The Amakhala Game Reserve, together with the Bushmans River Conservancy, offers guests 6000 hectares of beautiful malaria free wilderness. The Bushman’s River creates some awesome views as it winds its way through the reserve. Amakhala is located about an hours drive outside Port Elizabeth. It is near to the Addo Elephant Park and the Shamwari Game Reserve.

This reserve characterises the Eastern Cape frontier region. An abundance of aloe species in the Grassland, Thicket and Savanna biomes typify the vegetation of this region. The Amakhala Game reserve is home to around fourteen different antelope species. The game ranges will also do their best to allow guests sightings of the “Big Five”.

(The Big Five animals are Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion and leopard. The term “Big Five” originated from the early European hunters to Africa. They ranked these animals as the most dangerous to hunt and the name has become synonymous with an African Safari.)

A number of nocturnal species including brown hyenas, spotted hyenas, serval, aardvark, aardwolf, bat-eared foxes, silver foxes and porcupines have also been spotted in the reserve. Many bird species nest on the banks of the Bushman’s River, making it a good birding destination.

Since its inception in 1999, Amakhala Game Reserve has aimed to bring about ecological restoration to the region.

The Weeks brothers, who have lived on the land for some five generations, help manage the reserve. Their ancestors settled in this frontier region of the Eastern Cape, as cattle farmers, and endured the conflicts through South Africa’s turbulent history. The brothers joined their farms and introduced wildlife endemic to the region into what is now known as the Amakhala Game Reserve. Much of the original wildlife found in this region has been absent due to previous cattle farming.

The accommodation in this game reserve is of a high quality and all the lodges are owner run and have an integral part in the reserve. The highly trained ranges and guides take guests into the reserve on game drives, highlighting the diverse wildlife found here.

I was impressed with the rangers’ knowledge and responsibility towards the guests.

There is much to see and do in this reserve. Guests who stay for a number of nights can experience the African bushveld on an exiting game drive, bushwalk or a peaceful river cruise along the Bushmans River. A prehistoric bushman burial ground and the site of Africa’s most ancient dinosaur fossil (Paranthodon africanus) was found bordering the Reserve, know as Iguanodon Hoek.

This reserve is a great place to bring families and some of the lodges offer excellent programmes for children. After an active day in the African bush, there is nothing more enjoyable than chatting around the fireplace in the “boma”, sharing the highlights of the day.

Copyright © 2008 Mark Thomas