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South Africa Safari

Shamwari Game Reserve

Eastern Cape, South Africa

Gorgeous male lion at Shamwari Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa
  Return to Map of Eastern Cape Reserves          © Mantis Collection

View images of Shamwari Game Reserve: Shamwari Images [Page 2 / Page 3]

Bayethe Lodge Rates

Bushmans River Lodge Rates

Eagles Crag Lodge Rates

Lobengula Lodge Rates

Long Lee Manor Rates

Riverdene Lodge Rates

Sarili Lodge Rates

Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa's Eastern CapeShamwari Game Reserve is a 20,000-hectare (49,000-acre), malaria free, private game reserve situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Shamwari has received numerous international awards, including the World's Leading Conservation Company and Game Reserve for five consecutive years. It is situated in verdant bush along the Bushmans River, halfway between Port Elizabeth (a 45 minute drive outside the city) and Grahamstown, a pleasant drive from Cape Town, forming a natural extension to the famous Garden Route.

Shamwari is dedicated to conserving a vanishing way of life and is the realization of one man's dream, and the success of many people's passion. Steeped in Settler history, and dating back to the time when a multitude of game roamed wild and free, the reserve boasts five eco-systems, thus enabling the support of many forms of plant, animal and bird life. Shamwari is a true African adventure reserve combining conservation with responsible tourism.

Accommodations            For images of Shamwari Game Reserve, click Shamwari Images [Page 2 / Page 3]
Shamwari Game Reserve offers six different lodges, all of which are five-star graded.

Long Lee Manor
Long Lee Manor was built in 1910 by the descendants of William Foulds, one of the early settlers from York in England. Lovingly restored and expanded, this gracious Edwardian mansion has the feel of a country manor, located in the African bush where you will experience the style of living of a past era, with uncompromising service.

Long Lee Manor is positioned as the flagship of Shamwari and it overlooks the sweeping plains leading down to the Bushman's River Valley. The Sidbury Wing is hidden from the manor house. The french doors open onto the rolling river meadows. Each spring (October) the palm trees in Palm Court are alive with weaver birds nesting.

Long Lee Manor accommodates 38 guests in elegant en-suite bedrooms, all with air-conditioning and underfloor heating.

Sumptuously prepared meals are enjoyed in the main dining room or around the open blazing fire at the Barn. An extensive range of African curios and branded clothing is sold at the curio shop at Long Lee Manor. Between game drives guests can laze around one of the two pools, play an invigorating game of tennis on the floodlit court or relax in the beautifully appointed garden lounge.

Lobengula Lodge
Lobengula Lodge is a truly traditional African experience. Tucked deep in the valley bushveld, this thatched, ethnically decorated lodge offers guests a tranquil, luxurious and exclusive getaway. All five Junior suites are en-suite, with air-conditioning and under-floor heating, whilst the Chief suite includes a large private lounge with fireplace. Lobengula Lodge serves lavish meals for all discerning diners, offers a selection of fine South African wines from its cellar and a well-trained staff ensures a high quality of service and satisfaction. After a game drive guests can relax, swim or enjoy a drink at the pool bar. The magnificent wooden deck overlooking the dense African bush is beautifully appointed for meals or mystical African storytelling in front of the fireplace. A small gym and steam bath is available for the active guest.

The two lavish junior suites across the small stream in the Excelsior Valley offer total privacy. Both of these suites have small plunge pools looking out onto the bush. Bathrooms in all the suites are stylish sandstone and granite havens. Outside showers, an addition to the six suites, add a new dimension to communing with nature. Impressive canopy beds, freshly made up with crisp linen, invite sleep. Each room features a comfortable lounge, robes and a private deck.

Riverdene Lodge
Riverdene Lodge, the latest addition at award winning Shamwari Game Reserve, sleeps a total of 18 guests. Rooms are fully air-conditioned, with television and telephone, and feature a small lounge area. Each en-suite sandstone bathroom has a 'his' and 'hers' vanity basin, separate shower, bath and private toilet. The two elegantly furnished casual lounges and a glorious sunroom, a magnificent rim flow swimming pool with sun deck and poolside bar entice guests to relax and restore their energies.

The dining room opens onto a spacious outdoor barbecue area. As with all the lodges at Shamwari, guests receive personal attention from their assigned rangers for the duration of their stay.

Bushmans River Lodge
Bushmans River Lodge is a unique historical site that has been beautifully restored. The 'home away from home' atmosphere is a welcoming reminder of true South African hospitality. Beautifully decorated in an artistic and ethnic theme, the 4 suites offer a personalized service. This lodge is another representation of the true uniqueness of Shamwari.

Relax under the thatched gazebo with a cocktail and look out for the hippopotamus in the Bushmans River below, dine sumptuously inside or take casual meals outside on the verandah overlooking the densely wooded Bushmans River valley.

Bask in front of a glowing fire in the lounge during winter, in summer cool down in the delightful plunge pool and at night, retire to one of the four deluxe en-suite rooms. Bushmans River Lodge is pure unadulterated luxury, surrounded by the African wilderness.

Bayethe Lodge
"By-ye-ti", the welcoming salutation you will receive on your arrival at this splendid stone walled and thatch roofed lodge. Absorb the pulse of the African bush from the viewing deck, framed by riverine trees and overlooking river pools where antelope venture a twilight drink and crowned eagles glide on the darkening sky. While sitting next to the boma fire, let the crackling fire, a nightjar and the distant howl of a jackal serenade you into relaxation.

Bayethe Lodge offers the ultimate in luxury, tented accommodation. Each of the 9 twin-bedded suites is nestled along the bed of the river, camouflaged under trees allowing ample privacy and unsurpassed comforts. Each tented suite is air-conditioned and heated and has an en-suite bathroom, outdoor shower, private plunge pool and viewing deck. Early morning and evening game viewing drives in open land rovers as well as guided nature walks and bird watching are all part of this magnificent experience. "Bayethe Nkosi" - "I salute you great one"

Eagles Crag Lodge
Eagles Crag Lodge is an avante-guard masterpiece of thatch, stone and glass for the most discerning of travellers who is looking for privacy and tranquillity. Eagles Crag consists of 9 individually built rooms to accommodate two guests each. Each room has its own private deck and plunge pool with an uninterrupted view of the bush. The lodge houses its own Wellness Spa & facilities and also includes a dining area, library, business centre, lounge & bar.

Lobengula Spa
At Lobengula, enter into a spa paradise, and experience exotic treatments in an African setting. Sensuous and invigorating therapies have been designed to refresh, purify, polish and pamper. Step out of reality into a world of indulgence, where professional staff use eclectic blends to increase circulation, ease tension, energise and revitalise.

At Shamwari you will experience, learn and enjoy the very best that African wildlife viewing can offer. There is great game viewing in modern Land Rovers converted into open viewing vehicles. Each vehicle has a trained ranger who will increase your enjoyment with his knowledge of both the flora and fauna. The rangers are in 2-way communication with each other at all times, so on any day they know where the game is, and how to find the elusive animals such as the rare Black Rhino.

Game viewing is carried out morning and evening on game drives, when you are driven in your open vehicle (which seats up to 6) over the rolling hills and valleys. If you have a particular species you would like to see, please mention it to your ranger; he will be happy to merge your plans into the group. In the early morning (if you are keen) you will leave before dawn, spending up to 3-4 hours spotting before returning to your lodge for a hearty breakfast. Blankets are supplied for those cold morning starts!

The heat of the day is usually spent in the shade, playing tennis, swimming, reading and, of course, eating a large buffet lunch. Between 4:00 - 5:00pm, you assemble again for the evening drive. As the animals emerge from their midday cover, you may see elephants brousing, rhino drinking at a waterhole, or perhaps the shy bushbuck motionless in the dense bushveld. At dusk, the Land Rover stops at some panoramic spot for a sundowner (from the icebox) and snacks.

Then, as the light fades, your ranger will plug in a powerful hand-held light. With its help, you can sweep the veld, seeing first the eyes and then the forms of a variety of nocturnal animals. By 8:00pm you are back at your lodge where a drink in the bar with your ranger, amid cheerful recollections of the day's discoveries is followed either by another great meal expertly prepared by our chefs, or a barbacue next to a roaring fire. Finally, a hot shower and a well-earned sleep. Before repeating it again the next day!

Generally, you may not leave your vehicle when it is in the reserve. Guided walks can be arranged in the company of your armed ranger, in search of rare animals. These hikes can often be the highlight of your African trip, for it is really only then that you gain a perspective of this great continent. Note:Game drives are done in open Land Rovers, so you can feel close to Nature. A closed vehicle is used when driving through the area where the lions roam.

The Shamwari Day Centre, Khaya Lendaba village, and the Born Free Conservation and Education Centres
This day experience offers visitors to Shamwari or the Port Elizabeth region a complete wildlife experience. The new centre is located in the southern area of Shamwari, next to Khaya Lendaba, a traditional African Arts and Culture Village. You can visit Khaya Lendaba after breakfast.

In partnership with actress/conservationist Virginia McKenna's Born Free Foundation, Shamwari Game Reserve designed the Conservation and Education Centre to incorporate a museum and educational facility whose goal is to create an awareness of the horrific way in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world.

The Centre has already become an international sanctuary for African species found in such situations. Animals like Raffi and Anthea are now kept in huge enclosures, living an almost free and natural life, in an environment as close to their original one as possible.

The Conservation Centre program starts daily at noon. Visitors take lunch on the game viewing deck, overlooking the Bushmans River, or in the dining room, after which they visit Khaya Lendaba. In an hour-long visit, guests experience the vibrant dancing, the dramatic history, the culture, the food, the healing methods, the rituals, and the art that is found in ancient and modern African life. Khaya Lendaba not only focuses on the Xhosa tribe, found in the Eastern Cape, but also includes other prominent tribes found in Southern Africa.

Guests discover the various stages of the ancient Xhosa initiation ceremony where a boy becomes a man. In a traditional marriage, the groom pays lobola or bride price to the bride's family - visitors are enlightened as to how this tradition ensures a husband's respect for his wife.

In the Sangoma's (faith healer) hut, visitors learn about the role of traditional healers within African tribal life - a role still very important to the majority of African people. A visit to the kitchen hut affords the visitor the opportunity of tasting traditional foodstuffs such as marogo, mealies & beans and traditional beer. Visitors are able try their hand at grinding corn and making soap the African way.

Well-known community head and cultural leader, Reverend Maqina from Port Elizabeth, is a partner in the Khaya Lendaba project. The Reverend offers remarkable and often humorous insights into the African culture as he shares his wealth of experience with visitors. He has produced many stage performances that have taken him and his New Generation Dancers to Europe on several occasions.

This is followed by a game drive in an open Land Rover, under the guidance of an experienced game ranger. The program is complete by approximately 6:30pm.

The experience is exclusive, and the maximum number of visitors is limited to 25 per day. Bookings can be made directly at Shamwari Game Reserve.

Wilderness Trails
Usually nestled at the core of declared game reserves or resting on the shoulders of mountainous terrain, wilderness areas are the roaming ground of indigenous wildlife sheltered by landscapes, which are overwhelmingly beautiful. These have been part of the soul of humankind for a million years or more. In practical conservation terms, wilderness is the highest form of conservation category an area can achieve, and is defined by the World Conservation Union as a "large area of unmodified or slightly modified land and/or sea which retains its natural character and influence and which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural condition." In personal, social and cultural terms, wilderness was our home - the crucible in which humans evolved over millions of years - and is yet the repository of irreplaceable biological, economic and spiritual values.

Shamwari has recently set aside 16% of their land, over 3,000 hectares (7,500 acres) as a wilderness area and are offering a 4-day wilderness trail programme. Four-day wilderness trails are run where two nights are spent in the bush with the first and last nights in the base camp. Your trail will be limited to 8 participants.

What makes the trail remarkable beyond a journey into these rare places is the sensitive and careful guidance by experienced guides who know and love the bush. You are not required to have sleeping bags, backpacks, camping equipment or extensive hiking experience. An all-inclusive trail fee covers all camping equipment, food, and transport from the base facility where you will spend your first night. Physical fitness and strength are not the focus of the trail. In the relaxed intimacy of a trail limited to 8, the wilderness brings out the best in everybody - including mutual responsibility for collecting water, firewood and keeping night watch. Camping is kept simple in open bush.

Shamwari operates their wilderness trails with a concern for minimum impact. The only lasting impression left by a wilderness trail is the experience itself - and it is likely to be indelible. As the founder of the SA Wilderness movement, Dr Ian Player, has said many times, "(Wilderness) presents us with a blue print, as it were, of what creation was about in the beginning, when all the plants and trees and animals were magnetic, fresh from the hands of whatever created them."

Conservation at Shamwari
Conservation at Shamwari is about the management, development and rehabilitation of the environment to create a sustainable ecosystem through the implementation of fundamental conservation principals. The conservation department at Shamwari has a highly effective unit consisting of a wildlife manager, ecologist, education and an anti-poaching unit. To ensure the lasting sustainability of the reserve as an ecosystem rich in biodiversity, the ecology department strives to protect and where necessary to improve the environment. The wildlife department has received the Global Nature Fund Award for Best Conservation Practice and Dr Johan Joubert, Shamwari's Wildlife manager was voted one of South Africa's Top Ten Conservationists, awarded by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. The anti-poaching unit boasts highly trained personnel.

History of Shamwari
In 1990 Adrian Gardiner, a successful businessman from Port Elizabeth, decided to buy a small farm to use as a weekend getaway for his family. The piece of land he bought consisted of only 1,200 hectares, but boasted a number of antelope including bushbuck, kudu and duiker. By this time drought had ravaged the countryside and farmers were experiencing financial difficulties, which resulted in land coming onto the market at very reasonable prices. Soon his small piece of land had grown to 7,000 hectares.

Adrian started reading C J Skead’s authoritatively researched historical accounts of the Eastern Cape, as well as journals and historical diaries of the 1820 Settlers. He was amazed to see this part of the Eastern Cape being described as one of the richest wildlife zones in Africa. Early hunters and pioneers such as Sparrman and Cornwallis Harris first documented the legendary “Big Five” in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Well-documented reports dating back to the 18th century indicate a time when vast herds of Cape buffalo and zebra, black wildebeest, black rhino, leopard and prides of Cape lion freely roamed the hills and valleys.

However, by 1853 the Settlers had wiped out most of the game and cleared vast areas of forest and thicket to create pastures for cattle, goats and sheep. By the turn of the century the land had been degraded and the soil depleted of its nutrition, through overgrazing and overstocking.

By 1991 all that remained of the once green and verdant paradise was a dry, eroded dust bowl. The land Adrian had bought consisted largely of overgrazed farms with, along the folds of the valleys and the hills, small pockets of indigenous forest and shrub as the only reminder of what had once been home to thousands of animals.

What started out as a family retreat now became Adrian’s passion; to return to the land the flora which had since been exterminated, to return to the plains the abundant herds of game, and to ensure that the roar of the lion would again be heard in the heat of the early evening. Adrian Gardiner’s very own African dream of conserving a vanishing way of life, was born. Soon the dream started taking on a life of its own and expanded beyond the conservation of nature to include the preservation of history and tradition.

Adrian realised that the dream had grown to such proportions that he had no choice but to consider the commercial viability of keeping it alive. The dream would have to show a return on investment and a way had to be found to make the venture a financial success. It was Adrian’s heart-felt belief that conservation could be profitable. In 1992 Shamwari Game Reserve was founded. This constituted the first steps towards restoring the land to its former glory through the reintroduction of all the species that had once roamed there. Shamwari Game Reserve, by 2002 the jewel in the crown of Adrian Gardiner’s businesses, started with a staff of seven, great courage and nothing short of sheer determination in the face of the mammoth task which lay ahead.

After research had been done into the history of the wildlife in the region, a scientific study was conducted and a programme developed to re-introduce animals. The convergence of five ecosystems in this area of South Africa, which is malaria free, ensured that an unequalled diversity of animals could be introduced.

The gradual recovery and rehabilitation of the soil was the first step in the process. Animals cannot flourish without sufficient food and shelter. Indigenous pioneering grasses were planted on ploughed fields and pastures while sheep and cattle were removed. The outlines that scarred the natural contours of the landscape were re-seeded with shrubs and trees. Today, this process is maintained through harvesting, redistribution and the scattering of seed-rich elephant dung.

The scientific re-introduction programme was aimed at systematically restocking the reserve with game such as the Cape buffalo, elephant and lion. Breeding herds once indigenous to the area had to be introduced while ensuring the correct utilisation of carrying-capacity formulas.

By now, Adrian Gardiner had realised the important impact tourism could have on the area. His increasing interest in conservation was further inspired by his friendship with renowned conservationists such as Dr Ian Player and John Aspinall. The combination of profit-motive rewards with nature conservation, job creation, regional rejuvenation and an increase in the inflow of foreign currency lies at the heart of this success story.

On 15 October 1992 Shamwari was officially opened, receiving its first guests at Long Lee Manor.

During this time Highfield and Carn Ingly, two 1860 Victorian Settler cottages which had been uninhabited for several years, were lovingly restored and opened as lodges.

The management of Shamwari recognised the important role local people play, and as a result an Arts and Cultural village was developed and an educational programme launched, in partnership with the Born Free Foundation. Shamwari established itself in the international market and the team’s hard work started to show dividends.

Several other farms were acquired and more and more animals re-introduced until, by the turn of the century, Shamwari was ready to accommodate large predators. In the year 2000 cheetah and brown hyena were resettled on the reserve. But it was the return of the Ingonyama (lion) that brought the dream to its fulfilment with the return of the eco-system to the state it had been in 150 years ago. The first lion on free range since 1870 was released at Shamwari during October 2000.

Since 1991, 14 separate farms have been integrated, fences have been removed and roads closed. Over-grazed land has been rehabilitated, the plains re-seeded with indigenous grasses and more than 5,000 head of game have been bred and re-introduced.

Today Shamwari employs 250 people, stretches across 20,000 hectares and has been returned to its rightful owners, the fauna and flora.

(From the book “Shamwari – History in the Making” by Susan Goosen & available through Shamwari Game Reserve)

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