Kariega Private Game Reserve


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Kariega Private Game Reserve was the 7th stop on our Eastern Cape family road trip. The reserve is family owned and managed and has been since 1989. It is located 80 minutes north-west of Port Elizabeth and just 10 minutes away from the beautiful seaside town of Kenton-on-Sea. As it’s in the Eastern Cape region it is malaria-free which makes it a great family destination. Due to its location it is perfect for a beach & bush combo itinerary. A winner in my books for sure!

The reserve has 4 different lodges plus a homestead for families or small groups traveling together. Each of the lodges have such a unique look, feel and atmosphere about them but they all offer the same, excellent service. As I mentioned we stayed at Main Lodge which is situated next to Ukhozi Lodge. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Ukhozi as they were full and then they had a fire shortly after we left so I’m looking forward to going back to see the upgrades once complete.

We did visit Settlers Drift which was just beautiful and a very very different feel to Main Lodge. Settlers Drift is tented, Main Lodge has wooden chalets. Settlers doesn’t allow children, Main is very family friendly. Settlers offers water activities directly at the lodge and you actually arrive at the lodge by boat, whereas Main Lodge is land based and you drive your car to your chalet. Having said that, you can go and do the sunset cruises from any of the lodges; they are done on the Kariega River.

A highlight for me at Kariega Private Game Reserve was seeing Thandi and her 2 calves! For those who don’t know the story of Thandi here it is, very briefly:

– in 2012 Thandi and 2 bull rhino’s were brutally poached on Kariega

– one bull was fatally wounded and died, the other 2 rhinos had a wildlife veterinary expert work tirelessly on them for 24 days hoping to get them through this terrible and brutal ordeal

– they were named Themba (Hope) and Thandi (Courage), however Themba passed away

– Thandi became the first rhino to survive a poaching attack

– Her first calf was born in January 2015 after extensive facial surgery from having her horn hacked off.

– Her second calf was born in January 2017, just days after the visionary & founder of Kariega Private Game Reserve, Colin Rushmere passed away

Some points to note about Main Camp when doing research about which lodge would suit you best:

– all meals are served buffet style

– they have a small spa available

– the pool is quite small and situated a little way away from the main lodge area and there are no toilets at the pool

– chalets have 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (1 shower, 1 bath) with a viewing deck and small lounge & kitchenette making this ideal for families with children

– lovely bar area with 2 large fireplaces in the main building which is great for socialising with others

All in all I really liked the camp, but if I was traveling without a child I would certainly prefer to stay at Settlers Drift.