There is nothing like seeing beautiful animal species at a game reserve. From their captivating gazes to their majestic movements, being in close range with wild animals is simply an exhilarating experience. With so many wildlife species to encounter, you may find it difficult to decide which animal to see first. Fortunately, South Africa’s game reserves have something for everyone. In fact, come see the Big 5 animals that the country is known for (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino).
There are many benefits to visiting a game reserve aside from enjoying wildlife watching while staying in luxurious safari lodges. Spending time at a game reserve will improve your attention abilities, increase your physical health, and enhance your social skills. Immersing yourself in nature will also help reduce your depression and anxiety levels, increase your resilience, and improve your self-esteem.
With that said, here are the top 5 game reserves in South Africa.
1. Tala Collection Game Reserve in Pietermaritzburg, KZN
Tala Collection Game Reserve provides an unforgettable stay for wellness travellers. Apart from being greeted by warthogs in the reception area, zebras and giraffes visit you in the early morning. Its close accessibility from or to Durban is one of the most alluring features of this KwaZulu-Natal wildlife game reserve.
Tala is a low-key, off-the-beaten-track destination that is around 3 000 hectares in size. It has a mixture of acacia thornveld, open grassland, and a wetland home to over 380 different bird species. There are also many big animals to see, such as kudus, hippos, giraffes, and wildebeests.
There are many wellness activities that you can do at Tala Game Reserve. These include fishing, mountain biking, game drives, paintball and target shooting, archery, and segway safaris. You are sure to have a blast! Lodging at Tala is a luxury in a remote location. The Reserve has a wonderful variety of rooms spread throughout several lodges and homes. Additionally, it offers self-catering in its Fisherman’s Cottage next to a dam.
While Tala Game Reserve is best suited for smaller parties, it is also welcoming to couples and lone travellers. its conference rooms and dining choices including La Tala Restaurant and traditional outdoor bomas. This a great place for day conferences, special events like weddings, and tour groups coming to KwaZulu-Natal.
2. Aquila Private Game Reserve in Touws River, Western Cape
Within a two-hour drive from Cape Town lies the family-friendly safari paradise known as Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa. This majestic wildlife reserve is located in the Western Cape between the Langeberg and the Outeniqua Mountains. Game drives are available on classic safari vehicles, on horses, or on quad bikes. Each ride offers you a special chance to closely interact with the reserve’s animals. You also have the option to do a helicopter-based fly-in safari.
Aquila Game Reserve contains a sizable 35-metre pool along with a poolside bar. These are used to serve cocktails and ice-cold drinks for social gatherings. Large, designated dining areas are available, as well as an African-style restaurant serving local food and classic South African desserts.
If you will be spending the night then consider unwinding and lounging in the mezzanine-level bar which has stunning views. The world-class amenities and services at Aquila are further enhanced by its Tranquila Spa. This is a place where you can relax and indulge in luxury African spa treatments after an action-packed day. I am starting to think that this should’ve been number 1.
3. Welgevonden Game Reserve in Waterberg, Limpopo
In the Waterberg district of the Limpopo province lies a 36,000-hectare private game reserve known as Welgevonden. The Reserve is tucked away within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO heritage site recognised for the long-term preservation of wildlife. Welgevonden is one of South Africa’s most accessible Big 5 wilderness reserves. It is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Gauteng or a simple 45-minute flight from Johannesburg.
More than 65 different kinds of mammals live in Welgevonden, including the well-known Big 5. However, what makes game drives so thrilling are the animals like the cheetah, hyena, caracal, aardwolf, and aardvark. A great place for wildlife watching. Welgevonden also provides a unique and exclusive bushveld safari experience. A field guide will pick you up at the entrance and drive you to your lodge on the reserve. You can visit the alpine bushveld all year round thanks to its high altitude and mild climate.
4. Gondwana Private Game Reserve in Herbertsdale, WC
If are you travelling to or live in Cape Town then you are in for a luxury safari retreat. Enter Gondwana, the award-winning game reserve located along South Africa’s picturesque Garden Route. This gigantic 11 000-hectare, private, malaria-free wildlife reserve provides a Big 5 safari retreat like no other. Many top-notch facilities await you nearby. These include championship golf courses like Pinnacle Point and Fancourt, fantastic swimming and surfing beaches, and charming coastal villages.
At Gondwana, luxury lodging is offered in intimate standalone safari suites or family-friendly bush villas. All with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and passing animals. Experience thrilling guided game drives where you’ll see herds of antelopes, lions, elephants, giraffes, Cape buffalos, and other animals. Other wellness activities available at Gondwana include Africology spa treatments, mountain biking, guided bush hikes and conservation activities. Meals and game rides are included in the pricing for each of Gondwana’s lodging packages. What a bargain!
5. Madikwe Game Reserve in Zeerust, North West
Madikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s less well-known parks, is the fifth-largest game reserve in the country. The Reserve contains the Big 5 and holds a reputation for being one of Africa’s premier conservation regions. Madikwe Game Reserve offers several luxurious and community lodges as well as 3-5 day safaris. It is situated near the Kalahari Desert in Namibia and 90 kilometres north of Zeerust.
When you have a safari at this private reserve, you get a wonderful overview of its geology, vegetation, and species. A field guide from the lodge accompanies you on a series of morning and evening game drives. These drives take place in an open safari vehicle so you can explore the area and all its animals. Why not take time to unwind and use the lodge’s amenities in between these game drives? You will also be treated to the outstanding cuisine and service that Madikwe is known for. Now, this is wellness in the wild!
Let Nature Pamper You
So, there you have it, the top 5 game reserves in South Africa! Are you an animal lover? You are probably excited to visit these destinations just as much as I was excitedly writing about them! It’s time to make your choice and make a booking. Go out there and let nature pamper you. You deserve it. Why not visit the top yoga studios in South Africa afterwards? Have a wonderful time.