While traveling through South Africa last year, we drove a portion of South Africa’s Garden Route – a 200-kilometer drive along the N2 Highway from Mossel Bay to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape. Considered to be one of the world’s most scenic coastal routes, I couldn’t agree more.
Along with shark cage diving, beaches, and whale watching, there are several safari opportunities along the Garden Route. Of these, the Gondwana Game Reserve sticks out as a clear reminder of why South Africa has become one of my favorite destinations.
Learn all about Shark Cage Diving in South Africa
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to beat the vast expanse of land that forms Kruger National Park, but there is another (albeit smaller) slice of heaven in the Western Cape called Gondwana Game Reserve. The park is the only Big Five Fynbos reserve in the world – a 1,000-hectare terrain of floral shrubland.
There are more than 8,700 plant species in this section of the Cape Floral Region! For this, it was declared one of the world’s 34 biodiversity ‘hot spots’, and in 2004, was confirmed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reserve won the World Travel Award as South Africa’s Leading Nature Experience for 2012.
The park is just 25 minutes from Mossel Bay, or a four-hour drive from Cape Town, making it ideal for travelers who want to ditch city life for a few days to experience the great outdoors. Gondwana Game Reserve boasts views of the Langeberg Mountains. The best part is that you’ll never be too far from Garden Route attractions such as championship golf courses, sailing, coastal towns, surfing, and vineyards.
The Gondwana Game Reserve is home to more than 10 antelope species, the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra, black rhinoceros, giraffe, cheetah, hyena, and hippo. Because of its array of activities, the Gondwana Game Reserve is perfect for couple or families.
With free-roaming Big Five, you can enjoy the park on an open vehicle game drive – offered in the mornings and afternoons. Other outdoor experiences include nature hikes, guided walking safaris and horseback safaris. Unlike other parks in South Africa, children aren’t left out. Kids ages 6-12 can join the Junior Ranger Experience where they will participate in educational game drives and activities.
When the time comes to relax, the Gondwana Spa has a great menu of beauty, body, and massage treatments with Africanology eco-friendly skin care products. Golfers will enjoy being a mere 20 minutes away from champion golf courses in Mossel Bay. Guests of Gondwana get preferential golf rate at the nearby Pinnacle Point Golf Resort.
Gondwana’s five-star accommodations include deluxe standalone lodges for couples and private bush villas for families. There are 14 Kwena Lodges, each with luxurious furnishings and beautiful décor. Their dome-shaped design is based on the traditional Khoi-San hut (home of South Africa’s indigenous bush people). The interiors are anything but basic. Each Kwena Lodge offers panoramic views of the verdant landscape and the two watering holes. Skylights allow guests to star gaze at night, while fireplaces help them get warm and cozy after a long day of game viewing.
Bush villas are spacious, offering an open concept living area with two, three, or four en-suite bedrooms. These are perfect for families or groups of friends traveling together. Each villa has views of the Outeniqua Mountains and a private outdoor deck. Amenities include a fully equipped kitchen, flat screen television, DVD player, double sinks, and gas fireplaces.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the beautiful Gondwana Nature Reserve. It really was one of the best safari experiences I’ve had in South Africa!
What are your favorite safari destinations in South Africa? Tell us about them. Leave a comment below!