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Kariega Game Reserve

Kruger may steal the headlines, but as you’re spotting hippos on a slow river sojourn, backdropped by an endless wilderness – that’s only interrupted by a scattering of protruding giraffe necks – the Eastern Cape won’t leave you wanting for much. And, this area is malaria free, so it’s a win win situation. 

Kariega’s 10,000 hectares of typical South African bush, sliced by two dramatic river valleys and dotted by some of the world’s most sought after game – including the Big Five – may not scream “family run”, but this game reserve has in fact been owned by the nature loving Rushmere family since 1989. The warm family feel will have you welcomed into the fold in no time whilst the plethora of on-site experts ensure that safariing at Kariega is a truly personal experience. 

Unlike in the national parks, a private game reserve offers up an opportunity to witness wildlife in their indigenous habitat without the crowds. The only other safari-goers here are the ones that you’re bunking up with back at any of the reserve’s five lodges, so you don’t have to worry about other tourists ruining the tranquility of the scene. Restricted numbers also mean more responsible tourism – this is the animals’ home first and foremost after all.

The enthusiasm for all things safari is infectious here and a focus on conservation is a big part of what this game reserve is all about. With poaching being one of the biggest current threats to African wildlife, Kariega is very much dedicated to anti-poaching and is specifically running a project to save the rhino following a terrible incident that took place in the reserve back in 2012 in which three of the rhinos in the area had their horns hacked off. Since this tragedy, the reserve has taken drastic moves to ensure that the wildlife residing here remain as protected as possible without interfering with their natural way of life.

Why you should add the Kariega Game Reserve to your itinerary

Looking out for the Big Five is a given. An open-game drive safari will give you the best opportunity to explore the reserve’s vast and varying landscapes, spotting lions finishing a feed, buffalos taking a drink at a watering hole and leopards slinking through the grassy plains as you go. But there are a whole host of other animals to look out for at Kariega, not to mention the incredibly diverse flora that is protected by the reserve.

When you’re not traversing the landscapes in a jeep, a bush walk will give you all the Jurassic Park feels. Nothing quite matches the freedom of a bushveld saunter when you know that over 25 species of wild animals are roaming these lands with you – you’ll need your wits about you for this jaunt.

But Kariega’s wild beauty isn’t limited to its onland offerings. Take to either of its two rivers on either a river cruise or canoeing expedition to get in touch with the wildlife that frequent its waters. You’ll never experience a serenity quite like it.

A trip to South Africa wouldn’t be complete without a safari experience and you don’t have to fly to Kruger to experience the best of what the country has to offer. If you’d like to add in Kariega to your trip, simply select our Garden Route base itinerary and add the Eastern Cape onto your trip. Head over to the itinerary builder now to see how it works.

Kariega Game Reserve Essential Information


In the Eastern Cape province, sitting at the end of the world-renowned Garden Route.

Dress code

A khaki outfit and some good binoculars – you want to fit in right? Just kidding. A keen eye and a good camera will do.

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