We got in the jeep when we got to the reserve and the ranger was very helpful. He would point out whenever there was an animal and we would stop... read more a while to take photos. We saw lions, cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes. You name it, we saw it!! We also had lunch at the reserve, the food was so beautiful and we sat by the pool.
The magic of Kuganha Tented Camp at Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve lies in its tranquillity - an almost tangible sense of peace and quiet created by the camps discreet location,... read more where the chirping of birds and the occasional thorn tree rustle of a kudu passing silently by are the only sounds that disturb the tranquillity.
Tucked away amidst a ticket of Acacia thorn trees, this luxury safari camp rises above a dry riverine bed frequented by game seeking solace from the midday heat. And a pair of elephants who come to quench their thirst from the swimming pool to the surprise, and unnecessary consternation, of guests lounging on the pool deck a mere arms-length from their slurping trunks.
I mentioned 'guests consternation', but anxiety really is unnecessary due to the fact that this pair of rescued male elephants (Inverdoorn don't name their animals) are brought to Kuganha by their handler each day and have become used to seeing humans floating in their drinking water.
For the fortunate few who are able to book a TripAdvisor stay here (there are only 3 tents, accommodating 6), the magic is enhanced by the mesmeric spells cast by resident Chef Anamarie van der Merwe, whose culinary brews, bisques, braais (barbecues), and artisanal breads are prepared in her secret lair or in the boma.
Chef Anamarie’s delectable creations are served to each pair of guests on a dining platform positioned on the opposite side of the pathway in front each tent, or depending on the weather/wind, inside each raised timber platformed tents' lounge area.
During our overnight stay, my son Chase and I were exceptionally fortunate to have the entire camp all to ourselves, along with Chef Anamarie and her camp assistant Marri Janse van Rensburg's undivided attention. To say that we were spoilt (and satiated with good food, wine and hospitality) would be an understatement!
On arrival (a short game drive transfer, by our ranger/guide Mareesa Swart, from the main Inverdoorn lodge) at around midday, a freshly prepared fruit & cheese board lay waiting in the tent (and regrettably remained that way as we’d just finished a late breakfast at the lodge) followed by a “light” lunch at 2 pm (our chosen time for this repast) which comprised several platters; namely kudu sosaties (kebabs), grilled hake fillets, a ginger, soy and garlic-infused chicken salad with coleslaw side dishes, and potato with mixed vegetables prepared al dente.
As for the tents, they are huge! At 66 square metres, there’s plenty of space to swing a cat (and the cats are really big here). The tastefully decorated front lounge area leads around either side of the extra length queen size bed, past the hospitality nook with tea/coffee station, fully stocked complimentary bar fridge and safe, to the dressing area and en-suite bathroom with open-plan shower and toilet at the rear of the tent.
Leading off from the camp entrance, a boardwalk leads through the Acacia thorn trees to the Kuganha Spa Detox - a secluded thatched hut featuring an impressive hand-carved Zanzibarian door and frame that seems strangely out of place in this bush setting. The Spa was locked during our visit as a masseuse is only summoned from Inverdoorns' sister lodge at Aquila, some 40 km away, by prior request.
At 5 PM, our ranger Mareesa arrived (all staff are dedicated to the exclusive needs of guest at Kuganha) and the three of us set off for a sunset safari with a stop-over at Cape Cheetah - the rescue and rehabilitation centre founded in 2001 by Western Cape Cheetah Conservation - to watch the blur of a cheetah running at almost full speed (they can reach speeds of up to 120km/h over short distances).
These daily exercise routines, when the young cheetah work for their evening meal by chasing after a carcass pulled at high speed, offer a unique experience for guest at Inverdoorn. Also unique, is the Cape Cheetah/WCCC facility itself, which was founded at Inverdoorn in 2001 and pioneered the way for cheetah survival. At the Cheetah Educationals, guests meet and learn more about cheetahs at the reserve (did you know that there are only between 583 to 871 mature cheetah of breeding age are left worldwide, 412 of which are constrained within fenced reserves and inter-breed thus adversely affecting the gene pool). For guest booked in at Kuganha, the educational is automatically included.
Returning to Kuganha at around 7:30 PM, Chef Annamarie and her able assistant Marri welcome us back with warm scented facecloths to freshen up before being guided to the boma for our pre-arranged dinner preference (a braai of course). After chatting around the bonfire while savouring an excellent glass of Viljoensdrift RiverGrandeur Shiraz (alcoholic beverages are included during your stay here) we were guided to our table set up in the tents' lounge area due to a slight breeze that had picked up.
For our dinner, a starter comprised of Springbok carpaccio with capers and balsamic reduction on a bed of fresh garden salad was soon followed by beef fillet medallions prepared medium-rare, Karoo lamb chops marinated in rosemary, and a medley of crisp roasted vegetables. A decadent dessert of chocolate brownies, with ice-cream, passion fruit and strawberries rounded off the meal.
Satiated to the point of drowsiness, we retired for an early nights sleep followed by an acceptable 7 AM wake-up call for the morning safari excursion. On returning to the camp at around 9 AM, an amazing breakfast was served on the dining platform. As if to bid us farewell on our departure, the elephant arrived for their morning drink and shower at the swimming pool. Now that's a magical experience!
In conclusion, Kuganha Tented Camp definitively lives up to its Mozambican dialect name, meaning “Victory". Ironically, the word ‘Kuganha' in Nyanja - a common lingua franca spoken among the populace of Southern Africa, also means “Criticism”.
Well, after being hosted for a night at Kuganha, I can confidently report that this magical bush safari haven is a victory for Inverdoorn, while my only criticism is that the tents are positioned a bit close to each other for complete privacy. But then, I'm told that Kuganha hosts a lot of honeymoon couples - I guess honeymooners would be so enthralled by their newly formed wedded bliss that the passionate sounds of neighbours would scarcely be noticed.
PS. Did you notice an interesting thread in this review? All of the Inverdoorn staff with whom we interacted during our stay have a first name that starts with ‘Anna’ or includes the name ‘Mari'!
I spent three nights at Inverdoorn last week, and have a wealth of memories, and some great photos, to treasure. The reserve is remote, on a plane surrounded by mountains... read more that change through purples and oranges with the light. I saw so many animals. There is nothing to rival the peace of sitting quietly in a jeep, watching a giraffe or a rhino, or any of the other creatures. The sounds of birds, the elephant snorting, no need to talk. Antonio, the ranger, is incredibly knowledgeable and clearly loves the area and the creatures who inhabit it. He can also spot animals I would have missed, such as a tiny rabbit that’s critically endangered and very beautiful. Springbok, oryx, buffalo and kudu roam the plane, adding to the excitement on being close to lions and hippo. Seeing a cheetah accelerate to amazing speeds is breathtaking. I can’t recommend Inverdoorn highly. enough. Many of the animals have been rescued, and they have two elephants, two lions and three rhinos, not huge herds. But that doesn’t matter. These animals range over huge distances and live their lives in a place that cares, and offers visitors a truly unforgettable stay. The food is fabulous too! And my room was nice. All the staff are friendly and helpful. All in all, it’s wonderful. Thanks Inverdoorn!
Firstly , google is incorrect about its location. It is not in Ceres but 60km north east of it so it takes 2 hours from Franschhoek and not the 1hr... read more and 15 that google says it does.
See black dot on map on pictures below.
They do safaris at dawn, 1030,130 and sunset.
Keep in mind that this is a big zoo where they fee the animals and they are in an enclosed area but it’s hectares in size and they can freely roam compared to your standard zoo!
Avoid the 1330 as hot and animals then to stay away.
Lunch was provided and surprisingly good.
The area itself is like a nice glamping area with couple of tents and cottages around to stay over.
We had Antonio, we had a sand storm(light one) and got stuck on the road which took 20mins to sort.
His description was good of the various animals.
After that it got better as we saw African wild buffalo, zebras, onyx, elephants, lions.
A good experience for a safari but this is not a wild life experience in national parks such as Kruger etc.
We enjoyed the game drive and spotted a lot of animals - elephant, zebra, giraffe, rhino, lion, cheetah, Buffalo, oryx... Amazing! The guide was very knowledgeable and the reserve is... read more large.
This is not a game reserve where you drive and hope for a sighting, more like a very large and natural zoo setting with a handful animals (2-4 of each, except the zebra and buck).
While I expected something more wild like Kruger, it was still a lovely experience and enjoyable day getting close to the animals and learning about them.
Note it is a very long drive, so if driving from Cape Town you'll be in the car for around 7.5 hours so not advised if you cannot manage that.
We had an overnight stay in one of the luxury chalets early February 2020 and had a wonderful time. The facilities are very good in every sense - there... read more is everything that a person could need to enjoy themselves. Rico our safari guide was very informative and helpful as could be. We did 2 safaris, one in the afternoon and one early morning which was lovely although the temperature was low and blankets were required!! After reading reviews from travellers who weren't happy with their visit to Inverdoorn, we want to give a different account of our experience. It is marketed as a Game Reserve and offers people the chance to see animals in a semi controlled environment that is true. It covers 5,000 hectares and allows animals to roam freely as they chose. They are doing their bit for the environment and have a programme to breed cheetah so that they can be released into the wild But people need to look around them. Inverdoorn is the most magical setting - it is situated on a plain surrounded by mountains, and breathtaking scenery. The sky at night was breath taking with millions of stars, planets etc. So if you choose to go to Inverdoorn, look at the big picture and appreciate the wonders of all types of nature.
Our second one day safari was to the Inverdoorn Nature Reserve. It was an early go. We stopped for breakfast outside Ceres at a small family run restaurant.... read more And then it was out to Inverdoorn. Once we had signed entry waivers, we entered Inverdoorn. We then went out onto the range in a vehicle with about nine people. We saw four of the big five: (2) lions, rhinos, (2) elephants, and a herd of Cape buffalo. The Cape buffalo were the most watched by the tour guide. We stayed a fair distance away from them. At one spot, we came upon a herd of rhinos with zebras. There is a large size difference between the two animals. You must see them together to really appreciate the size difference. We also saw some giraffe and a number of different types of antelope. Once we returned to the safe area, we had lunch. There is a nice gift shop there to buy items. There are cottages for those who want to spend the night in a wildlife park.
From start to finish, the experience was out of this world, the staff down at at the tented camp could not do enough for us, the chef made food that... read more was 5 start quality and served it to us after our game drives under the stars. Had some wine by the fire on the night. Renko the ranger was amazing taking us on 2 game drives and taking his time so we could get some photos that we will remember for a lifetime. Next morning the elephants came and had a drink from the pool right in front of us!!! The tent itself was like something from the film out of Africa, this is a once in a lifetime experience and would highly recommend More