Did you know?
The Gondwana Game Reserve is named after Gondwana, the southerly of two super-continents that existed hundreds of millions of years ago. The nearby Outeniqua and Swartberg mountains date to the time of Gondwana.
You may well have heard of South Africa’s famous Garden Route: its ancient forests, glorious golden beaches, magnificent mountain ranges, scenic passes, inviting routes and trails, and friendly seaside towns and villages.
But did you know that amongst all its scenic wonders, lies a game reserve that has the distinction of being the only Big Five fynbos reserve in the world?
Fynbos refers to the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms, and is remarkable in that this kingdom is found in its entirety in a single country – South Africa.
If you were on a plant hunting expedition you could spot over 8 700 plant species, the majority of which are endemic, but it’s rare to find big game.
This is where the Gondwana Game Reserve comes into the picture. Situated on the flanks of the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains, not far from Mossel Bay at the northern end of the Garden Route, it’s here that the Big Five – and scores of other animals and birds – roam freely among 11 000 ha of ericas, proteas and other fynbos. You can also find endangered species like the Cape mountain zebra and black rhinoceros.
If you’re a birder, you’ve also a very good chance of spotting the elusive black harrier.
You’ll stay in a hut inspired by local Khoi San culture, although ‘hut’ is far too modest a word. Perched on the mountainside, each beehive-shaped dwelling with its comfortable four-poster beds, en-suite bathrooms, and wooden deck with loungers, has 180-degree views looking out over the swimming pool and waterholes below, or towards the encircling Langeberg mountains. There’s even a skylight so you can lie in bed and gaze at the brilliant stars.
Gondwana is just over a four-hour drive from Cape Town, and the airport at the nearby town of George is only 45 minutes away. It’s also malaria-free, so you can safely go on safari all year round.
As a fairly new kid on the safari block – Gondwana is just over a decade old – owner Mark Rutherford was thrilled when the reserve became winner of the World Travel Award as South Africa’s Leading Nature Experience for 2012.
'The reserve’s 1000-hectare protected area gives us a fantastic facility to get up close and personal with nature whether on horseback, on foot or on a bike. We are continually developing our trails network with points of interest for the whole family. We bring the fynbos into all points of contact with the guest – through the housekeeping, the interior design, the cuisine, and the Junior Ranger Programme.'
Why not go and see for yourself?
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Gondwana Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)44 697 7002
How to get here
By road: Gondwana is located off the N2 highway on the Cape Town side of Mossel Bay. Take R327 towards Herbertsvale, follow Gondwana signs. Alternatively, fly into George airport. It's about a four-hour drive from Cape Town up the scenic Garden Route.
Best time to visit
Any time is good, although winter (from about May to September) is the Cape's rainy season, so you have a greater chance of rain.
Around the area
There are championship golf courses at Pinnacle Point, Pezula, Oubaai and Fancourt, the beautiful coastal towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, and gorgeous swimming and surfing beaches with lots of water activities nearby.
Tours to do
There are numerous tours to do along the Garden Route, from walking and cycling, to beach and mountain trips. Gondwana will give you all the necessary information.
In an open game vehicle, on foot on a guided walk, by mountain bike or on horseback.
What will it cost
R2 400 per person per night inclusive of accommodation, all meals, and game activities. Look out for special offers in winter and low season (from about May to September).
Length of stay
At least three nights if you can.
What to pack
Sensible walking shoes, cameras, binoculars, sunscreen. Warm clothes in winter, including a rainproof jacket.
Where to stay
Choose the honeymoon villa, a family villa, or any other of the two, three or four-bedroom bush villas.
What to eat
The cuisine is excellent. Opt for a bush picnic or romantic dinner for two in your own private suite for something special.
Game drives and walks, horse safaris, mountain biking, birding endemic species such as the Cape sugarbird and orange-breasted sunbird, and the Junior Ranger Programme, which teaches kids about nature.