AfriCamps is off on yet another exciting journey. This time we’re heading to the foot of the majestic Lebombo Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal where the world’s second-oldest private game reserve lies on the shore of the shimmering Lake Jozini. It’s here where you’ll find the popular White Elephant Safaris. You may already know the established White Elephant Safaris from a visit to their bush camp, cottage or safari lodge, but your next visit will be slightly different… It’s official – we’re building 12 AfriCamps tents on the reserve and forming part of the White Elephant Safari experience by December 2019!

Bookings for AfriCamps at White Elephant Safari in Pongola Game Reserve will be opening soon. Keep an eye on our website and social media for updates!

The game reserve has countless remarkable stories to tell and a stay at AfriCamps at White Elephant safari will pull you into those stories like never before.

AfriCamps White Elephant PongolaGame viewing at Lake Jozini Shoreline. Photo supplied by White Elephant Safaris 

AfriCamps at White Elephant Safari will be our second spot in KwaZulu-Natal. This time you can enjoy the AfriCamps concept you have come to love while experiencing all the thrills of an established game reserve where buffalo, elephant, rhino, leopard, hyena, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, 12 different antelope species, and over 350 bird species roam the plains and grace the skies.

Think land and water-based safaris, guided bush walks, tiger fishing on Lake Jozini and being accompanied by Nyala antelope at the pool! Spend a day in the life of a rhino or elephant researcher and uncover all the mysteries of these majestic, vulnerable creatures. The experiences at this camp are both thrilling and insightful and will give visitors a practical view of conservation and why it is so crucial.

AfriCamps White Elephant PongolaRhino Research experience at White Elephant Safaris. Photo: Supplied

On The Reserve

Pongola Game Reserve is a go-to destination for KZN weekenders as well as visitors from afar, seeking adventure, serenity and that ‘African sunset’. The 30 000 hectare reserve shows off with beautiful views, glorious sunsets, therapeutic silence, game drives, guided walks, boat cruises, unique elephant and black rhino research experiences, and behind-the-scenes conservation operations.

AfriCamps White Elephant PongolaHippos on Lake Jozini. Photo: Supplied by White Elephant Safaris

Pongola Game Reserve and White Elephant Safari tell the story of nature’s amazing ability to restore despite human interference. As soon as hunters and explorers first reached the lands, the seemingly inexhaustible game started dwindling until President Paul Kruger proclaimed the area the Pongola Game Reserve in 1894, the first of its kind in Africa.

Wars, drought, and pests came and went which had many effects on the land. One of these effects was the eradication of game on the reserve. In 1993 game re-introductions began. Two elephant herds including one albino (or white elephant) were re-located to the “new” reserve. Today, after 100 years, the sounds of nature rule the lands once again and man aids to support rather than exploit it. Conservation lies at the heart of White Elephant Safari where ‘animals have right of way’.

Don’t miss these exhilarating experiences on the reserve:

Safari boat cruises
White Elephant Safari offers unique water-based safari activities on the 15000-hectare Lake Jozini – the focal feature of Pongola Game Reserve. Spot herds of antelope, hippo, crocodile as well as an enormous variety of bird species and the occasional elephant enjoying a relaxing bath.

AfriCamps White Elephant PongolaSafari boat cruise on Lake Jozini. Photo supplied by White Elephant Safaris

Safari game drive
Game drives are conducted in open 4×4 vehicles, early in the morning or late afternoons by a professional guide who will show you larger game and the many varied and interesting smaller species in the game reserve.

Guided walk
Walking trails are very much a part of the White Elephant Safari experience and a favourite among the more active visitors. Being on foot provides a ‘close-up’ encounter with nature. Inhale the smells, be soothed by the sounds and explore the minute details of the wilderness. The duration and speed of your walk will be tailored by your professional guide to suit your fitness and stamina.

AfriCamps White Elephant PongolaGuided walk. Photo supplied by White Elephant Safaris 

Tiger fishing/boat hire
Lake Jozini is the most southern lake where tiger fish are endemic. It’s the ideal location for the novice fisherman or expert angler for a tiger fish catch of a lifetime, strictly catch and release, of course. Tilapia, Barber (sharp toothed catfish), Yellowfish, Grass carp, Mozambique and Red Breasted Bream are also found in The Lake. The best time for tiger fishing at Lake Jozini is September through to April.

Elephant research project
The Elephant Research Project is a unique activity offered at White Elephant Safari as an alternative to game drives, walks, boat cruises and fishing. This activity is educational, interactive and visual, and includes spending time with our research and conservation staff. After breakfast, guests depart for a cruise on Lake Jozini to locate and watch the elephants from the boat. After a few hours on the water, guests return to camp.

AfriCamps White Elephant Pongola
Elephants grazing the plains on the shore of Lake Jozini

The activity continues in the afternoon with a visit to our Research Centre. The BBC production “Operation Elephant – The Mission” documents the initial re-location of our elephants from the Kruger National Park. Guests will watch this documentary, examine elephant skulls and bones and participate in discussions and debates. Gain insight into the reserve’s history, the re-wilding and re-stocking of animals and find out about the reserves research projects.

Black rhino range expansion project
An adrenalin-raising experience that provides an insight into the rhino’s fascinating world and the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. With the use of a Telemetry device, follow the rhino’s signal, look for tracks and dung middens and examine our camera ‘trap’ locations as part of our rhino monitoring and conservation project.

Read more about the various conservation efforts supported and enforced by Pongola Game Reserve and White Elephant Safaris:
Elephant Research Project / Operation Elephant | Space for Elephants | WWF Black Rhino Expansion Project

Your hosts

You will be welcomed by the White Elephant Safari Team led by camp owners Dr Heinz and wife Debbie Kohrs. White Elephant Safari is situated on Leeuwspoor farm, where Dr Heinz Kohrs grew up. Dr Heinz and his wife Debbie, have three daughters – Kirstin, Andrea and Clara. The team has a passion for conservation and eco-tourism and is committed to responsible travel that conserves the environment, sustaining the well-being of locals and promoting education.

AfriCamps White Elephant Pongola

Dr Heinz (BVSc) is a veterinary surgeon with a practice in Pongola dealing with domestic and wild animals as well as cattle. Dr Kohrs’ special interest lies in the co-existence of man and wildlife. He has also been the driving force behind the reintroduction of elephant, buffalo and rhino into the reserve. He is a founder of the Pongola Game Reserve ‘Space for Elephants’ initiative, which is a partnership between the Pongola Game Reserve and the Space for Elephants foundation (SEF). This project supports conservation and community projects in and around the Pongola Game Reserve. One of the main objectives of SEF is to develop corridors (or ‘highways’) between protected areas to reinstate historic elephant migratory routes.

The accommodation

The 5-star White Elephant safari lodge will close its doors on 31 August 2019, and the new AfriCamps will open in December 2019, offering guests an experience to remember in our luxury 2-bedroom tents, fully equipped for a self-catering stay for up to 5 people. Here you can get closer to nature while enjoying all the comforts of home – like an indoor fireplace, electric blankets, and air conditioning.

AfriCamps at White Elephant Safari will be the 11th location in the AfriCamps portfolio and will share the design of our current luxury tents. For those new to the AfriCamps concept, each fully equipped tent consists of an open plan kitchen, a dining room and a lounge area which leads into two separate bedrooms. Each bedroom has an extra length, queen size bed, and one of the two rooms has an extra single bunk bed. Both bedrooms lead to a spacious bathroom with a large hot shower, basin and flushing toilet.

AfriCamps White Elephant Pongola
Inside your AfriCamps luxury canvas tent sleeping up to 5 people. 12 tents will be opening at White Elephant Safari Lodge in December 2019.

Outside, spend some quality family time on the spacious deck with excellent braai facilities, or soak up the views in our outdoor wood-fired hot tubs. After a long day of exploring, unwind at the cristal clear lodge pool looking out over the Savannah-like landscape towards Lake Jozini.

AfriCamps White Elephant PongolaThe pool area at White Elephant Safari. Photo: Supplied

White Elephant Safari is easily accessible from the N2 between Johannesburg and Durban.

Quick Facts: Distance from Pongola: 48km (54 mins) | Distance from Jozini: 43km (50 minutes) | Distance from St Lucia: 150km (2 hours) | Distance from iSimangaliso Wetland Park: 103km (1 hour, 50 mins) | Distance from Swaziland border (Golela): 31,5km (43 mins) | Distance from Durban: 342km (4 hours) | Distance from Johannesburg: 464km (5 hours, 40 mins)