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FFind the malaria-free Gondwana Game Reserve on the flanks of the magnificent Outeniqua mountains not far from Mossel Bay on the famous Garden Route. Spot the Big 5 plus Cape mountain zebra and much more among the fynbos – the Western Cape’s unique floral kingdom.
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 one of the only Big 5 fynbos reserves in the world?
Fynbos refers to the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of the world’s 6 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 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 5 – and scores of other animals and birds – roam freely among 11 000ha of ericas, proteas and other fynbos. You can also find endangered species like the Cape mountain zebra.
If you’re a birder, you’ve also a very good chance of spotting the elusive black harrier.
You can 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 4-poster bed, en-suite bathroom 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.
There’s also the choice of 2-, 3-, 4-bedroom villas and a tented eco camp for those wanting to fully immerse themselves in the bush.
Gondwana is just over a 4-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.
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?
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Gondwana Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)21 555 0807
Cell: +27 (0)74 582 4861
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 4-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.
Things to do
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?
Costs vary depending on the type of accommodation, and some rates include 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 3 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 a villa if you’re coming with family or kids. If it’s just 2 of you, opt for the tented or hut experience.
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.