After the morning game drive spent passing herds of elephants, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast on the wraparound veranda, with its endless views across the plains. After that, a trek on elephant-back or plain lazing by the pool were equally tempting choices. Delicious homemade snacks appeared out of nowhere throughout the day to save us from sure starvation, before the fabulous 5-course gourmet feast that was our dinner.
Staff are unfailingly lovely and enthusiastic, the vibe is cossetting, and the guides are superb at tracking both large and small animals; required in this type of bush as it conceals wildlife. This is a great place for safari enthusiasts who want a relaxed, gourmet-led experience - and it's utterly fantastic for families with children of all ages.
- Parents can take offspring on game drives, or leave them with babysitters to have cooking lessons, track small animals, or play in the sandpit. The pool is fenced, and there's a kids' menu
- Spacious, tranquil suites with views of the waterhole
- Long Hope Villa sleeps 4-6 and comes with private staff; a great option for larger groups who want more flexibility with meals and game drives
- Addo was successfully founded to conserve indigenous elephants; now there are also buffalo, hyena, zebra, lion, kudu, jackal, warthog, eland and hartebeest
- Good value for money considering the standard of accommodation and food, and the all-inclusive basis
- Some will find the décor a bit old-fashioned and chintzy, and the dining area a bit soulless
- If children don't feature in your dream holiday scenario this may not be for you, although families are taken on separate game drives wherever possible
- Incredibly popular, so you need to book early
- The game viewing in the private concession part of Addo (where the lodge sits) was fairly limited; take game drives in the National Park as well
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Safari Lodge
- 8 rooms and 2 villas for 4-6
- All meals included
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car recommended
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
All suites are cosy and spacious, with plenty of storage for unpacking. The classic décor ranges from elegant creams and browns with furry blankets to feminine, Laura Ashley-style prints. Carpeted throughout, all suites have kingsize beds, armchairs, coffee tables and writing desks. Each also features air-conditioning, a ceiling fan, an electronic safe, a phone, a minibar and a satellite TV.
Of the 7 Luxury Suites, 4 have interconnecting doors, making them ideal for groups and families (all rooms can fit a child's rollaway bed and a baby cot). All offer secluded verandas, views across the plains and, in our case, a highly entertaining display of mating ostriches across the fence. For special occasions, the Honeymoon Suite has its own plunge pool.
Nostalgic black and white bathrooms have Victorian bathtubs and separate showers, fluffy towels, comfy bathrobes and hairdryers. Luxurious Charlotte Rhys toiletries are complemented by homemade orange and cedar soaps, adding a personal and colourful touch.
For a more personal and private experience, opt for one of the private houses - Pepper Grove House and Long Hope Villa - set a short distance from the main lodge. Both are aimed at families or groups and can sleep up to 6. Long Hope Villa, a restored 1900s Cape farmhouse, offers yet more exclusivity with the added luxury of a private pool and an indigenously-planted garden. In the evening, take your sundowner cocktail to the sundeck for views of the Zuurberg Mountains and the sweeping plains. And the icing on the cake: all-inclusive rates include a housekeeper, a private chef, and a personal ranger with a game vehicle.
- Safe box
Food is a vital part of the RiverBend experience, so be prepared for some serious culinary pampering. A hearty breakfast is served on the wraparound veranda of the historic homestead house between 9.30am and 11am. Yoghurt with fresh berries is offered alongside a large selection of pastries, jams, cheeses, fruit platters and fresh juices. With a long game drive behind us, we opted for a full-on feast of oats with cinnamon and honey followed by oven-baked kippers on rye bread with poached eggs covered in a chive sauce.
Like most guests we skipped the à la carte lunch, from 12-2pm, and took a food break until late afternoon when everybody gathered in the library for traditional afternoon tea before the evening game drive (complete with a G&T sundowner stop).
Upon our return to the lodge, hot towels and hot chocolate awaited and a quick steaming shower later we were headed into the dining room for our tasting-menu-style 5-course dinner. It included voetkoek with sweet peppers, succulent beef sirloin in red wine jus, and a delicious ginger pudding.
Room service is available throughout the day, albeit with limited choices. If you're venturing further afield, ask for a picnic lunch.
If you're staying in Long Hope Villa you get a personal chef included in the rates. With a fully equipped kitchen, barbecue area and bar at your desposal, the possibilities are endless.
- All meals included
- Kids' meals
- Room service
- Vegetarian options
- Game drives take place in Nyati (Riverbend’s private concession), and walking safaris are on offer in the 5,000-hectare Intsomi Reserve; the lodge boasts really inspiring guides, expert at locating wildlife of all sizes in the bush
- Experience elephants up close; understand more about these beautiful giants by walking with, or riding rescued elephants
- It's often easier to get nearer wildlife when riding. Take a horse riding safari on trails through Addo with an experienced guide
- Go bird watching - Addo has over 300 species to check off your list, including the black eagle and blue crane. All guides are trained birders and special birding trips can be arranged on request
- If you’re keen to learn more about astronomy the knowledgeable rangers can take you on night drives to best appreciate the big skies
- Family-friendly activities include animal tracking, a sandpit and a playroom with toys and a tour of the RiverBend Citrus Farm (which produces oranges, navels, ruby grapefruit and lemons; the chef will prepare a picnic for you)
- A resident photographer is on hand to give photography guidance and editing advice so you can get the most out of your safari shots (an additional charge applies)
- The lodge offers a South African wine and food pairing session (tasting only) with their executive chef (an additional charge applies)
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Cooking classes
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Traditional cultures
RiverBend Lodge is a fantastic safari option for families, with babysitters, safaris arranged with children in mind, snake experts and bespoke bug hunts.
As well as arranging activities for children, the lodge also puts together a personalised pack for children on arrival, containing cookies and age-appropriate goodies like children's books about Africa and drawing materials.
It's good for children and babies of all ages.
Family friendly accommodation:
Luxury Suites have space for an extra bed and a baby cot, and 4 of them are interconnecting (request when booking). All suites have a bathtub.
Pepper Grove House and Long Hope Villa are great options for larger families and those who prefer a bit more freedom. Each sleeps 6. Long Hope Villa includes a personal chef (great for kids' meals), a private game vehicle and guide, a pool, a library, a viewing area and a kitchen. Perfect for those who like to set their own schedule and enjoy personalised service.
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
English-speaking babysitting is available on request. It's charged during dinner time but is free at other times so parents can go on game drives.
Baby monitors are available and work from the restaurant to the bedrooms.
- 4 cots
- Baby bedding
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Children's meals are available (all-time favourites are on the menu) plus early tea. Long Hope Villa has a fully equipped kitchen and includes a private chef. There's a blender for guest use in the main lodge and you can get food all day.
Kids Activities on site:
- Guided walks
- Baking with the chef
- Wildlife DVDs
- Fenced swimming pool with shallow end
- Snake and raptor demonstrations
- Kids' mini ranger courses
- Bug hunts with a guide
- Toys and books for all
Kids Activities nearby:
- Children are welcome on game drives and where possible families will be allocated a private vehicle
- Guests at Long Hope Villa have a private safari guide and vehicle
Families Should Know:
There's mobile phone signal everywhere on the property. You can buy limited baby/toddler provisions nearby.
- Airport: 1 hour
- Hospital: 45 minutes
- Doctor: 15 minutes
RiverBend is an hour's drive northeast of Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Port Elizabeth Airport (70km) has frequent internal flights from all major centres in South Africa. International travellers should use Johannesburg or Cape Town Airport, then take an internal flight. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport
It is a 60-minute drive from Port Elizabeth. Most people will self-drive, but RiverBend can arrange an airport transfer on request.
For car hire see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com
More on getting to South Africa and getting around
- Port Elizabeth Airport 70.0 km PLZ
- Cape Town International Airport 800.0 km CPT
- Beach 50.0 km
- Shops 5.0 km
- Restaurant 5.0 km