The Amakhala Game Reserve, just north of Port Elizabeth and close to Addo Elephant National Park in the malaria-free Eastern Cape, has 4 rather special lodges on it. Bush Lodge, Safari Lodge, Woodbury Lodge and Leeuwenbosch Country House are certified by Fair Trade in Tourism.
Five of South Africa’s 7 plant biomes are found in the Eastern Cape. Here the botany is almost as compelling as the Big 5 attractions.
These same ecosystems are found within Amakhala Game Reserve, not far from Grahamstown. Here you’ll find dense thickets of valley bushveld, thorn-tree savannahs, sweeping grasslands, knots of forests and hardy Nama Karoo.
Punctuating it are spectacular aloes and candelabra euphorbias, with the Big 5 animals rambling through it all.
Within this malaria-free diversity on the Amakhala Game Reserve are 4 lodges certified by Fair Trade in Tourism.
All 4 collaborate on conservation matters, HIV/AIDS education and other ways of uplifting the community. The 4 lodges (marketed under Amakhala’s Heritage Collection) also support local businesses. They include a needlework entrepreneur, a small laundry and a group of women who do beading to generate funds for education bursaries.
Bush Lodge and Safari Lodge are both 5-star. Think private plunge pools, fireplaces, romantic double indoor and outdoor showers, and game-viewing decks. Then there’s access to the magical Whisper Room, a place to be pampered and massaged.
Leeuwenbosch Country House, which has 4 stars, is owned and run by the Fowlds family, who have lived here for 5 generations, dating back to the family of William Fowlds, who arrived with the 1820 Settlers. This beautiful old house offers 5 en-suite rooms.
Woodbury Lodge, also 4-star, is an elegant stone-and-thatch lodge with spectacular views over the Bushman’s River valley. Elephants and other wild animals often pass by, and the suites are designed so that you can view from your own deck.
As you’d expect from lodges with an emphasis on holistic care for the community and environment, on game drives it’s not just about the Big 5 and other charismatic beasts like cheetahs and hyenas. The guides will also draw your attention to monkeys, tortoises, shy bat-eared foxes, mongooses and even dung beetles.
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