Best Bush Getaways by Province
For most South Africans, travelling to the bush for a few days is a common ritual and fortunately our beautiful country is filled to the brim with excellent bush and game parks. It is usually just a short drive to the nearest park to get a much needed bush fix and unwind. You can also break long car journeys with a short stay in one of our national parks with basic but comfortable accommodation and the thrill of getting close-up with nature.
South Africa game parks fall into two broad categories: The extensive national parks network which is well represented around the country and hundreds of private reserves which offer a more personalised experience with guided game drives and fully catered meals. Some offer five star luxury with private pools and fine dining but many also give you a private bush experience at more affordable prices and hearty meals around the boma fire.
Here is a short list of some of the best bush getaways and bush breaks by province to ensure you are not missing out on your share of outdoor experiences.
Mpumalanga Game Lodges & Bush Getaways
Home to the world famous Kruger National Park and a plethora of private game parks, Mpumalanga is probably ground zero for bush experiences. The Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s largest parks with a high density of game and many opportunities to view the Big 5. There is a wide range of Kruger National Park accommodation including smaller safari camps. A unique experience waits you at the 5* Kruger Shalati – Train on the Bridge Hotel set in magnificently converted old railway coaches on a disused bridge overlooking the river where animals quench their thirst throughout the day.
Popular private lodges include Kapama and the aha Makalali Game Lodge, Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge and the world-famous Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi Game Reserves. A more cost effective option is the Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate on the border of the Kruger National Park and the self-catering AfriCamps tented camp at Hoedspruit.
Limpopo Game Lodges & Bush Getaways
The Marakele National Park is part of the unspoiled Waterberg Biosphere in Limpopo and is located 275 kms from Johannesburg. For a more personalised experience why not try the 4* Mabula Game Lodge which is just a 2.5 hour drive from Johannesburg? The main camp is an oasis of giant trees and sparkling pools. The 4* Legend Resort Villas is also an affordable option.
North West Game Lodges & Bush Getaways
The North West Province is home to the Pilanesberg National Park which offers camping and chalets as well as privately operated concessions including Kwa Maritane and Bakubung Bush Lodge. While this park is about a two hour drive from Johannesburg you might want to travel a little further to the Madikwe Game Reserve with a variety of private camps and excellent game viewing. These parks are year round destinations and are malaria free, as well as offering excellent family-friendly accommodation.
Gauteng Game Lodges & Bush Getaways
Who would believe that there is a game park in Gauteng – the smallest province in the country? The Dinokeng Game Reserve is situated north of Pretoria and is the only reserve to feature the Big 5 within the boundaries of a metro city. There is a wide range of accommodation from self-catering guesthouses to game lodges including Askari Game Lodge at Magaliesburg and the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve to mention a few.
Free State Game Lodges & Bush Getaways
The soaring cliffs of red sandstone are a welcoming sight as you arrive in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the eastern Free State. Accommodation includes a hotel, chalets and guest houses. Home to many antelope species this is your opportunity to view the unique black wildebeest with their white tails. Activities in the area include fly-fishing, zip-lining, game drives, white water rafting, golf, cycle trails and horse riding. Pop into nearby Clarens bustling with markets, restaurants and a micro-brewery. There are also many private game reserves scattered across the plains of the Free State.
Eastern Cape Game Lodges & Bush Getaways
The Addo Elephant Park north of Port Elizabeth is home to over 450 elephant and boasts the Big 7 – lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and the great white shark. The Mountain Zebra and Camdeboo National Parks are in the Karoo near Cradock and Graaff Reinet and the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park is on the Garden Route close to Natures Valley.
Private Game Reserves abound in the Eastern Cape and include Shamwari Private Game Reserve and the Kariega Game Reserve near Grahamstown and the 5* Kuzuko Lodge north of Addo to mention just three. The Eastern Cape is also an attractive self-drive holiday destination for those coming from the Western or Northern Capes on a bush break.
Western Cape Game Lodges & Bush Getaways
The Western Cape has a bag full of National Parks to choose from including the West Coast, Agulhas, Bontebok, Karoo and Tankwa Karoo National Parks as well as the Wilderness and Knysna sections of the Garden Route National Park where you can go on an epic journey on foot, kayak, boat, mountain bike, scooter and Segway. Private bush getaways are available at Gondwana Game Reserve, Kambaku @ Sea on the Garden Route, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge at Oudtshoorn or self-catering AfriCamps at Ingwe near Plettenberg Bay. For a true luxury and unforgettable experience try the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve in the Cederberg.
Northern Cape Game Lodges & Bush Getaways
The Northern Cape is home to remote and unspoiled parks at Augrabies, known for its mighty falls, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the southern border of Botswana and Namibia and Mokala National Park south of Kimberley. There are many private game and bush options including Tswalu Private Kalahari Reserve, and perfectly quiet Tankwa Tented Camp in one of the most remote parts of the country.
No corner of our country is without a National Park and a wide choice of private lodges. Call Thompsons and leave the leg-work to us to secure a great bush break within your budget.