Our thoughts

Giraffes, Rhinos and Elephants, Oh My! A Wild Escape to Bonamanzi Game Reserve

Bonamanzi is a private game reserve located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Approximately a 30-minute drive from the famous Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, Bonamanzi spans 2500 hectares of pristine African bushveld. Though smaller in size than some of the more famous African game reserves, Bonamanzi provides an exclusive and intimate wildlife experience for visitors. With a focus on conservation and environmental sustainability, Bonamanzi provides a sanctuary for an abundance of wildlife including the Big 4 (though no lions are present). Its varied habitats and conservation initiatives make it an ideal location to spot Africa’s wildlife up-close. Away from the crowds of some larger reserves, Bonamanzi offers a peaceful bush retreat.

What’s hot

  • Private Campsites
  • Spacious and Clean
  • Cose to Hluhluwe Game Reserve
  • A Pool
  • Self Drive
  • Bird Hides

What’s not

  • Roads are not well-marked
  • Expensive 


Bonamanzi Review


Bonamanzi offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences.
The campsites at Bonamanzi are well-maintained with daily cleaning service for the ablutions. The campsites are secluded and immersed in the bush, providing a peaceful experience of being surrounded by nature and wildlife.
We stayed in a luxury campsite which had its own private ablution, kitchen area, and braai facilities. The campsite was off the road and was secluded and private.

Comunal Campsites

The communal campsites have all the basic amenities needed for a comfortable camping experience and are ideal for larger groups or families looking for a more social atmosphere.

Wild Campsites

For those seeking a true wilderness experience, Bonamanzi offers wild campsites situated right on the edge of the dam. These rustic sites provide no electricity but have breathtaking views and the sounds of wildlife and nature.

Wildlife at Bonamanzi

Bonamanzi is home to an impressive array of wildlife.
Some of the most common we encountered were Nyala, Impala, and Zebra.  Some highlights were sightings of white rhinos, elephants, buffalo, and giraffes.
The diversity of wildlife at Bonamanzi exceeded our expectations. Being immersed in the bush allowed us to experience these incredible animals up close.

Activities at Bonamanzi

The main draw is the self-guided game drives, where you can explore the reserve’s 2,500 hectares at your own pace in your own vehicle. With roads traversing a range of habitats, you’ll likely spot animals like giraffes, wildebeest, buffalo, rhinos, and elephants along the way. Pack a cooler of drinks and snacks for a full-day adventure.
For bird watching, head to one of the two bird hides located at the dams within Bonamanzi. Equipped with benches and educational displays, the hides provide the perfect vantage point to observe waterfowl and other avian species. It’s a peaceful spot to relax for a few hours with binoculars and a camera.
When you need some downtime after sunrise and sunset game drives, spend the day lounging at your private campsite. Read a book under the shade of the trees, listen to the calls of birds and animals, or simply soak in the sights and sounds of the African bush from the comfort of your camp. With the wildlife visiting your site, there’s no shortage of activity to observe right from your own camp.

Luxury  Campsite

A stay at Campsite 17 at Bonamanzi is the ideal choice for those seeking a private, secluded camping experience immersed in nature. This spacious campsite is designed to accommodate larger groups and comes with its own ablution facilities, eliminating the need to share bathrooms with other campers.
The site is tucked away in a remote section of the reserve, providing a true sense of solitude. A dense border of vegetation surrounds the perimeter, shielding the site from view and blocking any noise or light from neighboring camps. Within this enclosed oasis, you can relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the bush in complete tranquility.
The ablutions are kept well-maintained and cleaned daily by the reserve’s attentive staff.
With ample space for multiple tents, vehicles, and equipment, this campsite can accommodate groups of up to 8 people comfortably. The site ensures everyone has enough room to set up without encroaching on each other. The sprawling layout means some parts of the campsite remain shaded while others stay sunny, providing options depending on the weather and campers’ preferences.  During our stay, we had encounters with elephants, genets, warthogs, and an abundance of buck. We even found tracks that could have been from a leopard!

Experiencing Wildlife at the Campsite

Staying at Campsite 17 allowed us to truly experience the wildlife at Bonamanzi up close. During the day, nyala antelope and warthogs would wander through the campsite, providing excellent photo opportunities. At night, we were visited by two curious genets, likely drawn in by the smell of our braai.
The highlight was when an elephant walked right past our tent early one morning! We could hear it pushing through the bushes as it lumbered by. After it left, we went out to investigate the large footprints left behind in the sand. We also found what looked like leopard tracks, making us think a leopard had been prowling around our campsite during the night.
Waking up to elephants and tracking predators really made us feel immersed in the bush. The animals weren’t confined to sightings on game drives – they were right there next to us. It was an incredible thrill to be so close to wildlife and experience the African bush firsthand. We went to sleep each night feeling safe but also exhilarated knowing these incredible animals were right outside.

The Pool at Bonamanzi

One of the highlights at Bonamanzi is the pool located a brief walk from the campsites. While relaxing in the pool, it’s an exhilarating feeling knowing these wild animals are right nearby in their natural habitat. We were told that on occasion, elephants come to drink water from the pool, though this exciting event didn’t occur during our stay. For nature lovers wanting an authentic yet comfortable South African safari experience, Bonamanzi is an excellent choice. We highly recommend booking a luxury or another secluded site for the best chance of wildlife encounters.


Every night, our hearts would skip a beat when a genet paid us a visit. Their presence brought intrigue and fascination, keeping us on our toes as we marveled at their mysterious ways. Each encounter with the genet was a reminder of the extraordinary beauty that nature has to offer.

GAB Bonamanzi 0840

More Information

Campsite Features

  • 24 Campsites
  • Build-in Braai Facility
  • Garbage Bins
  • Some sites have private ablutions
  • Allocated sites


  • English
  • Afrikaans

Bonamanzi Game Reserve

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