2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year with plenty of plot twists nobody had seen coming. The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone around the world in some capacity – some more so than others. Shamwari’s Head Ranger, Andrew Kearney, took it upon himself to bring the bush to the homes of thousands during lockdown with his virtual game drive initiative. Read on to discover how the virtual tourism initiative has helped rural communities in the Eastern Cape, learn about our real-life game drives, as well as bush walks and more.

Virtual Game Drives at Shamwari Private Game Reserve

It is a fact that plenty of people have had to deal with a lot of disappointment in 2020. A lot of this disappointment stems from having to cancel long-awaited plans such as for a highly-anticipated wedding, honeymoon or vacation.

The months South Africans and people in other countries had to spend in isolation, locked away from the outside world in their homes before lockdown restrictions were eased, were tough on the majority of people. We all know that these regulations were put in place for good reason but that didn’t necessarily make it any easier.

Shamwari was one of so many in South Africa’s tourism and hospitality industry that had to cease regular operations for quite a few months until the COVID-19 threat wasn’t as severe for locals and foreigners anymore. But activities on a game reserve never cease completely as there’s plenty of work to be done and the animals still go about their business as usual.

A lioness roaming the reserve

How the Shamwari Virtual Safari Initiative Came to Be

Head Ranger at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Andrew Kearney, had been fortunate enough to get to work at what he loves, even in the midst of the South African COVID-19 lockdown. As luck would have it, it is a lot easier to maintain your social distance when you happen to work on a game reserve, thanks to the wide, open outdoor spaces of the South African wilderness.

Andrew, of his own initiative, decided to bring some joy to nature-lovers stuck at home and desperately wanting to go on that dream safari holiday they had to cancel. He continued to get up bright and early to offer guided bush walks and game drives but instead of sharing his Land Cruiser with guests in the flesh, he started sharing it with his cellphone camera. Andrew began to share the footage he captured of his daily expeditions online, delighting thousands in South Africa and the world who were stuck at home.

How to Experience a Shamwari Virtual Game Drive and What to Look Forward to

Head Ranger Andrew Kearney’s Shamwari Lockdown Series can be found on the Shamwari Private Game Reserve YouTube channel and consists of 28 webisodes in total. The videos may be no longer than 10 minutes each but contain a wealth of information and insight, as well as spectacular scenes of the natural world in action. Andrew’s videos capture the essence of the Eastern Cape wilderness beautifully and manage to sate hungry travellers’ wanderlust while they wait to go on live game drives once more.

In the Shamwari Lockdown Series you are exposed to:

  • The basics of tracking down animals
  • Tracking a pride of lions to their kill
  • Valuable insights on giraffes
  • Carefully approaching two white rhinos from downwind
  • Getting up close and personal with a herd of elephants
  • Outrunning a leopard tortoise

You can look forward to these scenes and much more while watching from the comfort of your home. Shamwari TV has also recently been launched and offers even more footage of wildlife experiences in and around the reserve. You can enjoy these videos from home too, while travelling is still considered difficult or risky. Be sure to share these videos with your like-minded loved ones to spread the joy.

Making a Difference in the Lives of Rural Eastern Cape Communities

Even in tough times, there is always an opportunity to help do good and give back to those less fortunate. Shamwari’s virtual game drives have touched and entertained viewers worldwide, bringing some joy in the most uncertain of times.

By using virtual technology, Shamwari aims to showcase its wildlife and raise funds to help ease the hardship of some of the nearby rural Eastern Cape communities. The COVID-19 lockdown’s effects continue to linger even after being eased and have had a huge impact on both tourism and travel, which form the backbone of the local area’s economy.

If you go on and enjoy a virtual game drive with Shamwari, please do consider making a donation that will go towards food parcels for families in need, living in the neighbouring Eastern Cape towns of Paterson and Alicedale.

Guests on a game drive admiring a common eland

Help Shamwari Help Others

All donations are greatly appreciated and put to good use, no matter how big or small. If you would like to contribute after enjoying one of our online safari experiences, please use the banking details provided:

  • Account name: Shamwari Hospitality (Pty) Ltd.
  • Account type: Business Current Account
  • Account number: 080155286
  • Branch code: 050017
  • SWIFT address: SBZA ZA JJ

Book a Real Game Drive After Going on a Virtual One

After going on a virtual Shamwari safari, you are likely eager to attend a genuine experience. You will be pleased to hear that we are open and ready to receive guests at two of our luxurious lodgings again. Whether you opt to stay at the historic and lavish Long Lee Manor or wish to bask in exclusive luxury at Sarili Private Lodge, you are sure to enjoy a memorable stay.

While staying at the lodging of your choice, guests have the opportunity to go on safari twice a day. A morning and afternoon drive is available daily, during which guests have the chance to get up close to the Eastern Cape wilderness and experience nature unlike ever before.

The morning and afternoon drive is scheduled during times when the wildlife is most active. The Shamwari safari vehicles are comfortable as well as open, providing you with uninhibited views of the surrounding area. Share a drive with our rangers/guides and you can look forward to being equal parts entertained and impressed. They will share their insights in their respective fields of expertise, leading to a newfound appreciation of our natural world.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can also attend a professionally guided bush walk for a unique perspective of the surrounding land.

Whether you prefer a bush walk or a morning or afternoon drive with one of our skilled rangers/guides, we recommend you bring along the following to make the most of your safari experience:

  • A pair of binoculars
  • Your camera
  • Warm clothing
  • Sunscreen and a hat

A rhino is spotted on a game drive

Visit South Africa for the Safari Experience of a Lifetime

An online game drive is a fantastic way for you to sate your wanderlust right in the comfort of your living room while waiting to attend a real-life safari.

Please take note that we at Shamwari take our guests’ health and safety very seriously. We are fully compliant with all rules and regulations surrounding COVID-19. Whether you’re going on a live safari or bush walk, dining, enjoying a spa experience or relaxing poolside, you can rest assured that your happiness and wellbeing is our top priority.

Get in touch to find out more or to make your reservation. We can’t wait for you to join us on a scenic morning or afternoon drive.