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“Highlight of South African visit”

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Kariega Game Reserve - Main Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Aberdeen, Scotland
Level Contributor
65 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Highlight of South African visit”
Reviewed November 18, 2007

Fantastic game reserve to visit. Saw 4 of the "big 5". Accommodation and meals were 1st Class, we stayed at Ukhozi lodge which I would advise to upgrade to if you can afford the extra. Ranger knowledge and enthusiasm unbelievable which made for a superb stay. Wish we had stayed 3 nights instead of 2.

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1 Thank ElaineAberdeen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
London, UK
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed October 20, 2007

We stayed in the main lodge for 4 nights and had a wonderful time.

We were in chalet 9, which is close to the restaurant and pool area, so convient for getting to and from, if you have young children.

The chalet was a very large 2 bedroom unit with great outside space and views. My only complaint about the accomodation was that the travel cot they tried to provide was awful-the first one was broken and the 2nd one was dirty and stained. We ended up not using the resorts and putitng out daughter to sleep in a bed for the first time!

The game drives are great-we saw 4 of the big 5 and our ranger was very enthuiastic and informative. We learned tons not only about the game, but also about the flora and fauna.

The Lodge will arrange a babysitter for you to use during the evening drives as children are not allowed on these-the babysitter was good and very reasonable at 30ZAR an hour.

The restuarant was buffet style and had very good options for vegitarians. The drumming, singing and dancing one evening was brilliant! The staff were very accomodating for us as a family and they always had a high chair waiting.

  • Liked — Everything...a great way to spend a few days.
  • Disliked — The porta cots
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank miaonthemove
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed October 17, 2007

I arrived at Kariega and were greeted by the ever friendly reception and our ranger. He took us down to the lodge to show ur our Chalet and then to guide us down to the restaurant, as lunch was being served. The food was fabulous - eventhough the waitrons seemed a bit offish.

Our ranger then took us on a afternoon drive - it was awesome, we saw the elephant nice and close. He did his best to explain all to us - even beyond the language barrier of some german guests. The only negative was seening a baby giraffe being eaten by a lion - ranger told us the giraffe were from the non lion side and thus didnt know lions.

Dinner was excellent and our ranger joined us at our table. The staff were effiecient but again seemed miserable to even be there...

Our chalet was superb and well fitted - the bath is massive and for two people we had a 3 room log cabin!

We were then given a morning game drive where we once again saw so much - the rangers here LOVE their jobs and all are friendly in passing.

Thank you Kariega and staff for a wonderfull stay - even if it was for one night.

  • Liked — Gane Drives
  • Disliked — unfortunately waitron service
  • Stayed October 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank cityslicker40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bexleyheath, Kent
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed September 22, 2007

We had a fantastic 2 nights at the Kariega Game Reserve - I cannot recommend it highly enough. When choosing a game reserve, we chose this one as it was slightly cheaper than some of the others, was malaria free, has the Big 5 and close to Port Elizabeth (as we didn't want to fly to Kruger)
What an amazing place. We had a chalet for just 2 of us - we had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a massive lounge area / kitchen and our own swimming pool. There are different accommodation types and we had chose the Kariega Lodge which was the cheapest, so we couldn't believe the high standard of our accommodation. It had a log fire and a satalite TV with a huge amout of channels (more than we had got any where else we stayed!) Each room had it's own safe and the bathrooms were lovely with free-standing baths. The only one thing missing in the rooms was a hair dryer, but you can borrow these from reception. We had a viewing platform from which you could see over the valleys and it felt very secluded, so no one could see in.
As for the resort, all meals were buffet style, but you get breakfast, lunch and dinner included (at Kariega Lodge you have to pay for all drinks except with breakfast, but some of the other accommodations drinks are included). Food was fantastic with a good choice. On the 1st night we ate in the restaurant and on the 2nd night we had a Boma, where we ate outside by a camp fire - we had tin plates and the food was all prepared in big pots outside. Then after the meal the kitchen staff all started singing and dancing for us -- amazing experience!
As for the game drives, they were just great. There are 2 a day - a morning and afternoon one. We were lucky as it was low season and we had a ranger just for the 2 of us for 3 out of the 4 drives, so he could really go out of his way to look for things we haven't seen yet. Unfortunately we didn't see a Leopard (not for the want of trying) but we saw everything else. Our ranger (Daniel) was just fantastic. He was so knowledgeable and went out of his way to ensure we got the most out of the experience as possible.
I would 100% recommend Kariega to anyone! It is a great way to end the Garden Route if travelling from Cape Town and is only a 1hr 20 min journey from Port Elizabeth (en route to Grahamstown) - the fact that it is malaria free is a huge plus too (although bring some insect spray as there are still mosquitos about - I only got a couple of bites). Also bring a warm fleece as it gets a bit chilly when the sun goes down. Fantastic Place!!

  • Liked — The fact that we had our own private pool
  • Disliked — Nothing bad to say!
  • Stayed September 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank JoanneFrost
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Witney, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
193 reviews
110 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 143 helpful votes
Reviewed August 9, 2007

This was our first visit to SA and safari so came with an open mind of what to expect in terms of spotting wildlife and facilities. We need not have worried.

The chalet was superb, we were allocated a three room chalet, with pool. The bedrooms are well sized, as is the bathroom with a huge lounge area and even a kitchen (I think you can also do self catering). Why you would want to miss out on the food though I can't imagine.

The choice was good for all meals, and the BBQ was excellent.

Our only surprise was that most people seemed to go to bed after dinner so it was very quiet in the evenings. The staff were very helpful, even opening the bar just for our group!

The highlight has to be the wild life - we say 4 of the big 5. If you get a choice ask for Anton as your guide. He was excellent and a credit to the Reserve.

At times you do go quite close to the road so get a sense that you aren't in deepest Africa, but that said, there are plenty of times when you are away from all signs of civilisation - it just depends on where the animals are.

We were told the accomodation was full during our stay but the place seemed empty, so no worries about being one of a mass of tourists in convoy looking for the same animals.

Take advantage of the mountain bikes (the trials could be better signed though) and canoing down the river.

Would we go back - yes! Recommend this as somewhere to go on safari? Definitley.


  • Liked — Anton our guide and the chalet
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank witneytraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed June 12, 2007

We stayed for 3 nights at Kariega Main Lodge May 22nd to 25th and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

We were there to see the animals and were not disappointed. Zebra, Wildebeest, Giraffe, Impala and Blesbuck wander freely around the area between the entrance gate and the lodges. Vervet Monkey were spotted daily in the trees lining the main track between the lodges and the restaurant/bar.

Even though the first evening game drive was cut short due to weather conditions we still managed to spot 1 of the big 5 - Buffalo - literally within touching distance. In all we saw 4 of the big 5 with only the elusive Leopard missed. Our sighting of the Elephants reduced me to tears of happiness - I am an Elephant nut and to see these magnificent beasts in their natural surroundings for the first time was an experience that will live with me forever. 'Hunting' for Lion by spotlight was also a huge thrill. Other sightings included Hippopotamus, Fish Eagles, Red Hartebeest, Bush Buck, Water Buck, Kudu, Duikers and Eland.

Our ranger Brendan did everything possible to show us as much of the 2 sides of the reserve (the reserve is split in 2 by the main road from Kenton on Sea) as was possible in the 3 days we were there. He is a credit to his employer and his profession.

Although our last evening game drive in search of Leopard and Hyena did not result in success in relation to these animals we did spot Bushpig and a Porcupine and also enjoyed the noise of a Lion chewing through a Wildebeest carcass !!

Having read one negative review of Kariega which referred to the game drives as being an organised sham I was a little worried. However, I needn't have, as even if the rangers know the approximate area a particular animal(s) is/are in the size of the reserve, the nature of the land (very hilly with deep valleys) and vegetation means that you still have to be patient to get your sightings which are not guaranteed. For example, 2 lads from London who we shared our first 2 game drives with (the rest of the time we were fortunate to have the vehicle to ourselves) were only there for 1 night so did not see the White Rhino and did not have the intimate Elephant sightings we did.

There are only two negative points which have stopped me giving an excellent rating :-
1) We were unfortunate to arrive during a very cold and wet snap and our chalet was cold. It took a full 24 hours for the place to be heated through which made it very difficult to dry our clothes after getting soaked during our first game drive. I think the management of the reserve could have arranged to have had the heating on before our arrival (at 2pm) in the chalet given the weather conditions.
2) On arriving at the restaurant on the first evening we were not greeted and proceeded to sit at one end of a large table (set for 10) as it was next to the roaring wood fire. We were soon asked to move in a rather off hand manner by a gentleman who looked like a manager as he had a corporate group arriving.

Those 2 niggles aside we received excellent service throughout our stay. The food was varied, fresh and tasty - try the ostrich steak (medium rare) if you get the chance. Our chalet was a good size for 2 people and was cleaned daily. I would describe the accomodation as comfortable rather than luxurious. We had a balcony with seating with a great view over a valley - I would note that you aren't able to view game from the chalets given their position (this was clear when we made our booking so I only mention it in passing).

I would highly recommend Kariega to anyone who is interested in viewing African wildlife.

  • Liked — Surroundings & wildlife
  • Disliked — Difficulty in drying clothes
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank NewcastleLil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berkshire
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed May 28, 2007

We booked Kariega through an offer with Trailfinders (we got an offer on our flights if we booked three nights accomodation with them). We spent three night at Kariega Lodge and overall it was a wonderful experience. We managed to see four of the five (the leopard was hiding and hadn't been seen for six months but no effort was made to seek it out!) I also enquired about the hyena on several occasions, but was told that they were beyond the hills.
It also turned out that those staying at the River Lodge (the more pricey lodge) had access to another area of the reserve (that wasn't accessible to us mere mortals) which contained more leopards and cheetahs. There are no cheetahs in the main game reserve. You are not told this when booking.
The game drives were fantastic and the ranger made every effort to show us what he could.
Our lodge was huge - there was only two of us, and we had a three bedroom, three bedroom lodge with living area. There was a huge viewing deck outside where you could watch the sunrise in the morning. It's also very private and you aren't overlooked by the neighbours. We did come out on the last day to see a giraffe near the lodge! We weren't lucky to have a private plunge pool.
The meals were buffet and the food was of a good standard. Drinks were not included in the stay.
Overall, the stay was very good and we did get very very close to the game. If coming back to SA, I would do a game reserve again, but would have a bigger budget so I could stay at bigger game reserve with more game.

  • Liked — The views
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank CityGirl2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kariega Game Reserve - Main Lodge

Property: Kariega Game Reserve - Main Lodge
Address: R343 | Between Kenton On Sea and Grahamstown, Kenton-on-Sea 6191, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Greater Addo > Kenton-on-Sea
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Kenton-on-Sea
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Kariega Game Reserve - Main Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kariega Game Reserve is a 10,000 hectare Big 5 malaria-free private game reserve in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. The safari experience combines close up Big 5 game viewing, an expansive variety of fauna, flora and birdlife, a landscape spanning 5 eco-systems and dramatic views and vistas. Kariega Game Reserve has five safari lodges. Main Lodge consists of 21 separate log chalets, each with en-suite bathrooms, lounge and private balcony; River Lodge has 10 suites and is located on the Bushman's River; Ukhozi Lodge has 10 spacious suites, each with private pools and great views; Settlers Drift Tented Lodge has 9 modern but intimate suites surrounded by natural bush and overlooking the Bushman's River wilderness area and lastly the Homestead private lodge is perfectly suited for families or groups of friends of up to 14 people. Rates include accommodation, meals, morning and evening game drives with your experienced guide, walking safaris and a river trip. Fishing, canoeing and other activities can be arranged. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kariega Game Reserve Hotel Kenton-On-Sea
Kariega Lodge

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