OUR STORY 2018-05-31T23:20:03+00:00


Shamwari Game Reserve is a conservation orientated 5-star safari holiday destination. Situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and home to vast herds of wildlife, birdlife and incredible ecological diversity, with 5 of South Africa’s 7 biomes found here.  It wasn’t always an award-winning 25, 000 hectares of protected land or a pioneer in environmental education.  Here’s how we got to where we are today.


In the Beginning

In 1990, a small 1,200-hectare farm became available and was duly purchased. Shortly after, drought and financial difficulties led to a number of neighbouring farmers placing their land on the open market and further land was acquired to a total of 7,000 hectares. Over the course of the next 15 years, Shamwari Game Reserve expanded to 25 000 hectares.

Through research, it was discovered that the Eastern Cape used to be one of the richest wildlife areas in Africa in terms of biodiversity. In fact, the legendary big 5 were first encountered in the Eastern Cape. Wildlife historians refer to the Cape Buffalo, Cape Leopard, Cape Lion and Cape Hunting Dog (Wildog) in their historical documents. The endangered Black Rhino flourished in the Eastern Cape. However, due to hunting, over farming and drought most of these species were eliminated during the 19th century.



The new owners decided to return the land to its once pristine condition. This vision included the preservation of the history, fauna and flora of the Eastern Cape.  In the process,  a close and enduring relationship with renowned conservationist, Dr Ian Player, founder of The Wilderness Foundation, began.

A committed team shared the same passion, ethos and vision, and from this the viability of sustaining and growing this dream developed into the award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve of today.  It was decided that a commercial aspect was to be added, and in 1992 Shamwari Game Reserve was born with a small, passionate staff of 7, with an immense commitment, intellectual capital and determination to make conservation in tourism profitable.

A systematic and scientific rehabilitation programme was launched, hand-in-hand with carefully considered game restocking procedures.


Conservation Network

On 15th October 1992, Shamwari was officially opened. We received our first guests at Long Lee Manor, which was the original Manor House, once owned by the Fowlds family circa 1916. Highfield and Carn Ingly, two 1820 Settler cottages were also lovingly restored and opened to guests.

Seven years later, to reinforce the concept of preservation and conservation, the animal rescue and educational programme was launched in partnership with the Born Free Foundation. The Julie Ward Centre was opened in September 1999, with 5 bush enclosures, where African cats are cared for in the sanctuary.
Over time Shamwari grew and established itself, and by the year 2000, the reserve was large enough and stocked sufficiently to support large predators. A dedicated and systematic reintroduction program was launched and finally, in October 2000, the first lions were brought back to the Eastern Cape and released at Shamwari to fulfill a dream.


Modern Shamwari

Today, our 25,000 hectares of land comprises 6 separate 5-star lodges, an Explorer Camp, 3 different education and rehabilitation facilities and employs over 325 local staff. It has been restored to its rightful state with the stunning Eastern Cape flora and fauna of yesteryear, flourishing with free-roaming wildlife.

Witness the majestic beauty of Shamwari Game Reserve yourself by booking your stay in one of our luxury lodges.


Shamwari Game Reserve is situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, an area that was historically rich in wildlife. Many species were eradicated by means of hunting or indiscriminate farming practices. During the past twenty five years, 25, 000 ha of pristine and agricultural land was consolidated and rehabilitated. Remaining wild animal species were allowed to increase in numbers and species extinct to the region were reintroduced.



Shamwari is rich in various vegetation types that are suitable for an interesting variety of animal species. Large numbers of ungulates sustain a healthy population of lion, cheetah and the illusive leopard. Grasslands are home to white rhino and the subtropical thicket provides browsing for elephant and black rhino. Hippo are found in the riverine habitat. The reintroduced red billed ox-pecker is a common site on buffalo, rhino and giraffe.

Additionally, the flightless dung beetle, which is unique to the Eastern Cape, is another conservation success story.


Shamwari Wildlife Department

Experienced veterinary staff, qualified ecologists and some of the most advanced anti-poaching units in the country, are responsible for the management of the Shamwari ecosystem.

Intensive vegetation monitoring is complemented with sophisticated monitoring of intriguing animal species such as leopard, black rhino and brown hyena. A healthy herd of Cape Mountain Zebra is a good example of the conservation efforts implemented, to increase numbers of threatened species.

The Shamwari Wildlife Department is well-equipped with animal translocation and husbandry facilities. This ensures successful and humane transfers of excess animals to other reserves, to preserve their genetic biodiversity.

The ethos of our wildlife management is, responsible conservation to ensure sustainability – financially, ecologically as well as socially.


Shamwari Game Reserve is one of the most successful private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa coupled with responsible tourism, and the most luxurious means of experiencing your African safari adventure. For the best game reserve in South Africa & the ultimate luxury safari, look no further than the award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve!



Tripadvisor 2017
2017, 2016, 2015, 2014,
2013, 2012, 2011






Trip Advisor









World Travel Awards
1997 to 2015


The climate at Shamwari Game Reserve boasts a blend of Mediterranean and sub-tropical weather. We’re situated in the Southern Hemisphere, with our dry seasons running from September until March. The moderate to colder seasons follow until August, however our winter period has pleasant 22°C mid-day temperatures.


Winter Adventures

If you’re travelling to Shamwari in the off-season winter time, you can expect average temperatures to range from 7°C to 22°C. We have taken the utmost care in preparing our facilities for the colder seasons, but we do recommend guests pack for the season by including:

  • Extra thick socks
  • Warm jackets
  • Long sleepwear

Temperatures can increase quite considerably during the day, giving you ample opportunity to enjoy game drives and other activities. We recommend packing t-shirts, shorts, hiking shoes, hats and sunscreen.


Summer Lovers

When travelling to Shamwari during the summer season, you can expect to enjoy temperatures of between 16°C and 36°C.

The temperature does get high, but not extreme. We suggest visitors to Shamwari Game Reserve bring along with them:

  • Shorts and t-shirts
  • Sunscreen
  • Hats
  • Hiking boots

As an all year-round destination, the climate at Shamwari Game Reserve is as delightful as our vast plains, African skyline and the Big 5.

Choose your ideal time of year and book your stay today at this 5-star, luxury experience.