If you’re planning a safari holiday in South Africa, there are a number of game reserves you should consider visiting, one of which is Kariega. Located in the Eastern Cape, Kariega perhaps appeals to me more than its competitors because of its friendly, family-run setup.
Covering 9,000 hectares of land and water, the game park comprises bushland, rivers and coastal areas, which provide habitats for a wealth of wildlife. It’s only in recent years that the reserve has really come into its own, however – read on to find out more.
The Kariega story
A couple of decades ago, the reserve was owned by around 20 different farmers, when businessman Colin Rushmere purchased a large plot of land at the site. Together with fellow entrepreneur Tony Fuller, the pair increased the amount of land they owned, and let the land return to its original vegetation.
The businessmen then reintroduced game to the area, and it soon became popular among holidaymakers wanting to have a firsthand experience of nature in its rawest form. The families of the two men have since become part of the team that runs the reserve, which continues to have an intimate ambience and delight holidaymakers with its rugged beauty and array of wildlife.
If you want to know what you can spot here, keep reading – my guide will provide you with an insight into the local landscape and animals that characterise Kariega.
What you can see… on land
If you’ve chosen to take a safari drive through the reserve, you’ll be able to spot a range of creatures on land. An experienced guide will lead you out in an open game vehicle through the bushveld and over plains to where the animals are most likely to be spotted. The Big Five – lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos, leopards – can all be seen at the reserve, and other creatures you might catch sight of include giraffes, zebras and antelope.
There are more than 25 species of game residing in the park, along with a variety of other animals. Look up to the trees and you might see monkeys and baboons, while warthogs, jackals, wild cats and porcupines can all be seen on the ground.
What you can see… in the water
As well as safari drives, Kariega offers visitors the chance to take a river cruise down the waterways that run through the park. This is a great way to experience the tranquillity of the reserve and also gives you the chance to spot water-dwelling wildlife, like hippos. The evening is the best time to see these creatures, which often emerge at dusk for an evening of grazing.
You can also hire a canoe or a kayak during a visit to Kariega, and explore the watercourses to see the fish beneath the surface and the animals on land as they come to the water’s edge for a drink. You can even go fishing if you arrange your excursion in advance.
What you can see… in the air
In addition to the many animals that call Kariega home, there are an abundance of birds that live in and around the reserve. Take your binoculars along to spot some of the winged creatures as they soar through the sky or perch on the branches of the trees.
Among the birds to look out for are martial and fish eagles, and the nesting crowned eagle, in addition to various species of kingfisher.