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“Truly the highlight of a holiday of a lifetime”

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Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Kenton-on-Sea
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 28 February 2014

We have just returned from three weeks in South Africa, culminating in three nights at the Kariega River Lodge. We are delighted to see how many others have spoken so highly of the facilities and the game drives in which only leapards were missing from the Big 5.. The highlight was the five game drives we enjoyed with Tayla - whose enthusiasm, infectious humour and knowledge made every minute a memorable experience - we have over 500 photos to prove it!. We booked late and Kariega was not our original choice - thank goodness our much more expensive and better known Reserve was fully booked!!

Room Tip: We were in "room" 10 - a Rondavel 500m from the lodge, but were given a golf cart to get t...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank MikJen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bronwen d, Manager at Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 3 March 2014

Great news that you had a superb experience at Kariega and that it was the highlight of your stay in South Africa. Tayla is a great guide and we've passed on your comments to her. We'd love to see some of your pictures on our Facebook page. Upload them to our page and you could win a 2 night stay for 2 at River Lodge!
Kind regards,
Bronwen & the Kariega team

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Reviews (223)
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99 - 105 of 223 reviews

Reviewed 20 February 2014

I recently spent 4 nights at this lovely lodge. Great accommodation, wonderful food but the game drives were truly exceptional.. Our guide, Tayla, was so knowledgable and imparted her information with a true love for the wild animals and birds. Although within easy reach of Port Elizabeth, one really felt that this was a uniquely "African" experience

Room Tip: Rooms 1 and 2 are upstairs with a deck from where one is able to view buck, giraffe and warthog
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank Judy T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 February 2014

I stayed at the Kariega River Lodge for two nights recently, and what an amazing experience it was. I was visiting the area on business and a friend arranged this stay. From the time I arrived at the lodge to the time I left, I was amazed at how warm and welcoming the staff were and at how tranquil and peaceful the surroundings (and accommodation) were. The lodge is set on a river bend near the Bushmans River Mouth, and overlooking the broad expanse of water from the deck which is attached to the dining/lounge area, was a relaxing experience. There was considerable birdlife in the area and I was entertained by a bird fishing a bit further down the river. I tried to get shots of it but it was too far away. I had arrived late in the afternoon, and the majority of guests were out on game drives, with the exception of one lady who was reading on the deck and we started talking. Unfortunately for her she had recently had an operation on her neck and the specialist had advised her to not go on the game drives, but she indicated that she was more than content to sit here and mark off the birds she could see on her list. Her and her husband had been here for three days and she also remarked at how wonderfully relaxing the experience was. She also commented on the friendliness of the staff. Dinner was arranged in groups so everybody could get to meet. Each group had a ranger assigned who joined them for dinner. What this did was allowed the diners to share their experiences and ask additional questions of the ranger which they may not have been able to do while out in the field. The following morning I went out with a ranger and we travelled to one of the other areas of Kariega. In this instance I spent an informative few hours looking at some of the larger mammals on this particular including seeing the now quite famous rhino, Thandi. She was Rhino who was attacked by poachers and had her horn hacked off. Through the efforts of Dr William Fowlds and the people at Kariega, she has survived and has become the poster girl for the anti-rhino poaching campaign. We saw her fleetingly. I saw a lot of other fauna and flora and spent some time just wandering around the bird hide. Later in the afternoon, I went out with a different ranger. Her knowledge of the flora and fauna in the area was extensive and her ability to spot things which we may have missed was extraordinary. We saw Warthog, Giraffe, Elephants, Zebra and a variety of small and medium antelope. While driveing back in the near darkness, she spotted a young puff adder in the bush at the side of the road, I was amazed. Dinner than night was predominantly about the elephants eating prickly pear and how they deal with the thorny spikes prior to consumption. I spent a comfortable evening conversing with others who were also relating their amazing experiences. I also got to meet people who are involved in the Rhino Poaching campaign in the UK. The following morning, as I had meetings in nearby Grahamstown, I did not go on a game drive. One of my fellow travellers had unfortunately soaked their camera and couldn't get it to work, and between myself and the lodge manager, we managed to dry out the camera and had it functioning before the guest left on the next stage of their trip down the garden route. (I work with cameras and manager knowing that I had specialised knowledge in this field asked me if I could help, which I gladly did). Although I stayed there for 2 nights, I only really interacted with the lodge and staff for a day, and that was a fantastic experience. Our one guide expressed a wish to become the best female guide in South Africa, I suggested that she should merely focus on being the best guide in South Africa and not let gender come into the equation.

Room Tip: The rooms are spread out along the riverbank and in my case I had a golf cart to drive to my room. M...
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled solo
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Thank Silliusmillius53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 December 2013

Spent three days at Kariega River Lodge and have to say it was the most wonderful experience ever, even the early starts!
The service that we received was first rate, nothing was too much bother and any problems were resolved quickly and without fuss (mostly golf buggies running out of electricity). The food was excellent, especially the breakfasts after the early morning game drive.
Our park ranger was brilliant and made the whole experience unforgettable, especially walking with the giraffes, thanks Wayne you made it for us!
As for Emma the Warthog, well you'll just to go and see it for yourself!

Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Mark C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bronwen d, Manager at Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 28 January 2014

Thank you so much for posting your review of your stay with us at Kariega River Lodge. We're so pleased that you and had such a great stay. You'll be happy to know that Emma is well and up to her usual tricks!
Kind regards,
Bronwen & the Kariega team

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Reviewed 23 November 2013

Just an amazing experience from start to finish. From the moment we parked our car and were welcomed by the person on the gate to saying goodbye to our ranger 3 days later the whole time was just magical. The whole set up at River lodge is very well thought out. The main lodge building has a deck on the river which is a wonderful setting. Our room was the Rhino room which I can highly recommend as we could sit outside it having a drink watching giraffes, warthogs and impalas walking through the reserve. However, the thing that really made it for us was Gerhard our Ranger. He is an amazing source of knowledge about the animals, insects and flora on the reserve. His care and thoughtfulness to ensure we got the best possible experience was second to none and he clearly absolutely loves his job! The food was very good and you could not want for anything feeling very well looked after at all times. You really felt like you were on you own private safari most of the time you were with the animals and watching as a herd of elephants slowly walked past the Landcruiser within touching distance is one thing I will never forget!

Room Tip: Go for one of the first floor rooms - I think they were Hippo and Rhino as they had great views int...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Iain S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 November 2013

We stayed for 3 nights at the River Lodge, Hippo Suite. Our ranger, Gerhard, collected us from the main gate and we saw giraffes before even reaching the River Lodge. Gerhard took us out on all our games drives and a boat trip down the river. We enjoyed the fact that meals were with the ranger and rest of the group we'd been out on the game drives with - a great chance to ask the ranger questions and chat with other group members about what we'd seen. The game drives were truly amazing, Gerhard knew where to look for all the animals and was prepared to keep on looking until we'd seen just about everything other than a leopard. He was able to give lots of information about animals, birds, plants and always found a scenic spot for drinks break. We had a fabulous time, would definitely recommend going for River Lodge as apparently the best rangers and best vehicles are allocated to the people from the best accommodation

Room Tip: River Lodge is fantastic
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank SycamoreCC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 October 2013

We ended a holiday in South Africa, driving the Garden Route, with a 4 night stay at the Kariega River Lodge. When you arrive here your really do feel you are at last in the real ‘Africa’.

The landscapes are varied and beautiful and it never feels overcrowded. The sunsets are stunning and animals around are outstanding. Obviously it’s not the flat landscapes of the African Savannah but a hilly landscape of rivers and plateaus.

The 12 suites are all different; some are individual buildings with only one being beside the river. The rest are set back a bit and behind the main house. We stayed in the Hippo Suite which was upstairs in one of the double storey houses which comprised 4 suites. Originally we were put on the lower level but asked to move as there was a restricted view from the lower suites and they seemed a bit dark. I’d advise requesting this as it was amazing to watch the animals in the area below your balcony including giraffe, ostrich, monkeys and the cutest “Pumbaa” warthogs. Rooms are comfortable with large bed and room for an extra person bed as a “special request”. It took us a while to get the hang of the heating / air con unit but once we did it was manageable. Shower and bath are functional though perhaps not the most luxurious. The water is slightly saline and from the river albeit treated. The rooms and the main lodge building with their vaulted ceilings and thatched roofs are full of charm and add to the African experience of Kariega. Food was of reasonable quality with a 3 choice menu at dinner which you order on return from your evening game drive. Breakfast is cooked and lunch is buffet style. All food and drinks are included and the staff are on hand to help out most of the time. There was a small but well stocked shop.

We were there in July (South African winter) and it could be very cold especially in the mornings. Wake up call is very early so set up so you just drag on your clothes. You do need gloves, hat, windproof, warm coat, scarf to put over your face and sunglasses (even in the dark they protect your eyes from the biting cold). The shop does a roaring trade selling hats and gloves! During the day it can be quite warm though and like a UK summer. The balcony overlooking the river is lovely to sit on and relax after a drive. There are advantage of this time of year though in that it is the dry season and “safari-ing” in the rain doesn’t appeal and the roads/tracks must be really scary in the wet and of course the animals are all easier to find.

The jewel in the crown though is Kariega itself and the passion of its staff, rangers and conservation strategies. You feel privileged to get a glimpse of the animals that are in essence wild though clearly managed from a distance. They are left to fend for themselves with the exception of the endangered animals like rhino and in particular the special one, Thandi, who is flying the flag and promoting rhino conservation wordwide. Dave, our personal Ranger was amazing with his immense knowledge and friendly and caring attitude. He made us feel that we were the only people in the park and went out his way to show us every animal he could as well as plants and explain some of the ecology. His ‘bush pub’ was also rather memorable!

Don’t go to Kariega expecting a relaxing holiday. It is hard work! From the 6 am wake-up call you never stop and falling into bed at 9.30 pm and falling asleep immediately is normal! You bounce around all day in the vehicle or the boat but the rewards and memories are immeasurable. If your go to the Eastern Cape then go here – you won’t be disappointed.

Room Tip: Best views from first floor room balconies
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with family
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4  Thank pophammy
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 - River Lodge

Address: R 343 | Between Alexandria and Kenton-on-Sea, Near rural route R72, Kenton-on-Sea 6191, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Greater Addo > Kenton-on-Sea
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Kenton-on-Sea
Price Range: £509 - £712 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled on the banks of the Bushman's River, this Lodge is unique in that it connects a Big-5 Kariega Game Reserve to the sea. Our optional daily boat cruises ferry guests through the quaint sea side village of Kenton-on-Sea. Inside the Lodge guests can find a quiet spot in one of the lounges, page through a book in the library, enjoy the pool or take in the view from the magnificent deck which overhangs the river. Twice daily safari drives, guided walks, river fishing, canoeing and river trips are included. Accommodation, all meals and local beverages are also included. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
River Hotel Kenton-On-Sea
River Hotel Kariega Game Reserve
Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge South Africa/Kenton-On-Sea

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