​Expert Reviews – Amakhala GR

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Expert
Philip Briggs   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Autumn

Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

3 people found this review helpful.

The Big Five and the N2
Overall rating
3/5

This admirable private reserve was created in 1999 as a joint conservation venture comprising six old livestock farms. The farms still support a fair amount of Albany thicket (woodland) dominated by indigenous spekboom (a South African shrub) and have been restocked with suitable wildlife. The main wildlife-viewing circuit is very pretty, flowed through as it is by the Bushman’s River, and enclosed by verdant mountains and sandstone cliffs. The reserve is home to all the Big Five. If our visit is representative, you can be pretty sure of seeing lion, elephant, buffalo and white rhino in the course of a two-night stay, along with cheetah, giraffe, hippo and more. A nervy highlight for us was encountering a pair of white rhinoceros on foot on an expertly guided bush walk. Unfortunately, when we visited, the river was too low to do a boat trip. A fairly significant negative of this otherwise commendable reserve is that it is bordered by the N2, the busy main road that runs east from Port Elizabeth to East London, and the sight and sound of traffic tends to kill the wilderness buzz. Also, while access is reserved to overnight visitors and all game drives are guided, a total of 11 lodges on the property means that it tends to carry more traffic than the likes of Shamwari or Kwandwe. That said, Amakhala is far cheaper than most private reserves in the Eastern Cape and – low profile of leopards notwithstanding – the wildlife viewing really is very good. A recommended option for budget-conscious first-time safari-goers.

Expert
Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: May

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

2 people found this review helpful.

From farmland to game reserve – conservation in progress
Overall rating
3/5

Amakhala Game Reserve began in 1999 as a joint conservation venture between the owners of six lodges, who were the direct descendants of families that settled here in the 19th century to farm sheep and cattle. Bit by bit, they’ve rehabilitated the land and reintroduced animals that once roamed freely in the area. Today there are 10 lodges all offering a different experience: from the rustic Quartermain’s 1920’s Safari Camp (without electricity) to the colonial Leeuwenbosch Country House to the African design inspired Safari Lodge. The Big Five reserve offers easy wildlife viewing in a pretty setting and most safari animals are usually seen within a normal two to three-night stay. After several game drives, I enjoyed stretching my legs and a change of pace on a walking safari. This is a great opportunity to see some of the smaller creatures, marvel at the shapes and sizes of animal tracks and learn about the plants. Most exciting though was approaching two white rhinos downwind while trying not to snap any twigs. Their strong smell confirmed that we got the wind direction right if nothing else.

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.0/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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