Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve

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Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve

Welcome back to my road trip blog posts! If you missed them you can read the previous blogs on Cape St Francis,  Bulungula, Wild Coast Secrets, Mdumbi, and Cintsa to see the rest of our road trip.

Mount Camdeoo

After a truly wonderful time spent along the Wild Coast it was time to make our journey back to Cape Town. On our way back down from the Eastern Cape we stayed at Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve. Mount Camdeboo is a Private Game Reserve located just outside of Graaf Reinet. Privately owned and with a passion for conservation, Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve is home to numerous endangered species that have been successfully rehabilitated and reintroduced into South Africa’s Great Karoo. What was once overworked farmland has been carefully restored to its original renosterveld vegetation and there are many rewilding conservation projects in place.

Mount Camdeoo

My dad, Noel,  has been the engineer for Mount Camdeboo for the past 15 years as Iain, the owner, has over the years coverted the old farm houses into upmarket accommodation. Mount Camdeboo is now an incredible luxury private game reserve with beautiful rooms and manors available. The most recent addition to Mount Camdeboo has been the pods which are small container homes perched on cliff edges with magnificent mountain vistas. Our stay at Mount Camdeboo was gifted to us for all the work my dad has done for them over the years. We were treated like absolute royalty during our stay and I can’t recommend Mount Camdeboo Priavte Game Reserve enough!

Mount Camdeoo

Accomodation options

Hillside Manor

We stayed at Hillside Manor during our stay at Mount Camdeoo. It is Mount Camdeboo’s most luxurious accommodation option and is ideal for larger groups. During your stay your group will be the only ones in the manor so you have the additional luxury of privacy. It accommodates up to six people in three large ensuite double bedrooms, there is a large living area with a lovely fire place as well as a beautiful kitchen and dining room.

“Resting slightly higher on the Sneeuberg Mountain slopes than its counterparts, Hillside Manor offers magnificent sweeping valley views. Slightly more “modern” than the other manors on the Reserve, this mountain retreat dates back to the early 1900s. It is an ideal family option for group bookings with modern living spaces and three double en suite bedrooms. Given that the Hillside Manor property is unwalled, it is not uncommon to entertain surprise guests courtesy of Mother Nature”

The Hillside Manor facilities include;

  • Air-conditioning
  • Under floor heating
  • Wi-Fi Internet access
  • 3 en suite double bedrooms
  • Communal satellite TV DVD and sound system
  • Full-sized swimming pool.

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Camdeboo Manor

Camdeboo Manor is the original manor house of the estate. This building has been converted into four private ensuite rooms. There are two double ensuites and two twin en suites. Each room has a private patio. There is a communal living and dining space.

“Camdeboo Manor has four luxuriously appointed double bedroom suites which offer guests a truly private experience. And should the call of nature tug at their soul – they can simply slip out of their private patio doors onto a secluded courtyard and into the lush established garden that stands like an oasis in the desert heat. The fourth suite, referred to as the honeymoon suite, is situated in Camdeboo Manor’s beautiful gardens, in what was originally the Gate House to the Manor.”

The Camdeboo Manor facilities include;

  • 2 Double bedrooms en suite
  • 2 twin bedrooms en suite
  • Communal satellite television
  • Air-conditioning
  • Under floor heating
  • Wi-Fi Internet access
  • Generous-sized swimming pool

The Pods

The Camdeboo pods are a completely new concept for the reserve. These compact container homes are placed in remote and picturesque locations around the reserve. The whole idea is to feel like you’re fully immersed in the wild beauty of nature. The pods are unfenced and so the possibility of a lion cruising past to check what’s on the braai is not impossible. In fact, a recent travel writer had a visit from the lions around his boma and fire pit. Read the article here.

“Situated in a secluded part on the Camdeboo Plains you will find two eco-friendly PODs that blend in seamlessly with the natural landscape, providing every comfort while leaving a light environmental footprint. The PODS are unfenced offering guest a unique opportunity to be fully immersed in nature. The PODS include a luxurious Queen bed that looks out onto the Camdeboo Plains, en-suite bathroom, kitchenette and hot tub – the perfect escape for couples, honeymooners and wildlife lovers. The pods are available for booking as an add-on experience when booking your stay at Mount Camdeboo.”

  • Wi-Fi Internet access
  • Private wood burning hot tub
  • Private boma and fire pit

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Courtyard Manor

“Dating back to the late 1700s, Courtyard Manor is a gracious, double gabled homestead wrapped in a deep veranda. Comprising four tastefully appointed en-suite bedroom suites, the manor honours its original name of Ou Werf (a bustling village square) as it is well suited to accommodating a private party where sociability and smiles feel right at home.”

Courtyard Manor facilities include;

  • Air-conditioning
  • Under floor heating
  • Wi-Fi Internet access
  • Communal satellite TV DVD and sound system
  • Full-sized swimming pool.
  • 4 En suite bedrooms

Peppertree Cottage

“Situated in a secluded part of Camdeboo Manor’s beautiful gardens, Peppertree offers a romantic setting for honeymooners or couples seeking privacy. The spacious cottage features a King-size bed, fireplace, luxurious en-suite bathroom, kitchenette and a private garden.”

Booking

Every single accommodation option at Mount Camdeboo is incredible in it’s own way. Browse their website to see which option would best suit the needs of your group. For bookings and enquiries, contact: [email protected] or call +27 21 427 5900

The staff and service

The manors and rooms are all fully serviced by the incredible staff of Mount Camdeboo. You’ll by greeted upon arrival with cool glasses of cordial, a warm face towel and and a smiling face. In winter, each evening the rooms and manors are heated up and readied for you so that when you return from your evening game drive you will be greeted by a crackling fire in the hearth, warmed beds and towels. All your meals are prepared by the staff in the manor kitchens. Our experience with the staff at Mount Camdeboo was amazing. They were all so kind and friendly, tending to our every need.

The Food

The food at Mount Camdeboo is out of this world! Included in your stay is breakfast, high tea and dinner each evening. Be sure to inform the of your dietary requirements in your booking and they will happily accomodate you.

Breakfast

The breakfast takes place at about 10am after your morning game drive. To begin with there is a spread of yogurt, fresh fruit, flapjacks, jams, cheeses, cold meats and fresh juices. You then have a hot breakfast with eggs to order. The breakfast varies slightly each day with options including bacon, lamb bacon, pork sausages, boerewors, tomatoes, mushrooms and avo. You can then choose your egg style of poached, fried, scrambled or boiled.

High Tea

High Tea takes place at around 2pm and serves tide you over between your big breakfast and after- game drive dinner. It will include a selection of meats, pastries and sweets. We had things like kebabs, meatballs, samoosas, spring rolls, brownies, cupcakes and lamingtons.

Mount Camdeoo

Dinner

Dinner at Mount Camdeboo is a whole thing. You’ll be treated to a three course meal, wine and incredibly attentive table service. For our first evening our starter was spicy tomato soup with bruschetta, tomato salsa and balsamic reduction. Our main was the most tender beef fillet, hollandaise sauce, mashed potato and garlic fried green beans. Dessert was mini malva puddings with cream. Yum!

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For our second evening our starter was kudu carpaccio with cucumber ribbons, parmasean shavings and balsamic glaze. Our main was lamb loin chops served with fondant potatoes, grilled baby marrow and a lamb jus. Finally, for dessert we had a coconut panna cotta served with shortbread crumbs, meringue dust and a strawberry and black pepper salad. The food was exquisite!

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The Game Drives

And now to the main event. The reason you’ve come to Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve is to enjoy looking for wild animals. And you won’t be disappointed as Mount Camdeboo has a very impressive array of game.

Mount Camdeoo

Your stay includes two game drives each day, one in the morning and one is the evening. For your stay you will be assigned a personal field guide who will drive you each time. Our guide, Hein, was incredibly informative and had so much insightful knowledge to share with us. He was also friendly and fun making our game drives a most enjoyable experience. On your morning drives you’ll stop for tea and coffee and on your evening drives you’ll stop for a sunset drink and snacks.

Mount Camdeoo

Mount Camdeoo

We were treated to sightings of elephant, rhino, kudu, giraffe, eland, jackals, Cape Mountain zebra, buffalo, black wildebees, gemsbok, redhartebees, warthogs, springbok, Verreux’s eagles, nightjars and a leopard tortoise.

Mount Camdeoo

Mount Camdeoo

Mount Camdeoo

Mount Camdeoo

Mount Camdeoo

Mount Camdeoo

My favourite sightings, however, were seeing an aardwolf, Kavuka the Lion and a nosey elephant encounter.

Aardwolf are very rare to see and so have been included in the secret seven list. These animals are some of the hardest to spot on a game drive, including; large spotted genet, porcupine, wild cat, civet, pangolin, aardwolf and serval.

aardwolf

My ultimate sighting would have to be seeing Kavuka the Lion. Kavuka means awakening. The first time we saw him was on our first evening game drive. I spotted him in the distance and we all watched as he slowly sauntered down the mountainside towards us. He swaggered aross the road in front of our vehicle with ease and up across to the opposite ridge. He was so close to us and so majestic. We saw him again the next day and again he came nice and close to us. He let our some almighty roars which we felt reverberate through our bodies, sending shivers down our spines. He sat down regally and surveyed his Pride Lands. It was the most incredible encounter to sit in the presence of such a majestic creature.

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Another incredible sighting was with the herd of elephants. They were munching on some tree leaves close to the road and we stopped the vehicle next to them. The male ellie (who happened to be in musk, which usually indicates aggressive behaviour) came up to the front of the vehicle and reached his trunk inside to give us a good sniff. Satisfied with his inspecation he plodded along into the bushes. It was a hold-your-breath moment for everyone but an experience I will never forget.

Mount Camdeoo

Below are a few more photos of all the beautiful game we saw on our game drives.

Mount Camdeoo

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Conservation projects

Mount Camdeboo is passionate about conservation and has many amazing projects and partners. Their one project is a collaboration with the Aspinal Foundation. This is a cheetah rewilding program.

An exert from their website:

“Saba & Nairo, two brothers born at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve in the UK and later transferred to Howletts Wild Animal Park, were flown 6,000 miles to Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary in South Africa’s Western Cape. There, they acclimated to life in South Africa and trained for life in the wild.

A few months later they moved to Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve in Great Karoo. They were introduced to native prey species including springbok and blesbok in a specially-designed hunting boma and quickly mastered hunting for themselves. Not only was this an incredibly proud moment for our teams, but it also clearly demonstrated that captive-born carnivores can be rewilded effectively.

Saba & Nairo’s incredible contribution to conservation is ongoing. The pair have been introduced to a rewilded female cheetah named Ava and it is hoped that she will choose to breed with one of the brothers. Their genetics will add desperately-needed diversity to the wild cheetah population in South Africa and their offspring will live wild and free, as all animals should!”

We didn’t get to see Saba or Nairo but we did meet Thabo, a wild cheetah who was giving Saba and Nairo trouble. Unfortunately, they’ve had to fence Thabo in inside a boma for the time being to help conserve the efforts of the rewilding project. It did mean we got to spend a little bit of time with Thabo and learnt that cheetah’s meow and purr just like little house cats. It was a strage and new realisation for me!

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Overall our time at Mount Camdeboo was absolutely wonderful in every way. The food was delicious, the staff and service delightful, the accommodation luxurious and the game sightings breath-taking. I would highly recommend a stay at Mount Camdeboo if you’re looking for a luxurious private game reserve experience in the Eastern Cape.

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Roadtripping around South Africa? Check out my blog post on Cape Town to Coffee Bay (which includes guides to Nature’s Valley, Yellow Sands, Coffee Bay and Hogsback) for more South African roadtrip inspiration. If you’re looking for Garden Route guides check out my comprehensive guide to Knysna.

Looking for more safari guides? Read all about how to plan a day trip to the Kruger here.

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