A visit to an African Safari is pretty much on everyone’s bucket list. It is one of those things that just seems surreal, getting close to storybook beasts as they walk amongst us. During our visit in South Africa we decided to spend a day at Gondwana Game Reserve on Garden Route.
Gondwana Game Reserve is on the Garden Route and is convenient to visit from Cape Town. A visit to an African Safari at Gondwana Game Reserve includes luxurious accommodations, great food, and abundant wildlife. Gondwana is home to Africa’s big five – lions, elephants, rhinos, Cape Buffalo & leopards.
A visit to Gondwana Game Reserve offers all the luxuries you would expect on the safari.
Where is Gondwana Game Reserve
Gondwana Game Reserve is close to 400 km east of Cape Town. It is a perfect stop if planning a trip to the Garden Route, less than 30 minutes away from Mossel Bay.
Coming from Mossel Bay on road R327, there will be a right turn, right before Proteus Substation. Once on this road, you will mostly see hand made signs point you toward the reserve. The reserve is open only to the overnight customers with reservations.
Gondwana Game Reserve
Gondwana Game Reserve is massive over 25,000 acre park with and 2,500 is reserved for Endangered and Protected species.
Upon your arrival at the entrance gate, you will be directed where to go for a check-in depending on where you are staying. We were staying at Kwena Lodge Suites, modern and luxurious huts with 180-degree views and skylight for star gazing.
Other accommodations available here are more luxurious villas for families or larger groups with 2, 3, or 4 bedroom configurations. Gondwana’s most exclusive private villa is Ulubisi House with a full complement of staff including its own butler, chef, and field guide.
Other activities that you can enjoy at Gondwana Game Reserve are guided Fynbos walking, fishing, and mountain biking/hiking. They also offer babysitting and have a Spa on site.
Safari Drive at Gondwana Game Reserve
With one night stay at Gondwana, two safari drives are included – one in the evening of your arrival and one in the morning. The evening safari drive starts before sunset around 4:00 pm and the morning safari drive starts before sunrise around 6:30 am.
Every safari ride is unique as you never know what animals may be out and about roaming. All the visitors are divided into groups and sent to their vehicles with the tour guide. This will be your tour guide for the duration of the visit.
Our ride started with the first encounter being a white rhino with a baby rhino that was only a few weeks old. The baby was following Mama and would flop next to her every chance it got, the minute Mama got a little further, the baby would run up to it and flop next to it again. It was the cutest thing ever.
PRO TIP: The staff will request not to share the GPS coordinates of the white rhino on social media.
Close to the rhino was a heard of Cape Buffalo, comingling with Blue wildebeest. Not all that far from them grazing away were zebras, springbuck, impalas, and more wildebeests. While mesmerized with all this wildlife the guide received a call that there was a sighting of a cheetah.
On our way there we spotted more zebras, including a baby zebra and herd of eland.
The cheetah was calmly lying next to her kill barely keeping her eyes open. It was surprising how small she was and yet absolutely terrifying being that close to her. I could have stayed there for hours watching her.
As the sun started setting, it got chilly on the drive. Luckily the guides brought blankets and warm ponchos. Our last sighting of the evening drive was hippos.
Unfortunately, we never made it to the morning drive. We both got food poisoning. We suspect from oysters we had the day before. However, we did hear elephants crossing through the valley in the middle of the night and we did go to Knysna Elephant Park so didn’t feel too bad missing them. But we did not get to see the lions.
Gondwana Game Reserve Daily Itinerary
If you make reservations for full board all of the following will be included in your stay:
- 6:00 am – Breakfast
- 6:30 am – Morning Game Drive
- 8:00-10:30 am – Breakfast
- 13:00-15:00 – Lunch
- 15:30-16:00 – Afternoon Tea
- 16:00 – Afternoon Game Drive
- 18:00-22:00 – Dinner
Alcoholic beverages are an additional cost.
Visit to an African Safari at Gondwana Game Reserve Pros & Cons
Gondwana Game Reserve Pros
- The reserve is stunning. It feels like it is completely divorced from the rest of the world, even thought is only 12 km from the main road.
- The accommodations are great – modern and luxurious.
- The wildlife is abundant and free. The staff mostly just monitors them.
- There is a nice pool area to relax at and the Spa retreat if interested.
Gondwana Game Reserve Cons
- As beautiful as the reserve is, you kind of feel trapped. You are not even supposed to walk to your hut unaccompanied. The grounds are amazing for walking around and exploring but not allowed on your own in case you have an encounter with one of the wild animals. However, when we got sick overnight and didn’t show up for our game drive no one came to check on us.
- The guide we had was very new, not very knowledgeable, and an inexperienced driver. It took her multiple tries to get over the dirt hill to see the cheetah and I just kept thinking if the cheetah starts chasing us will she be able to get us out of there.
Things we learned on our visit to an African safari
The circle of life is a real thing and is lived every day at Gondwana Game Reserve. For example, the impala population is getting out of control so they brought in three cheetahs to help, two females and a male. One female was killed by lions immediately, and the other one we witnessed feasting on the impala.
Cape Buffalo’s massive horns are fused as one solid piece to their skull, making them one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.
And zebras are mean! Also, full of gas. They bite and kick as their protection mechanism. They are also full of gas due to how their digestive system works, so don’t be surprised if you hear them fart as they run away.
Some animals have monitoring bracelets on them it is mostly to monitor their movement, making sure lions don’t end up in the neighbor’s back yard or the middle of the highway.