The safari has long been a driver for those booking vacations to South Africa and not all safaris are created equal. South African safaris can be divided into two main categories: National Parks and Private Game Reserves. National Parks are managed by the government, and anyone is allowed to enter including private vehicles and day visitors. Private game reserves are owned and managed by the lodges on that property. The most famous South African safari destination is Kruger National Park, a combination of privately owned game reserves, and land leased from the government for private use.
Currently, there are approximately 42 private game reserves in South Africa, all offering an abundance of game for guests to see. They range from budget to luxury and offer everything from Bush Walks to educational experiences to the illustrious game drive. Some private reserves are focusing on more than hospitality by implementing conservation, sustainability, and ecological support practices.
One such private game reserve is Shamwari Private Game Reserve, a 250 km2 piece of land in the Eastern Cape, focused on reversing 300 years of human impact on Africa’s flora and fauna. Now officially declared a Protected Environment, Shamwari is also a part of the Born Free Foundation: International Animal Welfare Society and boasts a hands-off Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. A unique organization with conservation at their core, here are a few other reasons why Shamwari Private Game Reserve is the ideal luxury South African safari experience:
A short drive from Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport (previously called Port Elizabeth Airport), Shamwari is an extension of South Africa’s famous Garden Route. Located near the southeast coast, the weather is mild all year around and has higher levels of humidity than the west. Whether guests are picked up at the airport or drive to the park on their own, Shamwari is easy to find.
Photo: Eagles Crag
Accommodation For All
Shamwari offers seven unique lodges ranging from the adults-only honeymoon experience of Eagles Crag to the family-friendly, Riverdene. All accommodations are beautiful, combining culture with luxury and sustainability, inspired by their surroundings. No detail has been overlooked: each room with its own private outdoor space, thoughtfully curated hot and cold drinks, homemade snacks, and filtered water among its well-appointed amenities.
Long Lee Manor: This newly redesigned elegant lodge boasts the original Manor House, Edwardian-styled suites, and a stupendous rim-flow pool.
Riverdene: Also freshly renovated, this lodge is the ideal place for families to bond for hours with a climbing frame, kids ziplining, childminders, and more.
Bayethe: Surrounded by rich vegetation, this canopy paradise provides privacy and a feeling of seclusion with spectacular views.
Eagles Crag: The home of exclusive luxury, this nine-suite lodge has private pools and an upper deck with aerial viewing pods.
Sindile: Shamwari’s latest luxury tented mimics a solitary leopard’s sanctuary with nine luxury free-standing tents. Being elevated above the surrounding bush minimizes the environmental footprint.
Sarili: Private Villa: Sarili is an oasis overlooking the grassy plains of Africa and the Bushman’s River. This five-bedroomed lodge can be rented for large groups.
Shamwari takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. From the game driver's commitment to only driving on established paths to not disturb the ecosystem, to the staff authenticity and camaraderie both on and off the reserve, Shamwari practices sustainability in both an environmental and societal sense. Here are some of Shamwari’s upcoming projects for 2023:
- Operating exclusively on solar power by 2025
- Water security for staff and surrounding towns
- Anti-Poaching Protection
- Healthcare through medical clinics established for surrounding towns
- Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Activities For All
Shamwari has several activities to accommodate every traveler.
Kids Safari: Through animal conservation projects, kids are educated on animal compassion and welfare. Although children under 4 aren’t allowed on game drives, there are several activities to entertain even the smallest guests, all organized through the children’s coordinator. Child minding is also available.
Bush Walks and Birding: For those looking for a wilder experience, guides take guests on a walking safari and spend their night in an Shamwari’s Explorers Camp. Luxury accommodation is still available with every detail kept in mind.
Sundowner’s or Bush Breakfasts: Enjoy a private meal with your group with either a catered breakfast in the bush after an early morning game drive, or an aptly named cocktail around a fire as the sun sets over the reserve.
Teens on Safari: With game drives, photography safaris, and education tailored to their age group, there is lots to do with teenagers. They will also enjoy the lounge with billiards, big-screen TVs, and more.