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TThe Kruger National Park and the Lowveld region are the traditional home of Big 5 game viewing holidays, but malaria-free Eastern Cape safaris can give you an experience just as exciting. You can opt for a SANParks facility like the Addo Elephant National Park or browse 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 considered by farmers, in the early 20thcentury almost annihilated them.
Thanks to committed conservationists, however, the elephants were saved and now flourish in abundance, along with black rhino, kudu, eland, bushbuck and other antelope. 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 Eastern Cape. It boasts the Big 5 (apart from elephant and rhino, comprising leopard, buffalo and lion) and lots of luxury accommodation.
Kwandwe Game Reserve, just 20 minutes from Makhanda (formerly called Grahamstown – and confusingly, in the ‘Makana’ Municipality, named after the same Xhosa prophet/military leader), covers 22 000 hectares of rolling plains, high hills and rocky slopes. Look out for lion, white and black rhino, buffalo, elephant and cheetah.
And those are but a few of the many Eastern Cape safari options on offer – see the provincial tourism websites listed below for more options. Between its natural beauty and the safari options in its game reserves, this is a province you could happily explore for weeks.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Addo Elephant Park – SANParks reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Shamwari Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)42 203 1111
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 or Makhanda (Grahamstown). Port Elizabeth has the nearest large airport.
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good, although Eastern Cape’s interior can be bitterly cold in winter.
Around the area
The historic city of Makhanda (founded as the 1820 Settler town 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.
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, much of it self-catering.
- Wild Coast Tourism
- Grahamstown/Makana Tourism
- Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency
- South African National Parks (SANParks)