New owners and a $25m investment into Shamwari Game Reserve have put this iconic Eastern Cape reserve back on top of the five-star safari bucket list

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape was the byword for luxury SA safaris. The brainchild of local entrepreneur and conservationist Adrian Gardiner, Shamwari welcomed its first guests in October 1992. Back then it offered just a single lodge with game drives traversing 3,500ha of restored farmland.

Over the next decade the reserve’s footprint —and global reputation —grew, as the brand became synonymous with big five safari, drawing royalty and celebrities alongside well-heeled global travellers. More farmland was bought up and restored, stretching the reserve to its current 25,000ha, and historic homesteads were converted to the needs of the luxury hospitality business.