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Upon entering the gates of Shamwari Private Game Reserve, our group was filled with palpable excitement…and for good reason.

Shamwari isn’t just any game reserve – it’s a celebrated destination that even boasts its own Netflix show, highlighting its significance and allure.

Located within the vibrant heart of the Eastern Cape, just an hour east of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), Shamwari spans an impressive 25,000 hectares.

This malaria-free expanse is not only remarkable in its natural beauty but also hosts the highest density of the ‘Big Five’ in the region, making it a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise.

Safari excursions, available morning and evening, are conducted in custom vehicles designed for comfort on the reserve’s rugged terrain. A built-in platform at the lodge provides easy access onto the vehicles.

Each game drive is a unique adventure, with the chance to encounter the ‘Big Five’ and other wildlife. Despite the day’s high temperatures, our experience was filled with sightings of elephants and giraffes within minutes of departure.

Our knowledgeable ranger shared insights into the reserve’s ecology and conservation efforts, enhancing our understanding and appreciation of Shamwari’s commitment to preserving wildlife in its natural habitat.

The Shamwari Rehabilitation Wildlife Centre and Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary are both located within the reserve, giving guest-only exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ access to learn about and to meet some of the animals that are given sanctuary or receiving ‘hands off’ rehabilitation.

We visited a baby rhino that was housed with a sheep. The sheep teaches the rhino how to graze and provides company while the rhino is learning the ropes. When the rhino is released back into the wild, the sheep is returned to the local farm.

The week after our visit, two lions that had been urgently evacuated from the Ukraine were being relocated to Shamwari. Another conservation project is Vulpro, which is spearheading population restocking and supplementation to address the severe decline of African vulture species.

For those lucky enough to be planning a trip to South Africa, Shamwari provides all the elements required for a holiday of a lifetime experience.

Whether it’s a brief visit or an extended stay, the five-star luxury combined with top-rated safari experiences will provide treasured memories that will last forever.

Where To Stay

Shamwari offers an array of seven luxurious accommodations, ensuring there’s a perfect match for every preference. Each lodge is distinct in its charm and is strategically placed throughout the reserve to enhance guests’ experiences.

Long Lee Manor, an Edwardian-era building surprisingly situated in the veld, has been meticulously restored. Its 18 luxury suites prioritise privacy and comfort while offering expansive views of the surroundings, including a nearby watering hole.

For those seeking an intimate and secluded setting, Sindile represents the pinnacle of tented luxury.

Perched deep within the African wilderness, it offers great views over the Bushman’s River. Reserved for adults only, each suite comes with a private plunge pool, making it ideal for honeymooners or couples desiring a private outdoor spa bath experience in the wild.

Riverdene Family Lodge features a kids-on-safari program and a canopy playground equipped with rope walkways and climbing walls, ensuring fun for the whole family.

Set amid lush vegetation for ultimate privacy and impressive views of the African bush, Bayethe Lodge offers a tented haven of tranquillity.

View from Bayethe Main Deck

Nestled at the base of a cliff, Eagles Crag Lodge showcases suites crafted from glass and stone. Its upper deck, featuring dining pods, offers panoramic views over the canopy.

Sarili Lodge provides an exclusive retreat with a five-bedroom dwelling, complete with personal staff, including a chef and guide. It overlooks grassy plains and the Bushman’s River.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Explorer Camp. This walking experience is ideal for guests looking for an adventurous and authentic option offering the ambience of a tented bush camp of old safari lore.

The camp reflects the original safari of being on foot and sleeping around the fire at night within the comfort of a bush tent. The walking trails are guided by qualified armed rangers. Walking distances vary but can last up to four hours.

Shamwari’s diverse accommodations enable guests to explore the reserve’s varied experiences, encouraging longer stays and exploration of multiple lodges.

Thanks to SA Tourism and MW Tours.