User Reviews – Shamwari GR
35-50 years of age
Email Roger Cossey | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
See South Africa's Big Five and have the experience of a lifetime.
Our trip to the Shamwari Game Reserve in June 2007 came as part of a 'once in a lifetime' trip to South Africa. We flew from London to Capetown, spent a few days there and then flew to Port Elizabeth where we picked up our hire car. The drive to Shamwari was far easier than we expected and as we got closer so our excitement increased.
We arrived at our hotel, Riverdene, in the afternoon and settled into our room . A short while later our hosts announced that we were going to go on our first safari and we were introduced to our guide and driver. Along with several other guests we climbed into one of the reserve's Land Rovers and set off into the bush. As most of the tracks we used consist of unmade roads it was quite a bumpy ride but the excitement of seeing elephants and giraffes in the wild soon made up for that. Although much of the tour was on level ground we did go in and out of a lot of gullies so we were able to see how good the Land Rovers was at going down VERY steep slopes and back up the sheer bank the other side.
After a couple of hours we returned to the hotel where we had a shower and joined the other guests for dinner. The food there was excellent with a selection of local wildlife - e.g. Impala - not quite we are used to in UK restaurants. The hotel had lots of facilities that we did not use but there was loads to do when not on Safari.
The following day we were woken at 6am so that we could go on an early morning trek. The nights on the plains get very cold so we were advised to wear warm clothes, a hat and gloves and we were also given blankets and hot water bottles. Not quite what you expect in South Africa but very necessary. The morning treks were, in my opinion, the most exciting as that is when we saw most animals. Over the course of the days we were there we saw lions, elephants, leopards, warthogs, numerous kind of deer, giraffes, hippos (from a long distance - they are reputedly Africa's most dangerous animal) as well as black and white Rhinos.
The resort also has a Born Free Foundation sanctuary where we were able to view rescued lions close-up. This area does some amazing work helping local wildlife and is well worth visiting.
Although this trip was meant to be a one-off trip I am confident that the lure of seeing wild animals in their own environment will bring us back to Africa. Well worth the visit!
Although the Safari was the highlight of the trip we also enjoyed our drive back from Shamwari to Capetown - about two days drive! During that journey we went through Hermanus where we were lucky to go on a whale watching boat trip - if you like wildlife you MUST take that trip!
50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Magnificent, as an hobby photographer, I couldn't capture it all
From our very first moment entering the Reserve accomodation I was impressed by the reception, personnel and food and as an extra we were also greeted by a young Bull Elephant who broke in inside the compound for a little threat. We didn't see the big 5 as everyone like to bragged about but we saw plenty of animals (lions, rhino, hippo, zebra, giraffe all sort of gazelles and antelopes, elan etc... and a mother chetah hunting down a young wildebeast with her 2 youngs. Fabulous photos. I didn't rate the birding high because birding wasn't my main focus, but I got a few shots of birds and I am sure that it could have been excellent.
Email maudcorinna | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Experience of a lifetime !
We had no idea what we would expect ! Shamwaris concept is brilliant, because it has something for every taste: Down to earth and very authentic up to modern and luxurious. What we liked most was the small guesthouses where Host and hostess were like family members and everyone sat together for joint meals, listening to the bush adventures our host contributed. The meals where very good and authentic, cooked by local staff under the guidance of our hostess - very very tasty. The rooms where very spacious with excellent equipment and bathrooms of international high standard.
The scenery is breathtaking and our guide - which was our host - was an absolute expert and showed us exceptional things, explained in detail, answered all questions and fulfilled all wishes of what animals to be watched. We spent three days and nights and would have loved to stay on, but were exhausted from all the impressions we gathered. Three days is a perfect duration for a stay, anything else is too short. We have made very many international trips of all kinds - but this was and still is the best ever - and one we will certainly repeat !
An idylic setting for a Malaria-free but authentic Safari Experience
From the moment we were collected from Port Elizabeth Airport, we knew we had made the right decision. Having originally considered staying somewhere where we would fly in a small plane directly into the Game Reserve, we were recommended to Shamwari by so many people that this is where we decided upon.
The accommodation was wonderful, having been designed as large wooden huts covered with tarpauline type rooves which may sound basic but in fact were done in a way to provide luxurious 5 star accommodation whilst at the same time still feeling that you are sleeping in the bush. The bathroom was lovely with huge windows looking onto the bush and the wet-room type shower was a joy to use. Each suite has it's own plunge pool & sunbathing deck and the warthogs do like to join you in the morning & later at night.
The game drives were well organised and our guide JR was extremely knowledgeable & experienced. We we were lucky enough to be in on the capture of a zebra by a pack of lions, from initial set-up through stalking to capture and finally the kill. Not pleasant in itself but to have experienced what would normally only be seen on a wildlife program was a privilege.
Catering was not as good as we had expected but I think as we were unlucky with the rain, so the kitchen was also unlucky in that it couldn't serve meals outside in an informal BBQ environment & more formal indoor service was their forte.
WE would highly recommend Shamwari as a Safari destination
Shamwari has changed a lot, very much for the better, since I was last there in 1998.
Long Lee Manor in Shamwari is a luxurious lodge with excellent facilities and very friendly staff. Shamwari Reserve itself is around 25k hectares now and perhaps double the size since we were there last, in 1998. Wild cats are now free in the reserve; they weren't in 1998. The quantity of game to be seen, very often with only our vehicle present, was superb, both large and small (the jackal pups? cubs? we saw beside their den were entrancing); elephants were to be seen frequently, and close up without being hassled and unconcerned by our presence. We were also lucky enought to see a pair of cheetah brothers make a kill, again very close, and on another occasion an unbothered leopard came out of a thicket and went round our vehicle before going back into another thicket. Our ranger was very alert to what we wanted to see, and while radio communication with other rangers back and forth could sometimes be intrusive, I guess it was necessary to locate where particular groups of animals were to be found. I suppose the big surprise was the number of rhino to be seen, including a few black rhino, though rhino are not my favourite species. We were there for four nights, but still didn't cover all the ground - which is very varied from open plains to bush to wooded valleys. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day is tiring but very much worth it(!) though on reflection and from my notes (I kept a daily diary) I think we saw more in the afternoon/early evening drives. Although there are another four or five lodges on the property, we did not often see other vehicles out on drives, and being a private reserve there were no local tourist vehicles as there are, say, in the Kruger. One final point - Shamwari has a tie up with the Born Free Foundation and their visitor centre in the reserve is well worth a visit.
Email lakelly94 | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
An unforgettable experience.
I went to Shamwari Game Reserve for two weeks on the Shamwari Conservation Experience. The guides were brilliant and had a vast array of in-depth knowledge about the reserve, it's plants and it's animals. The weather was variable but I did go in their winter time so it was to be expected. The highlights of my stay were the scenery which was absolutely beautiful, seeing three lionesses feeding on a hippo carcass and seeing two cheetah brothers resting in the shade of a tree. If you have the chance, I would definitely recommend going.
Email Gareth and Chris Davies | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Everything we hoped for and more.
We stayed at Bayethe lodge - quite a drive on rough-ish tracks from the main road (a positive!)
Our ranger was superb - great knowledge and personality, also properly respectful of the animals. Organisation of game drive programme was very good and we were able to get close up experience of elephant, zebra, giraffe, black and white rhino, hippo, lions and cheetahs.
Accommodation and food was very good with plenty of opportunity to spend time with fellow guests at meal times.
Staff were friendly and helpful.
Weather was great - warm/hot during the day, chilly mornings and evenings.
Overall - fantastic experience.
Email kate | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Email Colin | 65+ years of age | Experience level: first safari
A place for someone who is looking for an excellent safari experience
Our children had been worried when the brochure described the accommodation as "tented". They needn't have been worried, not many tents include a very comfortable double bed, a good side bathroom (though an outside shower was a surprise) and its own plunge pool. The "tent" was extremely private being set in its own wooded area, the only visitors being the nyala and wart hogs which unconcernedly wandered past.
The ranger we had for the game drives was top-notch. He and his fellow rangers obviously kept track of all the animals on the reserve and we saw a good selection on each drive. However he was also very knowledgeable about the environment as well, stopping to show us interesting plants, birds and smaller animals as well as the "big five".
The only downside was the restaurant in the evening, service wasn't all it could have been and the food presented wasn't what I would have expected from somewhere with Shamwari's reputation.
If you want an excellent safari experience then Shamwari is definitely the place to go, but go on the understanding that the restaurant service might not be of the best.