Matola Reserve, Eastern Cape
Eastern Cape,  South Africa,  Travel,  Wildlife

Matola Reserve, a Hidden Gem in the Eastern Cape

Matola 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, though. 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.

Exploring Matola Game Reserve

When we got to Matola, it was clear that we had arrived at a really special place. The friendly staff at ‘The Sleep Shed’ gave us a warm welcome as we checked in for the night. The scenery was really beautiful, giving off a peaceful vibe that immediately showed the charm of a smaller South African reserve.

views from 'the sleep shed' at Matola Reserve

The pool area was fantastic, too, surrounded by grasslands with the best sunset views. Its location is such that you can enjoy evening drinks while watching animals graze nearby.

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

Matola doesn’t have the ‘Big Five,’ but that’s okay. It means you can explore freely without worrying about dangerous wildlife. We brought camping chairs, found a spot by the water, and enjoyed our snacks while listening to the bush.

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. I couldn’t believe that such an incredible place was only an hour’s drive from my hometown, East London.

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

There is more than one accommodation camp at Matola, but we chose to stay at the ‘Sleep Shed’. Every camp has a communal braai area for all guests. At the Sleep Shed, however, we were the only ones booked in for the night so we had the whole braai area and other facilities to ourselves. Of course, we 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.

A Wildlife Drive

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. During the ride, we saw different antelope species like blesbok, impala, and springbok, and even spotted 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. It includes muesli, yogurt, bacon, eggs, coffee, toast, and sausage. The food is not only delicious but there’s really something quite extraordinary about having breakfast with such a view!

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.

Accommodation at Matola Game Reserve

Matola offers two accommodation camps, 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.

In the main camp, you’ll find The Lodge, Bridal Suite, and Glamping Grounds, all situated within a few hundred meters of each other.

The Lodge

The main lodge offers 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

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

The rock pool at the lodge, matola

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 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.

The Sleep Shed

The Sleep Shed sits approximately 4 kilometers from the main lodge. Your accommodation choice won’t matter, they are as equally impressive as each other.

The Sleep Shed has private en-suite bedrooms with an upstairs deck. There’s a shared kitchen, bar, and dining area on the ground level, along with a communal braai room and boma for chilly winter nights. You can enjoy the fantastic views of the grasslands and potentially spot wildlife in the area. Each room also has its own private bathroom and deck.

The sleep shed at Matola Reserve

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *