Great Fish River Nature Reserve Travel Guide

An aerial view of the Great Fish River.

Known for its outstanding natural scenery with panoramic views out over the Great Fish River, the Great Fish River Nature Reserve is home to one of South Africa's largest populations of Black Rhinoceros.

A Travel Guide to the Great Fish River Nature Reserve

Access

The Great Fish River Nature Reserve is located just over 200 kilometres (124 miles) from Port Elizabeth along the N2 and 141 kilometres (87.5 miles) from East London in the Eastern Cape. The reserve is approximately midway between Grahamstown and King Williams Town.

Airport

Johannesburg O. R. Tambo International or Cape Town International and from there visitors can take a connecting flight to East London or Port Elizabeth Domestic Airports.

Highlights

While there is abundant wildlife in the game reserve, the highlight of a visit to the Great Fish River Nature Reserve has to be the incredible, dramatic, constantly changing scenery. The view out across the Great Fish River is spectacular.

Activities

Visitors to the nature reserve can enjoy a number of different activities ranging from bird watching and guided day and night game drives, to walking on the numerous hiking trails and taking in the sights at the Adam Krantz viewpoint. The reserve has a very rich history and guests can take educational tours through the area and also visit a number of the San Rock Art sites found here. Stopping for a picnic at one of the picnic sites provided offers the ideal opportunity to take in your surroundings and enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature. There is a hide at the dam where visitors can enjoy bird-watching.

Accommodation

Visitors to the area can choose from a number of Great Fish River accommodation options ranging from small cosy wooden chalets and rustic cabins to camping and luxury guest lodges. No matter your budget or preference, one is sure to find something to suit ones needs. There are 4 lodges in the Double Drift areas as well as a renovated old farmhouse and a number of small 2-sleeper chalets. On the west bank of the river one will find the Mvubu Lodge which offers six 4 bedded chalets.

The experience

When visiting the Great Fish River Nature Reserve do not go with the hope or intention of seeing a lot of African game. If you are looking for a game viewing experience, then rather go to the Kruger National Park or Addo Elephant National Park. The nature reserve is mostly made up of sub-tropical thicket which is dense and can make game viewing particularly challenging. The spekboom and acacia Karoo veldt make seeing more than a few metres into the bush very difficult and while you may be very close to a Kudu or a Buffalo you probably won't have a clear view of them.

However; if you are planning a trip to the Great Fish River Nature Reserve to recapture a sense of peace, tranquility and to spend time gazing out at beautiful vistas and scenery, then you will not be disappointed. Watching the sunrise or sunset and the sky change colour in the expanse is breath-taking and highly recommended.

Climate

The nature reserve is located in a semi-arid area and has variable rainfall at sporadic times of the year. The main rainfall occurs between October and March and the winters are mostly dry. The area does have a tendency toward drought and frost regularly occurs in winter. The average summer temperature is 30C (86F) falling to 0C (32F) in July and the winter months.

Useful information

Fuel is only available at the Charles Tinley Gate and visitors are advised to fill up their tanks with petrol prior to entering the reserve. Home to a number of large and dangerous game animals including Buffalo and Black Rhino, guests should always take precaution and maintain a safe distance between themselves and the wildlife.

Read more on:

South Africa Nature Reserves : Game Reserves and National Parks
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