Imagine arriving by boat to discover that your private tented suite is one of only nine hidden in a forest of stately euphorbias on the hillside, with a bedroom that’s bigger than many Manhattan apartments. Set well apart from each other, the tents are positioned along the ridge above the river in indigenous thicket, with beautiful views towards the plains across the water where animals drift by.
Settler’s Drift delivers in spades, especially for couples looking for a romantic retreat or a real spoil and I was genuinely surprised by the diverse landscape here … literally just over an hour from Port Elizabeth you enter through the gates and begin your descent into the valley, leaving the rest of the world behind you. You would never know that this magical riverine experience exists unless you leave the beach road, and it offers a winning combination of game viewing with five dramatically different eco-systems (valley bushveld, savannah grasslands, fynbos, riverine forest and acacia woodland), and although Kariega has several lodges spread over the 10 000 hectare reserve, Settler’s Drift is by far the most private.
Be sure to spend time in this beautiful camp: book a spa treatment or simply laze beside the pool. Experience the evening light with the euphorbia reflections mirrored on the water, or take time out and watch the early morning mist rise over the river from your luxurious cocoon with the birds chattering in the early sunshine. Modern bathrooms are glass walled too, giving you the complete experience of being in the bush. Settler’s Drift is the ultimate sophisticated retreat for urban bush lovers!
What we love!
- That Settler’s Drift is a quick drive (80 minutes) from Port Elizabeth airport and it’s also easy to combine with a beach holiday as it’s within easy reach of favourites such as Kenton-on-Sea (15 minutes away once on the R72) and Kleinemonde with their pristine beaches. The lodge entrance is 10km from Alexandria.
- That the tents are some of the most spacious we’ve seen and the main lodge is beautifully decorated
- The privacy – it might be quite a walk to your hideaway in the euphorbias but you’re guaranteed seclusion!
What you need to know…
- Arrive on time so that you can park at the jetty and catch the boat up to the camp. If you miss it, you can drive in but the boat experience is a great way to decompress after a journey and enjoy birdwatching along the river!
- Lions are in a different part of the reserve and so walking safaris, canoeing and bush picnics are possible here
- The terrain is quite different to many Eastern Cape lodges with more mountainous reserve to explore than others and the views are spectacular over gorges and up the river valley
Reviewed by Michelle Snaddon
Settler’s Drift sleeps 18 in 9 luxury tents