For as long as I can remember I have been in love with the African bush. Going on safari has a very special place in my heart. The silence, the fresh air and of course seeing the animals is one of my favourite things in the world. I am the girl who is glued to the TV watching Nat Geo and David Attenborough specials and dreams of watching the wild migration. I have known about Shamwari Game Reserve and the phenomenal work that they do in conservation for several years now, So naturally when the opportunity came up to visit - I jumped at it.
Shamwari game reserve (meaning ‘My Friend” in Shona) is situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is an approximately one-hour drive from Port Elizabeth airport. Shamwari is home to the magnificent Big Five. Namely Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Lion, and Buffalo. It is a place where animals and people live in harmony and the animals roam freely.
Once you arrive in Shamwari, vehicles are left in a parking lot and for the remainder of your stay, transportation occurs in a luxury safari 4x4 vehicle complete with a highly qualified game ranger that will share knowledge and stories of the bush.
Shamwari has several luxury resorts, manor houses and tented camps with breath taking scenery. Whether you are traveling as a fun loving family or escaping on a quiet romantic honeymoon, there is an accommodation to suit your needs. Shamwari also hosts corporate team building events and conferences and can cater to your requirements.
I stayed at Eagles Crag during my stay. A gorgeous luxury hotel fashioned out of stone and glass. The stone seemed to mimic the open rock faces that surrounded the camp.
The rooms are detached suites that sleep a maximum of two adults per suite. The rooms have private plunge pools surrounded with lush bush offering ultimate privacy. The rooms are fitted with air-conditioner, mini bar facilities, bird spotting scopes and a glass shower that looks out onto nature! The rooms have king sized beds that you can get lost in.
The food at Shamwari has a local South African flair. You can experience a traditional braai night (South African BBQ) and go on a taste journey with foods such as Potjie and Pap. Breakfast is served before the morning game drive and dinner is served with the fire place crackling after the evening drive.
There is two scheduled game drives a day to explore the reserve and find the animals. As it’s the wild and animals are on their own time and schedule - it can be quite the challenge looking for the game but with knowledgeable Rangers at hand, you are bound to have some exciting finds.
Be sure to visit the Born Free Foundation while you are at Shamwari. It's a foundation that works with big cats giving them a forever home that is worlds better than the cruel conditions that they came from in captivity. A truly emotional experience. If you would like to support this wonderful cause and read more, click here.
Shamwari offers world class pampering in their on site Spa and a massage or facial is a must.
You can also undertake guided walks, which offer a unique experience of seeing species on foot.
If like me, you are always keen to learn more about the environment and the animals then make a visit to the rehabilitation center - I highly recommend it.
It is imperative that we learn about wild life in order to protect and conserve it. Shamwari conservationists (and so many others) are fighting what can sometimes seem like a losing war against poaching.
It is emotional to see the exhibits but education is key to future conversation efforts and centers such as this help create awareness.
If you wish to read more and would like to make a donation click here.
I will say this now, in its own paragraph, in its own moment. Rhino horn is made from the same keratin that makes our up our nails and hair. It has NO medicinal properties what so ever and there is NO scientific evidence to support this claim. It is a cultural belief and a myth. This myth is killing our Rhino and at this stage, if you are reading this, your children will not see a live Rhino in the wild. That is a fact. Let it sink in.
I commend Shamwari on the war that they are fighting. You can see more here on what is happening to these majestic animals. To read more and donate, click here.
Shamwari has created a five-star experience centered around conservation and the beauty of the wild. It was a magnificent trip that I long for daily. If you can go, go.
It is worth every second. Being beside the most sentient and awe inspiring animals in the African bush is priceless.