Did you know?
Kwandwe means 'place of the blue crane' in isiXhosa. The blue crane is South Africa’s national bird.
The Kruger National Park and the Lowveld region are the traditional home of Big Five safaris, but now there’s also a choice of malaria-free Eastern Cape safaris.
Choose between a national park, such as the Addo Elephant National Park, or a host of private game reserves.
It seems hard to believe that the fate of the Addo elephants once hung by a thread. Intensive hunting of the 'pests', as they were known, in the early 20th century almost annihilated them. Thanks to committed conservationists, however, the elephants were saved and are now in abundance, along with black rhino, kudu, eland, bushbuck and other antelopes. Keep your eye out for the rare flightless dung beetle, an Addo Elephant National Park special. Signs warn you not to drive over them.
Shamwari Game Reserve, a favourite haunt of international celebs, is the largest private reserve in the Eastern Cape. It has the Big Five, a couple of Born Free centres where rescued animals from all over the world are rehabilitated, and lots of luxury accommodation.
Kwandwe Game Reserve, just 20 minutes from Grahamstown, covers 22 000 hectares (54 000 acres) of rolling plains, high hills and rocky slopes. Look out for lion, white and black rhino, buffalo, elephant and cheetah.
Pumba Private Game Reserve, also near Grahamstown, is home to one of the only two free-ranging populations of white lion in southern Africa. At the moment one pure white male and one white lioness hunt only part of the five biomes of the reserve because their gene pool must remain pure and not mix with their tawny cousins. In 2011 they produced two white cubs – a remarkable breeding achievement.
These are but a few of the many Eastern Cape safari options on offer.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Addo Elephant Park
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)46 622 7897
Pumba Private Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)46 603 2000
How to get here
All the game reserves mentioned are within easy reach by road from Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. Port Elizabeth has the nearest large airport.
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good, although the Eastern Cape interior can be bitterly cold in winter.
Around the area
The historic city of Grahamstown, the coastal city of Port Elizabeth and the scenic beauty of the Wild Coast are all nearby.
By open safari vehicle. Bush walks are also offered.
What will it cost
Consult lodge websites for rates and always look for special offers, particularly in winter.
Where to stay
The various lodges and national parks have different accommodation options. Private lodges are expensive, but their all-in rates offer great value-for-money. National parks have a range of cheaper accommodation.