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Safari Feeling in a romantic HIDDEN GEM
We simply love Africa! The scenery, the people, the animals, the great wine and delicious food! And then there is this safari lodge that we visited on our South Africa trip, it is a lodge that you will never forget! It was the last stop on our trip along the Garden Route.
The family-run safari lodge with four tents is located adjacent to the Addo Elephant National Park in a remote corner of the Amakhala Game Reserve in the malaria-free Eastern Cape. Once used as farmland by the British settlers, the reserve was established in 1999 as a nature conservation area of about 7,000 hectares. Since then nature has been left to take its own course and many animal species that have been decimated by hunting, were also resettled.
The descendants of the original Frontier settler families today run 9 independent lodges with lots of privacy and exclusivity. One of them is the extraordinary HillsNek Safari Camp, situated on the banks of the Bushman’s River.
Amakhala is the Xhosa word meaning Aloe and these indigenous plants are found everywhere here.
The lodge is situated about an hour from Port Elizabeth Airport. When you enter the reserve, you can park your car and will be picked up in a jeep.
The public areas of the lodge includes a large open plan lounge with a comfortable sofa, armchairs, a fireplace, a pool, a bar and several dining areas.
The lodge has been beautifully designed in the African safari style by the owners, Chantelle and Brent, personally! All the furniture and decorations were handpicked and collected by them over many years.
Small groups or families can book the lodge exclusively.
You can take a dip in the small stone swimming pool or relax on the deckchairs. Sometimes a few elephants might even come by to quench their thirst. But of course, you need a bit of luck, to be at the pool at just the right time!
Chantelle Cook and her husband Brent, are the owners of this small safari lodge. Guests are lovingly cared for by manager Renzo, Jaison, who is such a good-hearted soul, the chefs and the rest of the great team.
Luxurious safari tents
The romantic tented chalets are spread far and wide and they are all connected to the main lodge by wooden walkways. Here absolute peace and privacy are guaranteed! All tents have a wooden deck with sun loungers, an en-suite bathroom with tub, a romantic outdoor shower, a cozy sitting area, a desk with coffee and tea making facility, a generously stocked minibar, electric blankets, a heater and a fan. You have a great panoramic view over the landscape from the wooden deck, the bath and even from your bed (when all the canvassed windows are rolled up). And instead of a TV, you have bush TV, which is much more interesting!
Honeymoon Safari Tent
The honeymoon tent is the newest of the four tents and is the most secluded.
Honeymooners are welcomed with sparkling wine and fruit!
To wake up here in the morning, when one happens not to be on safari, is just gorgeous! With all the birds chirping, you almost feel as if in a bird’s nest!
The bathroom is a real safari dream! Wildly romantic, you can relax in the bathtub or shower outdoors! It is somewhat unusual to shower outside, but very special indeed!
The Charity Bag is a great opportunity to do some good! Everything that you no longer need such as clothing, soap and so on, can be donated here.
Safari Tent (2 + 3)
The other two tents have the same amenities, but a slightly different design and an extra bed each.
Safari Tent for families
The family-friendly lodge also has a family tent. It is adjacent to the main area, has an extra bed and an additional small room with a fold-out bed for the young ones. Children also get a goodie bag with all sorts of cool things to keep them busy.
HillsNek Safari Camp is all inclusive and consequently you are spoiled and pampered with African delicacies and drinks all day long. After a few days you are actually not hungry anymore, but everything is so delicious, that you still have to try it all!
After you have been affectionately woken at half past five with aromatic coffee, the first breakfast before the morning game drive is served at the flickering fire. After a delicious muffin, you are ready for the game drive.
The second breakfast is then served after the game drive, and includes everything your heart could desire such as fancy egg dishes.
For lunch you can enjoy a light 2-course menu consisting of a main course and dessert. For the main course there are quite a few options to choose from. So you are spoiled for choice!
The chefs here consistently prepared the tastiest dishes! There is always a choice between meat, for example, kudu and vegetarian dishes.
For dinner, a delicious 3-course meal is served at the communal table. You can always choose from at least 2 main courses. And if you would prefer to dine alone as a family or honeymooners, there are also other tables available.
We went on open jeep game drives with ranger Brad in the morning at 6 o’clock and in the afternoon at 4 o’clock. With some luck you might get to see one of the Big 5 and some of the more than 60 mammal and 250 bird species such as elephants, giraffes, lions, white and black rhinos, zebras, cheetahs, hyenas, buffalo and various kinds of antelope. In our opinion the safari jeeps were sometimes too crowded, but we were assured that this is not always the case.
Anyone interested can also go on boat trips on the Bushman’s River as well as on guided bush walks.
In the morning it can still be quite cold – so wrap up warmly! But when the fog lifts and the sun rises, the experience is worth getting up early for. The landscape is just beautiful in the first morning light and the animals are at their most active.
We decided to skip the early morning game drive the one day, because it was so very cold, but then immediately regretted our decision as we missed out on seeing a huge herd of elephants! You just never know what you might get to see!
This encounter between the giraffes and a cheetah was so strange! At first, the four giraffes watched the cheetah very intently, but were then immediately chased away by the cheetah again.
We then went on the afternoon safari at around 4 o’clock. It is always exciting, wondering what animals you might get to see this time round.
At sunset delicious drinks and snacks are served from the bush bar!
After the safari you can let all the animal encounters sink in while having an aperitif at the crackling campfire.
Marriage proposals & Honeymoon
Whether you want to propose or go on honeymoon, this lodge with its privacy and romantic dinners at sunset, either on your own terrace or in your own tent, offers the perfect setting for pure romance!
- 1 bottle of sparkling wine and fruit upon arrival
- romantic turn-down service
- romantic bubble bath
- 1 romantic dinner in your tent or on your terrace
Animal Protection, Conservation & Social Welfare
HillsNek Safari successfully contributes to the protection and preservation of the white rhino (Southern White Rhino Ceratotherium Simum). The whole Amakhala Game Reserve is carefully monitored and the white and black rhinos are protected from poachers. When two rhino bulls were killed by poachers in 2010, the non-profit organization “Chipembere Rhino Foundation” was founded. HillsNek now donates a certain percentage of its overnight rates to the Chipembere Rhino Foundation and the Amakhala Foundation (Social Development Programs and Conservation). Consequently, every visiting guest contributes to the social projects, the protection of rhinos and nature conservation!
We loved this beautiful lodge. The cozy tent, dinner in the privacy of our own tent, the romantic outdoor shower, the campfire after safari, having a glass of wine while watching the incredible African sunset on your own wooden deck and of course the starry sky at night, it is all very romantic. The tents provide plenty of luxury & privacy and the lodge with its typical African style radiates warmth and romance. The secluded location, personal service and the entire atmosphere in the middle of the African wilderness are quite simply breathtaking. And if you are still able to make a difference at the same time – it is even better!
Rooms: 4 Tents
Transfer: About an hour (84 km) from Port Elizabeth Airport and then about half an hour from the gate to the camp
Minibar: Complimentary and includes an additional bottle of wine
Air Temperature: 7 – 26° Celsius
Malaria: Malaria free
Best time: Safaris are possible throughout the year. Some rain can be expected from September to November and March to May More info
Time difference: None
Price: From 430 EUR per night including full board, all drinks and safaris
Special features: Peaceful, endless landscape, great tents, all-inclusive luxury
Special: 3 = 2, Stay 3 nights, pay for only 2 valid from 1 May to 31 August
Perfect for: Couples, families, gourmets, friends, nature and animal lovers
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Note: During our stay we were partially supported by HillsNek Safari Camp. Thank you so much! Nevertheless, the opinions expressed in this article are entirely our own.
Our trip was planned and organized by Silke Marshall Marketing Solutions. A heartfelt thank you! The trip to HillsNek Safari Camp is part of the “Favourite Gourmet Self-Drive Journey”.