Amakhala Game Reserve

4 out of 5 stars4 Stars

Port Elizabeth, South Africa
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Satisfaction Excellent
Very Good

Value Score Poor Value

Costs 288% more than similarly rated 4 star hotels

Good For Business
  • Families80
  • Couples90
  • Solo0
  • Business100

More about Amakhala Game Reserve

South Africas #1 Safari Destination

by Ryan_Steyn about Lalibela Game Reserve

I spent the last week at Lalibela, I found out i was going the morning I left, so I drove home, packed some books to keep me company, I was kind of expecting it to be impersonal and awkward but as it turned out everyone was friendly, keen for a chat, eager to help and made sure I felt as comfotable as possible.

I have lived in SA all my life and never expected a safari trip to captivate me but Lalibela did. Taken from the website ( )

Excellent game viewing:
We are fortunate to be the only private game reserve in the Eastern Cape that does not have any public roads running through our property. In addition, we are one of only 3 private game reserves in the Eastern Cape where all of the animals, including the predators, are free-roaming throughout the entire reserve.

Of the 6 vegetation types in South Africa, 5 occur naturally on Lalibela. Of these, the Valley Bushveld biome, which only occurs in the Eastern Cape, has the highest carrying capacity of game in South Africa. For this reason Lalibela is able to sustain a dense population of wildlife. Big5 sightings occur regularly and other game such as zebra, giraffe, antelope, hippo, cheetah etc are abundant.

Our location in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa makes us a perfect extention to the Garden Route and Cape Town. Cape Town and Port Elizabeth airports allow visitors to South Africa to save precious holiday time - many of our guests fly into Cape Town, drive along the Garden Route and end with a safari at Lalibela. Check out time at Lalibela allows for guests to fly out of Port Elizabeth and connect with international flights from either Cape Town or Johannesburg, which depart in the evenings.

The popularity of doing a safari in the Eastern Cape has grown and this is borne out by the fact that our region boasts a variety of safari products such as Addo Elephant National Park, Shamwari, Kwandwe, Gorah, Kariega and Amakhala.

Increasingly people are choosing to have their safari in a malaria-free area. The Eastern Cape is malaria-free which means that your safari at Lalibela can be enjoyed without having to take any anti-malaria medication.

How to Choose a South Africa Safari

by Bryony79

So, you’ve made the critical decision and settled on a holiday in South Africa. It’s going to be brilliant. Cape Town is jaw-dropping, the beaches of the Cape Peninsula are beautiful (and more often than not virtually empty), the food is wonderful, the wine even better, and the Garden Route is a road-tripper’s dream.

This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The Big Five will play a big part in every South Africa holiday, but trying to choose a safari really can be a hair-pulling, teeth-grinding affair. The South African safari market is ridiculously saturated (mainly because it is ridiculously lucrative) and there are so many options that it can be difficult to know where to begin.

The good news is that there all kinds of safaris out there – something for every budget and every kind of person (except perhaps those who don’t like animals). Whether you’re a backpacker or an investment banker, there is bound to be an ideal solution. It’s just a matter of knowing what’s available and what the jargon means in real, tangible terms.

Hopefully, this pocket guide will set you on the right track to your perfect South Africa safari:


First, you’ll need to decide where to go:

1. There are no decent, ethical game reserves near Cape Town. Full stop.
I used to work for an excellent South Africa safari specialist, and I lost count of the times that I was asked about safaris near Cape Town. It just isn’t possible. Yes, if you Google ‘safari near Cape Town’, you’ll come across a number of hits claiming to be Big Five game reserves a couple of hours outside Cape Town, but don’t listen to a word of it. Truly wild animals need space, probably around 5,000 hectares as a bare minimum, and none of the “game reserves” near Cape Town offer this kind of room to roam. If these reserves are indeed home to the Big Five, it probably means a couple of lions, usually within some kind of enclosure, a few elephants and some depressed giraffes. Basically, they amount to nothing more than glorified zoos. They are unethical and certainly fail to provide any kind of authentic safari feeling. You’re likely to leave feeling very sorry for the two overweight lions in their oversized cage who can’t be bothered to even raise their heads when your safari vehicle screeches up to a halt less than a metre away. I’ve seen it and I’m sufficiently scarred.

2. If you want a real bush safari experience, you need to head north.
Understandably, many holidaymakers to South Africa would prefer to fly in and out of Cape Town, by-passing the fabled badlands of Johannesburg altogether. However, not only is the area north of Johannesburg very beautiful indeed (Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window and more) but, unquestionably, the South Africa’s best safaris are found in Kruger National Park or Madikwe Game Reserve. These reserves are huge – Kruger, at over 2 million hectares, is about the size of Wales – and they feel really, truly, authentically wild. Madikwe is less visited and perfect for travellers eager to do something different. It hugs the border with Botswana and spans a massive 76,000 hectares – compare that to the 3,000 hectare “reserves” near Cape Town. It also has the advantage of being totally malaria free. Both Kruger and Madikwe are brilliant for really exciting safaris. It’s worth making the journey north if you’re passionate about wildlife, and you’re likely to see whole herds of animals doing what wild animals do – not just a lone rhino at a man-made watering hole.

3. The Eastern Cape can be a great compromise.
Sometimes, getting up north just isn’t possible. If time is tight or you’ve got a whole family in tow, you could opt for a safari in the malaria-free Eastern Cape. Again, there are a host of options available, some far better than others. As ever, the bigger the game reserve, the more authentic the safari experience. Unfortunately, the curse of the Eastern Cape seems to be that you pay for each hectare through the nose.

Kwandwe and Shamwari (the setting for the BBC’s ‘Safari School’ programme) are both over 20,000 hectares and both the most expensive choices. Despite its size, I still found Shamwari fairly tame and spoilt by its own commercialism. There are just a couple too many lodges in the reserve, so you tend to come across other vehicles very regularly and the animals are found mainly by walkie-talkie contact between rangers rather than bushtracking. I saw the Big Five, but I didn’t get the big feeling.

Some of the smaller reserves in the Eastern Cape can actually provide a far warmer and more memorable safari experience. Bukela, in the Bushman’s conservancy, is a family-run lodge with game drives into the 8,000 hectare Amakhala Game Reserve. There’s a real community feeling here and you get far more sense of living remotely in the bush, even if it is low scrub rather than wild plains. Pumba (6500 hectares) is another small but lovely reserve, and Kariega (7,500) offers some really reasonably priced accommodation as well as horse-riding along the beach at Kenton-by-Sea.

Addo Elephant Park is definitely something not to be missed as you’re almost guaranteed to see dozens of elephants gathered around waterholes and crossing streams. Although technically a Big Five reserve, Addo is all about elephants, and you should combine it with another reserve if you really want to see lions as well. You can stay outside Addo in one of the beautiful guesthouses in the Sundays River Valley, such as Hitgeheim Lodge, surrounded by citrus orchards and ostriches and drive into the park with your own car during the day. Alternatively, all of the lodges and guesthouses in the area offer game drives into Addo with an experienced guide for an additional fee.


Next, you’ll need to choose what kind of accommodation you’re after. Here are a few hints about lodges and rest camps as well as what’s included and what’s not:

Private game reserves: Think glossy brochures, impeccable service, chocolates on the pillow and G&Ts at sunset. Private game reserves will provide the full safari works – one morning and one evening guided game drive (usually in an open top vehicle, with stops for morning coffee and sundowner cocktails), and all meals are included in the price. So, although the rates may seem gut-wrenchingly high, you can take comfort in the fact that you won’t spend much when you’re actually there (unless you have a penchant for vintage wines).

You’ll find lots of exclusive reserves in what is known as Greater Kruger – Sabi Sands, Timbavati, Thornybush. Basically, these reserves are still part of Kruger, but privately owned. There are no fences between the land owned by these reserves and the public part of Kruger National Park, so the animals can wander between public and private at will. The really crucial thing is that the game rangers can go off-road in the private reserves, and really track the animals through the bush, while all game drives in public Kruger must stick strictly to the roads.

Rest camps: These are the other end of the scale. Operated by South African National Parks (or SAN Parks), rest camps are the cheapie options in the public part of the Kruger, Addo Elephant, and other National Parks. Prices start very low indeed (a little over a tenner), and you can opt for camping, caravanning or one of the accommodation types available. These range from wooden chalets for 10 people to forest huts for 2 people, some with and some without private bathrooms but almost all with their very own braai (South Africa barbeque) set up outside. There will invariably be a kind of site-shop, so you can stock up on boerewors for dinner. If you love camping or getting close to the great outdoors, you’ll love it (I know I did!).

Safari-wise, it’s all about self-drive. You’ll get up early and scour the road network hoping to come across wildlife as you drive, and there’s nothing like the feeling of just happening upon a herd of elephants in your own car. It may not be off-roading, but it’s brilliant in other ways. One tip: If you’re planning on a rest camp safari, be sure to book really early because they fill up incredibly quickly – sometimes YEARS in advance.

Of course, you can always mix and match. Why not give yourselves a few nights in a basic forest hut before moving to a private reserve for some luxury and exclusive game drives. That really could get you the best of both safari worlds... and you won’t burn a hole in your pocket the size of the Fish River Canyon!

Fingers crossed that this information will inch you closer to the right safari. South Africa is just wonderful, and however you choose to do it, you’re sure to have a pretty unbeatable experience.


Beaches of PEBeaches of PE

Donkin ReserveDonkin Reserve

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Forum Posts

Game reserve recommendations

by klmousseau

Hi, My friend and I (31 year old females), will be visiting the area in late May and are looking for some opinions or recommendations on Game reserves. So far we were looking at either Amakhala or Blaauwbosch. We have up to $250USD per night per person budget. We are looking for a malaria free, big five reserve. Preferably we would like a lodge big enough so we aren't the only ones there, but not too big so that we are fighting for view on the safaris. Does anyone have an opinion on either of those or any other reserve in the area? We will also be spending a night in or around Addo after the Reserve visit.

Re: Game reserve recommendations

by lynnehamman

I have not actually stayed here myself- but I have friends who really enjoyed their stay here.
Have a look at the link

Re: Game reserve recommendations

by JohanIsWeg

I second Lynne's suggestion, and would add

I'm pretty sure all the Eastern Cape reserves are malaria free. Have a fantastic time!

Travel Tips for Port Elizabeth

The Friendly City

by paradisedreamer

PE is known as the friendly city and this is very true. It is avery laid back town which some stunning beaches. It is also famous for it Dolphinarium, Bayworld. There are also a few Game Parks in the area.


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 Amakhala Game Reserve

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Amakhala Game Reserve Hotel Port Elizabeth

Address: Port Elizabeth, South Africa