Gorah Elephant Camp

Addo, Garden Route & Eastern Cape, South Africa Book from

Reviewed by Maia Tarrant
Elegant tented safari camp, combining colonial nostalgia and modern sophistication in the barren beauty of Addo's 'Big 5' park
“Lions!” my husband whispers excitedly. It’s a chilly night and we’re huddled on the porch of our luxurious tent. From somewhere (up a tree?) our guide Colin is shining his torch in their direction. Having failed to spot any during our earlier game drive, Colin went to great lengths (or heights) to ensure we would not miss out on these majestic animals: a perfect example of the level of personalised service that epitomises Gorah.

The historic homestead, in the heart of Addo Elephant Park and only 1 hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth, has been brought bang up to date with contemporary creature comforts and the 11 vast, stilted tents offer the ultimate in camping deluxe. Preheated beds, little chocolate elephants on your pillow, fresh lemonade by the pool and lavish silver-service feasts - this really is safari in style.

The real treat, however, lies in the game viewing - and you don't even need to bounce about in an open-sided vehicle (though it is quite fun). Nothing beats the serenity of sipping gin & tonics on the old-style veranda of the main lodge, overlooking the scenic waterhole, and quietly observing herds of elephants and buffalos passing by. Truly magical.

Highs

  • The proximity of the waterhole and the sheer variety and density of animals trotting through the open camp
  • The exhilarating feeling that only a rather thin sheet of canvas separates you from lions and friends at night
  • The private game drive with our knowledgeable and wildly entertaining guide Colin
  • The delicious Amarula-infused hot chocolate served at the end of our chilly evening game drive
  • Addo is home to the densest elephant population on earth, as well as rhinos, lions, even leopards - and it remains malaria-free

Lows

  • The pool area is a bit bland, but who comes here to lie by the pool? A quick dip during the midday heat in between game drives will suffice
  • There's no electricity in the tents, but this in no way dampens the sense of luxury - quite the opposite
  • The tents are close to each other, so be discreet or your neighbours might avoid you at breakfast
  • There are no massages or beauty treatments on offer
  • All this magic comes at a price and Gorah is expensive with a capital E. However, the memories are bound to last a lifetime, so don’t hesitate to remortgage your house (or visit in low season)

Best time to go

Summer (October-March) is the prime season, with daytime temperatures in the mid 20s C (very comfortable). But Addo is a year-round park and Gorah does its level best to keep you warm and cosy in the "green" season (June-September) - which can be quite rainy and drop to below 10C at night.

Our top tips

Bring a camera, sunscreen, a sun hat, mosquito repellent and warm, comfortable clothes (it can get chilly at night) for the game drives, as well as something a bit more sophisticated for evenings in the elegant dining room.

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Camp
  • 11
  • All meals included
  • Over 10s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Though they may be tents at heart, the 11 Luxury Tented Suites - all built on raised wooden porches and set under thick thatched roofs - feel more like mini cottages. All are identical, with stylish and spacious interiors (50 sq.m.), shiny teak floors, and shades of cream offset by dark wooden furniture and cow-skin footrests. Each offers breathtaking panoramic vistas across the Addo plains from large (25 sq.m.) decks.

The kingsize four-poster bed is crowned by a ceiling fan and a mosquito net, and comes with soft cotton sheets. A large selection of crystal and silver lanterns and decanters adds colonial glamour. We loved the comfy armchairs and the (seemingly self-replenishing) tea tray with sweet homemade treats. Room features also include a writing desk and chair, a small safe, intercom, solar-powered lights and a gas heater.

The ensuite bathrooms are large enough to swing a leopard and feature double showers, freestanding terracotta sinks and ample storage space. White cotton towels, fluffy bathrobes and heavenly-scented toiletries by Charlotte Rhys (“Methaphysika: Scents of Gorah”) complete the indulgent yet earthy feel.

After dinner, a preheated tent, a fluffy hot-water bottle, poetic notes and little chocolate elephants on your pillow welcome you back to your canopied abode. As there is no electricity, your Blackberry goes home with the managers to recharge its batteries, thus allowing you to do the same, with the calming sound of jackal cries in the far distance acting as the perfect lullaby.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Gas heater
  • Intercom
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Dining is an important part of the Gorah experience and the camp quite rightly prides itself on its gourmet cuisine.

Hot chocolate, tea and coffee are served on the porch of your tent at 7am with your wake-up call, followed by a beautifully presented breakfast buffet on the veranda of the main house from 7:30am to 9am. Yoghurt with fresh berries is offered alongside a large selection of pastries, jams, cheeses, fruit platters and fresh juices. With a long game drive ahead, we opted for a hearty full English breakfast to keep us going until lunchtime.

We needn't have worried - luncheons, served daily between 12 noon and 2pm - are sumptuous and we soon realised that we were never going to go hungry during our stay. At 4pm, everybody gathers in the library for afternoon tea with sweet and savoury treats. Then the evening game drive ends with a sundowner stop and drinks and biltong aplenty.

After freshening up and slipping into slightly sleeker attire, guests meet back at the library at 7:30pm for pre-dinner drinks before being led into the elegant, soft-lit dining room for an Eurasian-African, locally sourced, 3-course menu. We loved the duo of duck breast and leg confit on butternut fondant with rooibos-tea infused jus, and the basil and lime granita palate cleanser. One guest commented that it was worthy of 2 Michelin stars.

No safari experience would be complete without swapping stories of the day’s adventures over a nightcap, so we moved into the candlelit lounge with its roaring fireplace and ambiance of romantic nostalgia, enhanced by subtle jazz and Edith Piaf tunes in the background. Very civilised indeed.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Dining
Activity:

Activities

  • Game-viewing, and lots of it! Both daily game drives take around 3 hours, during which you are likely to see plenty of elephants, buffalos, warthogs, zebras, rhinos, kudu, ostriches, lynx and more often than not, lions. The leopard is rather elusive and hence a rare sight, but you might just be in luck

  • Laze by the pool with a cool, fresh lemonade in between game drives

  • Indulge in the lavish gourmet cuisine prepared by the camp’s top chefs

  • With over 150 bird species to be seen at Gorah, birders will be in seventh heaven

  • Hiking and mountain-biking can all be arranged outside of the camp, so for very obvious reasons, don’t traipse off on your own!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children over 10 years are welcome and are accommodated on luxury stretcher beds. Up to 2 children (aged 10-14) per tent are permitted. Children aged 15+ must be in their own tent.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kids Activities on site:

There is a selection of board games at the lodge; children go on the same game drives as their parents and the rangers will tailor the drive to suit.

Families Should Know:

This is an open camp so animals can and do wander freely throughout the grounds. It's malaria-free.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

This hotel has not yet been reviewed by guests

Rates for Gorah Elephant Camp