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The Garden Route is a 300 km route of breathtaking scenery along the southwest coast of South Africa and has a diverse landscape of lagoons, indigenous forests, glistening lakes, and beautiful beaches. The route winds along the coastline, starting at Mossel Bay in the Western Cape and ending in Storms River in the Eastern Cape. But the secret to the Garden Route, is the number of big five game reserves that can be found along the way or just a short drive further. For an unforgettable safari adventure, here are our Top 5 Garden Route Game Lodge picks.
Botlierskop Private Game Reserve: A Garden Route Game Lodge Favorite
Botlierskop Private Game Reserve is a hidden gem along the Garden Route, nestled midway between Mossel Bay and George. The family-owned and privately operated game reserve boasts 4 200 hectares of untouched wilderness and magnificent views of the Outeniqua Mountains and Indian Ocean below. Although it is only home to four of the Big 5, Botlierskop offers up-closing viewing of some truly unique fauna and flora. Accommodation: The 21 elegant and luxurious tented suites offer complete privacy and blends in seemingly with the natural surroundings. They are equipped with en-suite bathrooms, en-suite bathrooms with outdoor showers and a private patio with views of river in the distance.Lodge Facilities: Botlierskop has an inviting lounge with fireplace, indoor dining area, outdoor viewing deck, swimming pool, and boma area.Why it’s a Garden Route Game Lodge favorite: Botlierskop is an ideal destination to experience the outdoors, with activities such as guided game drives, horseback safaris and guided walks.
Nestled on the Bushmans River in the Eastern Cape, sits the internationally recognized Shamwari Game Reserve. This pristine 20 000 hectare wilderness is home to five of the seven ecosystems found in South Africa and the famous Big 5. Bayethe Lodge is a luxury tented retreat that boasts unrivaled luxury, exceptional hospitality and an unforgettable safari experience. Accommodation: Bayethe boasts twelve private luxurious tents with en-suite bathrooms, wooden floors, canvas sides, and a viewing deck with plunge pool. Lodge facilities: Bayethe boasts a large viewing deck with river views, a swimming pool, lounge area, dining room, outdoor boma, business desk with internet access, gift boutique, and a bush spa.Why it’s a Garden Route Game Lodge favorite: The Shamwari Game Reserve is a successful conservation story with Shamwari's Born Free Foundation Animal Rescue Centre, Ian Player Rhino Awareness Centre and the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre positioned on the reserve.Besides visits to these centers, Bayethe offers its guests daily open-vehicle game drives and guided game walks.
Only an hours drive from the coastal city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape sits the private malaria-free Kariega Game Reserve. The 10 000 hectare game reserve provides sanctuary for the Big 5 and other incredible animal species. Kariega Ukhozi Lodge is the ideal choice for travelers seeking a luxury home away from home. Accommodation: Ukhozi Lodge has 10 well-appointed luxury suites that feature an en-suite bathroom, air-conditioning and a private deck with plunge pool.Lodge facilities: Ukhozi boasts an African-style lounge, indoor dining area, an outdoor boma and a swimming pool.Why it’s a Garden Route Game Lodge favorite: Kariega offers a well-rounded safari experience with activities such as open-vehicle game drives, river cruises, canoeing, fishing expeditions and guided bush walks.
Set at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains in the heart of the little Karoo lies the private Sanbona Game Reserve. The 54 000 hectare reserve forms part of the scenic Route 62 and encompasses vast plains, craggy mountains and an impressive array of succulents. The Accommodation: Dwyka Tented Camp boasts nine private luxury tents that are well appointed with comfortable beds, air cooling and heating systems, en-suite bathrooms with double vanities, freestanding baths, indoor & outdoor showers; and a private deck with heated Jacuzzi.Lodge facilities: Dwyka Tented Camp boasts a lounge with fireplace, wine cellar, gift boutique, relaxation retreat, and an open-air dining boma.Why it’s a Garden Route Game Lodge favorite: Sanbona Game Reserve is home to a number of different animal species, including the Big 5, endangered riverine rabbit and more than 200 bird species. Guests of Dwyka can look forward to open-vehicle game drives, nature walks, spa treatments, San rock art, boating safaris, and stargazing experiences.
Kwena Lodge is a modern and luxurious game lodge that nestles in a 26 000 acre private game reserve along the garden route. With a backdrop of the Langeberg and Outeniqua Mountains, Gondwana Game Reserve is best described as a mountain safari retreat that teems with an abundance of wildlife. The Accommodation: Each of the 14 Khoi-San inspired suites are open-plan and feature a spacious bedroom with a skylight for stargazing at night; an opulent bathroom with double vanity, walk in shower and a deep bath, clay pot fireplaces, and a private veranda that boast 180 degree views of the reserve and mountains. Lodge facilities: Infinity swimming pool, lounge, bar, indoor dining area and outdoor boma. Why it’s a Garden Route Game Lodge favorite: Gondwana is a malaria free Big five game reserves that offers an incredible array of activities, including open-vehicle game drives, birding safaris, hiking, mountain biking and outdoor dining experiences. The reserve also boasts a protected area where endangered and specialty species such bontebok, Cape mountain zebra and sable can be seen.
If you are looking to drive the garden route safely, be sure to check out this informative guide.
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