Pongola Game Reserve Hot

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First proclaimed in 1894, Pongola Game Reserve is the oldest game reserve in South Africa. Today it hosts a wide variety of game species including African Elephant, Black and White Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Leopard and many species of antelope, Zebra and Giraffe.


The Pongola River meanders through the game reserve before entering the 13 000 hectare Jozni Dam offering scenic settings of mountains, bushveld and a large water body offering numerous leisure activities. Guests visiting the reserve can select from self-catering or fully catered lodges that provide the highest standards of luxury. The Pongola Game Reserve is a birding hotspot with over 350 bird species having been recorded. The area can be explored during river-boat cruises where crocodile and hippo are regularly encountered and excellent viewing of numerous waterbirds can be had. Guided walking safaris and game drives are also on offer. The Pongola Game Reserve is a co-operative conservation project between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, private landowners and communities and forms a large ecological and socio-economically viable conservation area.


Best Time to Photograph
Bird photography is best in the early morning, while game photography is best in the afternoon, particularly when undertaking boat cruises. Most animals visit the waterholes during the dry season to drink from mid-morning onwards and time is well spent patiently waiting at these waterholes.
Type of Photography
  • Birds
  • Landscapes
  • Game
Best Time of Year
Throughout the year
Photographic Tips
When photographing from the riverboats, it is best to use a sturdy tripod, but make sure that the camera is well protected against splashing water. When walking, be sure to switch off any camera alarms that will startle big game and one or two zoom lenses are suggested to be carried when walking. Remember to also carry extra water when undertaking walking trails.
Recommended Gear
elephoto lenses are a must for bird and game photography. A sturdy tripod is also recommended for use on the riverboats. A zoom lens up to 300mm is recommended when undertaking walking trails through the reserve.


Season and Weather
Summer months can be extremely hot and humid and afternoon thundershowers can be expected. Winter weather is more pleasant with cool temperatures and more stable weather patterns.
Other Activities
  • Bird Watching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Game Viewing
  • Guided Walks


Closest Town
Getting There
Pongola Game Reserve lies off the N2 Highway in Northern Zululand and close to the borders of Swaziland. It is clearly signposted, with Pongola being its closest town


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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: http://www.peterchadwick.co.zaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.