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Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge
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Reviewed 18 December 2017

Safari in South Africa has always been TOP of my bucket list and Kariega did not disappoint.

We had such a wonderful experience at River Lodge and I think we really lucked out with both our Ranger (Trust) and the people in our jeep for the duration.
River lodge itself is a beautiful lodge right on the river. We stayed at room 1 which was only a short 30 second walk from the front door of the lodge.

You go for morning games drives (6am) and evening game drives (4pm) each lasting 3-4 hours.
When you return you dine with your group from your jeep along with your ranger.
Ranger Trust has a 6th sense when it comes to finding the animals and surprised us so many times! He even took us out on a night time game drive which was an amazing experience....especially when we found the hippos out of the water as well as the lions!

We were glad we stayed at River Lodge over Main/Ukhozi as the park is split in 2 (can't be helped, a main road goes through it) and the lions were over the side where River Lodge is so we got to see them lots. We also saw the elephants and giraffes loads and 3 nights was just the perfect amount of time to make sure you got to see everything.

If you have time, check out the spa @ River Lodge too, Caroline is super talented!
Thanks so much Kariega and Ranger Trust, we'll be back! You made the end of our trip super special.

Room Tip: Rooms 1, 2 and 3 are closest to the lodge.
  • Stayed: December 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank InstaDub
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 December 2017

We stayed at the River lodge for 4 nights (10th-14th Nov 18) the lodge and rooms are very nice, the food is great and the game drives are ok.
BUT we were located approx 500 yds from the main lodge rooms 8,9, & 10 you reach these rooms on a golf cart alongside the river ... not a problem, but at 1am one night the people in the room (room 8) next to ours was robbed at knife point, this highlighted another problem when they called "reception" there wasn`t anyone on duty and no security so if anyone had taken ill of had a heart attack there wasn`t any assistance at all.
They posted three guards in this area for the remainder of our stay but only at night so you are still vulnerable during the day (when not on a game drive) there was talk of them installing "panic" buttons in the rooms but they are useless when you have a robber with a knife.
So if you have booked for the River Lodge and are put in these rooms ENSURE they have security guards at all times, the manager when asked did say that one of the rooms had been burgled previously whilst the occupants were on a game drive, lessen not learnt.
The Game Drive
We have done several Safaris and I must admit this was one of the most picturesque game reserve that we have been to BUT most of the land is covered by bush so it is near impossible to spot any animals, there are three areas to the reserve, only one area has lions two males and three females none of the other areas have predators so the food chain animals are far to relaxed and this is where some people would say it is too much like a"Safari Park" in England.
They need to clear the dense bushes in the Valleys to produce more "plains"and introduce Cheetah`s , Leopards and Hyena`s we saw three kills that were there for days without a Hyena in sight ... thats not natural. This could be one of the best private reserves in Africa if there were more predators and areas that they could hunt, the Lions are now killing for "fun" they dont need to eat every day but they are killing and leaving the kills for days.... If it your first Safari you will see the Elephants, Lions, Rhinos, Hippos, Giraffes and all the food chain animals but you will see the same ones day after day so a two day stay would be recommended.

Room Tip: I suggest a room in the main lodge area at the River Lodge
  • Stayed: November 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank kwissy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bronwen d, Manager at Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 14 December 2017

Thank you for posting your review about your stay with us at River Lodge. We value input from all of our guests and take this feedback very seriously. As a family business we feel we are able to respond positively and constructively to suggestions. We would like to give our perspective on some of your comments.

We were utterly devastated by the intrusion and theft as nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our guests. This was also the first incident of this nature at Kariega. We feel we took appropriate action at the time to ensure everyones ongoing safety and continue to do so. We can confirm the following:
1. There was, and always is, a staff member on duty to respond to guests needs and emergencies. However, we have improved procedures and information to guests to ensure that easy communication is possible after hours.
2. There was, and always is, a security person on duty.
3. Although possibly semantics, the guests were not robbed at knife point, as the intruders fled as soon as the guests awoke.

Many thanks for highlighting that you found Kariega to be one of the most beautiful and picturesque game reserves that you have been to and we respect your views on our conservation principles. We feel that the 10,000 hectare reserve is a very natural and authentic game reserve and we don’t feel it is anything like a “safari park”. It has often been said that the gradual growth and development of Kariega over the last 28 years has been one of the most accomplished conservation projects in the Eastern Cape to date. Our conservation and land management plans are ongoing. As a matter of interest, our wildlife experience is known to be one of the best in the Eastern Cape and a big positive has always been our close-up game viewing, which always enthrals our guests. We were delighted to hear that you witnessed three kills, a pity you never saw any of our brown hyena, which are breeding and increasing in number nicely.

Thanks again for your views.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 December 2017 via mobile

We wanted to do a safari as part of the garden route and picked Kariega for two nights all inclusive.


The place is amazing four game drives with a ranger who new the ground like the back of his hand.

We saw everything lions, rhinos, hippos and even a bush pig which I am told is a very rare sight.

We had an amazing encounter with a herd of elephants

If you are in the eastern cape make sure this is on your list.

A once in a lifetime amazing experience

Stayed: December 2017, travelled as a couple
1  Thank justinbx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 November 2017

From start to finish everything was perfect...Location, service, food, drinks etc....faultless.
Our guide Thomas was excellent and made each game drive interesting and exciting. He has great knowledge and was a pleasure to listen to all the information.
The accommodation was perfect...everything you could want...stepping on to the balcony to see a variety of wildlife is a very good morning.
All the food was excellent and staff went that little extra to make your stay fantastic.
Hope I can get back sometime to experience it all again
Thank you to all the staff

  • Stayed: September 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank ncokey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 October 2017 via mobile

We stayed at River Lodge 4 nights, and could have stayed longer! From the moment we arrived, we were greeted by absolutely warm staff with towel and drinks on hand. The main lodge is a beautiful log and thatch construction, and is overlooking the beautiful river. The suites are individual constructions with the same characteristics; tall thatch roof, mud walls and concrete floors. Very spacious main room and bath. Ours was open the the rear plains, where antelopes, giraffes, zebras and a plethora of birds would often stop by.
Our game drives with JC were fun, very entertaining and informative. JC is passionate for his work and it shows. The food was always awesome and plentiful and the staff, whether immediate supporting staff or ground staff were all happy to give you their best smile or give you a hand with everything. Overall, it was a fantastic stay and we would return in a heartbeat. Thank you Kariega!

Stayed: October 2017, travelled as a couple
1  Thank javosc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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