Kariega's History

Born from the vision of one man, and growing out of the passion and energy of two families, the history of Kariega Game Reserve is an inspiring one.

As recently as 20 years ago, the existing Kariega Game Reserve was owned by 20 different farmers! With this reality at the forefront of our minds, it would be accurate to say that the gradual growth and development of the reserve resulting in the successful re-introduction of game and rehabilitation of farm lands to their original vegetation, is one of the most accomplished conservation projects in the Eastern Cape to date.

In 1989 Colin Rushmere, who had always displayed an innate love and appreciation for nature, was presented with the opportunity of purchasing 660 hectares of pristine land bordering the upper reaches of the Kariega River. When he signed on the dotted line he had no inkling that 20 years later this beautiful piece of land would be a very small portion of the expansive 10 000 hectare reserve, which Kariega is today.

Colin constructed 20 log chalets on the original 660 hectares, which are now the rooms at Main and Ukhozi Lodges. After ten years of running a small local market operation, he began to develop a vision for the future, involving moderate expansion that would require the co-operation of our neighboring farmers. Tony Fuller entered the picture, giving birth to the fruitful partnership the Rushmeres and Fullers have enjoyed ever since. With Tony’s help Kariega Game Reserve grew to 2000 hectares and acquired frontage onto the navigable upper reaches of the Kariega River.

It took a further 10 years to complete the desired land assembly. As the land grew so did the assortment of accommodation options Kariega offered its guests. Main Lodge, being the original stalwart of the group was joined by Ukhozi Lodge, meaning 'place of eagles', in 2002. The Homestead, an historic farmhouse built in 1908, was restored to offer luxury and privacy to families or small groups, and was opened in 2006. Soon after that River Lodge was acquired. Perched on the banks of the Bushman's river, this magnificent thatch retreat quickly earned the title of Kariega Game Reserve's premier lodge, and completed our spectacular portfolio.

In 2007 the opportunity arose to acquire a unique and beautiful 3000 hectare property adjacent and joined to Kariega. Owned by the same Settler family since 1823, it is an integral part of the history of the region. The land is truly spectacular and the 1860 homestead is being lovingly restored.

Over the years Colin and Tony have been joined by their children, forming a strong family team to further the Kariega vision. Together the old and the new generation work to ensure that we continue to offer our guests a truly memorable African experience: unsurpassed service and hospitality, unforgettable game viewing, luxurious accommodation and a uniquely intimate experience with the wilderness that revives the heart and inspires the soul.

Wildlife History

Find out more about our region's amazing ecological history and conservation efforts on our Wildlife History page.

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Wildlife & Activities Video

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