Gondwana Eco Camp: a safari with a difference

Newly revamped, the Eco Camp in Gondwana Private Game Reserve offers a unique hands-on safari experience.

Gondwana’s Eco Camp is situated in a secluded kloof. Pictures supplied

If you find yourself as fascinated by the work game rangers do as by the wildlife and nature they protect, make space in your calendar for Gondwana Eco Camp. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at conservation and lets you get to grips with real tasks alongside professionals. But there’s no question about roughing it when staying at the Eco Camp. This experience has all the hallmarks of your traditional luxury safari, with elegant tents, meals under the stars and fireside chats.

What to expect at Eco Camp

For a start, the setting is beautiful. Gondwana Private Game Reserve encompasses 12,000ha in the foothills of the Langeberge, just north of Mossel Bay. The Eco Camp itself lies in a secluded fynbos-clad valley of the reserve. It’s a proper off-grid experience that allows you to swap beeping message alerts for beautiful birdsong. But not to worry, the camp runs on solar power so you can still enjoy modern conveniences.

Since there are just seven guest tents, you are guaranteed an intimate experience. Your safari tent also combines the charm of canvas with the style and comfort of a hotel room. Each tent has a private bathroom and is set on a raised platform with a covered deck where you can unwind. A wooden walkway links the accommodation to communal spaces with a lounge, dining and bar area. What’s more, there’s even a nearby pool with a bar and hammock chill zone. In keeping with its environmental focus, the Eco Camp is a plastic-free zone and draws water from a perennial spring.

All the perks of a stylish safari experience await at Eco Camp.

Getting to grips with conservation work

Like other Gondwana guests, you’ll go out on morning and afternoon game drives for a closer look at the reserve’s wildlife. But what sets the Eco Camp apart is the chance to participate in authentic conservation activities. These include predator tracking, checking camera traps, elephant dung sample analysis, bird surveys, water censuses and game counts. If you get stuck into clearing alien invasive plants, you’ll not only get a good workout, you’ll be doing the environment a world of good. Data from the conservation activities feeds into Gondwana’s Conservation Department, so these outings play a tangible role in the reserve’s management.

Tracking the reserve’s lions with radio telemetry is one of the conservation activities on offer.

“Today’s traveller appreciates a more holistic experience,” explains Wendy Rutherfoord, who founded and developed Gondwana Game Reserve with her husband, Mark. It is not only about traditional tourist activities, but about gaining a deeper understanding of the destination and stimulating the mind. While the luxury and pampering is a good way to de-stress, playing an active part in conservation lets you top up on inspiration. After a few days at Eco Camp your batteries will be recharged in more ways than one.

Good to know: Previously, Eco Camp welcomed guests for three- or five-day itineraries. As of 1 November 2022, you can check in any day of the week for this unique conservation experience. The full-board package includes all meals, two game drives and a hands-on activity.