What is a Safari Lodge All About?
The Safari Lodge experience is a luxurious one because everything is taken care of for you. For instances, you are on a safari trip, relaxing at poolside and indulging in delicious food and wine without lifting a finger. Experiencing a safari lodge holiday is one of the best things you will ever do.
At Shamwari Private Game Reserve, located in the malaria-free Eastern Cape of South Africa, guests are treated like royalty. With a number of unique offerings guests are spoilt for choice. A recent guest shares her Safari Lodge experience with us. Rede here!
Arriving at our Safari Lodge, Shamwari
The trip from Port Elizabeth is effortless. A mere hour’s drive until we arrived at the prestigious Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Recognized for its efforts in conservation and conserving a vanishing way of life, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the best game reserves in South Africa.
As I arrive at the welcome lounge I am greeted with warm smiles and friendly hospitality. I’m then guided to a game viewing vehicle. We hop on and within a few minutes are making our way through the 25 000ha reserve. We are staying at Sindile, Shamwari’s newest luxury tented camp. We pass the breathtakingly beautiful Long Lee Manor and the family-friendly Riverdene.
I’m amazed at the beauty of Shamwari. The astonishing number of animals we see on the drive to Sindile excites me. I want to know everything! The ranger smiles, explains each animal and assures me that I’ll see plenty more.
We drive for about ten more minutes before Sindile comes into sight. Shamwari’s newly built luxury tented camp. The setting is magnificent and I’m taking pictures. Lots of them
I take the first step into Sindile Safari Lodge. I feel blown away…I’m drawn to the magical view before my eyes. Green plains, abundant with wildlife. The interiors are simplistic yet chic, creating a real safari feel.
Sindile is Shamwari’s new luxury tented camp. The camp is a secluded, luxury getaway, set deep in the African veld. The camp mimics a solitary leopard’s sanctuary, blending with the surrounding bush.
The nine luxury free-standing tents are elevated above the surrounding bush. Leaving guests with spontaneous views, as a result. Above all, the harmonious, intimate design minimises the environmental footprint.
Safari’s at Shamwari Safari Lodge
I am checking in and a lovely lady shows me to my luxury tent. Each tent has a private deck with a heated plunge pool and lounging area under a pergola. The luxury of the tent makes it hard not to spend all day inside it. Hear me out: A large king-size bed and a lounge area for ultimate relaxation. Each en-suite bathroom has a large bathtub, indoor shower as well as an outdoor shower with a stunningly beautiful view.
I’m settled in and eating a tasty lunch on the deck and I am lost in this breathtaking view. If you visit Shamwari for three or four nights, you get treated to a picnic on the reserve, I am definitely impressed by this.
Sadly lunch is over, but meeting Ranger Janco makes up for it. He is my Ranger during my stay here at the safari lodge. At Shamwari, they allocate a ranger to you who will take you on game drives and activities throughout your stay. The rangers are exceptionally knowledgeable. They provide endless facts and insightful information on the fauna and flora in the area. So, it is afternoon safari time and I’m with Janco and a family of four. They are lovely.
Going on a safari/game drive
Out on a safari, the first sight we come across is a troop of monkeys. They are playing high up in the acacia trees and some are busy grooming each other. Tiny babies jumping around in the trees, chasing each other. We spend a fair amount of time watching them get up to their antics. Ranger Janco continues to navigate us through the reserve.
We come across a pride of lions, fast asleep. Approaching them, a few lift their heads to get a look at us. Eight lion cubs with full bellies and two adult females. An absolutely thrilling sight! Some time passed and two of the cubs are a little restless. It is clear that they want to play.
The beauty of Shamwari is that they only allow two vehicles per sighting, ensuring that the animals are put first. The animals are completely relaxed around the game viewing vehicles, making you feel completely at ease amongst these iconic African animals. We also saw general game, ranging from kudu to zebra.
As we round a corner, a massive herd of about 30 elephants standing right in front of my eyes. So many youngsters. I can barely contain my excitement! Ranger Janco placed the vehicle and switched it off, giving us a moment to take in the sighting. We spotted two new-borns who were only weeks old. They were chasing each other and playing around. Ranger Janco shared that the elephant calves will always remain protected by the herd. To clarify, they all work together to keep the little ones safe.
After a while, the herd start to approach the vehicle. They are completely relaxed, enjoying the lush green vegetation after the recent rains. What an incredibly memorable sighting as these elephants goes about their business and allowing us to marvel at their beauty.
It surely is a fulfilling afternoon. The ranger drives to a location and we stop for sundowners. I enjoy a gin and tonic whilst watching the sunset in this beautiful reserve. Animals roaming in the distance and chatting in awe about the amazing encounters we are experiencing.
Ranger Janco was making his way to an area with thick vegetation and suddenly we came to a stop. There was a safari vehicle just in front of us, with the promise of there being an animal in the bush, close by. Janco explained that a leopard had been seen in the thick vegetation. Therefore, we should keep a lookout as he could sit up at any moment, giving us the opportunity to see where he is.
We waited patiently and another game viewer joined us in search of the elusive leopard. With no luck, Ranger Janco explained that he was going to drive higher up. So, we can gain some height, to better see if we could spot the leopard. Looking for quite some time, one of the guests spotted him. He was lying down and stood up which allowed us to spot. Although still amazingly camouflaged, he was stunning! He moved and stretched, allowing us to capture some images of his sheer size and beauty. We couldn’t praise Ranger Janco enough for showing us this sought-after big cat in the wild.
We head back towards the lodge now and I can’t fathom what we witnessed in one-afternoon, we had seen three of the big five in just one game drive!
Activities at Shamwari Safari Lodge
During your stay at Shamwari, you can decide to go on a bushwalk as part of your wilderness experience. This is for the more adventurous guests because it requires a basic level of fitness. However, it is a brilliant way to experience the smaller yet significant aspects of nature. Ranger Janco was joined by Ranger Gerhard who took us on a wonderful bushwalk. We saw white rhino as well as baboons, dung beetles, zebra and tracks left by animals in the ground. Bush walks are a must if you want to get up close and personal with nature.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre & Born Free Sanctuaries and Education Centres
During your stay at a safari lodge, you’ll have some extra time to relax or partake in a few activities. At Shamwari, they have a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre as well as two Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries and Education Centres.
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a registered facility. Animals in need come from all over the Eastern Cape and South Africa come here. Their primary goal is to ultimately return all the animals that are in their care back to the wild. The centre helps to rehabilitate and care for sick, injured, abandoned or orphaned animals. All care is provided by their professional veterinary team.
The two Born Free Foundation centres create awareness of the horrific way in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world. The centres aim to draw attention to the plight of wild big cats, confined in disadvantaged, captive environments throughout the world. Over the years the Born Free Foundation has been able to rescue several big cats from impoverished situations. Born Free focuses on promoting the conservation of species and the protection of habitat. Thus, maintaining a caring and compassionate approach to the welfare of animals.
Whilst at Shamwari, enjoy a safari spa experience in the unspoilt surrounds of the African bush. The reserve has several relaxation retreats situated at various lodges. They offer a host of spa treatments available. For instances, massages, facials as well as hand and foot rituals.
Family Kids on Safari
Shamwari has three family-friendly safari lodges. They cater to families wanting to share the magic of safari experiences. They also have wonderful kids on safari programmes to keep your children entertained whilst learning about the wonders of nature.
Fine Food and Wine at Shamwari Safari Lodge
One thing is for certain at Shamwari. You will not go hungry. The Safari lodge prepares an assortment of food offerings throughout your stay that is simply delicious. In the early mornings, coffee, tea and snacks are offered before you head out on safari.
On safari, more coffee, tea and snacks are brought out on a coffee stop. When you return to the lodge, a buffet is awaiting you with a fine selection of pastries, bread, hams and cheeses, salmon treats. For those who missed breakfast, yoghurt, muesli and a delectable selection of fruits are also provided.
You could choose to just have breakfast from this buffet. However, guests are encouraged to order breakfast too. Various options from a full African breakfast to healthy jars and flapjacks. There’s certainly something for everyone.
A few hours later, lunch is served and high tea soon thereafter. You will depart on your afternoon game drive with a satisfied tummy. Whist on a game drive you stop for sundowners and snacks. When you return from your game drive dinner is served. During your stay at Shamwari, you will experience ala carte or a barbeque offering and sometimes both, depending on the length of your stay. The food and wine at Shamwari are delightful.
Upon my departure, I felt rather fulfilled. Spending a few days in South Africa at a safari lodge, it reminded me of how refreshing it is to be in nature. I truly experienced the magic of the African bushveld. Staying at a safari lodge is one of the most rewarding holiday choices you could possibly make. I am delighted to have chosen Shamwari as my safari destination.