Bellevue Forest Reserve, Addo, Eastern Cape
When I was recently offered an opportunity to walk with The Tall 5 Giraffes and experience a Buffalo encounter on the 2,500ha Bellevue Forest Reserve, the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape, I didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance.
Bellevue Forest Reserve is situated in the Greater Addo region, a mere 74km from the Port Elizabeth Airport and a 30-minute drive from the airport. The famous Addo Elephant National Park is a 20-minute drive away, and is right next door to the property.
While the reserve has a number of Giraffes, it is also populated by about a large herd of Cape Buffalo that have been breeding in the reserve.
Experience is the name of the game at Bellevue Forest Reserve
On arrival, we were greeted by our guide and driver Stephan, as well as our Hostess Charmaine, who made sure there was a pot of freshly brewed coffee and rusks awaiting us before setting out on our 90-minute safari adventure.
We then left in the land cruiser to try and spot some of the Buffalo but as it was extremely misty that morning it became harder to find them. Then suddenly out of nowhere, we spotted one almost right in front of us – what magnificent animals they are! As these are wild animals’ visitors are not allowed to leave the vehicle.
Next, we were on a mission to find the Tall 5 –Giraffes. Once we spotted them high up on a hill we carried on on foot with our guide taking the lead up the mountain path through the bush as we saw them walking between the trees.
We approached quietly and slowly not wanting to break a branch, they were watching us cautiously as they did not stop grazing for more than a minute.
At this time, I did not think of anything else happening in the world; all I could focus on was experiencing this one in a lifetime adventure being with nature and watching these graceful, wild animals move with confidence and elegance.
Our guide explained a few interesting facts about Giraffes; like how adult Giraffes rarely sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. In fact, they almost never sleep for longer than five minutes at a time in the wild, often modifying the position so that they remain standing with their head and neck curved around to rest on their hindquarters – who knew?
Our guide and driver, Stefan, was fantastic – extremely knowledgeable, professional and thoughtful. He would always stop whenever we wanted to take any pictures. He knew the best vantage points to park for pictures (i.e. the curious Buffalo’s almost came right up to us giving us the perfect pose for our pictures).
Also, with the roads being so bumpy, we were appreciative that he was a safe driver. We were also impressed with the flexibility of scheduling during our safari – and did not feel rushed at all. We were thoroughly impressed, and his experience was evident throughout, thanks Stefan!
Once we returned to the lodge, we enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast at their Eagles Nest Lookout Lounge.
Top Reasons why you should visit Bellevue Forest Reserve
- The Reserve is only 45 minutes’ drive from Port Elizabeth and 25km from Addo Elephant National Park’s main gate.
- You can experience a Buffalo Safari and walk in the wild with Giraffes, a first in the Malaria free Eastern Cape.
- The reserve is a unique gateway, offering a calm and tranquil place to enjoy the clean forest air of Bellevue.
- Bellevue offers luxury lodge accommodation on the reserve.
- Experienced game rangers and beautiful scenery ensure a memorable experience.
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