Covering 25,000 hectares, the Shamwari Game Reserve is a wildlife-rich private nature reserve on the Eastern Cape of South Africa accessed from Port Elizabeth.
There are several Shamwari Game Reserve luxury lodges to choose from, including the fantastic Eagles Crag Lodge pictured above. We have written this guide to help you pick the best Shamwari Game Reserve lodge.
First, let’s have an introduction to the Shamwari Reserve.
The animals you can spot on game drives from the luxury lodges and explorer camp include all members of the Big 5, which are lions, cape buffalo, elephants, elusive leopards, and rhino.
However, there are many other animals to see within the Shamwari Reserve, including giraffes, hippo, brown hyena, cheetah, and a high diversity of birdlife. The reserve is home to the largest concentration of wildlife on the Southern and Eastern Cape.
The Shamwari Reserve is a malaria-free landscape and covers five of South Africa’s seven biomes, including savanna habitat. There are several luxury lodges, a private villa, and an explorer camp in the Shamwari Game Reserve.
The explorer camp is for adventurous walking safaris over 2 or 3 days. We will go over all the different Shamwari Game Reserve hotels, lodges, spas & sanctuaries to help you make the most of your time in this incredible part of South Africa.
Each of the lodges offers its own unique charm and each was built to fit with the surrounding landscape. Each lodge and camp has its own management team, chefs, hosts and highly trained field guides to create a fantastic and memorable safari experience.
As some examples, the Riverdene Family Lodge is a great option for families with young children as the rooms feature sleeper couches and the suites are spacious enough to accommodate family groups. Another fantastic option for families is the Sarili Lodge, which features large decks and a large pool.
Let’s go over the Shamwari Game Reserve lodges and camps to help you choose the best experience of the Shamwari Game Reserve.
The Bayethe Tented Lodge
The Bayethe Tented Lodge offers an open-planned accommodation and a lodge following the design of a large luxury tented camp. With fantastic views of the Shamwari environment, Bayethe Tented Lodge allows you to immerse yourself in the African wilderness while keeping all the comforts and facilities of a luxury 5-star lodge.
Composed of 12 detached tents, each one can accommodate a maximum of two adults and includes three superior tents and nine luxury tents. The tents have been equipped to offer optimum comfort. The three superior tents offer additions of a private deck, hammock area, and fireplace.
All the tents feature a plunge pool, air conditioning, and ensuite bathrooms. The main communal area then features a Bush Relaxation Retreat, central lounge, in and outdoor dining areas, an outdoor deck with swimming pool, and Wi-Fi internet.
From Bayethe Tented Lodge, enjoy a morning and evening game drive with highly trained rangers and guides to spot elephants, rhino, cheetah, giraffes, buffalo, and more. The drives are in the optimal time to see wildlife to help you get the most of your visit. In addition to the game drives, you can enjoy birding tours and visits to the different wildlife sanctuaries we will mention at the bottom of this article.
The Eagles Crag Lodge
Offered as the epitome of luxury in the Shamwari Game Reserve, but without the tented camp design as the Bayethe Lodge above, the Eagles Crag Lodge still offers some incredible views of the Shamwari environment. Enjoy the classically designed suites centered around glass and stone to merge with the landscape. The glass helps provide a constant visual connection to the environment with the many beautiful views and wildlife to be seen from the lodge itself.
Eagles Crag Lodge offers 5-star accommodation with delicious cuisine and views of the habitats and surrounding rock faces, which are frequented by different eagles and other birds of prey. The 9 different suites have been designed to offer high-class comfort, while fiting into their own private and secluded niche.
The suites feature air conditioning, en-suite bathrooms, indoor and outdoor shower facilities, bird-spotting scope, and a private deck with plunge pool. The additional facilities of the lodge then offer a lounge with fireplace, two therapy rooms with hydro baths, a steam room and sauna, and business center.
In addition to the luxurious accommodation, enjoy twice-daily game drives, birding tours, and visits to the different sanctuaries. Head into the Shamwari Game Reserve led by expert rangers to find some of the Big 5 plus many other animals, plants, and beautiful scenery.
The Lobengula Lodge
Sitting in seclusion in the northern part of Shamwari Reserve, if you would like the ultimate in privacy and exclusivity, you can book the entire villa of the Lobengula Lodge. Booked on an exclusive-use basis only, Lobengula Lodge was styled as a traditional African kraal and offers panoramic views of Shamwari’s beautiful mountains and valleys.
When booking your exclusive villa, in addition to having the whole villa to yourselves, the package includes your group’s own private guide, chefs, and staff to compliment your experience.
The Lobengula Lodge includes 6 suites, which can accommodate a maximum of two adults per suite. They include a chief suite with private plunge pool, lounge and fireplace, two Junior Suites with twin or king beds and private plunge pool, and three Junior Suites with twin or king beds adjacent to the lodge pool area.
All rooms and suites offer air conditioning, private patio, and indoor and outdoor showers. The lodge then features a lounge with satellite TV, deck lounge with fireplace, private swimming and plunge pools, relaxation retreat, fitness room, and WiFi.
In addition to your private villa, enjoy game drives in the reserve to enjoy a traditional safari experience scouting for elephants, cheetah, buffalo, lions, leopards, rhino, hyena, and many different birds. To complement the wildlife, you will enjoy incredible landscapes of the Shamwari Reserve.
The Riverdene Family Lodge
A great place for families with children, Riverdene Family Lodge offers luxury family accommodation in the Shamwari Game Reserve. Positioned in the southern section of the reserve, just south of Bushman’s River, the Riverdene Family Lodge offers large suites, spacious living areas, delicious cuisine, and excellent views.
The lodge features 9 luxury inter-leading rooms, which can accommodate two adults sharing with one child. The lodge suites and rooms as composed of six luxury suites with twin beds and three luxury suites with an extra sleeper couch.
All the suites offer air conditioning, private patio, en-suite bathroom with separate shower, and WiFi. The lodge in general then features a rim-flow swimming pool with shallow area for children, a children’s supervised play room & jungle gym, a boma overlooking the Bushman’s River, a bar / lounge, and both indoor and alfresco dining areas.
With your comfortable stay at the Riverdene Family Lodge, enjoy twice-daily game drives to spot elephants, rhino, lions, cheetah, birds of prey, kingfishers, and enjoy scenic views of the river and Shamwari Reserve.
Your tours will be led by highly trained and very knowledgeable guides and rangers to create a fantastic family safari. Note that no children under the age of 4 are permitted on the game drives, however, the lodge can arrange a childminder at an additional cost.
The Sarili Lodge
The Sarili Lodge offers luxury accommodation in the Shamwari Game Reserve and is positioned on the Bushman’s River in the southern section of the protected area. Offering another family friendly luxury lodge, enjoy incredible views and a large deck area to enjoy breakfast and dinner.
Even from the lodge itself, you can see out over the river and into the Shamwari Reserve to spot interesting animals and beautiful landscape from the comfort of your accommodation. This is an especially fantastic place to enjoy sunrises and sunsets given the large decks.
All of the rooms can accommodate two adults and are composed of two luxury rooms with balconies overlooking the river, two luxury courtyard-facing rooms with an inter-leading passageway, and one suite with a balcony and river view.
All rooms and suites have air conditioning, under floor heating, and en-suite bathrooms with separate showers. The lodge then offers a heated swimming pool with shallow area for children, WiFi, lounge area with satellite TV, and indoor and outdoor dining areas.
After relaxing in the very comfortable lodge, you can head out on morning and evening game drives to find elephants, lions, cheetah, hippo, rhino, and an amazing diversity of birds. In addition to the wildlife, enjoy scenic views and learn about the environment from your highly trained guides and rangers.
The Long Lee Manor
Introducing the first tourist lodge in the Shamwari Game Reserve, the famous Long Lee Manor was originally opened in 1992 and was the home of the Fowlds family who lived here around 1916.
Restored with modern facilities but in keeping with the original design, the manor house now offers a luxurious lodge to experience the reserve and is a favored choice for those interested in the Shamwari Reserve history.
The Long Lee Manor is an Edwardian-style manor accommodation providing an elegance only historic buildings can offer. The manor is surrounded by manicured gardens, pools and verandas overlooking the Shamwari Reserve environment.
Enjoy delicious food then retire to one of the 15 double-occupancy rooms to relax on your choice of twin beds or super king beds. The 10 suites and 5 luxury rooms feature air conditioning, en-suite bathroom with separate shower, television with selected satellite channels, and access to the manor facilities. These include two swimming pools, a relaxation retreat, fitness center and steam room, indoor and outdoor dining areas, and WiFi.
You will then enjoy twice-daily game drives through the Shamwari Game Reserve to find some of the Big 5, giraffes, birds of prey, kingfishers, hippo, and much more. In addition to being guided by expert rangers of the South African environment to see incredible animals, you will also be treated to the beautiful reserve scenery.
Shamwari Explorer Camp
Offering a luxury walking safari and explorer camp in the Shamwari Reserve, the tour and itinerary has been styled in keeping with the manner traditional African explorers experienced the African environment. The Shamwari Explorer Camp makes a great two or three day tour and also offers a great add-on experience with the above luxury lodges.
Over two or three days, enjoy a unique walking safari for an authentic African experience. The explorer camp itinerary is more flexible than the rigid game drives and itineraries are shaped around the environment and wildlife to offer the best experience for the time you visit.
Enjoy sleeping around a fire at night and relaxing in the very comfortable bush tent to keep you immersed in the incredible landscape.
Your highly trained guide will help with exploring the reserve and help you to spot interesting birds, teach you about the area, and track some of the famous Big 5 animals of lions, buffalo, elephants, and rhino. Unfortunately, no persons younger than 16 years or older than 60 years can experience the walking safari (if you’re over 60, exceptions are made if you can provide a medical health certificate).
The Shamwari Game Reserve Spas
Some of the lodges above offer a spa and massage room where you can relax after your safari. To make sure you don’t miss out if this is of interest, the lodges with spa and massage facilities are the:
- Eagles Crag Lodge with two treatments rooms, a hydro bath, sauna and steam bath
- Lobengula Lodge with two treatment rooms and sauna
- Long Lee Manor with two treatment rooms, a steam room and gym
- Bayethe Tented Lodge with private twin-treatment rooms
The spa treatments are a great way to relax and are designed for men and women. Although the spas are spread out across the luxury lodges, you can still arrange a spa and massage treatment if you prefer staying at one of the other lodges on this list without an in-house spa. The spa treatments include massages, facials, and hand and foot options.
The Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary
The Big Cat Rescue and Education Centers in the Shamwari Reserve are operated in collaboration with the Born Free Foundation. The mission is to help educate the public on the problem of wild cats kept in captive environments throughout the world.
Founded by Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers with the motto of keeping wildlife in the wild, both organizations of Born Free and the Shamwari Game Reserve promote conservation and protection of these incredible animals.
The center’s 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.
In addition to the lions and leopards, the Born Free foundation has grown to help all threatened animals including lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, bears, marine turtles, and more with various sanctuaries around the world from the charity’s base in the United Kingdom. You can visit the sanctuaries from any of lodges listed on this page.
The Ian Player Rhino Awareness Center
Rhinos are facing increasing pressure from hunting and the trade in rhino horn. In 2012, to help the rhino populations and help educate the public, the Shamwari Game Reserve opened the Ian Player Rhino Awareness Center.
Named after the renowned South African conservationist, the Ian Player Rhino Awareness Center was significant in saving the endangered white rhino from almost certain extinction in the wild. The problems and threats facing rhinos in the wild are put on display at the center to help draw some attention to these fantastic animals.
While enjoying your safari from any of the lodges on this page, you can visit the Rhino Awareness Center, see the animals in care at the reserve, and enjoy a guided tour the facility.
The Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
In addition to visiting the above sanctuaries, you can visit the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which helps to rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured, abandoned and orphaned animals. After the animals are given a tick for health, they are released back into their natural habitat. Cared for by the Shamwari Reserve professional veterinary team, you can visit the animals and the center to complement your stay at the above Shamwari Game Reserve lodges.