Our Rating
7.5
Overall

Karongwe River Lodge

South Africa, Greater Kruger, Karongwe

from R 2309 pp/night sharing

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46%
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Our Rating
7.5
Overall

Karongwe River Lodge

South Africa, Greater Kruger, Karongwe

from R 2309 pp/night sharing

Save
46%
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Our Verdict

Simple lodge with one of the most beautiful river front settings we’ve seen – there’s also very good game viewing on this scenic Lowveld reserve.

Our Ratings

7.5
Overall
7.0
Luxury & style
8.5
Setting
7.5
Game Viewing
7.0
Romance

Our Ratings

7.5
Overall
7.0
Luxury & style
8.5
Setting
7.5
Game Viewing
7.0
Romance

What's Hot

  • Lovely viewing deck area is perched right over the river where you enjoy splendid views of the attractive riverine forest as well as animals coming down to drink (you can even see fish swimming in the clear water below!)
  • Excellent option to see leopard and cheetah in particular - and tracking wild cheetah on foot is an unforgettable experience!
  • Very attractive lounge area under thatch also boasts a gorgeous feature stone fireplace – the perfect place to cozy up on a chilly winter’s evening with a good glass of red!
  • Karongwe is bordered by the towering Drakensberg escarpment on the west which forms a constant and majestic scenic backdrop – this is arguably the most scenically attractive of all the private lowveld reserves
  • With 4 rivers flowing through the reserve acting as a water source, there are plenty of animals in Karongwe – consistently excellent Big 5 viewing is the result

What's Not

  • Quite a rustic look and feel with plenty of wood and traditional thatch and so not for everyone and unlikely to turn on the style aficionados
  • Meals are less lavish than more luxurious camps (which is understandable given the excellent pricing here)
  • Some may think the reserve a bit too small at 9000 hectares – but we never felt "hemmed in" at all on game drives and never came even close to traversing the full extent of the reserve
Karongwe River Lodge

Karongwe River LodgeKarongwe provides arguably better game viewing and definitely more pretty scenery than many of the better known private reserves in the lowveld!

Lodge Profile

Simple lodge with one of the most beautiful river front settings we’ve seen – there’s also very good game viewing on this scenic Lowveld reserve.

Quick Overview

Location
Karongwe
Drive Time
5 hours from Johannesburg
Malaria
Yes - low risk area
Setting
Overlooking a riverbed
Rooms
11 Suites - 5 Luxury, 2 Family, 2 Executive and 2 Presidential Suites
Aircon
Yes
Pool
Yes - and private plunge pools in the Presidential Suites
Spa
In-room massages
Camp Fenced
Yes
Tracker
Yes - ranger and tracker
Off Road
Yes
Child Policy
All ages

Located in the central lowveld region of the Limpopo Province lies Karongwe River Lodge, one of 4 lodges situated within the Karongwe Reserve. It might not yet be one of the better known of the lowveld’s private reserves, but Karongwe is a 9 000 hectare piece of bush paradise that is a fantastic option for a high quality, value for money bush escape! Karongwe lies the furthest east of the major private lowveld reserves which has 2 major benefits: firstly this makes it closer for travellers driving through by car from Gauteng; but perhaps more importantly this means that the reserve lies almost in the shadow of the escarpment that dominates the western border of the lowveld – the result is that there is the constant backdrop of the majestic Drakensberg mountains to the west providing stunning views. Then you can add in the fact that the reserve has 4 rivers running through it including the perennial Makutswi River, which enhances the game carrying capacity of the land as well as providing stunning riverine vegetation. The result, dare we say it, is that Karongwe provides arguably better game viewing and definitely more pretty scenery than many of the better known private reserves in the lowveld!

The land that is now Karongwe has been though many uses over the years - from hunting and exploring in the 19th century to the discovery of gold, where mining activities had dire consequences to the once abundant wildlife, as miners and labourers hunted and snared game for both sport and food! In fact this area is locally referred to as the Harmony Block after the mining company and is littered with hundreds of abandoned mines! Fortunately, the gold ran out fairly quickly and a few brave souls then attempted to farm the area, but due to various reasons such as tsetse flies, until the late 1940's, this region was not suited to permanent agricultural activities. In 1998 farmers decided to make a difference and drop fences between farms and the Karongwe Private Game Reserve was established.

Their objectives were to rehabilitate the land, reintroduce the indigenous species and generally bring the area as close as possible back to its former splendour. With the Karongwe Association (founded in 2001) animals are protected, jobs created for local people and lodges developed for the enjoyment of tourists.

Today Karongwe provides an excellent wildlife experience - whilst 9000 hectares is fairly small compared to some other reserves, we never came even close to traversing the full extent of the reserve. A bonus is that it also means that the experienced rangers and their skilled Shangaan trackers know the land like the back of their hand and boosts the chances of consistently excellent game viewing. In fact, sighting all the Big Five on a single game drive is not uncommon! We stayed for 4 nights at the lodge and enjoyed superb leopard sightings and the chance to track wild cheetah on foot was unforgettable! Just one point to note is that the excellent last minute rates at the Karongwe lodges just include a single game drive a day to keep costs down – you are obviously free to go on the other daily game drive at a reasonable extra cost (this is actually quite a sensible approach as many people end up skipping at least one game drive as they fancy sleeping in for example!)

As far as the lodge itself is concerned, Karongwe River Lodge (previously known as Edeni River Lodge) is one of four lodges that makes up the Karongwe Portfolio. It enjoys a lovely postion on the banks of the Makhutswi River and offers 11 air-conditioned private suites - 5 Luxury Suites, 2 Family and 2 Executive Suites, and finally there are 2 Presidential Suites which boast their own lounge and private plunge pools overlooking the private waterhole (so you can enjoy a cocktail and watch the animals come down to drink right in front of you!)

The style of the suites is fairly rustic as they’ve been built entirely from indigenous wood and thatch and all have their own deck overlooking the lovely Makhutswi River - it's a look you're either going to love or hate! All suites are very spacious with en-suite bathrooms that feature a shower and (the ladies favourite) a ball and claw bath - from the comfort of your bath you can look out and view the surrounding bush (who knows maybe you will spot game pass by your window!)

The main lodge also boasts one of the best views of any game lodge we've stayed at with enchanting views over the Makhutswi River - here you can enjoy the spacious lounge, library and bar areas which lead onto a vast deck, where you can chill in hammock chairs and enjoy for endless opportunities to view grazing antelope or bigger game like hippo or elephant. Between game drives in the heat of the day, this is the perfect spot to spend the afternoon relaxing while enjoying an ice cold drink, or alternatively head to the pool which in turn overlooks a dam where loads of animals form a near constant procession (or take a peek around the curio shop if you can’t escape the lure of retail therapy!) Meals are enjoy in the dining room, on the open-air deck or alternatively, under the stars in a rustic outside boma around a blazing fire – ultimately it all adds up to a truly atmospheric bush experience!

Pricing

pp/night sharing

More Information

Booking Notes

  • Karongwe Game Reserve gate entrance fee of R75
  • Subject to availability
  • Rates apply to SA residents only
  • 2 Night minimum stay

Child Policy

  • Children between 0 and 2 years old are accommodated on a complimentary basis
  • Children from the ages of 3 years to 11 years old are accommodated at 50% of the adult tariff, sharing a family room with adults
  • Children 12 years and older are considered adults and pay the applicable tariff
  • Children under 6 yrs are not permitted on any Game activity unless approved by the Lodge Management onsite. No prior approval shall be given. (Children are required to be accompanied by an adult on Game activity)