What’s the first that pops in your mind when thinking about South Africa or Africa in general? Of course, wild animals. Animals, Europeans might see in a zoo but nowhere else.
It therefore makes sense to make a Game Drive in the land of the Big 5!
Game Reserve or not – that’s the question
We would have loved to see the Kruger National Park. Unfortunately it just wasn’t slightly near the route we planned. Two weeks aren’t enough to combine the west coast of SA and Kruger. It would just have been too much.
So we had to search for an alternative. It happened a few times other travellers told us Game Reserves are just large zoos. Of course, in this case there’s probably not much safari feeling coming up.
Still we wanted to make game drives and needed a solution. For us it was the Gondwana Game Reserve.
Why Gondwana Game Reserve
Before our departure we were asking friends and searching throughout the internet about the numerous opportunities you have in the western part of the country.
We decided for Gondwana Game Reserve for a variety of reasons.
On the one hand the Game Reserve is 11.000 ha large and really huge. We were driving around for hours and hadn’t seen fences anywhere. On their website they are advertising the Big 5. But our ranger told us that – at least for now – there are no leopards. So it’s the Big 4, so to say.
On the other hand it was our honeymoon and so we treated ourselves.
Perfect honeymoon safari
The Gondwana Game Reserve offers you excellent service and culinary indulgence. The meals were so delicious.
We were welcomed so friendly at our arrival, almost an overload of service.
I think we were a little bit swamped as we’re not used to this. While staff were caring for our luggage, we were taken to lunch at the Game Reserve’s restaurant. We can tell you they are very generous here.
Thank God we could relax in our hut some time first before they continued with the High Tea!
Staying in Kwena Hut
There aren’t many luxury accommodations that catch our interest. But the Kwena Huts with their Skylight roofs are definitely one of the few. Lying in bed at night and staring at the stars – priceless. The huts are really big in the inside and super stylish including a fire place, a huge bath tub and everything you could think of.
Moreover there was a bottle of Champagne waiting for us at our arrival and a plate with some tasty treats. As said before the service was amazing.
Be prepared to what might happen to you in those huts: Getting up in the morning and a lion lying on your terrace – not so unlikely. Lions, elephants, impalas – they’ve all been here. For security reasons there’s always a guide bringing you to your huts after sunset. They know how to react in case you stumble upon one of the animals.
Now for the interesting part. As we only had booked one night in the Gondwana Game Reserve, there were two safari rides on the itinerary.
The first one started in the afternoon, returning just after sunset. The other one started 6.30 in the morning which was really hard. And really cold. If you plan to go on a safari in South Africa in September, bring a beanie and warm clothes with you. At the end of the morning ride I was an icicle.
We’ve seen almost all of them: Impalas, rhinos, hippos, gnus, elephants, buffalos, zebras. Only the divas didn’t want to show themselves. We really hoped to see the lions but it was vain. Our guide was really experienced and did his very best. We followed the fresh carcasses the lion left behind hoping to see him somewhere.
You should stay longer and make more Game Drives so chances are bigger to see the king animals in wild nature.
What shocked us and calmed us down at the same time: the rhinos had to be protected 24/7. Though they control the whole area, poachers continue hunting these animals. The rhino’s bodyguards are armed and in case of an emergency, they would also shoot. It’s a disgusting business and we can somehow understand their policy.
We learned a lot during the safari. Our guide told us a lot about the animals and their behaviour. It was a funny and exciting safari experience, though cold both times due to the time of the year.
Gondwana Game Reserve is perfect for safari beginners, honeymooners and luxury lovers. It has its price but it’s worth every penny.
Have you ever been to Game Reserves? Would you recommend them?