This beautiful Big Five reserve is situated in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Its name is inspired by the Kariega river, which flows through the region and provides nourishment for a vast variety of wildlife. Located just 80 minutes from the bustling city of Port Elizabeth, Kariega is well worth considering as a stop along the Garden Route. It combines well with a trip to Cape Town too. Alternatively, it is a first-rate standalone destination!
Kariega Game Reserve is owned and managed by the Rushmere family. In 1989, the family purchased a portion of land – the first of many – that had been used for farming. In fact, the reserve as it exists today was once owned by 15 different farmers, all concerned with rearing livestock. Their farming practices included hunting the local wildlife in order to protect their herds, with the result that large numbers of indigenous species were brought close to extinction.
Once the Rushmeres had bought the land, they set about reintroducing numerous types of animals. As they purchased further portions of Kariega, they were able to boost the concentrations of wildlife. The initial area consisted of 2,000 hectares. In 2003, they acquired a further 3,500 hectares; this success was followed by 500 hectares in 2006 and a substantial 4,000 hectares in 2007! So today the reserve occupies a grand total of 10,000 hectares.
Kariega hosts a stretch of the Bushmans river as well as the river from which its name derives. Its landscape is made up of five different eco-systems, including sprawling savanna, evergreen forest, and majestic mountains. This variety results in an excellent assortment of wildlife in turn.
Big game success stories include the reintroduction of lion, rhinoceros, leopard, elephant, and buffalo – all Big Five! Other mammals brought back into the area are zebra, giraffe, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, oribi, eland, nyala, kudu, waterbuck, and hippopotamus. These join species that were not entirely eradicated during the farming years – lots of types of antelope, in addition to wild cat, lynx, hyena, jackal, genet, baboon, monkey, bushpig, warthog, aardvark, otter, honey badger, and the prickly porcupine! There is also a wealth of birdlife in the reserve.
Kariega contains five properties – Main Lodge, Ukhozi Lodge, River Lodge, The Homestead, and the most recently established Settlers Drift. Each has a character of its own – for example, friendly Main Lodge is great for groups and families! However, common to all properties are luxurious communal areas and accommodation, superb service standards, and some exciting activities – game drives, guided bush walks, river cruises, canoeing, fishing, and excursions to attractions such as the local port towns and beaches.
Whether you are on a solo adventure, romantic break, honeymoon, group trip, or family holiday, this fine reserve has something to suit you. For more information, please check out our accommodation pages or contact a member of our team!