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natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

Chester, United...
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natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

I'm looking for quite a natural game experience. I've heard that some in some game reserves you need to go through quite a few electric fences during the drives etc.

I was originally considering Kariega but then read a few reviews. Someone recommended Pumba. I know Pumba is a bit smaller.

I'm visiting in late Aug and planning a 4 nt stay

any recommendations?

thanks for your help.

Pretoria, South...
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1. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

Hello Jess,

Both Pumba and Kariega will offer you quite "natural" wildlife experiences. Kariega unfirtunately is split into two, with the dangerous guys on one side and the peacful dudes on the other (It was like that when I was there a few years ago, and I think it still like that).

Out of the two, I personally prefer Pumba. The bush is a lot more natural in my opinion. Kariega has been established for longer, but, if my memory serves me properly, has a lot of rehabilitated farm land. Both reserves have very good lodges. I love Pumba's main lodge, but once again that is a purely personal view.

My favourite lodges in that area include Amakhala Safari Lodge (always sends shivers down my spine), and Woodbury Lodge (also on Amakhala, and just the warmest hospitality and greatest South African style meals you can find). River bend Lodge and Nguni Lodge (inside a new section of Addo) are also great.

Edited: 09 January 2010, 19:53
Chester, United...
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2. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

thanks for this. I will have a look at Amakhala and the others you mention.

Pretoria, South...
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3. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

It's a pleasure, Jess.

Just one thing interests me. You appear to heading to Oz from here. Why specifically did you choose the Eastern Cape?

I'm fascinated because that area is not particularly renowned for game viewing at that time of the year (its low tourist season for good reason). You mentioned elsewhere that you intended to see the Big-5. Well, in 4 nights on an Eastern Cape reserve, you may see four of them (and even that is not guaranteed, and depends a bit on the weather as well). But the area is not renowned for leopard, and I personally think you have little chance. You may be lucky of course ...

I think the remote and mountainous areas of Addo might offer the best opportunity for leopard (lodges like Nguni and River Bend). They were virtually exterminated by the farmers over the past two hundred years, and those that are there are extemely shy. In four years working in that region I never saw leopard once, but I saw two leopard kills (carcass and tracks only). On the other hand, I also saw many rare and endangered species in the wild - far more worthwhile than Big-5 ...

I would suggest you look at lodges further north for "better" game viewing (nearer to Kruger and in Kwazulu Natal), unless you have a specific reason for wanting the Eastern Cape. Just a suggestion ...

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Chester, United...
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4. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

The reason why i chose the eastern cape was that it is malaria free. I did not fancy taking malaria tablets or yellow fever injections. I've booked the flights now so i need to decide on 4 nts accomodation in eastern cape area. Originally i was set on Kariega as it offered good value but then after reading a few reviews re gates etc i was not so keen.

I would rather pay a bit more and have a good experience.

Yes i decided to fly off to Oz afterwards. Originally i was going to do the garden route but then after hearing stories of driving etc decided against it. We are keen snorkellers anyway so i think i am getting the best of both worlds.

I am really looking forward to the safari that is why i am so keen to get it right. I know there are no guarantees but sometimes with planning it can be as good as it gets.

So am i better looking at the likes of Addo?

Port Elizabeth
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5. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

Most of the Eastern Cape reserves, apart from Shamwari and Kwandwe (both upmarket and expensive) are quite small. If you have 4 days, I would split that between 2 reserves.

Stanley, Falkland...
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6. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

Taking anti-malarial pills is fairly minor, in the scheme of things And you don't need yellow fever jabs.

Pretoria, South...
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7. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

As Peterscot says, you don't need malaria jabs.

Also, late August is the lowest risk season for malaria. It's hardly even a consideration.

If you're looking for malaria free, most of the reserves in the far north and north-west are malaria free, and the game viewing is far superior to Eastern Cape in August (which happens to be called "suicide month" in that area).

Edited: 10 January 2010, 22:05
Cape Town
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8. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

Hi jess

Interested to hear what "stories" you have heard about driving along the Garden Route?

Also no one answered your other post about Rippons. This is different in that it is more like a country guesthouse on an old farm with a lovely family feel. However Rippons is unique in that it has game traversing rights over the whole of Shamwari Private Reserve. Shamwari, is IMO, by far the best game viewing of the Eastern Cape Private Reserves. The problem is that it is also by far the most expensive. Staying at Rippons gives you all the benefits of the Game Viewing but at abouit half the price of the most expensive Shamwari Lodge.

Check out the TA reviews which are about the best of the reserves you are looking at :

tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g471864-d1027…

If you have four nights I would do 3 nights at Rippons and then one day/night self- drive in Addo NP. Addo has what is probably the best Elephant viewing in Southern Africa. It has lots of other game as well but the elephants (more than 500 of them) are the stars. I would always stay in Parks accommodation inside Addo (if it is available) but an alternative is to stay one night in one of the many guesthouses close to Addo and drive in.

All that said, in August I would still go th Kruger!

Edited: 10 January 2010, 22:31
Chester, United...
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9. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

Not quite sure of your reference to 'suicide month'?

I should have gone onto the forum before i booked the flights.

Pretoria, South...
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10. Re: natural game experience? -pumba game reserve?

LOL Jess!

TA is still one of the most useful sources of info for the travel community.

The lodges in Eastern Cape are all very quiet that time of the year. The weather is unpredictable, and game viewing can be mediocre (although you can still have amazing experiences, particularly as you'll have more personal attention).

I really don't want to put you off. August is the best game viewing time up country.