INKWENKWEZI Private Game Reserve (Eastern Cape, South Africa)

Guided game drive

Only half an hour’s drive from where we currently live, is Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve. So, instead of doing our weekly grocery shopping on a Saturday morning, we decided it will be much more fun to go on a guided game drive … I’m sure you will agree this is indeed way better than doing shopping 😄.

Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve:

You will find this private game reserve only 50km (31 miles) from East London Airport. It’s in the heart of the Wild Coast and have 4 of the Big 5 animals (the elephants were causing too much trouble for the neighbouring farms which surround this reserve). It’s a malaria free zone and because it’s on the Wild Coast, beautiful beaches are close by – sounds like a win-win situation to us!

Inkwenkwezi’s open 4×4 vehicle they use for their guided drives

Inkwenkwezi offers different types of guided game drives – you can choose between early morning-, afternoon- or a sunset game drive. And there are a whole lot of other things to do … like quad bike tours and guided forest walks, oh yes, and you can stay in their amazing accommodation should you so wish.

But for this post, we will concentrate on our 3-hour game drive early in the morning …

As we were driving into the game reserve, we spotted some zebras close to the road.

A zebra at the entrance of the game reserve

Before our departure, we walked around Inkwenkwezi’s garden to take some photo’s. The staff were busy preparing for a wedding that were taking place there later in the morning and they were busy decorating their lovely restaurant with white linen and flowers. I think you must be very fortunate to have your wedding here on Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve … for one, the photo’s should be pretty impressive!

The rustic open-air chapel which are used for weddings
One of the big trees in the garden

We enjoyed complimentary hot drinks while Gareth, our guide, got the vehicle ready for us. At 8:30 we left from the main building for a very relaxing 3-hour drive through the scenic landscape of Inkwenwezi. It was just the two of us on the game drive with Gareth, which was great. He stopped on our requests to take some photo’s and answered our many questions effortlessly.

It was quite chilly early in the morning (fortunately we had a blanket in the vehicle)

The first part of the drive goes through a very dense area and we did not see any animals (though, I’m sure they were there between the thick bushes and high trees). As we got to the open area of the reserve, we started to see wild animals.

Through the thick bushes and now on our way to the open field

The first animals we encountered were two ostriches. And we were very privileged to experience the ‘male mating dance’. The male ‘danced’ low to the ground to signal to the female that he was ready to mate. Even the female showed brooding behaviour and it was quite a sight to watch these two performing for quite some time!

The female walking with her wings stretched out alongside her body – showing her readiness to mate

Gareth mentioned that they are experiencing a ‘green drought’ at the moment. This means there is just enough rain to make the reserve look lush, but not enough to relieve dry conditions. ()

Inkwenkwezi is in the grip of a ‘green drought’

Our next sight was of a herd of impalas. This is a medium-sized antelope that are mostly found in eastern and southern Africa. They were widespread in the reserve and we saw them often.

A herd of impalas

And then we spotted a couple of giraffes. It’s always great to see them in the wild … it’s of course not the same ones we saw three weeks ago on our houseboat trip, but they felt like old friends.

Giraffes between the high trees

On one of the highest points we could see the Indian Ocean in the distance. This is just a reminder that we are only a short distance from the sea and that the beautiful beaches are very accessible.

The Indian Ocean are on the doorstep of Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve

We were now approaching the highlight of the game drive, namely a drive through the lion camp. As we entered the camp, we got the smell of dead animals. The lions were fed the previous day and Gareth warned that we might not see them since their tummies are full and that they are probably sleeping between the dense bushes.

We drove around for quite some time … Gareth mentioned that the scary thing is they know we’re there and can see us, while we can’t see them. But we could hear a light roar every now and then … eventually we saw a male and female busy … well, you know … busy doing their thing 😉. When they saw us, they relaxed and laid down next to each other.

Male and female lions

After a while, we left these two and drove one more time around to see if we can spot more lions. And we were lucky with the sight of another male and female. They were quite happy laying in the sun and we were able to take a couple more pictures.

Another male lion
The female was rolling on to her back while checking us out

We spent at least half an hour in the lion camp and we really enjoyed our time here. Gareth went out of his way to find the lions so we could see them up close… it was, well, it was just amazing.

As we left the camp, Gareth parked our 4×4 on a high hill. He offered us some cold drinks and water while we could stretch our legs a bit. After all the excitement of seeing the lions, I said that I need to ‘wee’. And we had such a laugh when Gareth said: “Well, any tree is a lava-tree”!

Our view while enjoying some cold drinks

From here, we drove for another 45 minutes back to the main building. We saw more impalas and zebras, but the other bigger animals (like the rhino, kudu and wildebeest) were nowhere to be found. That didn’t really matter, because to us it was just great being out in nature (and we did saw the lions)!

Note the shadow stripes between the more prominent stripes on the zebra
A last look at a herd of female impalas

On our way back, close to a river, we spotted a leguaan (‘likkewaan’ in Afrikaans) baking in the hot sun.

Leguaan baking in the sun

Just before leaving the dense area, we drove through a river. Gareth stopped here so we could take some photos and just enjoy the tranquility.

Lovely scenery at the river

Now … this was wayyyy better than a shopping trip, don’t you agree? We would love to visit Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve again at some time to see whether we can spot other animals as well. But we left more than happy after a great morning in nature. And Gareth was not just a very knowledgeable guide, but also a great 4×4 driver … he took us with ease on a very rough road!

After the game drive, we just had to drive down to the Indian Ocean we saw from the high viewpoint in Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve. We drove to Cintsa beach to see it from closer and then walked over to The Jolly Roger Pub where we enjoyed hot drinks – the perfect way of concluding an amazing morning.

() The good news is that since we left Inkwenkwezi, it started to rain that afternoon … and it rained continuously for 2 days. Hopefully this will bring some welcome relieve.

63 comments

  1. What an incredible experience, and it’s only 30 minutes from your home!? I think I’d want to go back every week, and go hungry in the process! 😉 When theTravelsketcher was in SA on business back in the mid 90s, he visited a similar park and got some great photos. I was quite jealous. I love your guide’s comment, “lave-tree”. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha Tricia, yes I’m thinking the same thing … I anyway have some winter fat that I need to get rid of 😁. It was such an amazing way of seeing nature and wildlife – and getting so close to them was just wonderful. I’m happy to hear theTravelsketcher also got the opportunity to visit one of our beautiful parks – I’m sure he still have great memories of that trip. I can’t go past a tree now without thinking “lave-tree” 😅. Thank you for reading about our game drive and your lovely comments.

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  2. Wow, what a fun way to spend Saturday morning. There’s nothing quite as exciting as getting close to the animals or learning about ecology, flora and fauna. It certainly classifies as an unparalleled wildlife viewing experience. Thanks for sharing. I hope all is well 🙂 Aiva xx

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    • I agree Aiva, this is how I would like to spent a Saturday morning! And you’re absolutely right, one learn so much from nature (and even better when the guide is so knowledgeable). Thank you for reading about our game drive and thanks for asking – all is well on this side of the world. Hope the same there with you guys, take care 🌸.

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    • Baie dankie Elsabe 🌸. Ek wens ek kon ook die reuk van die natuur hier byvoeg … wanneer ons deur die riviere gery het, was daar so ‘n heerlike “nat natuur reuk” en dan weer ‘n “vars winddroog reuk” bo-op die plato. Dis mooi wereld hierdie – dis verseker!

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  3. I love your wild & reckless decision to ditch the grocery shopping for the Reserve! Kudos! How incredible to live that close to this amazing variety of wild animals. I love the shot of the lion on her back. So nice that your guide helped make your visit even more enjoyable. Have a great week, Corna! 🌞

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    • Ha 😄, who wants to do shopping when you can see this out in nature? Yes, we could not believe our eyes when we read that this private nature reserve is on our doorstep! I was ‘oohing and aahing’ a lot when that lion turned on her back – she was almost playing model for us! And you’re right, having a great guide definitely made this a memorable game drive. Thanks for popping in Lisa, hope your week is a good one too!

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  4. Good news about the rain. It is so much nicer to see animals in their wild habitat. What a bonus having a park like that so easily in reach and having your own private tour..it doesn’t get much better!

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    • Oh yes, we’re all very happy for the rain these last couple of days (it’s been very dry on this side of the coast for the last couple of years and they are in need of much more rain), but every drop counts. Yes, you’re right … it was like a private tour and really special!

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  5. Dit is wonderlik dat julle so naby aan julle huis by n natuur reservaat kan wees! Om die leeus te kon sien is beslis ook n bonus! Ek hou ook so baie van die kameelperde en zebras! Dis beslis beter as om inkopies te gaan doen. Bly julle het reen gehad.

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    • Ons was regtig verbaas om te sien hoe naby dit is (en dit lyk my daar is nog) … baie bevoorreg! In die Weskus Nasionale Park sien ‘n mens mos baie zebras (die berg zebra as ek nou reg onthou) – hulle is tog so mooi! Ag, en die leeus – dit was nou lekker om hulle dop te hou (sommer net hier by ons voertuig). Jip, inkopies kom nie naby hierdie lekkerte nie! Dit het eers gisteraand opgehou reen – hoop regtig dit het ‘n verskil gemaak. Geniet Vrouedag 🌸.

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  6. Ek gaan die laaste een wees om julle kwalik te neem dat julle gaan wild kyk het in plaas van om mall toe te gaan! Lyk of julle n heerlike tyd gehad het. En bly om te lees dat daar wel later bietjie reen geval het.

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    • O ja, ek’s seker jy sou nie vir ‘n oomblik in ‘n mall wou wees nie 😄. Ek het nogal aan julle gedink toe ons die wildrit gedoen het – dis maar ons tweede een en ons was so vasgevang in die ongelooflike mooiheid … toe wonder ek of dit elke keer so vir julle is (al het julle seker al 100de sulke ritte gedoen). Baie bly oor die reen (en ons bid dat daar nog heelwat sulke dae sal wees).

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      • Tussen my en jou moet ek erken dat ek eintlik dit baie meer geniet om myself rond te ry so deur ons parke en reservate as saam met n drywer – ek raak sommer skuins geirriteerd wanneer hulle nie afdraai by sypaadjies wat vir my belowend lyk nie! 😀

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      • Ek verstaan dit heeltemal! Ons hou ook van die self-ry opsies, maar as dit by wildtuine en natuur reservate kom, is ons nie so gekonfyt om te weet wanneer ons die olifant eerder moet los of nader moet gaan nie 😁. Maar as ons op ons 4×4 ritte daar in die Richtersveld gaan, is dit heerlik om self te ry en elke hoekie en draaitjie in te ry en op ons tyd te besoek.

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  7. If you want elephants go and visit Addo, it’s not far from you. We stayed in a rondavel there on 2008 and had the most wonderful time. Even saw lions, though it was quite a scary experience as we were on our way out of the park.

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    • Oh yes, Addo Elephant Park … another one we have not visited yet! And like you said, it’s not that far from us – it seems we will have to plan another outing 😉. We felt quite safe with the guide in the lion camp, but I’m not sure it would have been the same if we were on our own.

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  8. Wow 😍😍 to have the opportunity to see all those animals in person!! The female lion rolling around is the cutest thing. I never thought I would use the word cute to describe a lion 😄

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  9. What a fabulous alternative to Saturday shopping! Amazing to see the ostrich mating dance! But the lions are the stars of course. That shot of the second male with his mane back-lit is very special 😀

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    • I know one must eat … but shopping had to move to another day 😉. Oh yes, we found the ostrich mating dance fascinating. They really have put out a performance for us. As for the shot of the male lion with his mane back-lit … that is Berto’s favourite photo … that was a great moment.

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    • Og, die leeus … inderdaad ‘n groot voorreg om hulle van so naby te sien! Dink net watter stories kan daardie boom alles vertel! Dis naby aan die buitelug kapel en ek dink daar het al hoeveel bruidspare gestaan vir pragtige foto’s!

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  10. Aha, so you’ve got there. This is the place where my son spent a 3-month working stay whilst he was travelling the world. His job was helping to raise the lion cubs. I still remember it so well. “Dad, I need to tell you something. I’ve quit my job. My next job is raising lion cubs in South Africa”. Wow. And (you may remember) he met Kristy there, on Inkwenkwezi. They are now happily married with a beautiful daughter, my third granddaughter. So Inkwenkwezi, so far from my home and so close to yours…plays a massive part in my family history. Isn’t it a small world, full of coincidences!?

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    • Oh yes, it was actually your comment about Inkwenkwezi that made us look for this reserve… and we were so surprised to find it literally on our doorstep! Your son must have had such a wonderful stay here (and what wonderful memories)! I got goosebumps and a tear in my eye while reading your comment (it’s a girl thing 😉), but I just love this story and how it unfolded in your son and his wife’s lives. A small world indeed…

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  11. A fantastic experience Corna. An African safari is truly something missing from my travel resume. I like that this place has plenty of options in terms of tours, how wonderful that you had the morning trip all to yourselves. I bet that wouldn’t be possible at sunset. Love all the animal shots, particularly the lions. I now find myself Googling their accommodation and associated prices. Not too bad if you don’t take a room in the actual reserve. Otherwise pricy, but very very nice.

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    • You will have to add an African safari to your travels at some point – it really is a unique experience. Yes Leighton, you are right that it is a bit expensive to stay inside the reserve… however it was fully booked when we visited (mostly by overseas tourists – it helps if you earn in Euros and US Dollars 😉). But there are many other accommodation options just outside the reserve and we would love to stay there (for another game drive)! Thank you for taking a virtual safari with us – this is just a taste of what you can expect on a real safari 😄.

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  12. Fabulous captures. I couldn’t agree more about how going to the Private Game Reserve was a much better choice than grocery shopping!! Seems like you managed to see a lot of wildlife on your morning tour. How neat to see the male ostrich doing his mating dance and to see the lions!

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    • Thank you so much Linda. We were indeed happy to see all the wildlife (of course one would always like to see more … but we won’t be greedy ☺️). We spent at least 15 minutes with the ostriches and it was fascinating to see them ‘perform’ – nature is wondrous! As for the lions … just amazing to watch them from so close by. I was a very happy person when we left the reserve 😁.

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    • Thanks Hannah 🌸. Yes, it’s actually quite unbelievable that it’s only half an hour’s drive from us … I begin to think we’re living in the wild 😁 (but I’m not complaining of course)!

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  13. I could skip grocery shopping for a whole month just to be part of such an absolutely amazing trip. All these fascinating animals, magnificent lions and majestic giraffes and not far from where you live.

    I have had the privilege of seeing some of these animals in real life, but that was a long time ago, in Kenya in the early nineties!!! At that time I didn’t even have a camera, my then future husband took all the pictures. Back then, film rolls with a maximum of 36 images were used. Memories….

    Thanks for sharing your adventures.

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    • I’m so happy you also enjoyed this game drive with us Anita. And what wonderful memories you have of a similar trip many years ago … back then film rolls were so valuable and one only took a photo when you were pretty sure you’ve got the perfect shot. Imagine today – I think we easily take around 100 photos (or more) on such a trip to then choose the best 20/30 pictures.
      This was a wonderful morning in nature (who anyway needs to have a cupboard stocked with groceries – bread from the local corner shop is just as good after such an amazing trip) 😄!

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