Is Schotia Private Game Reserve An “Open Zoo”? We Kind Of Thought So First, BUT!

Keep in mind during this article, that this opinion and experience of Schotia Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, is just our own, and that your experience might be quite different, and both are ok, all right? 🙂

In this article, we will dive deeper into everything you need to know about the Schotia private game reserve but also add a bit of our personal touch to it, let’s just go without further ado!

Zooming in: Understanding the Magic of Schotia Private Game Reserve safaris.

Schotia Game Reserve: a little bit of history.

Nestled in the heart of the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and close to Addo National Park, Schotia Game Reserve boasts a rich history, as the reserve is a sanctuary for an array of indigenous wildlife, and has its roots firmly embedded in the conservation efforts and a deep connection to the land.

The story of Schotia dates back to a time when the Eastern Cape was a frontier region, with explorers and settlers navigating its rugged landscapes.

The land that would become Schotia Game Reserve was originally part of a farm established in the 1800s. The area was primarily utilized for agriculture, but over time, the vision for the land evolved. (and we still saw that farmland in the park, which was quite peculiar).

In the latter half of the 20th century, as the importance of preserving South Africa’s unique biodiversity gained recognition, the transformation of Schotia into a game reserve began. The landowners, recognizing the ecological significance of the area, decided to convert the farm into a haven for wildlife.

The reserve’s journey wasn’t without challenges. Conservation efforts often face obstacles, and Schotia was no exception.

Schotia Game Reserve is renowned not only for its diverse flora and fauna but also for its commitment to providing an authentic safari experience. The reserve became a pioneer in responsible tourism, offering visitors a chance to witness Africa’s iconic species in their natural habitat while contributing to the ongoing conservation initiatives.

The history of Schotia serves as a reminder that, in the midst of modern challenges, there are places where the spirit of the wild endures, and the commitment to preserving nature stands strong.

A little list of the various types of wildlife one can expect to see in this Game Reserve

Schotia game reserve is a testament to the incredible biodiversity that South Africa has to offer, with a mosaic of habitats that support a wide array of species. Here’s a glimpse of the charismatic wildlife that you might encounter during your visit:

1. Lions: Schotia is known for its population of majestic lions. The sight of these powerful predators, whether lounging in the shade or on the prowl, is an awe-inspiring experience.

If I remember correctly, I heard the ranger saying that there are about 3 lionesses and 1 lion in the reserve.

Lioness at Schotia game reserve

2. Elephants: The reserve is also home to these gentle giants. Witnessing a herd of elephants gracefully moving through the landscape is a highlight for many visitors.

Millenium the elephant came to say hi

3. Rhinoceros: Schotia actively contributes to rhinoceros conservation efforts. You may have the privilege of observing both black and white rhinos in their natural habitat.

Rhino’s horns are cut of to protect them from poachers.

4. Cape Buffalo: These formidable creatures, known for their robust build and distinctive horns, are often encountered during game drives.

5. Giraffes: The elegant giraffe, with its long neck and distinctive spotted coat, adds a touch of grace to the landscape.

6. Zebras: Striped patterns of black and white come to life as zebras roam the plains, creating a picturesque scene against the African backdrop.

7. Antelope Species: Schotia Game Reserve is home to various antelope species, including springbok, impala, and kudu. Their graceful movements and unique markings are a delight to observe.

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8. Hippos and Crocodiles: Along waterways, you might catch a glimpse of hippos lazing in the water or crocodiles basking in the sun. These water-dwelling creatures add an aquatic dimension to the safari experience.

9. Various Bird Species: Bird enthusiasts will be in their element with a plethora of avian species, from eagles soaring in the sky to brightly colored kingfishers by the water’s edge.


10. Cheetahs: Schotia is also home to these swift and sleek predators. Watching a cheetah in action, whether hunting or simply enjoying the surroundings, is a captivating sight.

Personal Story: Our Unforgettable Safari Experience in Schotia

To begin our adventure at Schotia Game Reserve, we spent three nights at the charming Seven Fountains Farm guesthouse (a topic I’ll delve into in another article), approximately 52 kilometers from Schotia, because it was at a good distance for us to visit not just Schotia, but also to visit Grahamstown and off course, Addo National park.

(==> video visiting Grahamstown, don’t mind the grumpy man who was tired of me filming things haha)

The journey was not without its challenges, navigating a road peppered with potholes, but our trusty 4×2 wheel drive rental car handled it admirably.

Visiting the Schotia game reserve, our experiences.

Opting for an afternoon/evening game drive, we were eager to immerse ourselves in the nocturnal rhythms of the bush. While the nighttime aspect was somewhat underwhelming (more on that later), our initial encounter with the park was nothing short of enchanting.

Among the first creatures to welcome us were the magnificent African elephants. As one of these gentle giants approached our safari car, I couldn’t help but feel like a child in a toy store.

Elephants hold a special place in my heart, and the moment one casually brushed against our vehicle, allowing me to touch its flank, was pure magic! How different that was, compared to being charged by one at Pongola Game Reserve haha!

==> video, I could touch an elephant called Millenium! Hear me cry like a child haha!

Our safari unfolded with a diverse array of wildlife sightings, from crocodiles to intricately woven weaver nests.

Several species of antelopes dotted the landscape, and we were fortunate to observe two lionesses basking in the sun.

We learned that one of them was born during the COVID lockdown, adding a unique twist to her interaction with humans, adding an extra layer of fascination and a bit of scare, driving around in an open vehicle 🙂

A male lion’s energetic pacing along a fence, adjacent to farmland, sparked a remark from my husband, comparing the experience to a “big open zoo”, meaning that he felt like he was in a Zoo, with animals on one side of a very large cage, and rhinos in another large cage.

Initially, I shared the sentiment, but then his remark and the rangers’ answers got me thinking.

Comparing it to the more expansive and unfenced areas we had previously visited, such as Isimangaliso Wetland Park and Addo Park, Schotia’s layout initially gave a different impression. However, recognizing its distinct conservation approach, including the presence of gates facilitating controlled species interaction, reshaped my perspective.

Touching on the practicalities, the animals’ familiarity with humans provided unique opportunities for interaction. Even an elephant, typically associated with wild aloofness, became an approachable companion, which was perfect for me haha! And after all, there was still a farm in the middle of the reserve as well that needed to be protected from the lions!

The ranger of our game drive also took us to a carcass of a poached rhino, which was a year old. So sadly, conservation or not, harming these animals for the money, still isn’t finished.

The evening of the game drive was concluded with a delightful “braai” in a secluded part of the reserve, a testament to South African culinary prowess. The revelation that our ranger was once a vegan added a surprising twist, challenging the stereotype that all South Africans are “carnivores” Haha!

=> video!

Returning from the braai, the anticipated extended night exploration turned out to be a brief journey to the exit, leaving a twinge of disappointment. Unlike previous experiences when I went to Zimbabwe in my youth, this “night drive” felt more like a “dinner-in-the-dark” affair than an actual nocturnal wildlife expedition.

While not comparable to our previous adventure at Sibuya Game Reserve, which emphasized the diversity of all creatures, big and small, Schotia focused on the allure of the Big Five and kind of rushed through them, fence after fence, with some sad stories in between:

If I were to assign a rating, considering the unique blend of a working farm within the reserve, I’d give it a 7. This evaluation pertains specifically to the game drive, acknowledging that a guided walk might offer a distinct perspective that I’ve yet to explore.

And I hope to then finally catch some bird pictures, because there literally wasn’t time for that in this parc, a personal reason for me to give it a 7.

But also in short:

What sets Schotia private game reserve apart from other reserves or national parks, in my opinion?

1. Exclusive Evening Safaris: Schotia is renowned for its unique evening safaris, known as the “Tooth and Claw” experience. This special night game drive provides an opportunity to witness nocturnal wildlife behavior, including predators on the hunt. It adds a thrilling dimension to the traditional safari experience, making Schotia a standout destination.

2. Private Ownership and Family Atmosphere: Unlike some larger reserves, Schotia is privately owned and operated. This contributes to a more intimate and family-friendly atmosphere. Visitors often appreciate the personalized attention and warm hospitality that comes with being in a privately owned reserve.

3. Addo Elephant National Park Connection: Schotia is situated in close proximity to the renowned Addo Elephant National Park. This strategic location allows visitors to combine their safari experiences, offering a diverse range of landscapes and wildlife encounters, including the opportunity to see the famous Addo elephants.

4. Active Conservation Involvement: Schotia Game Reserve is actively involved in conservation efforts, particularly in the protection of rhinoceros. Visitors have the chance to learn about the reserve’s commitment to conservation and may even witness firsthand some of the initiatives aimed at preserving the region’s unique biodiversity.

5. Ranger-Guided Walks: Beyond the traditional game drives, Schotia offers ranger-guided walks. This immersive experience allows guests to explore the smaller details of the ecosystem, from tracks in the sand to the intricate world of insects and plants.

Thirsty Lion Schotia game reserve

Practical Tips for Maximizing Your Safari Experience at Schotia Game Reserve:

  1. Pack Appropriately: Bring essentials such as a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a light jacket. Comfortable, neutral-colored clothing and sturdy shoes are advisable for the game drives.
  2. Camera and Binoculars: Capture the magic of your safari with a quality camera and binoculars. The reserve’s diverse wildlife and picturesque landscapes offer ample opportunities for memorable shots.
  3. Respect Wildlife and Safety Rules: Listen carefully to the rangers’ instructions and adhere to safety guidelines. Maintain a respectful distance from the animals and avoid sudden movements.
  4. Keep Quiet and Be Patient: Wildlife observation often requires patience. Keep noise to a minimum during game drives to maximize your chances of spotting elusive animals. Do not “pssssshtttt” any animals, especially not the lions, they’re not kittens.
  5. Ask Questions: Take advantage of your ranger’s knowledge. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the animals, the reserve’s conservation efforts, and the local ecosystem. Rangers love it!
  6. Experience the “Tooth and Claw” Evening: Embrace the unique evening safari experience, including a “braai” (barbecue) dinner in a secluded area of the reserve. It’s a chance to savor delicious South African cuisine while surrounded by the sounds of the bush

Climate and best times to visit Schotia Game reserve.

  • Climate: The Eastern Cape experiences a moderate coastal climate. Summers (December to February) are warm with occasional rain, while winters (June to August) are mild. Prepare for cool evenings, especially on evening game drives.

  • Best Time to Visit: The cooler months (April to September) are ideal for game viewing as animals are more active during this time. However, wildlife is present year-round.

Latest prices on Schotia Game Reserve’s “Tooth and Claw” Half-Day Safari:

When we visited Schotia Game Reserve, the rate for the exhilarating “Tooth and Claw” half-day safari at Schotia Game Reserve was R3800 for 2 people. Keep in mind that rates are subject to change without prior notice, so it’s advisable to confirm the current rate before securing your booking.

Here are the key details for this safari experience:

  • Duration:
    • The “Tooth and Claw” safari spans six hours, starting at 3 pm and concluding around 9 pm. Anticipate returning to Chrislin at approximately 9:30 – 10 pm.
  • Arrival Time:
    • Guests are expected to arrive at Schotia by 2:30 pm, ensuring a prompt and smooth start to the adventure. The reserve is conveniently located 60 km from Chrislin.
  • Transfers:
    • Note that the quoted rate does not include transfers. Guests are responsible for their transportation to and from Schotia Game Reserve or the accommodation where you stay can take care of the bookings for you.
  • Included:
    • The package includes a delectable dinner and limited drinks, enhancing the overall experience of the Schotia Private Game Reserve.
  • Closure on Christmas Day:
    • It’s important to note that Schotia Safaris is closed on Christmas day, so plan your visit accordingly.

Some animals can escape the lion’s teeth 🙂

The Impact: How Schotia Safaris Contribute to Conservation Efforts

Within the vast expanse of Schotia Game Reserve, conservation takes center stage in a delicate dance between the limited numbers of animals and the commitment to preserving their natural way of life.

Despite the controlled numbers of lions and other wildlife, the reserve stands as a beacon of conservation, offering a unique blend of preservation, education, and a valuable complement to its neighboring Addo.

Schotia provides an intimate mini-safari experience and the reserve’s commitment to a limited but authentic ecosystem ensures that animals live in a truly natural environment, a testament to its dedication to conservation, to its best potential.

Where to stay overnight to be near the Schotia game reserve?

As mentioned before, we stayed at the Seven Fountains farm, which had a great cook and hosts and staff, but more about that in another article later.

Of course, there are other places to stay, but most of them are nearer to Addo, as this is more “famous” and receives more tourists.

It varies from luxury lodges like this safari lodge, to something very affordable, like this Addo Dung Beetle guest farm. It is totally up to you!

Related articles:

My Final Conclusion.

I hope that you found our visit to Schotia game reserve interesting and if so, I hope you will get to visit the area soon, make sure to make reservations way ahead of time!

If you have any more questions, please feel free to leave them down below in the comments section or join me on (one of) my social media channels below to see more pictures and videos of my travels to Africa!

I wish you happy travels!

Kind regards,


I now have a YouTube channel as well!


4 thoughts on “Is Schotia Private Game Reserve An “Open Zoo”? We Kind Of Thought So First, BUT!”

  1. I absolutely love the images and videos of the animals on your site. It looks like a beautiful place. The pictures make it so fun to continue reading. These kinds of animals are just mesmerizing to look at and read about. The page was clearly laid out and easy to navigate and it was not at all cluttered. Thanks for the awesome read! I always enjoy reading about the animals and learning something I didn’t know before. I really would love to be able to visit some of these places one day.

  2. Thanks for the great insights! Unlike zoos, where animals are often in enclosures that don’t resemble their natural habitat, reserves like Schotia offer a much more authentic environment. Animals roam freely in vast spaces that mimic their natural habitats. This allows them to exhibit natural behaviors, which provides a more genuine wildlife viewing experience.


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