The Eastern Cape is home to buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and rhino, collectively known as the Big 5. Besides seeing iconic wildlife, this African province is rich in flora and fauna. Because of the diverse landscape, game reserves have been established to protect wild animals. These game reserves host lodges where guests can view safari animals from a safe place. We’ll show you lodges with high-end facilities and furnished rooms suitable for couples and families. Here are the best safari lodges in Eastern Cape Game Reserves.

1. Lalibela Game Reserve – Kichaka Lodge

Set in natural stone, Kichaka Lodge is Lalibela Game Reserve’s top safari house. It’s a 5-star thatched lodge that blends in with the surrounding environment. On top of its all-inclusive offers, you’ll have access to facilities like the library, gym, and swimming pool. The modern colonial and safari interior design gives an elegant yet comfortable ambiance. With a viewing deck, sightseeing of the Big 5 is one for the books while enjoying breakfast or cocktails. Guests can relax at the Kichaka Spa, where viewing the safari through panoramic windows is also a treat. Fitted with exquisite furnishings and a private pool, each of its 10 Luxury Suites is perfect for couples. Other lodges on Lalibela Game Reserve are Mills Manor, Inzolo Lodge, and Mark’s Camp.

  • Guest Reviews: Rangers had outstanding knowledge. The lounge was impressive. Beautiful local wine and meals included.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Luxury suite
  • Address: Assegai Bush Road, Assagaairivier, 6140 Paterson, South Africa

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2. Shamwari Sindile

Within the Shamwari Private Game Reserve lies Shamwari Sindile, a 5-star safari lodge. Built like a leopard’s sanctuary, it offers a Big 5 viewing experience in a natural setting. An array of activities like stargazing and visits to conservatories are also available. Couples on an African getaway will love to stay in one of the lodge’s 9 Superior Suites. Furnished with modern amenities, each suite has a private pool and a private viewing deck. The dining area and bar serve luxurious cuisines and beverages for an intimate date night. And if you long for relaxation in the wild, the onsite spa hosts rejuvenating body treatments. Besides Sindile, Shamwari has 6 more lodges such as Riverdene, Sarili, and Long Lee Manor.

  • Guest Reviews: Unbelievable in every way – accommodation, location, facilities, friendly staff, and the animals. WOW!
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Superior suite
  • Address: Shamwari Private Game Reserve, 6130 Paterson, South Africa

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3. Hopewell Private Game Reserve

Hopewell Private Game Reserve is a luxurious lodge located in the Eastern Cape. Rated with 5 stars, the exclusive property provides closer encounters with wild safari animals. It also offers elegant suites designed to provide guests with a cozy stay in the middle of nature. For couples on a wild safari adventure, the Suite with a private pool is a recommended choice. Besides a private pool, the Buffalo, Rhino, and Zebra are suites with a deck and a fireplace. Standard suites with breathtaking views are also available to accommodate families. Guided walks, game drives, and bird watching are some activities guests can enjoy. For dining, a hearty breakfast and other delicious cuisine options are prepared at Hopewell.

  • Guest Reviews: We are in awe of the efforts of Hopewell. The rooms were immaculate with breathtaking views.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Suite with private pool
  • Address: R72, 6185 Buyskloof, South Africa

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4. Pumba Private Game Reserve

Offering luxury and adventure, Pumba Private Game Reserve houses 5-star safari lodges and Big 5 viewing. The Bush Lodge and Water Lodge are both all-inclusive but with distinct interiors. Bush Lodge has 11 glass-enclosed chalets, while Water Lodge has 12 stone-walled chalets with lake views. Each chalet has a private viewing deck, a plunge pool, an outdoor shower, and a relaxing fireplace. The Family Chalet is best fitted for families, but chalets designed for couples are also available. With game drives and bush walks, viewing the Big 5 up close is an experience of a lifetime. The onsite restaurant serves a range of delicious meals made with locally sourced ingredients. And if you want to take it easy, cool off at the large swimming pool or calm your body and mind at the Soul Spa.

  • Guest Reviews: We had a water lodge and well worth the extra to see the hippos every morning.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Family chalet
  • Address: Highlands, 6140 Yarrow, South Africa

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5. Camp Figtree

A mountain safari lodge, Camp Figtree is a luxury haven near Addo Elephant Park. The surrounding rolling hills, lush forests, and sweeping plains elevate its natural beauty. Guests can enjoy the scenic sights of the landscapes and mountains from their well-furnished suites and tents. The Luxury Suite is above a mountain cliff, overlooking the beautiful game reserve. Featuring a king bedroom, an ensuite bathroom, and a private lounge, it’s a top choice for couples. Suites with a private pool and a suite-tent-in-one are also up for grabs. Gourmet breakfast, fancy dishes, and savory drinks are served at the onsite restaurant and bar. Make the most of your stay by joining daily guided tours to Addo Elephant National Park.

  • Guest Reviews: Absolutely magical! We really enjoyed our mountain bike trip. So romantic!
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Luxury suite
  • Address: Zuurberg Pass, 6105 Addo, South Africa

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6. Kariega Game Reserve Main Lodge

Kariega Game Reserve Main Lodge is a 5-star lodge in a family-owned game reserve. With surrounding African bushveld and wildlife, expect a variety of exciting safari adventures. Viewing the Big 5 is a world-class treat while staying at the onsite restaurant, bar, and pool. The lodge houses 24 stylish log chalets with all-inclusive meals served buffet-style. Each house has a private viewing deck, a spacious lounge, and air-conditioned bedrooms. Some chalets are more sophisticated, with a private plunge pool and a fireplace. The 3-Bedroom Chalet with a private kitchen and a balcony is most suitable for large families. A stay in this lodge also includes safari drives, river cruises, and guided bush walks.

  • Guest Reviews: I saw all the animals! Breakfast was good, with lots to choose from.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Three-bedroom chalet
  • Address: Off the R343, 6191 Kenton on Sea, South Africa

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7. Woodbury Lodge – Amakhala Game Reserve

Another family-run lodge is the beautiful Woodbury Lodge within the Amakhala Game Reserve. Situated on a hilltop, it offers spectacular views of the Bushman’s River valley. Onsite, it has 2 outdoor swimming pools and a boma, a traditional South African dining area. There is also a comfortable lounge with a fireplace, keeping the guests warm and cozy. For a more personal space, the lodge consists of 7 well-appointed stone-thatched suites. Inclusive of meals, the stylish Family Chalet with a private deck is best for families. Meanwhile, the King or Twin Suite is designed to give couples a romantic space in a natural setting. Explore the game reserve and its wildlife on guided bush walks or morning and evening drives.

  • Guest Reviews: Great staff and location. The campfire in the evening was very atmospheric.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Family Chalet
  • Address: Amakhala Big 5 Game Reserve, 6139 Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa

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8. Samara Karoo Reserve

Dedicated to conservation and eco-tourism, Samara Karoo Reserve is located in the Great Karoo region. It has received multiple awards for its conservation efforts like habitat restoration. Home to diverse wildlife and over 200 bird species, it is a haven for wildlife lovers and birdwatchers. Game drives, guided safari walks, and cheetah tracking are top activities to experience. One of its best amenities is the outdoor swimming pool with stunning views of the landscape. The reserve houses 3 lodges that can only accommodate a limited number of guests at a time. Farmhouses, cottages, and tented are restored to provide guests with a luxurious stay. Ideal for couples, the Karoo Superior Suite features a 4-poster bed, a fireplace, and a covered patio.

  • Guest Reviews: Our guide went the extra mile to make sure we get to see all the animals. Overall, next level of luxury and privacy.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Karoo Superior suite
  • Address: Petersburg Road Off the R63 to Pearston Near Graaff-Reinet Eastern Cape, 6280 Graaff-Reinet, South Africa

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9. Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve

Welcome to Ocean Beach and Wildlife Reserve, where the ocean meets the lush wilderness. Set on a pristine beachfront, it offers a 5-star hotel experience and breathtaking Indian Ocean views. It features an African-shaped rock pool, a well-equipped gym, and a full-service spa. Relax in any of its suites, designed with contemporary and traditional African interiors. The Ocean, Pool, and Lodge Suites are suited for couples and small families. But the 3-Bedroom House with a kitchen, 3 bathrooms, and a plunge pool is perfect for large families. Visit the in-house restaurant for fancy dishes made from fresh ingredients. Best of all, sightings of different safari and coastal wildlife at this reserve make the stay more exciting.

  • Guest Reviews: Great hotel with an amazing view over stunning sand dunes and beach.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Three-bedroom house
  • Address: R72 Main Road, Riet River, 6170 Port Alfred, South Africa

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10. Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve

With idyllic scenery, Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve is a family-friendly safari destination. Mountain ranges, vast grasslands, and different wildlife species surround this luxury retreat. Charming manors, romantic cottages, and eco-pods come with modern amenities and country-style interiors. For large families on a safari getaway, the 3-Bedroom Villa or the Hillside Manor is the best choice. Nestled on Sneeuberg Mountain, it has picturesque views of the surrounding nature. This villa also features a swimming pool, 3 ensuite bathrooms, and underfloor heating. Included in the stay are daily meals, guided game drives, bush walks, and visits to historical sites. Check out some of their programs too, which help conserve cheetahs, elephants, and lions.

  • Guest Reviews: Unique experience in a spectacular game reserve. The staff was super warm and welcoming. 11/10!
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Three-bedroom villa
  • Address: Petersburg Road, 6280 Graaff-Reinet, South Africa

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11. Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge

From the name itself, Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge is on the banks of the Great Fish River. Views of the deep valleys, rolling hills, and savannah grasslands are awe-inspiring wherever you look. A 5-star lodge, it features large viewing decks, a boma for intimate dining, and a cozy library. Exuding classic-contemporary interiors, its 9 spacious suites are suitable for small families. Each suite has a private pool and large glass doors, showing undistorted sights of the wilderness. Game drives, guided nature walks, and the chances of tracking the Big 5 on foot are perks of the stay. If you want to keep it low, lounge by the swimming pool or treat yourself to an in-room spa. Kwandee Private Game Reserve also houses the Ecca Lodge, which has 6 suites for couples and families.

  • Guest Reviews: Great safari with very experienced and knowledgeable guides. No questions they couldn’t answer.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Suite
  • Address: Heatherton Towers, Fort Brown District, 6140 Grahamstown, South Africa

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12. River Bend Lodge

If you like waking up to the majestic sights of elephants, a stay at River Bend Lodge works magic. This 5-star lodge is in a private concession within the Addo Elephant National Park. Aside from elephants, its location allows guests to view the other Big 5 members more closely. Other activities to try are game drives, birding, hiking, stargazing, and night drives. The lodge features an outdoor pool, spa, library, and a kids’ play area, making it ideal for families. World-class dining is also a highlight, with the chefs preparing contemporary French cuisine. For the best room, the 3-bedroom Villa with a living room is also perfect for family stays. It has a private pool set in lush gardens and a viewing deck to enjoy the most stunning sunsets.

  • Guest Reviews: World-class service. We loved the game drives to the special dinner at the fireplace.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Villa
  • Address: River Bend Lodge, Addo Elephant Park, 6105 Addo, South Africa

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13. Hitgeheim Country Lodge

Hitgeheim Country Lodge is a 5-star eco-lodge radiating that countryside, calming ambiance. Found at the center of Sundays River Valley, views of the surrounding nature are incomparable. Get a closer look at the eco-reserve’s wildlife through game drives and guided bush walks. Have a refreshing swim at the lodge’s pool or chill on the veranda for some relaxing downtime. Enjoy delectable dishes and classy drinks at the onsite restaurant with the company of nature views. For accommodation, there are plenty of options that cater to all guests.  Luxury rooms are available for families, but the Superior King with Private Pool is a haven for couples. Secluded to provide privacy, it comes with modern amenities, an outdoor shower, and a private balcony.

  • Guest Reviews: Great lodge for a short stay in the Addo area. Loved the outdoor shower. Perfect for 1-2 nights.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Superior king with private pool
  • Address: Off R336 Addo / Kirkwood, 6115 Addo, South Africa

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14. Bukela Game Lodge

Serving rustic tranquility, Bukela Game Lodge is a 5-star lodge in the Amakhala Game Reserve. It consists of 4 thatched suites and 10 tents that provide high-class comfort in the middle of the wild. Each room comes with modern conveniences and stellar views of African wildlife. Although it’s an unconventional type of room, the Luxury Tent with a large lounge is perfect for couples. Guests get to enjoy complimentary meals, selected beverages, and 2 game drives a night. Immerse yourself in activities like guided bush walks, birding, stargazing, and even archery. Head to the onsite restaurant and bar for delicious gourmet meals and drinks. Besides that, the lodge also features an outdoor pool and a full-service spa for relaxation.

  • Guest Reviews: Absolutely fantastic experience. The staff, game drives, and accommodations were amazing!
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Luxury tent
  • Address: Amakhala Game Reserve, 6139 Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa

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15. Hlosi Game Lodge

Hilosi Game Lodge is another luxurious lodge situated in the Amakhala Game Reserve. Nestled on a hill, it overlooks a riverbed and has first-class views of the surrounding landscapes. The lodge comprises 14 stylish safari suites and tents, each having a private viewing deck. Families on a safari holiday will have the most comfortable stay in the 2-Bedroom Suite. Aside from the bedrooms, it has indoor and outdoor showers, as well as a family lounge area. There are also luxury suites and tents that are designed to accommodate couples. Enjoy innovative and sumptuous dishes in the lodge’s dining area, boma, or a picnic. During the day, go on game-viewing trips and have close encounters with the wildlife.

  • Guest Reviews: Memorable experience! We loved watching wildlife from our tent windows and deck.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Two-bedroom suite
  • Address: Amakhala Game Reserve, R342 Karel Landman Road, 6140 Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa

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Best Time To Visit Eastern Cape

The best time to visit Eastern Cape is from March to May when the weather is mild and pleasant. With cozy temperatures, visiting Eastern Cape is also ideal from October to December. If you’re looking for sunny days, plan your safari vacation between September and November. The winter months of April to August are perfect for whale watching and sardine run viewing. But the dry season, which happens in the middle of the year, is the best time to spot safari wildlife.

Eastern Cape vs Kruger

Known for their natural beauty and wildlife, Eastern Cape and Kruger are top safari destinations. But for one, Eastern Cape is malaria-free, while Kruger has a low-risk malaria status. Although the Big 5 can be seen in both sites, Kruger National Park is known to have more wildlife. Eastern Cape though, has diverse wildlife species and landscapes like beaches and forests. Game reserves in Eastern Cape are built with fences, while there are no fences in Kruger. Overall, both regions are unique, but Eastern Cape is better with a safer and more controlled environment.

Best Eastern Cape Game Reserves To See Big 5

Pumba Private Game Reserve game safaris

  • Lalibela Game Reserve – Kichaka LodgeWith a viewing deck on the property, guests have first-class views of the Big 5. The animals wouldn’t even notice the structure since it blends well with the environment. It also offers a Marine Safari that gives guests closer sights of great white sharks and whales.
  • Shamwari Sindile This is another game reserve where Big 5 sightings are majestic. Its free-standing tents are elevated to provide undistorted views of wildlife and the surrounding beauty.
  • Pumba Private Game Reserve – Guests get to encounter the Big 5 roaming freely in their natural habitat. It’s likely you’ll also encounter hippos, giraffes, and cheetahs. There have been sightings of white lions as well.

Best Safari Lodge In Eastern Cape For Families

Three-Bedroom House at Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve

  • Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve – Located near the beach, this Eastern Cape game reserve houses the best lodge for families. It has a 3-Bedroom House, which is spacious enough to accommodate 6. Guests will feel like it’s their home in the middle of the wild.
  • Mount Camdeboo Private Game ReserveTaking pride in being a family-friendly game reserve, you’ll love the 3-bedroom villas with mountain views. Featuring a private pool and underfloor heating, it’s popular year-round. It’s also surrounded by vast landscapes and vibrant wildlife, making the stay more relaxing for families.

Best Safari Lodge In Eastern Cape For Couples

Superior Suite at Shamwari Sindile

  • Shamwari SindileIf you’re in for a romantic safari escape, this is the best 5-star lodge for couples in Eastern Cape. The lodge has a dramatic interior setup, a private pool, and a viewing deck for intimate date nights.
  • Hopewell Private Game Reserve This is also noteworthy for having suites with a deck and a fireplace. Couples can relax in the outdoor pool while admiring Eastern Cape’s natural beauty.

Eastern Cape Lodges Map

Also read:

Find More Safari Lodges in Eastern Cape

Best Eastern Cape Accommodation

Eastern Cape Safari LodgesBest Rooms
Lalibela Game Reserve – Kichaka LodgeLuxury suite
Shamwari SindileSuperior suite
Hopewell Private Game ReserveSuite with private pool
Pumba Private Game ReserveFamily Chalet
Camp FigtreeLuxury suite
Kariega Game Reserve Main LodgeThree-bedroom chalet
Woodbury Lodge – Amakhala Game ReserveFamily Chalet
Samara Karoo ReserveKaroo superior suite
Oceana Beach and Wildlife ReserveThree-bedroom house
Mount Camdeboo Private Game ReserveThree-bedroom villa
Kwandwe Great Fish River LodgeSuite
River Bend LodgeVilla
Hitgeheim Country LodgeSuperior king with private pool
Bukela Game LodgeLuxury tent
Hlosi Game LodgeTwo-bedroom suite
For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!