If you are looking for an awesome Safari experience, malaria free, close to Cape Town, then Kariega is an excellent choice.
Having only 8 days in Cape Town, we were really pressed for time but wanted to experience a Safari. Having grown up in South Africa as a child of a Travel Agent, I have stayed at the best lodges in the Kruger Area including Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi so I was worried how the Kariega trip would go.
1 hour flight to Port Elizabeth from Capetown. $100.00 pp CAD each way. (Peak season)
90 minutes transfer from Port Elizabeth to Kariega. $360.00 for all five of us (Return private vehicle)
4 lodges on the game reserve, located in the Eastern Cape. We stayed at Ukhosi, which was stunning. The suites are spacious and the setting gorgeous. I would recommend staying here over the main lodge.
We spent 2 nights at Kariega, this is not enough time. It got pretty hectic because we didn’t want to miss anything. If we go back it will be for a minimum of three nights.
The accommodation was wonderful at Ukhosi, the suites are spacious, the beds comfortable, the bathtub was heavenly. I absolutely loved it.
Other than Cape Buffalo, we pretty much saw everything that Kariega had on offer. Lion, Hippo, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, White and Black Rhino, buck etc etc. Out Ranger Stef was knowledgeable and patient, showing us everything from Ant Hills, to Dung , to Lions mating, ya, we saw it ALL.
They have a road running through the middle of the game reserve (which to be fair is huge, 10 000 hectares to be precise.
With Lion and Elephant confined to the one side. I found this a little odd after my many visits to the Kruger area, but for a first time Safari visitor you may not even notice. Seeing the Hippo’s on foot was amazing and the Rhino sightings were spectacular.
The food was plentiful as were the drinks. The food was not gourmet and I would have liked a few more game options,for example the Kudu stew was delicious. The staff went out of the way to make the dining experience memorable. Due to poor weather we had to dine in the dining room at the main lodge one night and this was not great, but the boma dinner the first night, and the lunches and bush breakfasts were fantastic.
Kariega was great, an exciting and a fun adventure for my entire family. If it is your first time to South Africa and you want a Safari experience close to Capetown, this is what you are looking for.