An exclusive luxury safari experience should be on anyone’s bucket list. It’s an absolute must! But there are so many choices and so many overpriced choices… When trying to book your dream safari, how do you ensure you pick the right place? So many high expectations running through your mind. Read on below to find out my exclusive luxury safari at Hillsnek Camp in the Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa. An ultimate hidden Gem with the biggest heart. 

Hillsnek Safari Camp - Elephants by the pool
Hillsnek Luxury Safari Camp – Elephants by the pool

South Africa and the ultimate African Safari experience had been on my mind for years. I used to work for a big travel company called The Travel Corporation and while in the office during my lunch break, I was dreaming away behind my desk looking at the beautiful Safari images. One of my colleagues called from South Africa to discuss some marketing initiatives and I told her about my Safari dream. She said: “OH one of our partner companies specializes in luxury safari experiencing, still affordable, shall I connect you two?” I responded: “Yes sure, that sounds amazing”. My 30th birthday was coming up and it was almost as if live was telling me to finally make my safari dream come true. Two days later I connected with Lauren from Safari Explorer and only a week later I booked my exclusive luxury safari experience at Hillsnek Camp with my sister with a trip extension to Cape Town as well.

Should you decide to book through Safari Explorer, make sure you ask for Lauren Maker, she will help you plan the ultimate Safari dream based on your desires!

Also read My Dream Safari Experience in South Africa – Complete Travel Itinerary 

An Exclusive Luxury Safari at Hillsnek Camp 

Before arriving at Hillsnek Camp, I had already fallen in love with the place through its beautiful pictures, elephants drinking from the pool and its warm welcoming vibe. It felt like a true home away from home. 

Once you arrive at the Amakhala Game Reserve, you will be picked up by your ranger that will take you to the camp in style in your very own Safari Jeep. One of the things I liked most about the place is that the Safari Jeeps can hold up to only 6 people, giving you the ultimate and private safari experience. (I am allergic to big tourist busses 😉 )

Hillsnek Luxury Safari Tents

Once we arrived at the camp, I could already feel a sense of ultimate freedom pass over me. There is no WIFI, only at the lobby, giving you the opportunity to truly disconnect. Upon arrival, the amazing team is awaiting your with hot choco and towels, an arrival in style. The camp’s lobby is beautifully decorated in African style with a dining area and infinity pool with an amazing panoramic view over the reserve. 

Hilsnek Camp Lobby
Hilsnek Luxury Safari Camp Lobby
Hillsnek Camp Pool
Hillsnek Luxury Safari Camp Pool

It’s finally time to settle in and visit the rooms. The camp is quite small, featuring only 8 safari tents making it more intimate and private. The tents have a balcony with panoramic view over the reserve featuring a private bathroom. If you are a bath person just like me, you can tick this safari bath goal off your bucket list as well. 😉

Hillsnek Luxury Safari Tent
Hillsnek Luxury Safari Tent
Hillsnek Luxury Safari Tent
Hillsnek Luxury Safari Tent

It even has an outside shower. My sister shouted: “TESS, LOOK” from our balcony we could see the elephants coming towards the camp! Just OMG! 

Hillsnek Safari Camp - Elephants by the pool
Hillsnek Safari Camp – Elephants by the pool
Hillsnek Safari Camp - Elephants by the pool
Hillsnek Safari Camp – Elephants by the pool

We ran down to the lobby and the local team told us to sit by the pool as the elephants are thirsty and approaching the camp. Unfortunately, the local river had dried up in the Amakhala Game Reserve and there isn’t enough water for the wild animals. Hillsnek Camp is lucky to be on the elephant route, making it the perfect stop for a break for the elephants to drink and recharge. Ten minutes later a big elephant came to say hello and drank in front of us at the pool. We were only there for about an hour and already with such a show. It was truly an amazing experience to get so close to these wonderful animals. 

Tip: The elephants pass weekly by the camp. Ensure you book a couple of days not only to inhale the full safari experience but also not to miss the elephants up close. 

Time for a game drive – Private Safari 

Hillsnek organizes 2 Safaris per day, one in the morning around 7 AM and one just before sunset at 4 PM. The Safari ride lasts about 4 hours giving you plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful reserve, landscapes and wild animals. They also organize an aperitive with drinks and snacks during sunset and in the mornings a coffee. You might think, 4 hours, that’s a lot of time, but honestly it flies by. 

During the game drive you will spot plenty of wild animals from elephants, Giraffes, Antelopes, Birds, Zebras, Monkeys, Lions, Wild Beasts and many more. If you are lucky, you will even spot some Rhinos! 

Giraffes - Amakhala Game Reserve
Giraffes – Amakhala Game Reserve
Rhino - Amakhala Game Reserve
Rhino – Amakhala Game Reserve
Antelopes - Amakhala Game Reserve
Antelopes – Amakhala Game Reserve

There are plenty of other activities around the camp. Hillsnek has its own farm where you can hike among the wild animals. Also, the team is happy to arrange any other activities for you such as guided walks, a visit to its very own foundation, birding safaris, horseback rides or simply enjoy your day at the camp at the poolside. 

Zebras - Amakhala Game Reserve
Zebras – Amakhala Game Reserve
Lion - Amakhala Game Reserve
Lion – Amakhala Game Reserve

Tip: We visited during wintertime so ensure for the mornings and evenings to dress well. It can get cold. 

Hillsnek Camp – An all-inclusive luxury experience 

Apart from the 2 safari game drives, Hillsnek offers an all-inclusive experience offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks (also a range of alcoholic drinks) included in your stay. Everything is home cooked to perfection using local products as much as possible. 

How to get to Hillsnek Camp

Hills Nek Camp is one of the camps in Amakhala Game Reserve situated near Port Elizabeth. You can reach the place by doing a road trip from Cape Town taking the Garden Route down the Port Elizabet or by directly flying to Port Elizabet’s airport. The Amakhala Game Reserve is about an hour drive from Port Elizabet. Make sure to rent your own car or book a local taxi. Once you reach the reserve, a local ranger will pick you up in style with a safari Jeep. We had guests trying to get an UBER… However, you will not find any UBER’s in the bush, plan well in advance. 😉

Oakly - local farm
Oakly – local farm
Oakly - local farm
Oakly – local farm

Tip: Make sure to make a stop at the farmer’s market, you can’t miss it and will pass it on the way to Amakhala Game Reserve. They sell lovely organic and local products. Ensure you taste some of their amazing pastries and organic pineapple juice! 

Are you extending your trip to Cape Town? Also read ” 2 days in Cape Town – A Complete Travel Guide – All the Must-Sees”.

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