Kariega Game Reserve

Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Virgin rating

The hotel

Family owned and managed, it would be accurate to say that the gradual growth and development of the now expansive 11,500 hectare malaria-free 'Big Five' reserve is one of the most accomplished conservation projects in the Eastern Cape to date. Kariega’s landscape spans across five different eco-systems, offering an exceptional game viewing and birding experience. Having two major rivers incorporated into the reserve (the Kariega and Bushmans rivers) adds enormous beauty and value. With a choice of lodges; Ukhozi and River Lodge offer a more intimate atmosphere, and the Main lodge is ideal for families; so whatever the occasion, Kariega Game reserve has something to suit your needs and create lasting memories.

Amenities

  • Families
  • Honeymoon
  • Safari
  • Bar
  • Swimming Pool

Where is it

On 11,500 hectares of natural bushveld in the Eastern Cape. Transfer time from Port Elizabeth Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Hotel information

There are 5 different lodges: Main Lodge – has been expertly integrated with the surrounding bush offering stunning views of the reserve. The 24 log chalets enjoy complete privacy with large private viewing decks (some with private pools) and stunning views of the Kariega River valley. All chalets with air-conditioning, en-suite bedrooms, fire place and satellite TV, tea/coffee-making facilities and hairdryer. Sleeping maximum 3 adults or 2 adults and 1 child.

All Inclusive of: all meals and selected beverages (bottled water, soft drinks, local beers, wines brandy, whiskey, gin etc). Two game-drives per day, river cruises, guided bush walks and canoeing. 

 

Ukhozi Lodge – truly captures the romance and intimacy of Africa, offering10 luxury suites crafted from log, each with a private plunge pool and deck offering panoramic views of the river plains. Sleeping maximum 3 adults or 2 adults and 1 child (over 10 years old).

The River Lodge – is uniquely situated on the banks of the Bushmans River and comprises 10 luxury thatched suites. Special activities include daily boat trips to the Kenton beaches and river fishing. Sleeping maximum 3 adults or 2 adults and 1 child (over 10 years old).

Settlers Drift – is a 5-star luxury tented lodge, located in an untouched part of the Kariega wilderness, featuring 9 luxurious tented suites that offer a spacious living area and bedroom, full bathroom, indoor/outdoor shower, and a private deck with unrivalled panoramic views over valley plains, sleeping maximum 3 adults or 2 adults and 1 child (over 10 years old).

The Homestead – the Homestead is a private lodge set in a remote and private part of the reserve. With 7 bedrooms, all en suite, a bar, swimming pool, satellite TV, lounge, large garden, boma and spectacular views, it is a great choice for a group or family.

At each lodge – indoor and outdoor (boma) dining, lounges and bar, swimming pool, spacious decks, curio shop and spa treatments. Wine cellar (Settlers Drift and Ukhozi Lodge only). Activities include morning and evening game-drives, guided bush walks, river cruises, canoeing and fishing*. Activity programme for kids. Wellness Centre* at the Main Lodge and Ukhozi Lodge. Sala's at Settlers Drift and River Lodge. Complimentary WiFi is available at all lodges. Private laundry facilities.

* Denotes local charge.

Please note: all children are welcome at the Main Lodge. Children under 10 years are not permitted at River Lodge, Settlers Drift, and Ukhozi Lodge.

Rating summary

  • Location Image of the Tripadvisor rating
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Traveller rating

  • Excellent (290)
  • Very good (30)
  • Average (4)
  • Poor (1)
  • Terrible (0)
Image of the Tripadvisor rating You have to experience Kariega

May 27, 2024 Rhirhilloyd6 Solihull, United Kingdom

It was our second time visiting Kariega (thanks to an Instagram competition win!) - last time we stayed and Settlers Drift and this time we were at the Ukhozi Lodge… and it was just as spectacular as our first stay! The staff and service was great and the food was exceptional. We particularly enjoyed the braai night - fab food (and atmosphere with… Read more
It was our second time visiting Kariega (thanks to an Instagram competition win!) - last time we stayed and Settlers Drift and this time we were at the Ukhozi Lodge… and it was just as spectacular as our first stay! The staff and service was great and the food was exceptional. We particularly enjoyed the braai night - fab food (and atmosphere with the singing also). The accommodation was incredibly clean and the decor is great. Huge comfy beds! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t warm enough for us to brave the plunge pool on our balcony or the communal pool. We had an issue with our shower one night but it was fixed within 15 mins of reporting the problem to reception. The cleaning of the room while you are on the morning drive and the turn down service when you are on the evening drive are lovely touches. Obviously a very special mention is needed for our guide - Melissa. She had it all - amazing knowledge of the animals (and plants and stars!), great chatting away with us all, fab bartender / barrista(!), lovely to spend time with at breakfast/dinner, not to mention the driving skills. Her determination was second to none in ensuring we saw the lions - not only did we find the 2 male lions, but also the female lion with her 3 cubs - wow. Also, the rain was pretty epic one day - hats off to her to keep smiling, driving & talking! She also took us on a walking guided tour one day in-between both safari drives. Feeling very lucky to have had so many amazing encounters with the animals. I feel so lucky to have experienced Kariega twice now and would love to make it three! Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating What an experience!

May 17, 2024 Bby85 Vancouver, Canada

Ukhozi (= eagle in one of the local languages) is a lodge perched on a hill that gives you a bird's eye view of the plains and green hills below. It includes a beautiful main lodge/dining area with rustic décor and roaring fireplaces in the evening. It gives off a sense of coziness and rustic luxury. There are several chalets, in groups of 2 so if… Read more
Ukhozi (= eagle in one of the local languages) is a lodge perched on a hill that gives you a bird's eye view of the plains and green hills below. It includes a beautiful main lodge/dining area with rustic décor and roaring fireplaces in the evening. It gives off a sense of coziness and rustic luxury. There are several chalets, in groups of 2 so if you're travelling with more than 1 person, you can be close to each other yet have your own rooms. Each chalet is a large, clean, beautiful room with African style décor that blends seamlessly with the bathroom. The toilet is separated by a door. Each chalet has its own plunge pool. There is a fully stocked mini fridge, which you can use at no additional cost. The staff, service, and attention to detail are wonderful. The food is excellent and equivalent to dining at a fine restaurant. There is a main infinity pool, a spa, and a curio (gift) shop that are shared with the Main Lodge. Now for the safari... The lodge offers guided safaris only in open 4x4 jeeps that seat up to 10 people, not including the driver. There are 2 safaris per day: 6 to 9 am, but usually ending close to 10am, and 3 to 6 pm, but usually ending closer to 7 pm. Breakfast and dinner are after the safari drives. I don't recommend this type of safari to those who cannot adhere to the schedule, or who have major back, knee, and/or hip issues that limits their mobility. You have to be able to climb in and out of the jeep, and tolerate being exposed to sun, wind, and/or possibly rain for 6 to 8 hrs a day. The rides can get veery bumpy as you go over up and down valleys and steep hills on the gravel/dirt roads. Please hold on to the thick metal bars in front of you, and watch out for thorny bushes. Sometimes you have to duck to dodge these bushes. Make sure you bring a good pair of binoculars so you can see animals that are further away and to observe those around the watering hole that can be seen from the balcony of some of the chalets. If you come in the shoulder seasons esp. early spring and fall, bring winter clothing unless you want to be like us- frozen icicles! Definitely bring a winter hat. The game drives can be freezing! A safari at Kariega in the Eastern Cape is very different than a safari at a massive, national wilderness reserve such as Kruger, Etosha, or the Serengeti to name a few. The Cape is very green and very hilly, with a lot of thick bushes/vegetation. A reserve the size of Kariega, about 12 000 hectares or over 100 square km or so cannot support large prides of lions, massive herds of grazing animals, large clans of hyenas etc. What you see on National Geographic or Animal Planet is not what your safari will be like. I don't know why so many people can't understand that. Sightings of the big five, like anywhere on safari, are not guaranteed, but if you stay for 3 nights and have 6 game drives, you will most likely see 4 out of the big 5 and have a wonderful safari. If you're really looking forward to seeing a leopard, this is not the reserve for you. Leopard sightings here are extremely rare, and some of the rangers who have worked here for years have never seen one. The guides are wonderful and will do their best to track the animals that you want to see, especially popular ones like elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. You will come across many grazing animals such as giraffes, zebra, impala, nyala, wildebeest, bush buck, water buck, kudu, eland, ostrich, warthogs etc. We were lucky to see hippos out of the water (from a distance), a couple of jackals, and got a glimpse of a cerval. The reserve has 2 male lions, a lioness and her 3 almost grown cubs, and 2 male cheetahs. There are decent sized herds of elephants and buffalo, and several rhinos. There are only a few hyenas, which are rarely seen. There are no African painted dogs or some of the antelope that prefer more arid environments such as the oryx. During each game drive, there will be time for a hot drink in the morning, or sundowner drinks in the evening at sunset. I loved after coming from the 4 hr game drive, freezing, with my hair all over the place, to be greeted by the smiling staff with a warm face cloth and a refreshing or hot drink. I felt so spoiled! I wish I would be treated like this every day. This lodge does not disappoint, and I'd love to return in the future. A special shout out to our wonderful guide Amber for making our safari so memorable! Thanks Amber! Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating A fabulous stay in a wonderful reserve. Spectacular safari experience

Mar 25, 2024 Explorer32919511999

From arrival to departure the staff were wonderful, the luxury room was clean and beautiful. The view itself stunning. Food excellent, room and surroundings spectacular. A special thanks to JJ our safari guide who was amazing. Very knowledgable and great safari experience.
Image of the Tripadvisor rating A luxury African adventure

Mar 6, 2024 Elaine D

An absolutely fabulous few days at Kariega. Stunning location immaculate public areas and beautiful rooms/suites. Zukos and her team could not do enough for us and ensured our every need was catered for. The whole staff were exceptional helpful, efficient and extremely good at their jobs. Tandos looked after us at meal teams and ensured we were… Read more
An absolutely fabulous few days at Kariega. Stunning location immaculate public areas and beautiful rooms/suites. Zukos and her team could not do enough for us and ensured our every need was catered for. The whole staff were exceptional helpful, efficient and extremely good at their jobs. Tandos looked after us at meal teams and ensured we were looked after from the moment we walked through the door. Mabhuti & Pam entertained us with traditional songs and dance which was throughly entertaining. Then they both reverted back to their front of house jobs. The game runs with JJ our ranger were outstanding and he went the extra mile to ensure we were safe, & well informed on the different aspects of the landscape and the animals roaming on it. One not to forget Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Unmissable

Feb 19, 2024 Huwwilliams12345 Swansea, United Kingdom

This lodge is more adult themed as no children under 12 are permitted. Exceptional service (you are met after each drive with warm towels and a drink) The food and wine are up a notch from Main Lodge and the bar, dining room are superb with open fires roaring in the evenings. Ben, our guide was great. Fantastically knowledgable, skilful and with a… Read more
This lodge is more adult themed as no children under 12 are permitted. Exceptional service (you are met after each drive with warm towels and a drink) The food and wine are up a notch from Main Lodge and the bar, dining room are superb with open fires roaring in the evenings. Ben, our guide was great. Fantastically knowledgable, skilful and with a great sense of humour. Kariega has such varied topography so it is a pleasure to drive around. Read less