When we started planning our South Africa trip, there were 3 things we absolutely wanted to see and do: visit Cape Town, explore the wine region, and go on a safari. All of this had to fit within 8 days, so I quickly understood that visiting Kruger National Park wasn’t gonna be an option as it would have required us to take an internal flight. Luckily there are some amazing game reserves in the Western Cape region, that are easily accessible from Cape Town. If you’re dreaming of an unforgettable safari adventure, look no further than Gondwana Private Game Reserve, a stunning park nestled in the heart of the Western Cape. This exclusive game reserve offers an exceptional wildlife experience only a 4h drive from Cape Town, making it the ideal destination for a quick escape into the wild beauty of South Africa.
Gondwana Private Game Reserve: A Natural Wonder
Gondwana Private Game Reserve is one of the most beautiful parks near Cape Town. The park covers 11,000 hectares with a great variety of landscapes and is home to the legendary Big Five ( lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinoceros).
All the animals here are roaming the park freely, so each game drive is a different experience, and you can never predict what you will see! And that is the real beauty of a safari, isn’t it?
What sets Gondwana apart is its commitment to conservation and responsible tourism. The reserve actively participates in various conservation initiatives, ensuring the preservation of indigenous flora and fauna. For example, they are very strict about the kind and number of animals introduced into the park, to ensure the wellbeing of all the animals.
In Gondwana Private Game Reserve nature does all the work. There is minimal human intervention (no feeding or healing of the animals) and only the endangered White Rhinos are tracked to ensure their safety (sadly poaching is still very much a lucrative activity in South Africa).
Luxury in the wild: Gondwana accommodations
Gondwana Private Game Reserve offers different kinds of accommodations, each providing a unique way to experience the wilderness, but always with full comfort! From luxurious private villas to well-appointed lodges, there’s something for every type of traveler.
During our time in Gondwana, we stayed at the Kwena Lodge. The first thing you will notice arriving at the Kwena Lodge is the spectacular 180-degree views of the surrounding mountainous landscape and the occasional passing wildlife!! This is a truly breathtaking view, that can be admired from pretty much everywhere in the lodge, from the restaurant to the room.
There are 14 spacious stand-alone rooms in the lodge, with thatch roofs, beautiful bathrooms, and large terraces offering the same 180-degree spectacular view. If you are coming in a group or as a family there are also 7 villas of 3 to 4 bedrooms, located only 5 min drive from the lodge.
The Kwena Lodge facilities include a stunning infinity pool with a sun lounging deck, an open-air bar area, and a cozy dining room set around two fireplaces, an amazing setting to sip delicious South African wines!
Gondwana Private Game Reserve offers other types of accommodations in the park, including a tented camp, and an ultra-luxury private lodge. You can find more details on their website, or directly on Booking.com.
A typical day in Gondwana Private Game Reserve
A typical day at Gondwana Private Game Reserve is the perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and immersion in nature. The game reserve operates on a well-organized schedule to make the most of your safari experience.
Morning Game Drive: We rose bright and early for the sunrise game drive. After gathering with the other guests and grabbing a coffee and a few breakfast pastries, it is time to embark on the sunrise game drive! The drives are conducted by very passionate guides who stay with you throughout your stay so they know exactly what you have already seen, and what you are most excited about so they can try to tailor the drives accordingly. Once the sun was up, we stopped for delicious rusks and coffee with a dash of Amarulla (a typical liquor from South Africa). After a few hours and the amazing sight of a full family of lions, we returned to the lodge for a delicious breakfast.
Free time: Most of the rest of the day is dedicated to chilling, swimming in the stunning infinity pool, or having a relaxing treatment in the bush spa! Lunch is served in the main restaurant, indoor,s or on the beautiful terrasse with an infinite view of the reserve. Like everywhere we ate in the Western Cape, the food in Gondwana Private Game Reserve was really delicious!!
Afternoon Game Drive: Around 4 pm, it is time to gather again in the main lodge, for a quick high tea. Tea, coffee, and a variety of cookies and mini sandwiches are the perfect send-off for a beautiful sunset game drive. Once again, our guide drove us to different parts of the park, looking for some of the most iconic wildlife! As the sun sets, we paused for sundowners at a scenic spot. Sipping on a glass of wine, while the sky turned to fire was really a magical moment! After the drive, it is time to freshen up before going for a delicious dinner by the fireplace.
If you feel like we ate all day it is probably because we did! Staying at Gondwana is on Half Board or Full Board basis. Half Board includes 1 game drive/day (you can choose morning or evening) while full board includes both sunrise and sunset game drives. Alcoholic drinks during the drive are included, but not the ones you consume at the restaurant. I definitely recommend the Full Board … you are in the middle of an 11,000-hectare park, so there is nowhere else to go for lunch anyway!
What is the ideal stay in Gondwana?
We stayed in Gondwana Private Game Reserve for 2 nights, and did 3 Game Drives (we skipped the last sunrise one in order to sleep in!) and I thought that was the perfect amount of time to fully immerse in the safari experience. Even though the park is massive, there is only so far you can drive on each outing so you are likely to see the same animals, and some of the same areas several times. Most of the animals are easy to spot, so over the course of 4 game drives, you will definitely see elephants, wildebeest, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, zebras etc. More difficult to spot are the lions (we were very lucky to see the whole family of 5 during our morning game drive) and the leopard (that we didn’t see), so having at least 4 game drives increases your chances of seeing them.
I think a two-night stay at the game reserve strikes a great balance between adventure and relaxation and is perfect if you are driving from Cape Town or other parts of the Western Cape. I think 1night only would be quite tiring!.
To make the most of your stay at Gondwana Private Game Reserve, arrive early afternoon on your check-in day (so as not to miss the sunset drive) and leave around lunchtime to enjoy the last morning game drive.
What to bring on a safari
There are only a few essentials to bring with you to this beautiful Game reserve:
- Neutral color clothing: You are in the middle of nature and the idea is to blend it! So pack some light beige, white, and green clothes. Avoid dark colors that attract mosquitos.
- Layers: When the sun is high, the weather is warm and lovely but it can be freezing early morning and late evening, especially in fully open cars, so pack a few extra layers. Long sleeves shirts, sweaters, and jackets are your friends! Luckily there are also some very warm ponchos and blankets in each car.
- Sun protection: Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat are always a good idea to bring on a safari as the day can be really hot.
- Mosquito repellent: If like me you are prone to being eaten alive by mosquitos, don’t forget to pack repellent.
- Camera: Because it is a private reserve, the drivers at Gondwana can actually drive quite close to some of the animals so a regular camera can work in most situations but still, if you like photography, I recommend packing a good zoom, ideally around 200mm.
- Binocular: Similarly, binoculars are not absolutely necessary but can be useful, especially if you like birds or try to find elusive leopards.
You can check my blog post What to wear on an African safari for more details.
Best Time to Visit Gondwana Private Game Reserve
Gondwana Private Game Reserve is a year-long safari destination, each season bringing different fauna and flora highlights. If you combine a stay at this game reserve with a Cape Town trip, I suggest you visit between September and April, November to February being the warmest months, with average temperatures in the low 20 degrees. For more details on what to expect for each season, check out their website
Getting to Gondwana Private Game Reserve from Cape Town
Gondwana Private Game Reserve is located in the heart of the Western Cape, approximately four hours by car from Cape Town. The drive on the N2 Highway towards Mossel Bay is absolutely stunning and a great part of the journey.
Once you arrive at the main entrance of the Gondwana Private Game Reserve, report to the security team who will indicate to you which way to go to reach your lodge. You should be aware that before you even get to the main entrance the road turns into a rocky dirt road. If you have a regular car, you will have to drive really slowly to not damage your car, so just account for the extra time. If you have the option to rent a 4×4, I highly recommend it, The drive inside the reserve will be smoother and more pleasant.
Gondwana Private Game Reserve is a remarkable destination that offers a unique blend of wildlife, luxurious accommodations, and breathtaking scenery. Just a stone’s throw away from Cape Town, it is the perfect game reserve to embark on an amazing safari adventure in the Western Cape. Even though we have done safaris before, (including a stunning one in Tanzania), we left Gondwana with amazing memories of the African wilderness.
So, pack your bags, set off from Cape Town, and prepare for a stunning adventure at Gondwana Private Game Reserve.
Useful tools to organize your trip in the Western Cape
From booking a flight to finding some beautiful cultural tours, or getting an e-sim ahead of your trip to stay connected, I have gathered here all the super useful websites I always use to organize my travels!
★ Find the cheapest flights:
★ Get the best deal on car rental
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