Kapama Game Reserve – Floods

It is quite ironic that the very water we depend on for survival can sometimes become such a destructive force that you can just watch in awe as tiny trickles of water becomes raging torrents and leave behind total devastation in it’s wake.

Last week we got to experience a cyclone in our area and basically got our whole seasons’ amount of rain in 48 hours. This off course caused massive floods in our area and unfortunately we were not completely spared the chaos and devastation that comes with that much water.

Roads were damaged, bridges and dam walls collapsed and we also lost one of our lodges which were build on the banks of the Klaserie river which is normally a serene little waterway that added to the ambience of the once awesome Karula lodge, who’s guests had to be airlifted out as none of the roads leading there was accessible.

For quite a couple of days game drives was just impossible and should we have attempted that, it would have been extremely dangerous as in some areas the ground was just too soaking wet and unstable, and tiny drainage lines on the reserve became torrents like these below and other images from in and around our Reserve.

Despite all the damage, the total loss of life according to authorities was only 6, which is a miracle if you take into consideration that 47 informal villages towards our South were completely destroyed. We are however over the worst and our operations are back to normal. We are also planning to repair Karula as soon as possible and we should manage to do that in just a little over three months.

Floods like these are not completely uncommon in the area, as we went through a similar event in February 2000. During these floods however the most damage where to our South –east and the well known Kruger National park had to bare the worst of those which luckily just caused a bit of heavy rain on our side, I guess you can’t be that lucky all the time and mother nature surely knows how to get your attention every once in a while…

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32 Responses to “Kapama Game Reserve – Floods”

  1. Tim Tyo says:

    Dear General Manager,
    Would you please provide me with an update on Kapama Karula opening date with the specifics of the configuration of the suites & Tents.

    Thank You

    • Hi Tim

      I am forwarding your request to our Head of Reservations in order for them to provide you with all the up to date details. They will be able to assist with any information you might require.

      Kind Regards

  2. Stephanie says:


    I was one of the guests at Karula during the cyclone, and just wanted to check in and see how you all are doing. I’m so glad to hear that you all are recovering nicely. Our brief stay at the camp was unforgettable and everyone treated us so amazingly well, despite the craziness of the weather! Thanks so much for your hard work, it was quite an adventure. Also, thanks for letting us crash in your home for those uncertain few hours while we waited out the storm.

    Please keep us posted when Karula is back up!


  3. Sandy says:

    Hi Johan,

    Good Day. Glad to hear that all the game lodge has resume back to business. We have booked a 2 night stay at Kapama Southern Camp. We are travelling with a 11 years old boy and he is very excited like us as this will be our first safari trip.

    We will be arriving on the lodge on 01/06 and wonder how cold is the weather in winter ? I also have another question, is there possibility of sighthing crocodile along riverbank during game drive or bush walk ? Lastly my husband love to take photogragh, do we need to inform the ranger before the game drive ? I have read some feedback and they suggest that we can inform the lodge or driver/ranger so that they can share or bring us to some beautiful scenic spot ?

    Kind Regards
    Sandy (Singapore)

    • Hallo Sandy

      We cannot wait to welcome you at Southern Camp. June is unfortunately “winter” time here, and although we normally have very mild winters it is quite possible to have the odd “cooler than normal” days. Especially the early morning and evening game drives can be quite chilly and we will always advise to bring something warm enough on these. (We do provide blankets on these occasions for extra comfort)

      During safari it would always be a possibility to view crocodile along our river banks, but off cause this can never be guaranteed as they are wild animals and sometimes just stay out of view. All our guides are fully trained on how to provide the best sightings with the best photographic opportunities possible, and I am sure they will not disappoint you.

      See you soon in June…


  4. Mary says:

    I have clients scheduled for Kapama Karula mid August – What is the
    condition of the camp. Will it be
    100% up & running?

  5. Mary says:

    I have clients scheduled for Kapama Karula mid August – What is the
    condition of the camp. Will it be
    100% up & running?

  6. Tamir says:

    Hi Johan,

    We are considering making a booking at Buffalo Lodge.
    Has this lodge been affected in any way by the heavy rains?

    Have the rains affected the game viewing throughout the Kapama Reserve in any way?

    Kind Regards

    • Hallo Tamir

      Hope you are well. Buffalo Camp had very little damages during the flood, and these had been sorted out quite some time ago already. It is 100% operational. Game viewing were not affected at all because of the rains, and you will have a wonderful time.

      Kind Regards

  7. Robert says:

    Hi, I am comming to Southern camp with my family on 27.4. and will stay there for 3 nights. I hope everything is going back to normal in Kapama. I just want to ask you if there is a high Malaria risk in Kapama? My boys (11 years old) twins are big nature friends and thay are asking me every day about animals which we should probably observe. Can you please list some of tham?

    Best regards from Slovenia,

    • Hallo Robert

      Yes, everything is back to normal and I am sure you will have a wonderful time with us. Kapama Reserve is situated in a low risk malaria area, and although there will be some mosquitoes around, it is not necessarily the kind that carries malaria. The season is turning towards autumn and they should hopefully disappear soon or at least become much less.Please be safe and take your malaria prophylactics, as one can never be too sure and prevention is always better than cure. Where the boys and the animals are concerned the following. Kapama has a huge range of animals including the Big 5. Typically the most common animals they would be able to see would be Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Lions. With a little bit of luck even the elusive Leopard. Other animals they can expect to see would include Impala antelope, Giraffes, Zebra, Water buck, Warthog and Wildebeest to name but a few. The list might even be longer once you are here. Obviously there is also a wide variety of reptiles, birds and smaller animal species seen quite often and I am sure they will not be disappointed.

      Cannot wait to welcome you at Southern Camp

      Kind Regards

  8. Cesare says:

    Hi,i have a reservation on river lodge for May 8th to May 9th…What kind of weather can i expect and What kind of sightings i can do tris season?…thanks for your reply…

    • Johan Esterhuizen says:

      Hi Cesare

      Thank you for your enquiry. May is just about the beginning of our “autumn” or “fall” season and it start getting a bit cooler in the evening and early mornings. Although we have quite mild winters, bring something warm, driving around during the early hours of the morning and evenings may already be a bit chilly…However, it is a excellent time for good sightings and I am sure you would not be disappointed.

      Kind Regards

  9. Nicky says:

    Hi Johan

    We are sorry to hear of your troubles over there and were just about to make a booking for early november at Kapama Karula for our honeymoon! Is it best to hold off booking until you guys know for sure when the camp will be up and running again?

    By the way your facilities look amazing and we are very excited to be visiting (all the way from Australia).


    • Johan Esterhuizen says:

      Hi Nicky

      Thanks for your interest. Yes, unfortunately “mother nature” is very unpredictable, and there is not much we can do about that.We are aiming to re-open Karula around June / July and I am sure come November, Karula should be up and running as normal. Our reservations team will definitely inform you should this not be possible, but I do not think you have anything to be worried about.

      Kind Regards

  10. Sneha says:

    Hi, We wanted to make reservations at the Kapama River Lodge for March 10th to 13th. Is the River lodge open and functioning?

    Are the game drives on as well?

    • Johan Esterhuizen says:

      Hallo Sneha

      Yes, River Lodge is 100% up and running, also no problems with the drives.

      Thanks so much for your enquiry

      Kind regards


  11. Claire says:

    I know everyone else is concerned about their bookings, but as a past guest at Kapama, my concern is for the animals. How did they fare during the floods?

    • Johan Esterhuizen says:

      Hi Claire

      Animals have an amazing ability to sense these kind of occurrences before they happen. Prior to the floods some of our Rangers even commented that they find it strange that most of the animals tend to move to higher ground for some reason. Whether this is pure speculation or not I am not sure, but we have found no dead animals afterwards. I am pretty sure there might be some of the smaller ones that must have got trapped, washed away or maybe drowned, but fortunately they handle these events much better than we humans do and seem delighted about the abundance of food now after the rains.


  12. natalia says:

    dear we are going to southern camp after tomorow, is there ok for the safaris??

    • Johan Esterhuizen says:

      Hallo Natalia

      Yes, our safari’s are 100% back to normal and I know you will have a wonderful stay at Kapama Southern Camp.

      Till tommorow…


  13. Jonathan says:

    Hey Johan,

    You say that everything is already pretty much back to normal? I was told that the Karula camp was completely washed away? I was getting ready to make reservations for mid August. What do you suggest? Will I be safe booking a week in the Luxury Suites of Kapama Karula in mid August?

    I’m glad to hear that no one got hurt! That is very fortunate…

    • Johan Esterhuizen says:

      Hallo Jonathan

      Thanks for your enquiry. We are hard at work and striving to open Kapama Karula again as soon as June / July. I think it would be 100% up and running by mid-August and there shouldn’t be any problem. I would however suggest to contact our reservations team again a little bit closer to the date to follow up on the progress. They will be delighted to assist you with updated information. You can reach them at res@kapama.com

      Looking forward to welcoming you at Kapama Game Reserve


  14. Max and Candice says:

    Andries and the gang – holy cow!!!!!
    How is everyone? Jordan and Collin ok?
    How are you doing? I know what you are going through having been through several hurricanes here in Cayman.
    Tell Jordan and Collin we say hi and when you have the time, please send us an e-mail with updates and pics and the rebuild.
    Take deep breaths and a renewed respect for the power of the nature we all love so much.
    Max and Candice

  15. christine & Bill Pearson says:

    We have a reservation for April 3rd/4th departing 5th – Drifters Game Lodge/Kapama River Lodge.

    Will this be available and what conditions can we expect please?

    Christine and Bill

    • Johan Esterhuizen says:

      Hi Christine

      Your reservation at River Lodge will remain unchanged. Our reserve team has done a lot during the past couple of weeks and everything is pretty much back to normal. I am sure you will have a great stay.

      Kind Regards

  16. Imke says:

    I just can’t believe what I am reading here! We left Kapama Karula on january 12th – I just can’t believe what happened just a few days later. The pics look awful and I hope that everyone at Karula is fine and nobody was injured?

    • Johan Esterhuizen says:

      Hallo Imke

      Yes, that’s mother nature for you… I can gladly report that no one was injured during all this and everyone is hard at work repairing and cleaning up after the floods.


  17. Joel Berman says:

    We have bookings for Karula March 4. Will the camp be functioning normally?

    • Andries Jamneck says:

      Dear Joel

      Hope that you are doing well.

      The camp is currently close for renovations and we are busy with a huge cleaning program. If our reservation department havent contacted you by now, please send me a mail at andries.jamneck@kapama.com.

      Kind Regards,

      Andries Jamneck
      Assistant Manager
      Kapama Karula

      • Isabella Kersten says:

        Hi! I have bookings for Karula April 11 -13. Will the camp be open at that date? I feel very sorry with what happened.

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