• Bitten by the whale watching bug Bitten by the whale watching bug We don’t realise how lucky we are in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, to have the mightiest of the marine mammals visit our coastline between every year ...
  • The Whale Trail The Whale Trail The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with ...
  • 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa Combine your trip to South Africa with a relaxing, revitalising visit to a health spa and experience Africa at it's finest. Our favourite 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa are ...
  • Locals share their favourite getaways Locals share their favourite getaways We ask 30 local South Africans to share their favourite holiday destinations and getaways with us. From the more popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger Park to ...
  • The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip walk shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno ...
  • 10 Amazing Game Lodges 10 Amazing Game Lodges South Africa is world renowned for her game reserves and wildlife. The lodges which allow us to experience these in luxury are no less awe inspiring. Our favourites are ...
  • 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town As much as your kids will tell you they can’t wait for the school holidays, the words "I’m bored" inevitably cross their lips. Our "101 things to do with kids in Cape Town" will ...
  • "World's most beautiful Cities" "World's most beautiful Cities" Open space makes Cape Town special. Renowned English sea navigator Sir Francis Drake once referred to Cape Town as the fairest cape in the world. The city houses the ...

Find Accommodation in South Africa
Subscribe to our Feed
Posted on: Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Shamwari Game Reserve

Send to Kindle

There is something distinctly colonial about Shamwari Game Reserve. Perhaps it’s that I don’t get out much, but there is nothing like a lovingly restored Edwardian mansion, the cool verandah and furniture a throwback to a bygone era, to make one feel distinctly elegant, even if I wasn’t exactly attired for the occasion.

How I got there is another story, but I happened to ‘gatecrash’ Shamwari, in a way. We stumbled off an overnight train from Johannesburg, to find ourselves awaited by a 4×4 vehicle and escourted onto the Shamwari grounds …

 

Shamwari Game Reserve

 

I wasn’t officially supposed to be on the trip. I had come as my sister’s ‘companion’, for at the time she was a little short of choices and I was only too happy to oblige. So I had none of the finesse or sense of detachment that people who have every right to be somewhere manage to don with little effort. Mine was the mouth that gaped at the beauty of the place and oohed at the food and lay on the lawn looking up at the brilliance of the blue sky, wondering what on earth I’d done to deserve the visit.

Perhaps it helps to put Shamwari in context. It lies almost in the crook of the Addo Elephant National Park in the Sunday’s River Valley near Port Elizabeth. Shamwari is popular not only because it is easily reachable from Port Elizabeth and because it lies in a malari free zone of the beautiful Eastern Cape, but also because it provides an element of luxury that is a throwback to an era that is long gone.

The Shamwari reserve is 25 000 hectares that, because of where it lies, boasts five eco-systems that support an incredible array of very spottable game (you don’t have to go to extraordinary lengths to see them). The game reserve is also amongs the Top 100 World’s Best Hotels, was voted Africa’s Leading Safari and Game Reserve for the 11th year running in 2008, and Eagles Crag Lodge, one of the choices of accomodation, has earned a Green Leaf Environmental Standard.

The restored Edwardian Manor is Long Lee Manor, the first building or lodge you encounter after having entered at the gate to Shamwari Game Reserve. It’s also the largest of the seven lodges (there is now also a Shamwari Townhouse on the beachfront at Port Elizabeth, I believe) at Shamwari and it lies on a hill that overlooks expansive savannah plains where wildlife simply grazes – it’s another world entirely, and perhaps more so because one isn’t expecting it so close to civilisation.

 

Shamwari Game Reserve

 

Plyed with refreshing drinks and sandwiches in style we then hopped into a game vehicle and zooted off around the reserve to discover white rhino, bathing hippos, giraffe, antelope and even lion (you can see all Big 5 at Shamwari). Just a little aside, to give you a few more tasty morsels with which to convince friends or family that Shamwari is worth forking out for, the British TV series, Safari School, was filmed here – it aired in September 2008 on Animal Planet.

There are a great many Eland Antelope at Shamwari, and we saw a lot of them. The ranger entertained us to a few facts about this, the largest African bovid. Interestingly, it is also the slowest, which might explain why we saw one that had recently been killed by a lion. It can only run at 25mph, but it can also jump a surprising 10 feet from standing (it doesn’t even have to get a running start!). Another interesting fact about these buck is that their knees give off a sharp clicking noise when they walk. No-one is entirely sure why, but scientists think that it might be a form of communication.

We suddenly got a call (well, as much of a call as a ranger can get on a jeep) that lions had been spotted close by. We started up again from our entertaining conversation about Eland, and set off in the jeep only to spot two female lions lazing ahead of us on the plains. Through binoculars, it was obvious that they are covered in blood and must have just made a kill. It’s not always this obvious that a lion has just fed. Sometimes one needs to look at the size of their bellies or even their faeces to make certain.

Lunch followed shortly afterwards and with bodies that would much rather have had a snooze, some of us couldn’t refuse the offer to do a whirlwind tour of the other accommodation venues at Shamwari.

 

Shamwari Game Reserve

 

Riverdene Lodge is more of a family-friendly affair that overlooks Bushmans River and is quite beautiful, whilst Bayethe Tented Camp is just gorgeous, with tented accommodation, private decks and plunge pools with hammocks that overlook the bush – you’ll think you’ve died and landed in bush heaven. Eagles Crag, our last port of call, is definitely the most exclusive of the lodges. The focus is undeniably on luxury, and the rooms lie nestled below a dramatic cliff, which gives it a unique feel.

Whilst fleeting, I was impressed by Shamwari. Our night at Shamwari Private Game Reserve passed far too quickly, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone staying around Port Elizabeth and after a few night of luxury in the bush.

Useful Links:
Shamwari Private Game Reserve
Eastern Cape Game Reserves
Things to Do in Eastern Cape
Accommodation in South Africa

The SA-Venues.com Team

About 

Photographs, posts and articles filed under "The SA-Venues.com Team" are either very old articles (this blog has been going since 2005!), are a combined effort or have been submitted to us by a third party, the name of which is/should be displayed in or below the actual article. Special offers and general event posts are also found here as they are generally a team effort.

Related Posts:

What Others are Saying

1 comment about Shamwari Game Reserve
  1. September 2nd, 2009 at 02:56
    The Africa Travel Blog says:

    Wow, those are amazing pictures! Looks like you had a very successful safari there!