Having been Safari Guides when we lived in KwaZulu-Natal, Bryan and I were keen to find out what Game Reserves are available for people visiting the Garden Route. One thing we really miss from our time in KZN is the wildlife.
We had heard and read about Gondwana Game reserve and it’s free-roaming Big 5, so it seemed like the best game reserve to visit.
With my brother and sister-in-law visiting, we decided to treat ourselves to a night at Gondwana Game Reserve, Mossel Bay.
We booked one night in the Kwena Lodge Suites, which are two-person suites built in the circular style of the traditional Khoi-san dwellings, but exude luxury and comfort and plenty of privacy and are situated next to the Main Lodge and restaurant.
Some friends of ours happened to be staying the same night and they had booked one of the Bush Villas, which are set within the game reserve and are about a 15-20 minute drive from the Main Lodge.
As you can see from the photos, the Kwena Suites are gorgeous. Extremely luxurious, beautifully decorated and have spectacular views.
The drive to the Main Lodge from the Entrance Gate is about 8kms and we were lucky to see many plains game and also rhino (my brother’s favourite of the Big 5).
We had booked a full board stay, which included lunch upon arrival, so after checking in, receiving a very friendly welcome from the staff and a refreshing drink and our bags being delivered to our suite, we settled down to a scrumptious meal before heading off on our first game drive at 16h00.
We could not have been luckier on our afternoon game drive. We came across a pride of lions feeding on a wildebeest carcass, a small herd of elephants enjoying an afternoon snack on the leaves and branches of the trees, a family of rhino having a friendly tussle on the side of the road, and a few waterbuck, bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra, to name a few of the plains game that we saw.
We also stopped in the game reserve for a sundowner and stretch of the legs. A great start to our stay at Gondwana Game Reserve.
After a delicious meal and a good (if not slightly short) sleep in the incredible comfortable beds, we were up early the next morning for our sunrise game drive, departing at 6am.
We again had fabulous sightings of hippo, lions, cheetah, ostrich, sable, impala, buffalo and giraffes. Our guide was excellent and went above and beyond to find as many of the animals as possible. All the animals were very relaxed in the company of the game viewing vehicles and so we were able to get extremely close to them. Closer than I used to go when I was guiding in KZN.
In fact, during two game drives, we saw four of the Big Five animals. Only the leopard eluded us, but leopards are secretive creatures and very hard to find, partly due to them being solitary creatures. I also understand from our guide that, at the time of our visit, it had been some time since leopard was spotted at Gondwana Game Reserve.
After our morning game drive we returned to the Main Lodge for a delicious and filling breakfast, then we packed up and checked out and headed on our way.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Gondwana Game Reserve and if you are visiting the Garden Route and are looking for a Big Five Game Reserve in the Western Cape, then Gondwana Game Reserve is an excellent choice.
The accommodation is fabulous with every possible luxury and comfort carefully considered, the staff are wonderfully helpful and friendly and the landscapes are breathtaking. You will definitely not go hungry and if you are staying for a few days, there is an exquisite pool available to while away a few hours in between game viewing activities.
With regards the wildlife and game viewing, with the exception of an area which is enclosed to protect some endangered species, such as the Cape Mountain Zebra, Bontebok and Sable (to name a few), the animals are all free roaming.
The lions and cheetah are collared, (we were advised that this is required by law, so they can be tracked if they were to somehow get outside of the game reserve), but the collars are not used to locate the animals for game viewing opportunities. you have an excellent chance of seeing a huge variety of species and getting extremely close to them.
The guides are excellent and have a wealth of knowledge which they willingly share with their guests.
So, in summary, I would definitely recommend Gondwana Game Reserve if you are looking to visit a Big Five Game Reserve in the Western Cape and the Garden Route.
Article & photographs by Garden Route Unearthed.