As a South African expat who now calls the UK home, I don’t get the chance to get out into the bush as often as I’d like anymore. With all the positives that come with living in Europe, like having access to a plethora of bucket-list travel destinations, comes the negative of less access to one of my favourite things in the world – African wildlife and safari.

We try and get back to South Africa as often as possible and will always look to find a few days for a trip to a game reserve or national park. This time round we chose to visit Pondoro Game Lodge, and what a fantastic choice it was!

Here’s our experience of staying at Pondoro Game Lodge

Getting There

Unless you live within a couple hours, the easiest way to get to Pondoro is by flying into Hoedspruit airport. Connections are easy to come by from OR Tambo or Cape Town International, however these can sometimes come at a premium depending on the time of year.

We elected to rent a car and drive. It’s a long way from Johannesburg (around 600km), but the scenery and quaint little towns along the way definitely make the drive worth it! If you chose to do the same, our favorite places for a pit-stop are Alzu Petroport and Dullstroom. I would also highly recommend pulling over and buying a bag of oranges from one of the many road-side vendors. I might be biased but I would argue that the oranges from this area are some of the nicest in the world!

Abel Erasmus Pass provides some amazing mountain views as the road winds around the curved hills. Don’t take your eyes off the road for too long though, as these country roads can often be riddled with potholes. Particularly after a few weeks of good rain.

Dead Tree at Pondoro Game Lodge

Buffalo at Pondoro Game Lodge

Baby Giraffe at Pondoro Game Lodge

The Reserve

Pondoro Game Lodge is located within Balule Private Game Reserve, with an open connection to Kruger National Park and multiple other world-renowned private game reserves.

Balule was established around 30 years ago as individual land owners decided to pool resources and create a joint conservation area. Today, the reserve spans over 40,000 hectares and is home to hundreds of wild animal species, most of which have naturally made their way into the reserve from the surrounding areas.