Matola Reserve, Eastern Cape
DESTINATIONS,  Eastern Cape,  Wildlife,  Wildlife Eastern Cape

Matola Game Reserve, a Hidden Gem in the Eastern Cape

Matola Private Game Reserve is nestled in the Kambusi Valley, just 20 minutes from Komga in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The accommodation at the reserve has stunning views of the valley and the surrounding landscape. Despite being a less-known spot, this is exactly where Matola’s magic lies. It’s blissfully quiet and peaceful.

I was really pleasantly surprised by how many animals we saw at Matola, too. I think I saw more wildlife there in one day than in some bigger reserves in South Africa. And besides the animals, there are also fun things to do like hiking, bird watching, mountain biking, wildlife drives, and picnics in the reserve. In this blog post, I’ll tell you all about my time at Matola and what makes this place so special. I’ll cover everything from accommodation to hiking trails, picnics, breakfast and game drives.

Accommodation at Matola Private Game Reserve

At Matola, there are actually two main accommodation camps – The Sleep Shed and The Lodge.
The two camps are seperated by approximately 4km.

The Sleep Shed is next to the main farmhouse and is a single building with a small swimming pool,ย overlooking flat grassland and hills. There are 10 private en-suite bedrooms with a deck upstairs, a shared kitchen, bar and dining area at ground level and an additional communal braai room and boma for those cold winter nights. The best part about the Sleep Shed in my opinion are the abundance of wildlife that come right up to your door here. You can often see plenty of giraffe and warthog from the comfort of your balcony. There’s also a small dam near the sleep shed that is great for picnics!

The Lodge on the other hand has a slightly bigger swimming pool and overlooks the beautiful Kubusi river canyon. There are 6 en-suite thatch roof chalets, each with one double and one bunk bed (hosting up to 2 adults + 2 kids), with a centralised lapa where everyone gets together. It’s also within the main camp area that you will find the bridal suite and the tented ‘glamping‘ site. The highlight of the Lodge is that the design of the camp has a bit more of an authentic ‘African’ Feel and the views of the valley are beautiful!

No matter which camp you choose though, they’re both absolutely gorgeous! Both have their perks and no matter where you are, the hosts will take excellent care of you, ensuring that you have everything you need for your stay.

During our time in Matola, we decided to stay at the Sleep Shed, and it turned out to be a fantastic choice. The staff were super friendly and helpful, making us feel welcome right away. They showed us around and made sure we knew everything we needed to. Plus, the scenery was stunning, giving off such a peaceful vibe that perfectly captured the charm of a smaller South African reserve.

views from 'the sleep shed' at Matola Reserve
The view from the Sleep Shed accommodation camp at Matola Private Game Reserve

The pool area was fantastic, too, surrounded by grasslands with the best sunset views. And the best part? you can sip on your evening drinks while chilling by the pool and watching animals casually munching away nearby. It’s really something magical!

the pool at matola

After settling into our room, we packed a picnic and went to a nearby dam, less than 1km away.

A picnic by the dam at Matola

Matola doesn’t have the ‘Big Five,’ but that’s okay. It means you can explore freely without worrying about dangerous wildlife. We brought our camping chairs, found a nice spot by the water, and snacked while listening to nature sounds. I loved that we could just be there without any other people around. If you’re staying at Matola, they encourage you to explore the reserve on your own (Which in my opinion sets Matola apart as it gives you a lot of freedom to enjoy the area at your own pace and leisure). Just remember to always be mindful of your environment by keeping noise to a minimum and leaving only footprints.

We spent an hour at the dam, then went back to our room before deciding to take a walk and explore more.

Hiking at Matola Game Reserve

Matola does have official hiking trails to follow. However, we went on our own little adventure and just wondered to the top of a distant hill. During our walk, we were lucky to see about 5 giraffes, plenty of wildebeest, and a herd of Blesbok. I was very surprised by the number of Blesbok at Matola. Seeing them fleeing across the grassland (for what reason, I am still not quite sure) was really magnificent!

Climbing the hill was a bit of a challenge, but it was totally worth it for the views. . It’s baffling to think that such an amazing spot is still kind of a hidden gem in the Eastern Cape.

views at Matola Reserve

The Water Buffalo of Matola Reserve

Kaila, who is in charge of reservations and guest relations at Matola, kindly took us to visit the water buffalo enclosure later that day. We got to see and touch the adorable young buffalos that were raised by hand.

water buffalo at Matola Reserve

A spectacular sunset

Our day ended with the most incredible sunset, made even better by the sounds of animals settling in for the night.

Sunset at Matola Reserve

Of course, we also had to end our day with a warm fire and braai as no day in the African bushveld would feel complete without one. Matola provides a free bag of wood, so we were all set. After getting our fire going, we spent a good 2 or 3 hours watching the flames and enjoying the warmth.

Phew! What a spectacular day. With so much beauty and wonderful memories on our first day, we couldn’t wait to wake up and see what the next day had in store for us.

Game Drives at Matola Reserve

I am definitely a morning person, so it was no surprise when I was up at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise. And wow, was it absolutely worth it.

Around 9 am, a safari vehicle arrived to take us to the main lodge for breakfast, which was about 4 km away. As a bonus, our trip there included a game drive, with our guide patiently stopping whenever we spotted some animals (which, by the way, is every hundred meters or so at Matola ;)). During the ride, we saw different antelope species like blesbok, impala, and springbok, and even saw some of Matola’s wildebeest and zebras.

Zebra at Matola Reserve

But the most exciting moment for us was when we came across a two-week-old baby giraffe beside its mother. It was incredibly cute with its tiny fluffy ears, curiously watching us as we got closer.

giraffe at Matola Reserve

A delicious breakfast at Matola

The breakfast at Matola is exceptional. At only R85 (this rate applies to 2023. Please enquire with Matola about rates for 2024) per person, it’s a steal. The breakfast includes muesli, yogurt, bacon, eggs, coffee, toast, and sausage. The staff were brilliant and treated us like 5-star guests! Plus, just look at the views you get while enjoying your meal!

Like the saying goes, good things eventually come to an end. After breakfast, we sadly had to say goodbye to Matola. I feel fortunate to be able to visit such places. The Eastern Cape is often overlooked, but there are treasures like Matola waiting to be discovered all over the province.

More about Matola Private Game Reserve Accommodation

Matola offers two accommodation camps (The Sleep Shed and what I call the ‘Main Camp’ area), which can be reserved either on a single-room basis or for the entire camp. You can also decide if you want to cook for yourself or have the in-house chef prepare your meals. I have already explained the Sleep Shed accommodation at the beginning and throughout this blog post. But here’s a little more about the Main Camp below. Within this area you’ll find free-standing thatched chalets, a Bridal Suite, and Glamping Grounds, all situated within a few hundred meters of each other.

The Lodge

The lodge has six individual thatched chalets, each with its own private space. These chalets share a central and communal lapa that includes a kitchen, a warm fireplace, and a bar.

Thatched chalets at the Lodge, Matola
The thatched lodging units at Matola Reserve

A beautiful rock pool overlooks magnificent views of the rolling mountains and valley below.

The rock pool at the lodge, matola
The swimming pool at Matola’s main camp

The Bridal Suite

Set towards the back end of the chalets is the bridal suite. The suite features an elegant design with a touch of romanticism. Generally, the bridal suite is kept exclusively for wedding weekends and is available as a fully catered option.

The Bridal Suite at Matola Reserve
The Bridal Suite at the Main Camp

The Tented Camp

A few hundred meters from the chalets and bridal suite, lies a stunning camping site. The reserve’s 12 domed tents offer fantastic ‘glamping’ sites with shared ablution facilities.

Contact Information for Matola Reserve

Visit their contact page for enquiries and reservation. You can also contact Matola through Facebook or email at

Alternatively, call or WhatsApp the numbers below:

How to find Matola Game Reserve

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