Drought, agriculture and hunting laid the foundations for the establishment of the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Once regarded as the most fertile and prolific wildlife area in the country, the area sadly lost its rich diversity to farming and hunting.
Pioneering hunters such as Cornwallis Harris and Sparrman recorded the Big Five in the area , and scientific evidence suggests that the Eastern Cape supported vast herds of buffalo, wildebeest, elephant, zebra and many other species. The Cape lion was hunted to extinction and, by 1931, only 11 herds remained of the once prolific elephant population.
Adrian Gardiner bought a small farm of 1 200 hectares for his family, but soon began buying up surrounding land and, in 1992, Shamwari opened its gates to visitors. Today, the reserve consists of 25 000 hectares, 5 000 head of game and 6 lodges.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve offers the visitor a family-friendly environment that is luxurious and welcoming. Six lodges present guests with choices of style and ambiance to suit every whim. The majority of the lodges at Shamwari are child-friendly and some even provide safari activities specifically aimed at children. Shamwari is the ideal family safari destination in South Africa , particularly for families who do not wish to downgrade their safari experience to cater to their children.
Eagles Crag Lodge
As the name suggests, Eagles Crag Lodge is perched on cliffs in the majestic bird's own domain. The suites are built of glass and stone and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding rock faces. There is a library/boardroom for 18 delegates, a bar/cigar lounge, an upstairs lounge, gift boutique, business desk with internet access and a spa.
Bayethe Lodge borrows its name from the traditional African greeting - ‘Bayethe’ or “I salute you”. This luxury tented camp offers a spa, gift boutique, lounge with TV, dining facilities indoors and out, deck with swimming pool and a business desk with internet. Twelve tents sleep two adults each with various options for accommodating children.
Shamwari is situated in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, which is a malaria-free region. If you are planning a safari and would like to enjoy a hassle free all-encompassing experience, Shamwari is for you. Additionally the park caters extensively for children, which makes it the ideal location for a family-friendly excursion.
At Shamwari, the Big Cat Sanctuary takes care of various animals that have been rescued from unnatural and horrific conditions, including circuses and nightclubs. Unfortunately, the conditions in which the animals were raised mean that they will never be able to return to the wild again, but at least here they can live as close to nature as possible.
There are a multitude of spa facilities available at Shamwari. If you want to take a break or just treat yourself to a pampering session, be sure to make a reservation at one of the facilities. Some lodges even offer treatments from the comfort of your room, and treatments range from massages to pedicures.
The Shamwari Private Game Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape, not far from Port Elizabeth, often referred to as PE, the Windy City or the Friendly City by locals. Guests traveling to the reserve will be welcomed at OR Tambo International Airport or in Johannesburg or Cape Town International and assisted in transferring to their flight to Port Elizabeth Airport.
Upon arrival at Port Elizabeth Airport, guests will be transported to the park in a private, air-conditioned vehicle by a skilled guide. The reserve is located approximately 75km from Port Elizabeth and the short drive on one of South Africa’s national roads is sure to be comfortable. The drive also passes the Addo Elephant National Park, which is an ideal combination for a safari in the Eastern Cape.
The semi-arid climate of the region means that Shamwari has good game viewing opportunities throughout the year, but it is nevertheless best during the dry winter months from the middle of April to the middle of September. It gets extremely cold in the winter evenings, however, and morning game drives can be very chilly - remember to pack accordingly.
When the rainy season starts at the beginning of spring, the region is transformed to a lush green landscape and flowers can be seen blossoming everywhere. Newborn antelopes can be seen taking their first steps ,and birding is wonderful during this time as the migratory birds are present. It is, however, also peak visiting season, and the reserve is thus at its busiest.
Gardiner was able to buy up parcels of land surrounding his property and eventually his farm consisted of 7 000 hectares. Adrian named his land “Shamwari” and decided to return the land to its former glory, both in historical terms as well as the wildlife and vegetation that once flourished in the area. In 1992, the Shamwari Game Reserve was born. It had a staff of only 7, but they all shared the dream of making conservation profitable. Scientific research showed that the malaria-free area, coupled with five bio-systems and a mild climate with summer and winter rainfalls, could support a wide variety of fauna and flora. Gardiner and his team began a rehabilitation program of the land and shortly thereafter they began re-stocking the area with animals.
Shamwari opened its gates to the first visitors on 15 March 1992. The first guests stayed in Long Lee Manor, which was built around 1916. Two cottages that hailed from 1820, Highfield and Carn Ingly, were also restored and opened to guests. Today, the reserve supports 5 000 head of game, consists of 25 000 hectares with six separate lodges and the area has been returned to its original, natural state.
Wildebeest, both black and blue, may be observed in large herds, along with their striped sentry, the zebra. Sable, eland, kudu and a variety of smaller antelope also thrive in the area. The big cats were cautiously reintroduced and today Shamwari has healthy lion, leopard and cheetah populations. Rhinos, both white and black, make their home in the reserve along with the awesome Cape buffalo and African elephant.
Shamwari boasts around 400 bird species which include hornbills, Knysna turaco, brown scrub robin, white-starred robin, black-bellied starling and many other species too numerous to mention. Raptors of all descriptions ride the thermals alongside the cliffs and waterbirds make their home in the wetlands of the reserve.
Shamwari's is a story of vegetative restoration. Before its establishment as a game reserve, the area was used for farming and hunting practices, which severely damaged the soil compounds and the natural ecology of the area. Today, the reserve offers various vegetation types that can sustain a diverse range of species. This comprises five of the South African biomes and fourteen vegetation types. The different ecological regions have also adapted well to each other, and transitional zones aren’t barren as is the case on many occasions where ecological reintroduction and reestablishment takes place.
Situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, the area that was historically rich in wildlife is now again. The biomes found in the park include grasslands, savanna, and thicket, which sustain healthy populations of grazers and the predators that they fall prey to. More specifically, the grasslands are home to the white rhino and the subtropical thicket provides for the elephant and black rhino. Along the riverine vegetation on the banks of the Bushman's River, you'll discover an array of birds. The reserve is renowned as a pioneer in terms of eco-lodging, and the human footprint on the terrain is kept to a minimum.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve offers visitors one of the best activity packages available at any game reserve in the country. Each group of six visitors is assigned a personal game ranger, who, along with the lodge manager, designs a daily program for his or her guests. The objective is to create an experience of learning and enjoyment unequaled anywhere else.
Game viewing is conducted from a modern, open-air 4x4 vehicle that is designed for comfort and viewing potential. The game ranger's job is to provide visitors with valuable and insightful information about the interactions between climate, vegetation, water and animals.
Guided walks allow visitors to gain an organic perspective of the African bush. Specially trained qualified rangers lead these walks and for many people it is the highlight of a safari in Africa.
The Kids on Safari is a program unique to Shamwari and provides children with an age appropriate gift pack, designing activities for children and taking their ages and family size into consideration. It also provides child minders to allow parents some spare time of their own. The focus is on education and fun.
Guests at Shamwari will delight in the various lodges' exceptional service levels, as all staff from housekeeping to game rangers go above and beyond to ensure each guest experiences the safari of a lifetime.
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