Shamwari Game Reserve was the first game reserve to be established in this area, and is the best known, having won numerous awards, especially for conservation.
The 20,000-hectare private reserve stretches along the Bushman’s River, a spectacular landscape of dry hills and river-etched gorges halfway between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. Shamwari has five eco-systems and so supports a wide variety of plant, bird and anilmal life. Highly trained rangers will conduct game drives in open landrovers and take you close to rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion, giraffe and more than 18 antelope species.
The reserve also provides a home for the Born Free Centre, a sanctuary for big cats which have been rescued from captivity or life-threatening situations.
You have a choice of six lodges on the reserve, all of which are of 5-star standard and have swimming pools. Long Lee Manor, is an Edwardian manor house, built in 1910, which has been restored to offers a colonial-style environment. Most of the guest rooms are in a garden wing, though there are some inside the manor house. This lodge accommodates 38 guests, and this is the only lodge which accepts children under 12. There is a special children’s programme and only those aged 7 and over can go on the adult game drives.
Riverdene Lodge is a smaller lodge, sleeping a total of 18 guests, further inside the reserve and is also furnished to reflect a colonial style. Rooms have private balconies which lead onto landscaped gardens.
Bayethe is a small lodge in the south-east corner of the reserve which offers nine luxurious air-conditioned tented rooms. The tents are situated under trees along a river bed. Each tented room has its own viewing deck with plunge pool. Although the location means one has to drive further to get in and out on game drives, it has a more in-the-bush feeling than the other lodges.
Tucked away in a quiet valley on the reserve, Villa Lobengula and Eagles Cragg offer an even more upmarket, luxurious and exclusive experience, while retaining an African feel through thatched roofs and elegant, ethnic décor. Villa Lobengula has just six luxury rooms for sole use, excellent for families or friends travelling together. Eagles Cragg is adult only with nine superior rooms. Both have a spa facilities.
Finally, Bushmans River Lodge is a restored Victoria homestead with four bedrooms which can be booked for exclusive use by a family or group of friends.
Shamwari is a 60 minute drive from the nearest airport at Port Elizabeth.