‘Makalali’s bushveld, in contrast to those reserves directly adjacent to the Kruger, is a series of undulating hills that offer incredible viewpoints and panoramic views across the reserve.’ This is how SA Venues describes this wilderness area, situated just west of the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Garonga Safari Camp and Little Garonga, nestled in this 22000ha wildlife haven, provides an ideal location to seek out the Big Five and experience close-up wildlife encounters without the crowds. The name Makalali means “a place of rest” in Shangaan and it suggests that the reserve offers an utterly unique and intimate wildlife experience. Embark on a game drive and be mesmerized by the abundance of game, including lion, kudu, cheetah and anything in between.
The only question left is how do you get there?
Garonga is easily accessible by both air and car:
Direct chartered flight from Johannesburg
Flight and air-charter (Nelspruit KMIA)
Flight and road transfer (Hoedspruit / Phalaborwa)
It has almost been six months since the grand reopening of Garonga Safari Camp, and the team is ecstatic with the positive response from guests. The Garonga staff are devoted to offering service that is nothing below excellent. There is nothing quite like beaming feedback from past visitors to make the Garonga team members’ hearts fill with delight, day after day.
This is how recent guests describe their stay at Garonga on TripAdvisor:
‘This “camp” is a well-kept secret of South Africa. Traveling off the main road for almost 45mins is your first clue that you are in for a taste of a vanishing Africa. The staff is as warm and welcoming as you could possibly want and try to anticipate your every need.’
‘Wow! Garonga is a great safari camp. We have been on safari numerous times and this place hit all the marks and then some. Only 6 “tents” so no more than 12 guests at a time. The tents are actually small, very posh concrete houses with mesh windows and front flap enclosures that make it feel like a luxury tent. Animals come right into the camp as there are two watering holes right below the rooms.’
– Nancy, the US
‘We stayed here for our honeymoon in September. Everything was such an incredible experience. The ‘tents’ are clean, spacious and luxurious along with the view. All of the staff are incredibly friendly and happy to assist with any need.’
– Louise, the UK
‘Our tent, number 5, was large and well located to view the water hole where a variety of animals could be seen refreshing themselves. We were able to watch the elephants as they came through the camp feeding and knocking down the trees for food.’
– David, Australia
‘The accommodation is quite simply superb – huge “tents”, super comfy beds, wonderful bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers and double sinks. We were in room six, which is furthest away from the waterhole and main lodge but great to feel you are away from it all watching the monkeys, mongoose and anything that wanders along the dry riverbed from the spacious deck (one night we spotted hyena as we were walked back from dinner).’
– CH London, the UK
Life in the Makalali Nature Reserve, located only a stone’s throw away from the renowned Kruger National Park in South Africa, has been very eventful lately.
Garonga Safari Camp, nestled in the heart of the Makalali bushveld, has had a brilliant stint of wildlife sightings.
From the impressive elephants to round-eared wild dogs and fierce felines, the diverse selection of sightings has certainly impressed the recent Garonga guests. A Garonga guide took these beautiful shots during game drives in Makalali.
Wine lovers and food fanatics can now enjoy their passion in a truly unique way immersed in nature. Here are some of ways to take your dining experience to a new level at Garonga:
Breakfast in the bush gives guests an opportunity to enjoy the first meal of the day surrounded by the sounds and scents of wilderness. From fresh fruit to scones and quiches, the selection of produce is guaranteed to keep your tummy satisfied until the next feast.
Stop in a quiet spot in the heart of the bushveld and enjoy a bite to eat whilst you admire the untouched African wilderness. Garonga’s morning drives are replete with tea, coffee, biscuits, rusks and fruit whereas evening drives are equipped with light nibbles and your favourite sundowner drinks.
Complete with a fully stocked bar and a beautiful fire pit the Garonga boma certainly has the ‘wow’ factor. The boma provides the idea setting for sharing stories of the day’s game viewing experiences.
Indulge in the delicious wood-fired pizza and a glass of exquisite South African wine as you recall your favourite wildlife sightings of the day.
Those looking to add a bit of romance into their safari can enjoy an intimate dinner in a private location near the camp accompanied with wonderful views of the bushveld. Whether you’re in need for some quality time with your partner or perhaps even planning to pop the big question, there is no place more adoring than right here, in the middle of wild Africa.
Garonga Safari Camp has had an incredibly interesting year so far. The camp reopened its doors on the 1st of June 2016 after a three-month long revamp. The Garonga team is delighted with the camp’s fresh new look and the colour scheme which they proudly refer to as ‘wet elephant’.
The refurbished camp has only been open for just over a month but the recent Garonga guests have not been shy to compliment the camp on TripAdvisor.
Here are a few of our top picks from the review portal:
We had an absolutely fantastic time during our stay in the stunning Hambleden Suite at Little Garonga. We had our own pool on our deck which overlooked a watering hole, and every detail had been considered in our rooms – even down to our favourite drinks! – Nikkicsmith, the UK
‘Garonga is overwhelmingly beautiful. The accommodation is spa-like elegance with every attention to detail. The resort is small so the service is personalized. The staff and guides/trackers ensure all your needs are met.’
– DueNorthDragonflies, Canada
‘This camp has just been revamped and looks great! Super friendly staff and hosts who made our safari and stay as memorable as possible. Honestly – whoever wants to brunch together with elephants in the morning – just book your stay here. Super spacious tents with STUNNING views over the dry riverbed.’
– Weltenbummlerin06, Germany
‘Totally “in awe” with the newly revamped Garonga! Luxurious tented rooms, spacious both inside and outside – what beautiful decks. Amazing bathrooms and oh the outdoor shower. The staff are so friendly and attentative to one’s needs, and the food outstanding.’
– shezpb, South Africa
Calming massages, scent awakening aromatherapy and relaxed reflexology sessions surrounded by wild Africa. This is what awaits guests seeking a soul-soothing experience with the help of Garonga’s sala spa. A safari bush bath or a combination of some other pamper offerings is a welcome addition to the traditional safari experience.
Garonga Safari Camp offers a ‘safari for the soul’; a combination of thrilling wildlife viewing voyages and bush pampering. Nothing quite beats long, leisurely bath sessions under the African sky after a day filled with game drives.
Garonga’s thatch-roofed outdoor sala, where the spa treatments take place, is especially popular amongst honeymooners and couples looking for relaxation and rejuvenation during their safari getaway. Inhale the fresh air of the bushveld, listen to the serene sounds of wilderness and let your mind drift into a delightful daydream whilst you indulge in a calming massage or aromatherapy.
The bush spa takes the meaning of revitalisation to a whole different level. As a recent guest says: ‘I will never forget the bush bath nor seeing the baboons walking by as I had a back massage!’
Whilst the Garonga team excitedly awaits the grand reopening of the camp and to share new safari experiences with guests, the Makalali wildlife is in full action.
Since we still need to wait for a tiny bit longer before venturing into the African bush to witness these wildlife shenanigans with our own eyes with Garonga, we decided to take a trip back in time and share a few video clips from recent Garonga guests to alleviate our safari craving:
The Garonga crew is pleased to announce that the much-anticipated camp revamp has kicked off. The construction team is tirelessly erecting new structures and assembling pillars to refresh the camp’s appearance.
After a couple of weeks of enthused labor the main lounge roof is nearly finished. Here’s is a peek into the refurb:
The Makalali concession is once again teeming with wildlife activity. From sharp-toothed predators to gracious antelope there has recently been a lot to see in this animal kingdom.
Elephant sightings are a firm favourite amongst many Garonga guests. From an unhurried afternoon stroll in the bush to a battle of the strongest observing these gorgeous animals is a captivating occasion.
This video shows a sneak peek into the lives of the Garonga elephants.
Summer is well under way in Makalali and romance is in the air. Bush weddings are one of Garonga Safari Camp’s specialties. Picture standing on a raised deck in the middle of the wild African bushveld and saying ‘I Do’ to the love of your life. Magical!
Ruth and Adam Gooding, who recently tied the knot at Garonga, did just that. They wrote about their special day in a blog article:
Our wedding took place at the small sleep out deck that the camp maintains, about a 20-minute drive from the camp it is built into a tree overlooking a watering hole. During a stunningly warm clear day, we exchanged our vows above this magnificent countryside, and were joined by some of the locals!
There is something excitingly unique about combining your wedding with an African safari.
Ruth and Adam described a particularly memorable bush moment by writing: The moment when we were sat in the Land Rover as a herd of approx. 40 elephants (from young calves to majestic old bulls) emerged from the bush to walk around the vehicle as we sat speechless, will forever linger in my memory.
Wildlife encounters at Garonga certainly didn’t end for the happy couple when they retired into the intimate newlyweds’ love den during their stay. Ruth and Adam wrote:
The Hambledon Suite is beautifully appointed and blessed with a deck and plunge pool overlooking the river bed running in front of the camp, often a meeting place for a couple of elephants during our stay, and the throaty sounds of a pair of young male lions were a welcome soundtrack in the evenings. With nothing to separate the camps from the bush you are often greeted at all times by the local wildlife wandering through the camp, which just adds to the allure!
Bush romance and wildlife wonderment! That is Garonga at its finest.