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Best game reserves along the Garden Route

Updated: Jan 9

If you have decided to embark on the iconic Garden Route in South Africa, then we recommend including a Big Five Safari in your travel itinerary. The Garden Route typically runs from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape province to Storms River Bridge in the Eastern Cape province and there are plenty of game reserves nearby that are within reasonable driving distance. In this article we will offer a selection of game reserves for you to choose from that will add excellent value to your Garden Route trip.

Game Reserves to visit along the Garden Route

Some of the best game reserves to visit while touring the Garden Route are situated in the malaria-free Eastern Cape Province. Our recommendation is to allocate a minimum of one night at one of these reserves to get a taste of the safari lifestyle.

Amakhala Game Reserve

Amakhala is a private game reserve located just over two hours from Storm’s River bridge, and within one hour from Port Elizabeth International Airport. The reserve was established in 1999 as a conservation project between six lodge owners. Originally a sheep and cattle ranch, part of this passion project was to restore the original fauna and flora back to the land and reintroduce wildlife to where they once roamed freely. Today you will find all of Africa’s Big Five here, along with ten unique properties that offer 3, 4, & 5 star accommodation.

Day visitors safari option 1(3-hour game drive): R350 per person

Day visitors safari option 2 (3-hour game drive, inclusive of lunch): R900 per person based on two people

Accommodation: From R3510 – R6190 per person sharing (inclusive of meals and safari activities)

*A mandatory conservation levy, usually around R150-R200, is payable on a per person per night basis.

Garden Route Game Reserve

3.5 hours from Cape Town, and at the start of the Garden Route you will find the family-run, Garden Route Game Lodge. This little gem is home to all the Big Five animals in a malaria-free, privately owned, wilderness. Safari game drives are in open Landrovers, with luxury accommodation to be expected as well. For something extra, there is also an on-site spa available for those wishing to have a bit of pampering in a serene environment; and for the kiddies, the lodge offers a Kids Bushwise Activity programme to keep the children entertained during your stay.

Day visitor safari option (2-3 hour game drive): R495 per person/ lunch optional extra

Accommodation in the Sunset Ridge Luxury Suite:

R2872 per person sharing per night between 1 November 2021 – 30 April 2022

R2392 per person sharing per night between 1 May 2022 – 30 September 2022

R3920 per person sharing per night between 1 October 2022 – 19 December 2022

(Please contact us about other accommodation rates as the lodge offers various room types)

*A mandatory conservation levy, usually around R150-R200, is payable on a per person per night basis.

Gondwana Game Reserve

Gondwana Private Game Reserve is a five-star reserve about a 25 minute drive inland from Mossel Bay. Alongside the Big Five you will also find other animals such as: eland; red hartebeest; endangered Cape Mountain Zebra and springbok. Along with luxury accommodation, the Cape Fynbos vegetation also offers a unique safari experience and great photographic opportunities. This child-friendly reserve is the first of this region to have wild elephants born in 200 years.

Activities on the reserve include game drives; junior ranger programme; tented bush spa; mountain biking; fynbos walking experience; guest conservation experience; and birding safaris.

Check in: 2pm-30pm

Check out: 10am-11am

Rates from: R7100 per person sharing per night, inclusive of luxury accommodation/meals/safari activities

Kariega Game Reserve

Situated in the Eastern Cape, at the end of the Garden Route (if you are starting in Cape Town) is the malaria-free Kariega Private Game Reserve. This is a fabulous addition to a Cape Town Garden Route holiday if you are looking to include a Big Five safari into your itinerary. The reserve stretches over 10,000 hectares of Eastern Cape Wilderness with a collection of luxury safari lodges sprinkled across the land.

If you were to stay in the Main Lodge, these would be the seasonal rates:

High Season

01 March 2022 - 30 April 2022


Low Season

01 May 2022 - 31 August 2022


High Season

01 September 2022 - 17 December 2022


Peak Season

18 December 2022 - 10 January 2023


High Season

11 January 2023 - 30 April 2023


Low Season

01 May 2023 - 31 August 2023


High Season

01 September 2023 - 19 December 2023


Peak Season

20 December 2023 - 10 January 2024


High Season

11 January 2024 - 30 April 2024


These rates are based on the following:

Per person per night sharing (+50% single supplement)

  • All meals, morning and evening game drives and other game activities (beverages excluded)

  • Children 12 years and under pay 50% of the adult rates

  • Children 3 years and under stay free of charge

  • Excludes Kariega Foundation conservation & community levy of R150 per adult paying guest per night. 

  • Bookings for two or less people may be accommodated in a 1-bedroom chalet.

Shamwari Game Reserve

Recognised for its ecological diversity and exceptional conservation efforts, Shamwari is a Big Five game reserve that is home to 7 luxury lodges, 1 explorer camp and 2 unique education and rehabilitation facilities. Along with the traditional safari experience, guests can also visit the Animal Rescue and Education centres on the reserve that raise awareness of the horrific treatment of wild big cats in captivity. For those looking to support a cause while on holiday in South Africa, staying at Shamwari at the end of your Garden Route tour is a worthy addition. Rates from: R8505 per person sharing per night, all inclusive.

Safaris For Africa Tips and Advice

When planning a Garden Route tour in South Africa, inclusive of a safari, we recommend a minimum of 7 days. This will allow time to stop over at places along the Garden Route, as well as allocating two nights in a Big Five Game Reserve. We recommend saving your safari experience for the final night/s of your trip as it is a special way to end your adventure in South Africa. If you have more than 7 days available, then spending a few days in Cape Town and in the Cape Winelands prior to heading along the Garden Route is worth it. One of the reasons we provide a guided service of the Garden Route in our product offering is to allow our guests to sit back and enjoy this exceptional part of the world. If you would like us to custom design a Garden Route itinerary for your holiday to South Africa please pop us an email.

If you are visiting South Africa for the first time or are returning but are wary of venturing beyond your comfort zone, we encourage you to explore the Garden Route and the safari lifestyle this part of the world offers.

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