GweGwe Beach Lodge


Mkambati Nature Reserve


9 Rooms


R6,500 — R11,000 per night


26 April 2024


Mkambati Nature Reserve


9 Rooms


R6,500 — R11,000 per night


26 April 2024

Where beach and bush, wild as one

If your idea of paradise involves unspoiled landscapes, pristine coastlines, and a symphony of nature’s wonders, then pack your bags and set your compass to GweGwe Beach Lodge in the Mkambati Nature Reserve. A hidden gem along the Wild Coast in South Africa, this is where luxury and adventure take centre stage. There are not many places in the world you can watch wildlife on land and dolphins (and even whales) offshore.

Situated on a stretch of coastline that is as untamed as it is beautiful, between the dramatic cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, pockets of dense swamp forest and crystal-clear waters, you can enjoy a day of wildlife watching, beaching and exploring, before being lulled to sleep by the Indian Ocean. Arrive by plane, heli, boat or self-drive – there really is no excuse not to get here!

Why You’ll Love GweGwe Beach Lodge:

  • This is one of the few places on earth you can watch zebra's grazing and dolphin surfing (and even whales breaching) at the same time.
  • Activities galore! Swim, hike, cycle, scuba dive, snorkel, kayak, SUP, spa, hot tub... the activities here are off the charts.
  • Flanked by a marine protected area, this is one of the planet's most important global hotspots for biodiversity.
  • Your stay at GweGwe directly benefits the land and local community - so your visit truly matters.
  • This is a gloriously remote high-end coastal lodge where adventure and the chance to unwind abounds.
  • Easy to get to. Fly in by plane or helicopter, or by boat or self-drive... whatever way the adventure awaits.
  • Ideal for couples, adventure seekers and families with kids who want to roam free.
  • Enjoy feet-in-sand dining experiences and fresh from farm to table meals. This is homegrown happiness on a plate (or picnic).

We recommend booking GweGwe Beach Lodge as part of a complete Natural Selection safari, but if you want to book it separately or just check availability, click here to select dates and book.

Interested in learning more about the prices? View Rates

Explore GweGwe Beach Lodge

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GweGwe Beach Lodge Accommodations

The Wild Coast is a rugged and unspoiled stretch of coastline along the Indian Ocean. Its natural beauty attracts those seeking a more untouched and remote environment. For decades rustic rondavels at GweGwe hosted visitors to Mkambati. Now this spectacular site has been transformed into a luxury beach lodge that opens its doors end March 2024. Designed to blend into the environment, it offers laidback luxury, paired with locally inspired design.

The facilities include 9 en-suite rooms (7 twin deluxe suites, 2 family suites). Each with double vanity, bathtub, indoor and outdoor showers, fireplace, lounge area, small garden, private deck and 6m length pool with exquisite ocean views.

Accommodation & Amenities

• 9 suites: 7 twin deluxe, 2 family, lodge accommodates 22 guests
• Private 7-metre pool and small garden in each suite
• Beautifully appointed en-suite facilities, including indoor and outdoor showers, and a luxurious bath
• Hot tub in one suite, ideal for honeymoon couples
• Total deluxe suite floor space in and out is 80-square-metres, family suites are 100-square-metres
• In-room Nespresso machine and tea-making facilities, plus minibar
• Hairdryer & charging facilities
• Wi-Fi available in all suites
• Large iPad for TV
• Central lounge at main lodge area, with dining, deck and bar
• Show kitchen, for foodies to interact and see how the food is prepared
• Curiosity centre, to learn more about the local Pondo people and their history
• Activity centre, with outdoor adventure equipment
• Kiddies corner, with games and child minding facilities (we welcome children of all ages)
• Outdoor casual deck at Riverside, with pizza oven and braai area
• Gym, spa and curio shop
• Wine cellar
• Floating deck and beach bar
• Secluded hot tub

When to Visit GweGwe Beach Lodge

Mkambati is a year-round destination, with temperatures that are temperate year round without debilitating humidity during summer. Sea temperatures climb to between 24°C to 27°C in summer and however around a very pleasant 19°C to 21°C in winter.

  • Quiet season: 15 April to 15 June & 11 July to 30 September
  • Summer season: 01 March to 14 April & 01 October to 19 December
  • Peak Season: Sardine Run from 16 June to 10 July and year-end holidays from 20 December to 6 January 2025

GweGwe Beach Lodge Activities

Calling all adventure seekers! Set within the 7,500-hectare Mkambati Nature Reserve, the lodge’s private concession is a protected area known for its diverse ecosystems, including coastal forests, grasslands, and riverine habitats, with so many fascinating pockets to explore. You’ll find plains game galore, and a plethora of birdlife, so grab your binoculars and prepare for bush adventure mixed with lots of beach action.

Mkambathi is perfect for families and couples; indeed, for anyone longing for an unspoilt coastal destination and for those who wish to experience the Wild Coast away from the crowds.


  • Jump on a MT bicycle and hit the cycling trails (eBikes are also available at an additional cost)
  • Lace up those hiking boots, find a trail and step into the beauty of nature
  • Go on the hunt for sparking rock pool and tumbling waterfall to jump into
  • A haven for birdlife, bring your binos, and channel your inner ornithologist
  • Go on a guided 4×4 nature drive, binos at the ready
  • Kayak, canoe or SUP (stand up paddle board) on sea, lagoon or river
  • Enjoy a marine or botany walk (guided or non-guided
  • Shore-based whale watching – look out for the Humpbacks who journey past our shores June, July & Oct.
  • Snorkel with the incredible marine life found on this protected coastline.
  • Watch the sardine run (mid-June to mid-July), from the shore, by boat or with scuba (at an additional cost)
  • Fishing (limited) with a guide. For the pot or catch-and-release (at an additional cost)
  • Visit one of the largest remaining colonies of Cape Vultures in the Eastern Cape
  • Grab a picnic basket and hit the sunshine, beach or forest, this is food on your own terms
  •  Train in the gym while enjoying excellent views
  • Book a wellness treatment in the spa (at an additional cost)
  • Drop the kids off at the kiddies corner, with child minders, games and endless entertainment (everyone gets a little time out)
  • Engage with the Pondo locals, from the warmth of the people to the richness of the culture, Mkambati isn’t just a destination—it’s a heartfelt embrace from the local community.

GweGwe Beach Lodge Landscape & Wildlife

GweGwe Beach Lodge is on a 5,000-hectare private concession within the Mkambati Nature Reserve, Eastern Cape. This prime location on the South African coast is malaria free with warm sea waters offshore all year round and the most extraordinary scenery plus wildlife (all non-dangerous game). Pristine rivers, tumbling waterfalls (inland and directly into the sea), deep gorges, rolling grasslands, pockets of dense swamp forest and beautiful secluded beaches are just some of the highlights of this heavenly coastal destination.


This fabulous reserve is situated along the “Wild Coast” in the Eastern Cape between Port Edward & Port St Johns and must rank as one of the most beautiful coastal reserves anywhere in Africa. Mkambati’s rolling grasslands give visitors the sense of being in the Serengeti – but with the Indian Ocean as the backdrop. There are few places on earth where one can watch a big herd of eland, blesbok or zebra with dolphins and whales providing the backdrop – or stroll along a beach where the only other footprints are from an eland or an otter.


The reserve is known for its biodiversity, including various plant and animal species. Visitors can enjoy plains game and exceptional bird watching. A large portion of Mkambati Nature Reserve is covered in grasslands, which support a fascinating and diverse flora. Zebra, eland, red hartebeest, blesbuck, reedbuck and kudu dot the plains.

The cliffs on the Msikaba River hold one of the largest remaining colonies of Cape Vulture in the Eastern Cape. This colony is also one of the few protected breeding sites in the world. There is a great variety of bird species due to the wide variety of habitat. The surrounding grassland and broken woodland hold southern ground-hornbill and black-bellied bustard as well as the grey crowned crane, fish eagle, black eagle and jackal buzzard. Mkambati is on the edge of the range of African grass owls and buff-streaked chats and the most southerly population of swamp nightjar are among the birds that may be seen in this habitat. Gurney’s sugarbird and the greater double collared sunbird also seek nectar from the flowering strelitzias.

 Marine Life

The Pondoland Marine Protected area protects much of the coastline around Mkambati and down to our south. The importance of protecting the land in and around Mkambati cannot be stressed enough. But equally important is the protection of the marine life offshore and this is done through the proclamation of most of this stretch of coastline as a no-take zone within the Pondoland Marine Protected Area. You’ll find large shoals of fish in the waters, dolphins and pods of Humpback whales who travel from the Antarctica to Equator each year, passing these shores in June / July and October.

Biodiversity Hotspot

This south-eastern sector of South Africa falls within one of the world’s 34 most important biodiversity “hotspots” – those areas that contain most of the earth’s ecological richness yet are threatened. South Africa has three – the Cape Floristic region, the Succulent Karoo and the Maputaland-Pondoland region with Mkambati at its very heart. Mkambati Nature Reserve is the cornerstone of conservation on the Wild Coast and is one of the few places left on South Africa’s east coast that is untarnished by the extensive development seen elsewhere. The reserve takes its name from the Mkambati palm, one of the world’s rarest and most localised plants. Mkambati is also the name of one of the clans in the area. The palm is one of 196 endemic plant species out of a total of 2,200 that grow in Pondoland. Mkambati is one of only two protected areas within the Pondoland hotspot.

The leached sandstone soils which occur in this part of the Wild Coast have contributed to the high diversity of plant life. The combination of these soils and the warm climate means many plants have had to adapt differently to plants elsewhere else along South Africa’s east coast. Several of the rivers in the reserve have their headwaters within Mkambati and are therefore clean and unpolluted, while hundreds of sparkling rock pools make for excellent swimming and exploring experiences.

The adjacent Pondoland Marine Protected Area offshore is one of the largest in the country and the focus of one of the largest animal migration and predation events on earth, the annual sardine run.

GweGwe Beach Lodge Story

In 1920 the local people were forcibly moved out of the area and a leper hospital was established on these rolling coastal grasslands. When leprosy was cured, that hospital became a tuberculosis facility. Finally, in 1977, the area was became a formal provincial nature reserve and wildlife was reintroduced.

In early 2000, seven villages inland from Mkambati formed a trust to represent the rights of their community members, whose ancestors were the original inhabitants of the land. Their land claim has been successful and today the Mkambati Land Trust owns the Mkambati Nature Reserve. The Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Authority provides the conservation management of the reserve and Mkambati Matters (Pty) Ltd is the contracted partner for the northern, private sector of the reserve. The Mkambati Land Trust have agreed to expand Mkambati Reserve by around 40% and committed the use of the reserve in perpetuity to conservation in return for the financial benefits and jobs that the reserve will create.

The lease obliges Mkambati Matters (Pty) Ltd to build up to a 30 bedded boutique lodge (starting with 22 beds) and in time, fully self-contained villas. The community will benefit from the creation of hundreds of new jobs; their lease fees; the creation of community owned business and many other financial and upliftment benefits. These tourism beds and the secondary, community owned, businesses that will supply the lodge with produce and services will become the prime economic driver for the people in the region and will help invigorate the profile of tourism to this sector of the Wild Coast.

To help fund the conservation of the reserve and help finance and manage the upliftment projects within the communities, the Mkambati Conservation and Community NPC has been formed which is in the process of being registered as a Section 18a PBO entity.  All park fees etc. charged, as well as a 1% of turnover will accrue to this entity.

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