Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape

Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape
Visiting Shamwari in the Eastern Cape

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.

-Melissa 

Five Reasons to Visit Schoone Oordt

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So I have this App. It’s a simple app with the sole purpose of playing soothing sounds to aid in rest and relaxation. For example, a crackling fireplace, a babbling brook or frogs chirping. It’s actually not as random as it appears. 

I use it when I just can’t seem to quieten my mind or let go of the day. 

Seemingly endless moments spent lying in bed, simply exhausted, while my mind runs amok with thoughts... of that to-do list for tomorrow, my growing workload and of course the all important stuff, like "what would my dream kitchen look like" or "would I be able to use a rolling pin with my feet in a pickle?"

Sound familiar? Of course it does. 

Imagine visiting a place that offers you each and every one of those sounds, and more - without an App and 100% Authentically. 

Welcome to Schoone Oordt.

The Walker family undertook the tremendous task of restoring the main house of Schoone Oordt to its former glory, and with (I suspect), perhaps more spit and polish than had ever existed before, even in her hey day.

The woodwork and painstakingly restored antiques will take you to a by gone era. This establishment boasts manicured gardens and history dating as far back as 1853. 

It truly is a marvel and a testament to the formidable spirit and vision involved in bringing this grand old dame into a new century.

The food is packed with flavour, is suprisingly unpretentious and can only be described as modern country food at its finest. With an array of amazing local farmers, Alison Walker explained that the restaurant only sources fresh organic ingredients from local suppliers. 

The dishes more than echoed this claim in quality and taste and I was struck by the seamless integration of the farm to table movement in a setting that could be taken all too easily as ostentatious.

Schoone Oortd strikes this balance perfectly.  

A few dishes to mention; The risotto was superb, and the Overberg feef fillet was tender and seasoned to perfection.

The entree that really stood out was the beetroot salad with goats cheese and crispy sage, and of course to round it all off, I opted for the lavender creme brûlée. Apparently, as my partner pointed out, licking your bowl in the dining hall is uncouth. 

The service is attentive, friendly and there isn’t a second that you will not be waited on hand and foot. The staff are mostly local, which I love! There is a real sense of professionalism, as the staff moves without really being seen. After dinner, you come back to a lit fireplace and a turndown service that offers the sweetest homemade chocolate truffle you have ever had. (Naturally, I had both truffles.) 

The gardens are beautiful. They are filled with tranquility. If visiting during a hot spell or during the summer months, you could relax at the pool with a book and completely switch off to the outside world. With water features scattered in the gardens, I drifted off into a complete state of relaxation and my partner quipped on more than one occasion that I was a Zen-Master Truffle.

The bedrooms; Lying in bed listening to a crackling fireplace while sipping on peppermint tea is my definition of heaven. Their attention to detail will not go unappreciated, I can promise you. It’s the little things that make all the difference in a five star establishment. Fresh milk in the fridge and home baked rusks for your morning tea is just a few of them. The bathrooms are spoilt with fragranced products from pause room and I must admit a rose petal bath every night was on the cards for little old me.

In retrospect, thinking of my stay at Schoone Oordt - It's definitely the little things that turn out to be the big things.

Falling asleep to the sound of the water fountain outside and the fireplace crackling at the foot of my bed created a deep relaxation that no iPhone or App on earth could create. Sometimes you just need to take a step back.

I took a step back into the arms of our countries third oldest town, Swellendam and stayed at one of the towns oldest houses, Schoone Oordt.

The Walker's have not only created a space where the most natural thing to do is to let go and just be; they manage to maintain the values of slow living at every turn.

-Melissa 

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/five-reasons-to-visit-schoone-oordt