If you’ve ever considered going on a South African safari, there’s a very good chance that you’ve heard of the African Big Five – our five most impressive, imposing land mammals. The Big Five – lion, Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino – were originally identified as the most dangerous African animals to hunt. Today, through global conservation efforts, thousands of visitors flock to national parks and game reserves across the continent, not to hunt, but to admire.
Admire the silent, slinking leopard, capable of hauling a kill up into a tree. Sit in awe of the size and grace of a herd of African elephants as they emerge from the bush. Marvel at the massive Cape buffalo as it cools off at the watering hole, large, black eyes lined with impossibly long lashes. Quake and thrill at the slightest movement of the mighty lion – king of the bush – with his golden mane. And, finally, feel gratitude and wonder at the sight of the endangered rhinoceros, still fighting along the edge of extinction due to poaching. This is the African Big Five and you’ll find them here in Addo. Actually, Addo Elephant National Park is the only Big Seven national park in the world. That’s right, the Big Five plus two! Those two – the great white shark and southern right whale call the marine protected area of Algoa Bay their home, and you’ll need to hop on a marine safari to view these oceanic animals.
However, the Big Five are easily accessible on land and, whether you visit the national park or the following Big Five private game reserves, you’re sure to enjoy an unforgettable Addo safari.
Kuzuko means ‘place of glory’ and, when you gaze out over the valley and mountains, it’ll make perfectly glorious sense. 24 chalets are nestled against a hillside overlooking the Kabouga plains and glorious Winterberg Mountains. Game drives depart morning and evening. Kuzuko has a strong conservation ethos and is the permanent home of Sylvester, the wandering Karoo lion – who is now a happy resident on the reserve, father to two cubs, and wanders no more.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve
Shamwari is a name that you’ll hear often in connection with luxury game reserves and wildlife conservation in the Eastern Cape. As one of the oldest game reserves in the region, Shamwari has been an integral part of the preservation and restoration of wildlife and flora in the Addo region. Shamwari serves as a partner in the world-famous Born Free Big Cat programme with Virginia McKenna’s Born Free Foundation. Shamwari houses seven lodges and an explorer camp along with the magnificent Big Five and many other species.
Amakhala Game Reserve – Leeuwensbosh & Shearers’ Lodge
Amakhala is a truly unique safari experience. Visitors are offered a selection of accommodation options from 10 diverse owner-managed establishments on the 8500 ha game reserve: restored country houses, safari lodges and tented camps that will surprise and delight. Day and night safaris through the reserve offer ample opportunity to view the many species on the reserve, including the Big Five.
Gorah Elephant Camp
Gorah is one of only two private concessions located within the Addo Elephant National Park. It’s a place of romance, turn-of-the-century elegance, and almost unbelievable wildlife encounters. Enjoy the outdoors in a luxury tent, eat outdoors and watch the elephants stroll past – this is an Addo experience like no other.
River Bend Lodge
River Bend Lodge is the only other private establishment in the park, set on its own 14 000ha concession. River Bend is an excellent choice for a luxurious family-friendly safari perfectly balancing an Eastern Cape safari with elegant, tailored luxury. Guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in the area. Enthusiastic guides, an in-house professional photographer and personal wine tastings are just some of the special touches to be found at River Bend.
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