Garonga Safari Camp

Makalali Game Reserve, Kruger & Around, South Africa Book from Book from £655 per night

Holistic, stylish, heavenly retreat (and safari camp)
Situated in the 22,000-hectare private Makalali Reserve, west of South Africa's famous Kruger Park, Garonga is a piece of heaven. From the moment you are greeted at the huge sculpted gates and admire the North African-inspired architecture, Garonga’s uniqueness is tangible. Hot towels refresh you after the dusty drive, and after a cool passionfruit cocktail, you feel life’s pressures melt away.

All activity is geared to your timescales, not the camp’s. Head out on game drives, or just relax, snooze, sunbathe, daydream and be pampered all day long in the most tranquil and breathtaking of settings. The choice is yours. And for those seeking an intimate bush experience, 'sleep-out' excursions under the stars offer you the chance to sleep among the wildlife, as you wake to the sound of bird song and zebras coming down to the watering hole. As English owner, Bernie Smith, so rightly says, Garonga is a “safari for the soul”.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • Garonga's unique candlelit outdoor bush bath and romantic sleep out treehouse provide memorable moments during which wilderness and luxury collide
  • Small, intimate, owner-managed safari camp with wonderful staff, expert guides and uncrowded, unhurried 'Big Five' game-viewing
  • Stylish half-tented suites with private decks and indoor/outdoor showers; elephants have been known to wander past...
  • Blissful aromatherapy massages, reiki and reflexology sessions in the open-air sala
  • The food is seriously delicious

Lows

  • Unlike many of the top private reserves in the area, Makalali is fully fenced and not yet linked to the huge Kruger Park. Game viewing is good but slightly more limited, which is reflected in the lower prices.
  • In winter, night time temperatures can dip to 5C. Electric blankets are put in the beds, but it's essential to bring a woolly hat, jumper and warm jacket for the early morning and evening game drives.
  • In summer, temperatures can soar and there can be significant rainfall especially Jan-Mar. The camp is closed throughout March.

Best time to go

The Kruger is spectacular at any time of year. For most game viewing, winter (May-October) when temperatures reach about 25C is best because it's the driest (meaning animals congregate around water holes) and the lack of foliage and grasses gives you a clearer view. For birdwatching, summer (December-February) is best: the rivers are full and the bushveld is lush. This is prime holiday season in South Africa, but it can rain and get seriously hot (up to 40C). Autumn (April-May) is also good for birding but probably the worst months for bigger game. In spring (November-December) you can spot lots of newborns.

Garonga is closed throughout March.

Our top tips

Garonga is fantastic for luxurious, close to nature experiences; the open-air bush bath is a must, as is a romantic and rather thrilling night on the sleep-out deck (no extra cost).

During winter the evenings and morning game drives can get rather cold (down to 5C), so pack accordingly.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
Romantic
Eco
Family
Foodie
  • Safari Camp
  • 9
  • All meals included
  • Over 6s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

There are two camps: Garonga Camp, which is ideal for couples, and Little Garonga, which is perfect for families or small groups. Each has its own pool, dining-living areas and dedicated staff.

Garonga Camp has 6 luxury Tented Rooms, each with an earth-sculpted ensuite and a private deck with hammock. Raised on stilts, they sit amongst giant ebony trees overlooking a stunning watercourse. Exquisite handcrafted details abound, enormous beds take centre stage, and linens waft and billow in muted shades. All have indoor and outdoor showers and yoga mats. But for sheer indulgence, relax in the candlelit bush bath with a glass of champagne.

Little Garonga, a short drive away, is ideal for families and friends travelling together. It has just 3 thatched air-conditioned suites, which can be booked individually or together for exclusive use. The large Hambledon Suite has its own pool, a fabulous hand beaten copper bathtub, and a second bedroom for children, while the Chiltern and Buckingham Suites are designed for couples, with huge picture windows allowing you to gaze outdoors from the comfort of your bed.

For the more adventurous, we recommend a night out under the stars at Garonga's sleep-out deck: an extended viewing platform with a four-poster bed overlooking a large waterhole.

Features include:

  • Fan
  • Safe box
  • WiFi

Eating

The food is heralded as healthy and holistic. It is both but don’t think diets. Each mealtime is definitely part of the pampering process and gastronomically it is hard to beat. The buffet lunches and breakfasts are an art form that will tempt you to try far too much of everything.

The resident chef emphasises the use of local, organic or home-grown produce, including wild fruits, berries and game. Local farmers supply fruit, cheese and milk. Ingenuity produces end results that are international in flavour but unique to Garonga. Even the most ardent foodie would be catered for in this culinary paradise.

Guests have their own private table for breakfast and lunch but dinners are generally communal although private dining can be arranged. They are events to linger over and savour with South African wines, beer and spirits all included. Picnics can be arranged for onward journeys or day trips.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Little Garonga
Activity:

Activities

  • Go for early morning and evening game drives - all the big names are here. Head out with a guide in an open Land Rover to spot the Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino) as well as cheetah, hippo, crocodile, spotted hyena, zebra, giraffe and antelope.
  • Sleep out: spend a night under the stars on a tree-top deck overlooking the wilderness - unforgettable (and no extra cost). Garonga will provide you with a picnic hamper, bubbles and other drinks and a radio (the deck is a 15-minute drive from the camp and you will be collected in the morning)
  • Wallow up to your neck in the outdoor bush bath's softly scented bubbles, listening to the sounds of Africa, while watching the sunset on yet another perfect day
  • Head to the open-air sala for aromatherapy and reflexology, or a special honeymoon treatment
  • Guides also provide wilderness walks and tracking adventures for a more exhilarating safari experience
  • The Blyde River Canyon is nearby; one of the largest canyons on earth, it is full of subtropical foliage
  • White-water rafting and horse riding are available nearby; the resort will be able to advise you

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Well being
  • Wildlife

Kids

There are no specific facilities for kids but Little Garonga welcomes children over 6 years in the Hambleton Suite at a reduced rate. The separate Garonga Camp accepts children over 12 years.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Families with children over 6 years can book the large Hambledon Suite in Little Garonga which has an adjoining twin bedroom suitable for 2 children. Larger family groups can book all 3 suites in Little Garonga for exclusive use (sleeps up to 6 adults and 2 children). It has its own pool, dining-living area and staff. Garonga Camp, a short drive away, accepts children over 12 years but they will need their own tented room as there are no extra beds.

Families Should Know:

Garonga is in a low-risk malaria area, but anti-malarial precautions are recommended.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Garonga is situated in the private Makalali Game Reserve in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, a 6-hr drive by road from Johannesburg and west of the Kruger National Park. We recommend flying direct from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Hoedspruit or Phalaborwa airports, followed by a 75-minute road transfer to the camp.

By Air
Johannesburg International is the closest international airport. Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa are the nearest domestic airports (75km/75 min drive to the camp) which are served with daily direct scheduled flights from Johannesburg International (1hr) and Cape Town (Hoedspruit only, 2hr 15 min). Click on the links below for a list of airlines. Alternatively, private air-charters direct to Garonga's airstrip from Johannesburg airport with Federal Air can be organised on request. This is a 90-minute flight.

From the Airport
Road Transfers can be booked with Garonga from Hoedspruit or Phalaborwa airports (approx 75 minutes drive). See Rates for details. Air charters from Hoedspruit/Phalaborwa to Garonga's airstrip are also possible (20 minute flight). The gates at Garonga shut at 5.30pm daily. Arrivals after this time may be possible with an additional 'call out' fee.

By Car
It’s a 5-6-hour drive from Johannesburg. For car hire see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions to the camp are provided when you confirm your booking through our site.

More on getting there and getting around

Airports:

  • Hoedspruit 75.0 km HDS
  • Johannesburg Oliver Reginald Tambo International 400.0 km JNB

Other:

  • Beach 200.0 km
  • Shops 30.0 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Rates for Garonga Safari Camp

Arriving on: