Weekend getaways are good for the soul. Times have been tough and stress levels have been at a peak for most of us during the COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa has been on lockdown for months and inter-provincial and intra-provincial leisure travel has finally been approved for locals. Now more than ever, people are looking to travel to get away from the city and escape the confines of their homes.
The Benefits of Weekend Getaways
A weekend getaway or just a holiday of a few days long can do wonders in improving your health and well-being, whether it be with your family, friends or even colleagues. It gives you a chance to rest and recharge and provides you with a positive outlook on life.
Are you aching for a weekend away? There are various health benefits associated with holidays and short weekend getaways that have been scientifically proven:
#1 Reduces Stress Levels
Going on weekend getaways or small holidays every once in a while have been known to reduce stress levels and blood pressure, as well as increase satisfaction and positive emotions. Simply removing yourself from a stressful environment makes a massive difference.
#2 Increases Productivity Levels
Spending time with loved ones in a new environment can increase productivity levels significantly. Research has shown that employees that take their holiday time tend to be more productive than those that work non-stop. Weekend getaways are good for your personal and professional life!
#3 Improves Your Mental and Physical Health
People who take short holidays or spend the weekend away have lower stress levels and are less likely to be at risk of heart disease. Weekend getaways can also boost your creativity levels by getting out and about and experiencing a different environment.
#4 They Can Be One of the Most Cost-Effective Getaways
You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a getaway weekend. It can be cost-effective and on-budget too. Try to look at places in the surrounding area to ensure you don’t spend too much money on flights or fuel. If, for example, you live in the Eastern Cape, a quick Google search of ‘weekend getaways Eastern Cape’ will reveal plenty of options in your surrounding area. Getting away will do wonders for your well-being.
Explore South Africa
South Africa is a vast and beautiful country. From its cities and towns to its reserves and anything in between, travellers have plenty of places to explore. As COVID precautions grow more relaxed, you will start seeing more specials in the country’s tourism industry (i.e. at various places that encourage and support local tourism).
In a country with several unique provinces, there’s plenty to do. Shamwari Private Game Reserve is situated in the heart of the Eastern Cape province. Shamwari is a conservation-oriented game reserve and is the perfect getaway for friends, families or couples looking for an escape.
Stay at a Shamwari Game Lodge
If you want to stay at a game lodge, then Shamwari is a dream come true as the reserve offers several exclusive game lodge options, spread out across the wilderness and covering 25 000 hectares. Each lodge has a unique offering that pays homage to its surrounds and the animals that roam its doorstep. Whether travelling with family, friends or business associates, you can bask in the wonders of the Eastern Cape and the exclusivity of Shamwari’s accommodation options. Experience style and luxury, inspired by nature.
Long Lee Manor
Long Lee Manor is a historically significant and beloved landmark in the heart of the African bush, offering unsurpassed luxury and comfort. It also offers one of the best views of the surrounding plains, which teem with wildlife, including Africa’s iconic Big Five.
An extensive refurbishment has lovingly restored its original Edwardian-era features and the eighteen new luxury suites focus on guests’ privacy and comfort while maximising the commanding views of the area.
The interiors pay homage to the manor’s origins and give guests a luxury “Out of Africa” experience. Interior spaces use rich leathers, luxurious linens and nostalgic florals. Guest suites’ walls are treated with traditional timber panelling and textured wallpaper, bathrooms have crisp white marble floors with generous showers and bathtubs.
Long Lee Manor’s lavish public areas are completely focused on the views. The interiors, like the guest rooms, are designed using traditional panelling, bronze, wallpapers, rattan and statement focal pieces like the gorgeous oval bar. The original stained-glass windows and fireplace of the historic manor house were all retained and meticulously restored.
Local guests booking a stay between 16 September and 20 December 2020 only pay from R4,150 per person sharing per night. Standard rates are from R8,300 per person/adult sharing per night.
Sarili Private Lodge
Overlooking the Bushman’s River, Sarili Private Game Lodge is ideal for a quiet family or friends getaway. Its five modern rooms can be booked exclusively, or the lodge can be shared by families enjoying a wilderness experience.
Facilities include a heated swimming pool with a shallow area for children and a large central lounge area. The modern interiors coupled with exclusive amenities, mean you’re never too far from superior comfort in the heart of the Eastern Cape.
When you book your exclusive stay at Sarili Private Game Lodge every aspect will be tailored to your group’s needs, from meals to game drives and guided walks.
For the exclusive use of this game lodge, local guests only pay R38,000 per night between 16 September and 20 December 2020. Standard rates for exclusive use are from R96,000 per night (1-10 guests).
Eagles Crag Game Lodge blends exclusive luxury with the solitude of a remote bush camp. It’s set in a tranquil, forest-covered valley floor at the base of the cliff from which it takes its name.
The lodge’s upper deck, with its intimate dining pods, provides panoramic views over the canopy. The ground floor offers an entertainment lounge, complete with billiard table, and a gym.
Its nine suites blend sophisticated African-inspired interiors with the natural surroundings, each opening out onto a private deck in the forest with its own heated plunge pool.
Rates are from R10,000 per person/adult sharing per night.
Sindile Tented Camp
Named after the matriarch of Shamwari’s leopards, the camp has just nine luxury tents. It’s set deep in the bush, on a ridge, providing spectacular vantages over the Bushman’s River and surrounding plains.
Sindile is isiXhosa, meaning ‘survivor’ – a testament to the celebrated leopardess that survived numerous lion maulings to raise five litters of cubs, which comprise Shamwari’s leopard population today.
The camp’s seclusion mimics a solitary leopard’s sanctuary. Each free-standing tent is elevated above the bush, allowing uninhibited views, unsullied by any man-made structures during the day or light pollution at night. Set on platforms, the harmonious, intimate design minimises the facility’s environmental footprint.
Each of the superior guest tents can accommodate two people and has a fireplace, heated plunge pool and generous lounge area. The dining room and bar are situated to make the most of the surrounding scenery, with focal points including a large harvest table and fire pit.
Rates are from R11,000 per person/adult sharing per night.
Riverdene Family Lodge
Every aspect of Riverdene Family Game Lodge is designed around memorable family enjoyment. The nine rooms are interconnecting, allowing for family time during the day and privacy for adults after the children are in bed.
There’s plenty to do when not out on game drives, including a supervised children’s adventure centre, with climbing towers, elevated walkways and ziplines. There’s also a toddlers’ play area, maze and mini soccer field. The Kids on Safari programme includes tracking, animal behaviour, stargazing, visits to the Born Free Foundation and pizza evenings.
For parents wanting a bit of quiet time, the poolside, bar area, lounge and restaurant, with unobstructed views of a nearby waterhole, provide peaceful areas to relax.
Rates are from R7,910 per person/adult sharing per night.
Modelled on a traditional African kraal, Lobengula Game Lodge looks out over the mountains and valleys that are home to zebra, giraffe and many other indigenous species, an abundance of birds and the Big Five.
The six generous rooms combine African décor and modern amenities, all of which have their own private plunge pools. There is also a large swimming pool and sundeck.
Inspired by the design of an African kraal, this deluxe lodge is perfect for honeymooners.
Rates are from R7,800 per person/adult sharing per night.
Bayethe Tented Lodge
Bayethe Tented Game Lodge combines the back-to-nature experience of being under canvas in the bush with the comfort of a suite. Each of the tented suites is carefully situated so guests can experience the seclusion and beauty of the African bushveld.
The lodge’s spacious central lounge leads to indoor and outdoor dining areas and a sundeck where guests can relax between game drives. Spa treatments are available at the bush retreat. This lodge boasts twelve superior tents that are surrounded by wilderness.
Rates are from R8,220 per person/adult sharing per night.
Do you want to stay close to nature during your getaway? Then this is the Shamwari accommodation for you. As the name suggests, Explorer Camp is a tented safari camp from which guests explore the reserve on foot. From here you will experience what it must have been like when the migrating Nguni tribes, pioneers and explorers first discovered the natural bounty of the region.
During these walks our experienced guides share their knowledge of the history and culture of the region, the diverse flora, abundant insect and birdlife and the many animals, large and small, you will encounter.
This is one of the most unique back-to-nature walking experiences and is ideal for the more adventurous guest. Three tents are placed in close proximity, without encroaching on the other tents’ privacy, while the camp is located on a plateau set among the only basalt and granite extrusions on Shamwari, making it a truly magical setting.
Rates are from R4,900 per person/adult sharing per night.
Shamwari Lodges Currently Open
Because of the pandemic, Shamwari Private Game Reserve, along with many other reserves, was closed for just short of six months. The reserve reopened on 16 September 2020 for domestic guests following the move to Level 2 lockdown by the South African government. Upon re-opening, two lodges were opened to accommodate guests: Long Lee Manor and Sarili Private Lodge.
CEO, Joe Cloete, says the decision to open two of its seven lodges was predicted on keeping overheads down until demand recovers and to allow for the implementation of strict health protocols.
“By opening incrementally we’re able to keep operating costs down, which in turn allows us to offer unprecedented rates to South African domestic leisure travellers. It is also in line with the health measures we put in place during the shutdown to ensure peace of mind for our guests while providing an uncompromised luxury wilderness experience.”
Travelling to South Africa
On September 21st it was announced that Level 1 lockdown would commence and with that, international travel would resume from 1 October 2020. The South African government has compiled a list of high and low-risk countries which will be allowed to travel to and from the country based on World Health Organisation guidelines over a seven-day period.
This list will be updated regularly and be reviewed every two weeks. Leisure travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted. The exception will be business travellers with scarce and critical skills, including diplomats, repatriated persons, investors and people participating in professional sporting and events. They will all undergo the same strict health protocol screenings.
We’ve Got Your COVID-19 Questions Covered
When it comes to new regulations relating to COVID-19, things can get quite complicated. We’ve got some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic covered.
- Entering the country – requirements: On arrival, travellers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result – no older than 72 hours from the time of departure. This will allow South Africa to regulate and limit the spread of the virus as a result of international travel.
- What happens if you display COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival? Where a traveller has not done a COVID-19 test before departure, they’ll be asked to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost. All travellers will be screened at the airport, upon arrival, which will include temperature checks. Under Level 1 laws, those presenting symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a new COVID-19 test is conducted.
- You will need to download the track and trace app: All travellers will be asked to install the COVID-19 Alert South Africa mobile app when they visit the country. The download is free and the app itself does not collect any personal information, according to the government’s guidelines.
Shamwari has specials for South African residents that are perfect for weekend getaways, away from the city, in the scenic Eastern Cape.
The reserve is offering a special lead-in price for Long Lee Manor of R4,150 per person sharing per night. This includes accommodation in a five-star suite, two game drives a day, guided bush walks, tours of the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, as well as visits to Riverdene’s Kids on Safari Adventure Centre. The only additional costs are the mandatory conservation levy, beverages, spa treatments and laundry.
Families or groups of friends can book the entire five-bedroomed Sarili Private Lodge for R38,000 per night. The offer includes an itinerary that is tailored to each group’s needs and a private staff including a personal chef, housekeeper and house manager. The minimum stay is two nights. The only additional costs are the mandatory conservation levy and beverages.
For the first time, Shamwari is also offering a full-day safari package starting from R1,500 per person and R750 for children aged between four and eleven. It includes a visit to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, lunch at Long Lee Manor, and a three-hour game drive.
The re-opening offers run from 16 September to 20 December 2020 and can be booked via [email protected] or by calling 042 203 111. Contact Shamwari for additional details on the specials.
Things to Do at Shamwari
There are a host of activities that guests can partake in during their stay on the reserve.
Safari Game Drives
Shamwari is home to the Big Five as well as a plethora of animal species that roam the plains, valleys and mountains. Professional field guides take guests on two game drives a day in search of thrilling safari experiences. They are passionate about wildlife and knowledgeable in their respective fields of expertise. The game drives last approximately three to four hours and take you through the reserve. Included on the game drive are a coffee stop on the morning drive and a sundowner stop on the afternoon drive.
Shamwari also offers professionally guided bush walks of the surrounding land. The field guides share their intimate knowledge of the reserve and their own expert insights to make each natural encounter a special event. This is a wonderful activity for you to gain a true perspective of the fauna and flora indigenous to the region. Your guide can also point out animal tracks, dung, birds and can educate you on the area and its rich history.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Shamwari’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is the cornerstone of the reserve’s successful conservation programme. It is here, at two bespoke facilities, that sick and injured wild animals are treated and cared for before being released back into the wild and 25 years of accumulated experience, knowledge and expertise is applied and shared. Other reserves regularly consult Shamwari’s wildlife experts and send animals for safekeeping from poaching and to be rehabilitated and released. A visit to Shamwari’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is an integral part of the experience, providing a rare insight into the complex business and day-to-day realities of environmental conservation on the reserve and beyond.
Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and Education Centre
Through a long-standing partnership with the Born Free Foundation, Shamwari provides a permanent home for rescued African big cats. These cats, which have been kept as household pets or rescued from circuses and zoos around the world, are not able to survive in the wild. At Shamwari, they are cared for in five bush enclosures. Two Born Free educational centres allow visitors, local schools and communities to understand the consequences of taking wild animals from their habitat and experience first-hand the work the Born Free Foundation does to care for these magnificent cats.
Kids on Safari
Shamwari is situated in the malaria-free Eastern Cape so it is the perfect family holiday destination for a weekend away. Children staying at the reserve have the chance to go wild at Riverdene’s Kids on Safari Adventure Centre. In addition, there are swimming pools and many more activities to keep active busybodies happy. While kids under the age of 4 are not permitted on game drives, there are a host of activities for them to enjoy. We offer a children’s coordinator at Riverdene, and at an additional fee, you can leave your children in safe hands with our childminding service.
Shamwari offers a photographic safari package where you can improve your photography skills. What better way to do that than with the Big Five? There will be ample opportunity to learn how to perfectly capture animals in nature. This photographic safari requires a minimum two-night stay at one of our luxury lodges. You will also gain amazing experience under the guidance of Shamwari’s guides, with both photography and wildlife experience.
Shamwari’s thoughtful hospitality, fine cuisine, selection of luxury accommodation and an exceptional wildlife experience will amplify any special occasion. With several distinct lodges offering a total of 54 luxury suites, it can host a variety of events, including intimate weddings, important anniversaries, family reunions and milestone birthdays. Safari stories swapped at a sliver-service bush dinner or traditional boma braai (barbeque) will add to the trove of unforgettable memories.
Take the Leap and Do It!
It’s important to spend quality time with your loved ones, so take the leap and get away for a weekend. You won’t regret it. We invite you to get in touch with us about any questions, comments or queries you have regarding the price per person per night at a specific lodge, our current specials, packages, activities and more.
*All prices are subject to change without prior notice; T&Cs apply.