Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape
Did you know?
Ancient dinosaur fossils have been discovered in the Amakhala Game Reserve.
Five of South Africa’s seven plant biomes are found in the Eastern Cape. Here the botany is almost as compelling as the Big Five attractions.
These same ecosystems are found within Amakhala Game Reserve, not far from Grahamstown. Here you’ll find dense thickets of valley bushveld, thorn-tree savannahs, sweeping grasslands, knots of forests and hardy Nama Karoo.
Punctuating it are spectacular aloes and candelabra euphorbias, with the Big Five animals rambling through it all.
Within this malaria-free diversity on the Amakhala Game Reserve are four lodges certified by Fair Trade in Tourism.
All four collaborate on conservation matters, HIV/AIDS education and other ways of uplifting the community. The four lodges (marketed under Amakhala’s Heritage Collection) also support local businesses. They include a needlework entrepreneur, a small laundry and a group of women who do beading to generate funds for education bursaries.
Bush Lodge and Safari Lodge are both five-star. Think private plunge pools, fireplaces, romantic double indoor and outdoor showers, and game-viewing decks. Then there’s access to the magical Whisper Room, a place to be pampered and massaged.
Leeuwenbosch Country House, which has four stars, is owned and run by the Fowlds family, who have lived here for five generations, dating back to the family of William Fowlds, who arrived with the 1820 Settlers. This beautiful old house offers five en-suite rooms.
Woodbury Lodge, also four-star, is an elegant stone-and-thatch lodge with spectacular views over the Bushman's River valley. Elephants and other wild animals often pass by, and the suites are designed so that you can view from your own deck.
As you’d expect from lodges with an emphasis on holistic care for the community and environment, on game drives it’s not just about the Big Five and other charismatic beasts like cheetahs and hyenas. The guides will also draw your attention to monkeys, tortoises, shy bat-eared foxes, mongooses and even dung beetles.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Amakhala Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)46 636 2750
Fax: +27 (0)86 694 6895
How to get here
One of the attractions of Amakhala is its proximity to Port Elizabeth (the nearest airport). From Port Elizabeth, take the N2 north-east. After about 50km, take the well-signposted road towards Grahamstown. After about 13km, you will start seeing signs for the various Amakhala lodges along the way.
Best time to visit
Amakhala is good to visit any time of year. Bear in mind, however, that winters (May to August) can have very cold nights. As a plus, however, this is when the spectacular aloe feroxes are in crimson flower. Midsummer (December to February) can also be very hot, but temperatures cool down at night.
Around the area
You’re very close to the Addo Elephant National Park and in an area of intriguing frontier history. Amakhala can organise an elephant-back safari at Addo, if you’re interested.
Golfers might opt for the spectacular Gary Player-designed 18 hole course at Bushman Sands, only 40 minutes’ drive away.
Tours to do
If you’re interested in history, Amakhala can put you in touch with Shield Tours, through which you can find out about the fascinating Frontier Wars fought from 1779 to 1878.
Once at the lodge of your choice, you will be transported in 4x4 game-viewing vehicles.
What will it cost
Depending on which lodge you choose, and seasonality, rates vary from approx. R2 080 to R4 200 per person per night.
If you’d just prefer a day visit – which includes a buffet meal, a game drive and a river cruise – it will cost R980 per person.
Length of stay
Set aside at least 2 or 3 nights.