve is the beach walks and horseback rides on the beach. Game drives are available on request and there is an endless list of other activities. See: www.endalweni.co.za

Mpotshane Safaris is home to a huge variety of antelope such as Nyala, Blue Wildebeest and Impala. Warthogs, dassies and mongoose are also common sightings. The ever elusive African Wild Cat is also a native of Mpotshane. The restaurant has to enjoy one of the most magnificent locations around, overlooking a steep river gorge going down to the mighty Kei River. Night game drives are available on request and one can expect to see the following: Black Back Jackal, Lynx, Aardvark, Spotted Genet, Bushpig, African Wild Cat and Porcupine. Morning and afternoon game drives are available throughout the year but they do recommend winter (June-July) as best for game viewing. See: www.mpotshane.co.za


Requires a weekend

Kariega Game Reserve is beautifully situated with stunning river frontage and some 10 000 ha of wildlife with guided tours available for visitors. Like Inkwenkwezi, this reserve is home to five biomes allowing game viewing all year round. It is also close to the coast in a prime location in reach of many seaside resorts and estuaries with Kenton-on-Sea and Bushmen’s River Mouth just down the road.. The reserve offers unique kids safaris as well. The guided game drives cost R 930 per person. See www.kariega.co.za

Waters Meeting Nature Reserve bordering the Kowie River near Bathurst or Port Alfred with its beautiful 20 km river route. Call: 046-624 1235

Thomas Baines Nature Reserve just outside Grahamstown on the road to Kenton.  Picnic sites, braai facilities and ablutions are available at Settlers Dam. Call: 046-622 7043 or 046-622 7216

The Great Fish River Reserve Complex which includes Andries Vosloo Kudu, Sam Knott and Doubledrift make up the 45 000 ha complex, offers a variety of tangled valley thicket and bushveld, river gorges and valleys. Accommodation is available in comfortable lodges. Contact Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism on 043-742 4450 or www.visiteasterncape.co.za

Fort Fordyce and Mpofu Reserves in the gorgeous Katberg Mountains. These often overlooked small reserves are viewed by many as our best-kept secret and include pristine forests, a magnificent amphitheatre (Fort Fordyce) and are teeming with antelope. There is a hut at Fort Fordyce and Mpofu boasts a trail hut plus three lodges. Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism on 043-742 4450 or www.visiteasterncape.co.za


Don’t forget
Tsolwana Game Reserve near Queenstown (045-839 2265) and the Mountain Zebra National Park, a SANPARKS reserve (048-881 2427) or visit www.sanparks.co.za

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