Port Elizabeth is the main city on South Africa’s Eastern Cape. As one of the country’s largest cities, Port Elizabeth is also one of the major hubs of South Africa’s famous Garden Route.
There are some great luxury safari lodges from Port Elizabeth. We will mention a few favorites further down. But first an introduction to this lively port city…
In addition to being at the end of South Africa’s Garden Route, which you can read more about on our guide to South Africa’s top attractions, there are also attractions in the city itself.
The attractions in Port Elizabeth include different historical buildings you can visit on the Donkin Heritage Trail. This includes a fort, city hall, and a bell tower, which was built in 1920 to commemorate the arrival of the 1820 settlers. There are also different museums and art galleries. Port Elizabeth is also a great place for whale watching.
Besides these attractions, one of the best thing to do from Port Elizabeth is to enjoy an African safari. The main areas to consider are the Addo Elephant National Park or the Shamwari Game Reserve.
The Shamwari Game Reserve
For this article, we will focus on luxury safari lodge ideas from Port Elizabeth. The main option for luxury safaris to consider is the fantastic Shamwari Game Reserve.
About 75 km from Port Elizabeth, the Shamwari Reserve contains the highest concentration of large animals on the Eastern Cape. Enjoy heading out on game drives from the different luxury accommodation available to spot elephants, lions, cheetah, rhino, Cape buffalo, leopards, giraffes, and more.
The Shamwari Reserve offers a premium and more exclusive safari option than other reserves with several luxury lodges to choose from. Accommodation options in the Shamwari Reserve include the Bayethe Tented Lodge and Eagles Crag Lodge at the top end of the spectrum, the family lodges of Sarili Lodge and the Riverdine Lodge, a luxurious private villa called the Lobengula Lodge, Long Lee Manor, and the more adventurous Shamwari Explorer Camp . To read a little more about each of these, you can see our guide to Shamwari Reserve Lodges.
For this article, we will feature a few of the most luxurious of these offerings and also highlight the Shamwari Explorer Camp as a fantastic add-on to your lodge-based safari. Many of the lodge options have an in-house spa where you can enjoy a massage or relaxations treatments. However, no matter what lodge you choose in the Shamwari Reserve, you can still arrange a massage treatment on your stay.
The Bayethe Tented Lodge
The Bayethe Tented Lodge is a more open luxury lodge in the Shamwari Game Reserve. The lodge is modeled on the African camps, such as the Shamwari Explorer Camp , but with a more permanent lodge-like and luxurious accommodation.
Enjoy more connection to the environment as you enjoy the Bayethe Tented Lodge. The lodge keeps the design of a camp, but with the modern facilities you would expect from 5-star accommodation.
You will have your own detached tent and the lodge has 12 of of these in total. Each can accommodate two adults and there are two varieties to choose from. You can opt for the superior tents or the luxury tents. All the options feature a plunge pool, air conditioning, and ensuite bathrooms. The superior tents then offer a private deck, hammock area, and fireplace.
The communal features of the lodge include a Bush Relaxation Retreat, central lounge, in and outdoor dining areas, an outdoor deck with swimming pool, and Wi-Fi internet.
The Eagles Crag Lodge
From the lodge, enjoy fantastic views over the Shamwari Reserve. Enjoy the lodge design, which revolves around glass and stone to help the lodge fit with the surrounding landscape. Giving the lodge its name, you can look out onto imposing rock faces where eagles soar high above the lodge.
Enjoy 5-star accommodation, delicious cuisine, and fantastic views. In addition to this, from all the Shamwari Reserve Lodges you will have twice-daily game drives to spot the many different animals of the reserves.
Each of the lodge’s 9 suites are situated in their own area of the environment. Each suite offers en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, indoor and outdoor shower facilities, a private deck with plunge pool, and even a bird-spotting scope.
You also have access to the lodge facilities, including two therapy rooms with hydrobaths, a steam room and sauna, a business center, and a lounge with fireplace.
The Lobengula Lodge
A private villa located in the north of Shamwari Game Reserve, the Lobengula Lodge is booked on an exclusive-use basis. The villa has it’s own team of chefs, hosts, and guides to make sure your stay in the Shamwari Reserve is comfortable.
The Lobengula Lodge is styled as a traditional African kraal and offers beautiful views of the Shamwari environment. The lodge includes 6 attractive suites, which can each accommodate two adults.
The suites include a chief suite and five junior suites. The chief suite includes a private plunge pool, lounge and fireplace. Two of the junior suites have twin or king beds and private plunge pool. The other three junior suites have twin or king beds and are near the lodge main swimming pool.
All of the suites then offer a private patio, air conditioning and indoor and outdoor showers. In addition to the suite features, the lodge facilities includes deck lounge with fireplace, private swimming and plunge pools, satellite TV, a relaxation retreat, fitness room, and WiFi.
The Riverdene Family Lodge
Unlike the above lodges, the Riverdene Family Lodge has been designed especially to accommodate families with younger children. This lodge is located in the southern section of the reserve near the Bushman’s River.
Enjoy large suites that can accommodate two adults sharing with one child. There are six luxury suites in total. The suites offer en-suite bathrooms with separate showers, air conditioning, a private patio, and WiFi.
The lodge then features a rim-flow swimming pool with a shallow area for children and a children’s supervised play room & jungle gym. You will have access to a boma overlooking the Bushman’s River, the lodge bar / lounge, and both indoor and alfresco dining areas. Enjoy large open decks with incredible views of the reserve.
Activities from Lodges
From each of the Shamwari Game Reserve lodges, you will enjoy fantastic twice-daily game drives. Enjoy guided exploration of the Shamwari Game Reserve to find the large animals that roam the environment. In addition to the big mammals, you can also spot many different birds.
The reserve is composed of three main habitat types, which include savanna, forest, and thicket. Each of these areas is home to its own set of different animals and plants. If you visit the river areas, you can also spot the river-living animals like the hippos bathing in the water.
Wildlife seen on game drives
The main animals your guides and rangers will be searching for are some of the Big 5. All members of the Big 5 can be seen in the Shamwari Game Reserve. The majority of wildlife watching time is often spent on the elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes, cheetah, and the elusive leopards. But other animals are often spotted as well.
In total, the reserve protects 56 different mammals, including the above species but also black wildebeest, Cape buffalo, and both white and black rhino. There are also zebra, kudu, springbok, and warthogs roaming the reserve.
Some of the interesting birds you can spot include the pale chanting goshawks, booted eagles, black shouldered kites, and secretary birds.
Intro to Sanctuaries
In addition to the morning and evening game drives, relaxation retreats, and bird watching opportunities, there are different sanctuaries in the Shamwari Reserve.
The Shamwari Reserve works in collaboration with the Born Free Foundation and there are different Big Cat Rescue and Education Centers in the reserve. The main focus is to rescue lions and leopards from captivity and there are three institutions you can visit in the Shamwari Reserve, including the Julie Ward Center, Jean Byrd Center, and the Education Program, which teaches schools and colleges with the aim of conservation through education.
There is also the Ian Player Rhino Awareness Center you can visit. The center helps educate visitors on the struggle of the world’s rhino population, which is facing increasing pressure. Enjoy a tour of the facility and see the animals in care at the reserve.
You can also visit the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Meet some of the veterinary team who help rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured, abandoned and orphaned animals, and the animals in care at the center.
The Shamwari Explorer Camp
In addition to the luxury lodges of the Shamwari Reserve, you can also choose to experience the Shamwari Explorer Camp. You can book this experience as an add-on to your lodge stay to enjoy a comfortable camping experience and walking safari or book the experience separately.
The Shamwari Explorer Camp offers a way to experience the Shamwari Reserve in a more immersive manner. Enjoy delicious meals cooked around a campfire, sundowners watching the sunset, and fantastic walking safaris over 2 or 3 days.
The explorer camp itinerary is a bit more flexible than the game drives from the lodges. We will change where we go dependent on the particular day and the activity of the surrounding wildlife. This is in order to create the best experience for your visit.
This is an unfenced experience and it’s an exhilarating feeling approaching some of Africa’s Big 5 on foot. Your experienced ranger and guide will help point out wildlife and teach you about the history and environment.
Other Shamwari Lodges
In addition to the above lodges, there are a couple of other luxury accommodation options in the magnificent Shamwari Reserve. To read more about these and to have a bit more information on the above lodges and sanctuaries, you can see our guide to the top lodges for the Shamwari Game Reserve.
The very comfortable accommodation, beautiful views, and excellent game drives to spot the Shamwari’s Big 5 provide a fantastic choice for a luxury safari from Port Elizabeth in South Africa.