South Africa has some of the most unique and varied safari experiences, particularly the Western Cape. With rugged mountains and pristine bays, it’s the best region to see the “big five” and Africa’s wild animals. We’ll show you safari lodges at campsites, nature reserves, and game parks. You can choose from luxury suites, pool villas, family chalets, and glamping tents. Whether you’re traveling as a couple or a group, there’ll be a luxury lodge for you. But before we review each safari lodge, here are some quick recommendations.

Most Luxurious Safari Lodge

Gondwana is one of the best luxury safari lodges in the Western Cape. They have the widest range of lodges available from eco-tented camps to bush villas, all superbly furnished. Compared to other lodges, they have much more facilities including a pool, lounge, dining, and bush spa. Besides seeing the Big 5 on game drives, they also offer mountain biking, bird watching, and nature walks. Customized itineraries can be arranged if you want a personalized experience.

Best Safari Lodge Near Cape Town

Most of the Western Cape safari lodges are very remote. If you want to stay close to Cape Town, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is the best option. It’s less than a 2-hour drive from Cape Town, however, we’d highly recommend taking the coastal route. Between Gordan’s Bay and Hermanus, you’ll have the most stunning ocean views. Stony Point in Betty’s Bay is a popular place to see African penguins. Harold Porter Botanical Garden nearby is also a beautiful landscape to explore. So while Grootbos is 2 hours from Cape Town, you might as well make a day of it with these lovely stops.

Best Safari Lodge To See Big 5

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is the largest privately owned safari park in South Africa. Size-wise it’s the closest experience in the Western Cape to the Kruger National Park. The reserve doesn’t allow day visitors or self-driving which means it’s less crowded and you get a certified ranger. At sunset or sunrise, they’ll take you on a 3 hours drive through the quartz fields of Karoo. Have your binoculars ready cause there’s a high chance you’ll see the big 5. Besides safaris, they have nature walks, bird watching, and stargazing. Accommodations include basic camping, family lodges, manor house suites, and luxury tents with heated plunge pools.

Best Safari Lodges For Families

  • Gondwana Game Reserve – You’ll find the most luxurious range of 2-4 bedroom family villas here. But if you want the ultimate stay, have a look at Ulubisi House. It has 3 bedrooms and a private pool with stunning views. Plus you’ll have a private ranger, chef, and butler. Service will be world-class.
  • Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa Not far from Cape Town, this lodge has something for everyone. It has an active kids club with mini golf, an adventure zone, playgrounds, and junior ranger programs for older children. Their best family accommodations are 2 and 3-bedroom cottages. The resort has a large pool, a spa for adults, a top-class restaurant, and game drives that can include horseback and quad bikes. Essentially, they have more family activities on offer compared to other safari lodges.

Safari Lodge For Couples

It’s hard to pick “the best” since all the safari lodges in the Western Cape are incredible. But if you’re looking for a unique experience on top of the game drives, here are a couple of options that stand out:

  • Sanbona Wildlife Reserve This is one of the most highly-rated lodges in the Western Cape. Whether you stay in the Dwyka tented lodge or Tilney manor, you can expect complete luxury. Both have private bathtubs so you can relax after game drives.
  • Kagga Kamma Nature ReserveWith accommodation in caves, this is one of the more unique experiences. Make sure you book the Honeymoon cave to make the most of a romantic stay. They also offer customized packages for couples.

1. Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

The Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is a ‘big-five’ free-roaming game reserve in the Little or Klein Karoo. There are four uniquely located safari lodges to choose from. The Dwyka Tented Lodge has 9 luxury tents each with a heated plunge pool, private ensuite, and shared dining areas. For families of four, the Gondwana Family Lodges may be more suitable. Gondwana camp has a large shared pool, play areas, and kids’ excursions and activities. Inclusive with all bookings are two daily nature drives, guided walks, and meals. Star-gazing the incredible Karoo sky at night is a bonus for all stays. As one of the more expensive safari lodges in the Western Cape, you get all the luxuries you pay for.

  • Guest Reviews: Our stay at Sanbona was phenomenal! Sitting on our deck and watching the wildlife was unforgettable.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Dwyka tented lodge
  • Address: Route 62 Between Montagu and Barrydale, 6720 Barrydale, South Africa

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2. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat 

Bushmans Kloof is just three hours north of Cape Town in the Cedarberg mountains. On the reserve, you can encounter rare Cape mountain zebra, small species of buck, and wildcats. There’s a dazzling array of flora including fynbos, and 130 unique ancient rock art sites. The 5 -star lodge has rooms, suites, and private pool villas. Deluxe double rooms offer couples more space with a luxury seating area while Suites have a patio or terrace. The Supreme suite has a heated plunge pool and an outdoor shower, but families and friends may prefer a villa. At The Homestead, you can enjoy first-class dining surrounded by the lodge’s private art collection. For the traditional outdoors feel, Embers is an open terrace barbecue venue.

  • Guest Reviews: Magical! Quality food, magnificent location, and exceptional staff. The Morning trip to the caves was a highlight.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Deluxe double room
  • Address: Cederberg Mountains, 8000 Clanwilliam, South Africa

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3. Hartenbos Private Game Lodge 

Hartenbos Lodge is near Mossel Bay, a key beach town along the Garden Route. On safari drives, you’ll see wildlife like hippos, giraffes, wildebeest, and Zebra. There are also over 25 species of antelope, including springbok, and small predators. Accommodations consist mostly of two self-catering villas and glamping tents. Villas comfortably sleep four in two ensuite bedrooms and have a balcony deck with splendid views. Glamping tents have double beds with an ensuite bath, so there’s privacy for couples. There are also luxury family glamping tents with two sleeping areas. In-house dining is available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Guest Reviews: An amazing setting. From the tents, you can see the animals feed next to the main house.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Chalet
  • Address: Farm Goedemoed 166, 6506 Hartenbos, South Africa

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4. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Grootbos Nature Reserve is a beautiful property close to the coastline. It covers 3,500 hectares with three ancient milkwood forests, pristine fynbos, and 23 small mammal species. Being so close to the water, most guests stay here for their ocean safaris, like shark cage diving and whale watching. On the reserve, you can enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking, and guided nature walks too. It’s a 5-star establishment with luxury suites and private pool villas. Ideal for couples, their suites have terraced views and large ensuites. For dining, villa guests get a private chef to prepare their meals along with a curated wine selection. The resort offers a number of experience packages for eco-tourism, wine tours, family outings, and honeymooners.

  • Guest Reviews: Stunning! Candlelit bath filled while you are at dinner. Try horseriding and a beach excursion at no extra cost.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Luxury suite
  • Address: R42 Between Stanford and Gansbaai, 7220 Gansbaai, South Africa

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5. Gondwana Game Reserve

Gondwana is another private game reserve just north of Mossel Bay. It’s also a ‘big-five’ free-roaming reserve with lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, and numerous buck species. Spread across the property is a wide selection of luxurious lodges. If you’re after a cultural experience, Kwena Lodge mimics traditional koi-san huts. For families and groups, there are 3 and 4-roomed Luxury Bush villas. And for a slightly rustic touch, try Luxury Eco Tents with inclusive dining. Package itineraries cover honeymoons, nearby golf tours, mountain bike safaris, and yoga retreats. The Fynbos Walking Tour will guide you through the natural wonders and there’s an inclusive Junior Ranger program for children.

  • Guest Reviews: Gondwana far exceeded our expectations. The food was brilliant. The drive to and from the bush villas was about 25 minutes.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: 4 bedroom bush villa
  • Address: Gondwana game Reserve Herbertsdale South Africa, 6505 Kleinberg, South Africa

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6. Botlierskop Private Game Reserve

Botlierskop is a reserve 20 km into the northern hinterland from Mossel Bay with four of the ‘big-five’, excluding the leopard. You can stay at the Village or Tented Lodge, Manor House, or in a private Bush Villa. The best privacy for couples is the Superior King suite within the Tented Lodge. It has a double four-poster bed, an outdoor shower, and a luxurious bathtub overlooking the reserve. Raised wooden platforms connect each tent to the Main Lodge and it’s a short walk to the Manor House. For families, you may find the Village Lodge or Bush Villas more appropriate. Activities include game drives, horseback safaris, and bush trails. The Fynbos Spa is great for unwinding with both a heated indoor and cool outdoor pool.

  • Guest Reviews: Amazing views, classy place with great atmosphere and good food. Very friendly staff and a true love for animals.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Superior king suite
  • Address: Gonnakrall Road, Little Brak River, 6503 Reebok, South Africa

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7. Knysna Elephant Park Lodge

The Knysna Elephant Park is between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay resort town. It was the country’s first reserve dedicated to rehabilitating orphaned elephants. They’ve developed a conservation program that offers unique close-up encounters. You’ll see them wandering around the property or sleeping in their sheltered boma. A lounge area is set aside by the boma so guests can see what they get up to. Luxury rooms can have king, queen, or twin beds – some with the addition of a child sleeper couch. The Family unit sleeps four with two beds, a kitchenette, and a bathroom with a shower. There are daily ‘meet-the-herd’ tours where guests can roam in between Knysna’s smaller, friendlier elephant tribe.

  • Guest Reviews: Our room had a window into the elephant lodge, so we can hear their breaths at night and see how they communicate. with each other.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Superior family room
  • Address: Farm 428, Harkerville On N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, 6600 Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

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8. Garden Route Game Lodge

The Garden Route Game Lodge is not far from the Knysna Elephant Park and en route to Plettenberg Bay airport. On a safari, animals you’ll see include elephants, lions, giraffes, white rhinos, and antelope. Other guided activities include bird watching, flora discovery, mountain bike trails, and supervised kids’ activities. But if you just want to relax, head to the luxury Ayana Spa. Check out their Deluxe chalets which are unique rondavels with wood and thatch interiors. The freestanding Honeymoon chalet is more secluded and Family chalets have a plunge pool. For dining, the main venue is Serengeti Restaurant.

  • Guest Reviews: We had a really brilliant stay. Absolutely loved the game drives. Pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food too.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Deluxe Chalet
  • Address: N2, 5km after Albertinia, 6695 Albertinia, South Africa

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9. Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is 10 minutes north of Oudtshoorn, the “ostrich capital of the world”. Built around a large watering hole lake, this region is called the Klein or Little Karoo. On the lodge terraces, you can sit and relax while watching elephants, hippos, and other wildlife from this arid region. Accommodations are all luxury tents, some along the water’s edge. Waterhole Tents are perfect for breezy sundowners and include a private outdoor shower. Family Tents are further back with elevated terrace views. Activity packages include an early morning meerkat rendezvous, cheetah drives, and lion feeding. For dining, you’ll be in the most beautiful African setting while enjoying traditional Karoo cuisine.

  • Guest Reviews: Sleeping in luxury tents, enjoying the best life with wild bird sounds watching hippos in the lake – we loved it!
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Tent
  • Address: Cango Caves Road, 6620 Oudtshoorn, South Africa

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10. Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve

Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve is nestled within a remote Cederberg valley surrounded by exquisite rock formations. It’s one of the more unique and rustic outdoor experiences about 3-hours northeast of Cape Town. They offer morning and evening safaris, but it’s the scenery that will leave you in awe. At the property, the Star and Sky suites are built around craggy outcrops with outdoor sleeping and a natural pool nearby. They have neither electricity, cell reception, nor Wifi, but you can almost touch the Milky Way. Cave suites have modern luxuries while Hut suites are more spacious. In terms of facilities, they have a lovely sandstone bar, restaurant, spa, and two swimming pools. Kagga Kamma is a top pick for honeymoons and anniversaries in the Western Cape.

  • Guest Reviews: Wonderful to sleep in a cave. Stunning view. The food was excellent. The staff was amazing.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Premier cave
  • Address: R303, Koue Bokkeveld, 6836 Lochlynne, South Africa

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11. Chandelier Game Lodge

The Chandelier Game Lodge, just south of Oudtshoorn, is great for its ostrich experience. Learn about ostrich history, economics, their breeding program, and up close feeding opportunities. They have similar experiences with giraffes and buffalo which kids love. Apart from short safari drives, you can go on the Koi San trail and learn about South Africa’s first people. Couples can stay in log cabins or luxury tents.  But make sure you check out the Honeymoon suite as it comes with a private spa bath. For larger groups, the African Family bungalow is the best option since it has extra beds. There’s also an onsite restaurant, a bar, and a chapel for weddings.

  • Guest Reviews: Recommended definitely. Best of all was the super friendly and helpful staff. Delicious dinner and breakfast.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Family bungalow
  • Address: Located on the N12 (Route 62), 7km to Oudtshoorn, 6625 Oudtshoorn, South Africa

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12. A-1 Njalo-Njalo Safari´s

Njalo Njalo is about two and a half hours from Cape Town not far from Touws River. It is a modest accommodation with safari drives to the ‘big-five’ Aquila Game Reserve nearby. They have early morning, afternoon, and sunset safaris. Big animals include elephants, lions, ostrich, zebra, eland, and other buck species. You can combine these with horseback riding, quad bikes, or massage treatments back at the lodge.  While their rooms are quite simple, it’s certainly one of the more affordable safari lodges in the Western Cape. Onsite, they also have a restaurant, bar, pool, and playground for kids.

  • Guest Reviews: The staff were so accommodating and went out of their way to help. The food was amazing! Very child-friendly.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Deluxe double room
  • Address: Nougaspoort, 6880 Touwsrivier, South Africa

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13. Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa

Aquila Safari & Spa is one of the closest ‘big-five’ game parks to Cape Town, catering to couples and families. The adults will love the large swimming pool, wet bar, and facilities at the Tranquila Spa. Kids can join the Junior Rangers program to learn about wildlife and native plants. For dining, Aquila Overnight Restaurant features local and international cuisine but it’s the scenery you’ll remember. Try the upstairs deck platform for even better views with cocktails in hand. Family luxury cottages come in 2 or 3-bedroom configurations with a bath and shower. There are smaller cottages for couples, or you can choose a room in the main lodge.

  • Guest Reviews: Beautiful lodge overlooking a lake with a hippo. The buffet was nice but quite repetitive.
  • Star Rating: 4 stars
  • Best Rooms: Family luxury cottage 8 sleeper
  • Address: Off the N1, on the R46, 6880 Touwsrivier, South Africa

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14. Garden Route Safari Camp

Garden Route Safari Camp is near the popular resort town of Mossel Bay in the Brandwacht Game Reserve. Its dense and pristine fynbos is home to over 200 hundred animal and bird species including giraffes and ostrich. Each day you can join early, mid-morning, or sundowner game drives. There are also guided bush walks, bird-watching trails, and horseback riding. The most basic accommodations are luxury tents with outdoor amenities. Family units have upstairs and downstairs bedrooms while the Loft has three ensuite bedrooms and a private pool. You can dine at the lodge restaurant and relax by the bar lounge or pool. Check out their scheduled wellness packages for Pilates, yoga, daily spa, and local cooking workshops.

  • Guest Reviews: The best experience on our trip to the Western Cape. Outstanding food and wonderful staff.
  • Star Rating: 5 stars
  • Best Rooms: Holiday home
  • Address: Brandwag, 6500 Mossel Bay, South Africa

Check Rooms Official site

Western Cape Safari Lodges Map

Also read:

Find More Safari Lodges in Western Cape

Best Western Cape Accommodation

Western Cape Safari LodgesRooms
Sanbona Wildlife ReserveDwyka tented lodge
Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness RetreatDeluxe double room
Hartenbos Private Game LodgeChalet
Grootbos Private Nature ReserveLuxury suite
Gondwana Game Reserve4 bedroom bush villa
Botlierskop Private Game ReserveSuperior king suite
Knysna Elephant Park LodgeSuperior family room
Garden Route Game LodgeDeluxe chalet
Buffelsdrift Game LodgeTent
Kagga Kamma Nature ReservePremier cave
Chandelier Game LodgeFamily bungalow
A-1 Njalo-Njalo Safari’sDeluxe double room
Aquila Private Game Reserve & SpaFamily luxury cottage 8 sleeper
Garden Route Safari CampHoliday home
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!


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