Only 20 minutes by tarred road from East London lies Mpongo Private Game Reserve, a luxurious and eco-friendly piece of Africa that has remained authentic, idyllic and wild.
The reserve is named after the Umpongo River, which has played an important part in Xhosa history in which, according to legend, Nonkosi, one of the instigators of the widespread Xhosa suicide attempt, lived near the river. Some of the relics from her kraal can be found at the Reserve.
The historic area is also well known for its hippo tales and Mpongo is close to where the world?s most famous wandering hippo, Huberta, ended her days after walking down the coast from KZN in 1928-1931. A further eight hippo will be released into Mpongo by mid-2010.
Apart from free-roaming hippo, elephant, buffalo and leopard (lion are kept in a separate boma) the reserve also contains giraffe, antelope, wart-hogs and all manner of African wildlife including significant bird sightings.
With the vision to create a complete eco-system, in association with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Mpongo also recently re-introduced the endangered Red-Billed Ox-Pecker into the reserve, a bird species regionally extinct in this part of the Eastern Cape since the early 1900s. Meanwhile, a family of four brown hyena ? last seen in these parts in the '60s ? were re-introduced last year.
With its rolling hills, plateaus and river valleys, the 3500ha reserve appeals to the keenest eco-tourist and, being so close to the coast, offers both a beach and bush experience in the eastern Cape.
On the lodging side, Mpongo?s luxury bushveld accommodation offers various chalets and lodges, all equipped with private fireplaces, en-suite facilities, African decor and world-class service while conservation-friendly fences ensure that guests are able to see even big game from their lodge decks, thanks to the new conservation-friendly boundaries the park has introduced.
The six-bedroom Huberta Lodge is set at the reserve?s entrance while the exclusive 11 bedroom Mgongo River Lodge is situated in the heart of Mpongo.
Apart from the unforgettable bird and whale watching opportunities available, guests are invited to explore the beautiful Eastern Cape coast and discover the unspoilt beaches and world-class golf courses, as well as ?Newlands Village? situated on the edge of the reserve, offering a fascinating view into a unique culture.
Mpongo Private Game Reserve is owned and managed by the Premier Hotel & Resorts group who have a collection of hotels in the Western Cape, KZN, Gauteng and Eastern Cape (including the new East London International Convention Centre), offering affordably luxurious accommodation along with state-of-the-art convention facilities.
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