Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari, Eastern Cape

The hotel

Home of the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary, Shamwari Private Game Reserve has an impressive 25,000 hectares of land, packed with free roaming wild animals, exotic birdlife and indigenous flora and fauna. Game-drives leave twice a day, with your specialist ranger, in open 4x4 vehicles; during the morning and early evening ‘sightings’ of the ‘Big Five’ are plentiful. Guided walks are also a fantastic way to get to grips with your stunning surrounds and make sure you visit the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Accommodation is of the highest standard throughout the six lodges with Eagles Crag lodge recommended for those who adore privacy and serenity. Families are also more than welcome at Riverdene Family Lodge, it is very spacious indeed and has a range of child-friendly activities to take advantage of, the over 4’s are welcome on family game-drives too. As well as the wildlife, there’s a swimming pool with shallow area just for them, a kids club and outdoor adventure centre. Bayethe tented lodge offers a wonderful ‘back to the bush’ experience never to be forgotten and Sarili Lodge offers an intimate experience with only five rooms (perfect for families, groups and friends) with a large deck overlooking the Bushman’s River. Meals can be enjoyed in your lodge, the dining room or in the boma, feasting on traditional African dishes from the barbecue.

Amenities

  • Bar
  • Safari
  • Spa
  • Wheelchair access
  • Restaurant

Where is it

On 25,000 hectares of bushveld in the Eastern Cape. Driving time from Port Elizabeth Airport: 1 hour.

Hotel information

There are 6 different lodges in total: Riverdene Family Lodge - is perfect for families, with a very exciting and complimentary children's programme. This is a wonderful homestead with relaxed loungers, offering the perfect stay for families, with interconnecting rooms, childcare facilities and an excititing new outdoor kids activity centre, child-friendly game-drives for children from the age of 4 years, a child friendly dining room, pool and a place to relax and enjoy the bush. There are only 9 rooms, all with private facilities, air conditioning and TV, sleeping maximum 2 adults and 1 child.

All Inclusive of: meals and selected local beverages. All game-drives and visits to Education Centres.

Lobengula Lodge - This lodge has been designed to reflect a traditional Africa Kraal and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Combining contemporary design with traditional African touches, the lodge offers 3 Junior Suites with a private terrace overlooking the main pool, and other 3 suites that have a private deck with private plunge pool, sleeping maximum 2 adults. 

Sarili Lodge - Suitable for older families, couples or small parties. This luxury lodge consisting of 5 Luxury rooms sleeping a maximum of 10 people. Enjoy Bushman's River and plains view on the deck of this African thatch design villa. There are bar/lounge and dining areas and a child friendly swimming pool. Choose from a Luxury Courtyard Room (rooms are interconnecting via a passage so are suitable for a family) or a Luxury River Roo, each sleeping maximum 2 adults. 

Bayethe Tented Lodge - This wonderful tented lodge is nestled along the riverbed, where you can enjoy drinks with the wildlife after dark, and relax in one of the 12 luxury tents. All with en-suite facilities, private outdoor shower, plunge pool and viewing deck.

Eagles Crag Lodge - This premium lodge, which has been newly refurbished, is for the traveller who wants to enjoy contemporary and modern African design alongside the traditional chic of the African bush. The upper level offers a great dining area and lounge with individual 'dining pods' that look out over cliffs. Your suite offers privacy and tranquillity, with your own private deck and heated plunge pool, indoor and outdoor shower, luxury en-suite facilities and a spa* for extra relaxation - and with only 9 rooms, you are sure to be spoilt. Sleeping maximum 2 adults.

  • Honeymooners: couples receive a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine in their room on arrival, a private candlelit dinner (either in room or in the dining room), a romantic turndown after an evening game drive and private lunch time picnic (can be taken in the garden, room or out in the bush). Valid for stays 1 Jan–31 Dec '19.

  • Virgin Holidays offer: all Virgin Holidays guests receive a complimentary 45 minute head, back and shoulder massage per person per stay. 

    Valid for stays between 1 May '19-30 Apr '20.

Traditional African bomas. African barbecues. Game-drives take place in the early morning and late afternoon. Kids on Safari programme, guides walks and night drives. Eagles Crag, Bayethe and Long Lee Manor all have a spa*. Complimentary WiFi. 2-day Explorer Camp experience* (guided walking safari available Oct-Apr). Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. New Welcome Lounge (for guests staying at Long Lee Manor, Riverdene Family Lodge, Sarili Lodge and Explorer camp).

Wheelchair adapted rooms with partially accessible amenities or facilities available on request (Riverdene Family Lodge). Please note that these rooms are subject to availability and may be restricted to specific room categories and bedding arrangements. Rooms and facilities vary between hotels so please check at the time of booking. For more information and contact details please check out our Special Assistance page

2 nights between 1 May-20 Apr.

* Denotes local charge.

Rating summary

  • Location Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Sleep Quality Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Rooms Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Service Image of the Tripadvisor rating
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Traveller rating

  • Excellent (1209)
  • Very good (78)
  • Average (24)
  • Poor (10)
  • Terrible (4)
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Magical Place! So sad to leave!

Dec 2, 2019 SeattleMember88 Seattle, WA

We stayed here for 4 nights and wish it could have been longer. We stayed at Riverdene, which has a fantastic kids club with a zip line, climbing wall, and awesome tree house towers and walkways. Really one of the best playgrounds I’ve seen. Our room was lovely. None of the 9 rooms at Riverdene overlook the reserve, but there is a fence around the… Read more
We stayed here for 4 nights and wish it could have been longer. We stayed at Riverdene, which has a fantastic kids club with a zip line, climbing wall, and awesome tree house towers and walkways. Really one of the best playgrounds I’ve seen. Our room was lovely. None of the 9 rooms at Riverdene overlook the reserve, but there is a fence around the property so you don’t have to worry about your little ones being eaten. We found our room to be beautiful, clean, comfortable and had everything we needed. The highlight of Shamwari is the game drives. Our ranger was Raymond and he was amazing. We saw lions, rhinos, elephants, white rhino, cheetahs, zebra, giraffe, hippos, monkeys, and tons of other animals. We missed the leopard and the black rhino but not for lack of effort - they are just super hard to find compared to the other animals. We got to see tons of babies, including getting to watch the lion cubs play together, which was amazing. We saw two young male lions who were the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen. Raymond was very patient with my son, helping him find things for the workbook that came with his Shamwari backpack, including elephant and giraffe dung (which my son was sad to leave behind, but I did not want to have to explain to customs!). I also noticed him at breakfast reading books to young guests - he’s really great with kids. He also went out of his way to get my son elephant sightings (my son’s favorite!). He taught us how to tell the difference between all the different kinds of antelope. He knew his way around the reserve and was a safe driver on the “roads” around the reserve. He did his best not to terrify me driving the top of the saddle (a high narrow ridge that the animals seem to love but my fear of heights does not!). He was so knowledgeable and friendly, and was also obviously grateful to be at Shamwari. We would definitely request him again if we get back to Shamwari as he was really terrific. The staff at the lodge were also great. No request was too much. As a vegetarian, I found that there was always something I could eat, but they also encouraged me to just ask if there was something I wanted and they would make it. They really went out of their way to accommodate our requests. You’ll never go hungry here. My son joked that he had pre-pre-breakfast (snacks before the morning game drive), pre-breakfast (snacks on the morning game drive) and then a huge breakfast, and we had to skip lunch so we had room for tea, sundowner snacks, and dinner (not to mention the included mini bar!). On the night drives, the sundowner drinks with the sunset over the reserve are just amazing. We had a chance to visit both Born Free and the wildlife rehabilitation center. It was a real treat for me to visit Born Free as I had read the book as a kid and being at their sanctuary was amazing. Our car had been cleaned when we got back to the welcome center (an unexpected surprise). The road to Shamwari is dirt and very bumpy (it’s better if you are coming from N2 than if you are coming from Addo on 342). I’d never driven on those kinds of roads before and mentioned to the ranger who drove us from the welcome center to Riverdene on arrival that it was stressful and he gave me tips on how to make it easier - he was totally right. Main tip is to go about 40-50kms, not the 20km that a newbie in a regular car might try on the rough roads. I did that on the way to the airport and it was a million times easier so big thanks to him! It’s an easy drive here from the Port Elizabeth airport that you could do yourself, but since you won’t use your rental car while you’re here, it’s probably easier to just have them pick you up at the airport if you aren’t doing a longer drive. This place is expensive, but when you think about all that is included (game drives, food, most drinks etc), it’s not so bad. This was our first trip to South Africa and I thought it would be a one time thing to do a safari. But I found myself at the airport, waiting for our plane home, researching what time of year is best to get reduced rates at Shamwari! I love it here and was so sad to leave. I hope I will be lucky enough to return some day! Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Extraordinary experience for first time safari goers

Dec 1, 2019 MJ M

This was the experience of a lifetime! My partner and I read about Shamwari online and were impressed with the conservation aspect and the reviews we read. We had two days at the reserve which included 4 drives. From welcome to farewell, Shamwari Bayethe was top notch in every way. They helped arrange our comfortable, efficient transport from… Read more
This was the experience of a lifetime! My partner and I read about Shamwari online and were impressed with the conservation aspect and the reviews we read. We had two days at the reserve which included 4 drives. From welcome to farewell, Shamwari Bayethe was top notch in every way. They helped arrange our comfortable, efficient transport from Port Elizabeth and packed us lunch when we left to catch our flight back. The staff are entirely focussed on service and guest comfort. We were celebrating both a birthday and our anniversary and they went out of their way to acknowledge both, with a cake at dinner (complete with song) and a card and small bottle of bubbles in our room. The game drives were extraordinary. Our ranger, Jason was warm, welcoming, humorous, a great listener, a highly skilled driver and an extremely knowledgeable ranger on history, the land, the plants and the animals. He worked hard to cover a lot of ground and find a variety of animals, including all the big 5 over 4 drives (2 morning, 2 evening). He also arranged for us to go to the Born Free big cat sanctuary and get a separate pickup back to the site. It was amazing! Bring warm clothing layers and use the Range Rover blankets :-) The place runs like clockwork, the meals are delicious and healthy, and the luxury tents are well appointed and comfortable. I would not hesitate to recommend this reserve. I also commend our ranger Jason for making our experience a memorable one, and Nina, one of the managers, for taking time to make our stay feel so special. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Amazing place

Nov 24, 2019 Englishwoman

Thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Shamwari (Bayethe). The experience was incredible. Our game driver Tiem was so knowledgeable and nothing was too much trouble. He amazed us all by finding nearly all the animals on the extensive list (provided in our welcome pack)! Only missed out on seeing a leopard ( which is very rare anyway!) The accommodation… Read more
Thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Shamwari (Bayethe). The experience was incredible. Our game driver Tiem was so knowledgeable and nothing was too much trouble. He amazed us all by finding nearly all the animals on the extensive list (provided in our welcome pack)! Only missed out on seeing a leopard ( which is very rare anyway!) The accommodation was great and very fitting to the habitat that was around us. As for the food, it was fantastic, plentiful and great choice and quality. To top it all the staff were all very friendly and helpful. A great stay Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Amazing - Beyethe Safari

Nov 23, 2019 Cameowater69 UK

Wow - one of the best places we have ever stayed, the room was amazing with everything you could ever need. All staff were amazing, very friendly and the service was superb. Our ranger, JB, was fantastic so knowledgeable about the animals and every living creature in the vast reserve a really funny guy as well. Food and drinks were superb. We also… Read more
Wow - one of the best places we have ever stayed, the room was amazing with everything you could ever need. All staff were amazing, very friendly and the service was superb. Our ranger, JB, was fantastic so knowledgeable about the animals and every living creature in the vast reserve a really funny guy as well. Food and drinks were superb. We also really enjoyed the daytime walking tour with JB and Jason. Couldn’t recommend this place highly enough - thank you everyone at Shamwari - we hope to come back one day! Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Bayethe Lodge

Nov 21, 2019 TandMMac

We just spent a fabulous holiday at Bayethe Lodge (16th-19th November 2019) We were made to feel very welcome from the moment we arrived. All the staff wanted to make sure we had a wonderful holiday and they certainly succeeded. The service and food (lots of it) was exceptional. The absolute highlight was our 6 game drives with our superb guide,… Read more
We just spent a fabulous holiday at Bayethe Lodge (16th-19th November 2019) We were made to feel very welcome from the moment we arrived. All the staff wanted to make sure we had a wonderful holiday and they certainly succeeded. The service and food (lots of it) was exceptional. The absolute highlight was our 6 game drives with our superb guide, Simone. Her enthusiasm and passion for the wildlife and environment is inspiring. Simone ensured we saw as wide a variety of wildlife as possible. We were lucky enough to see elephants, hippos, rhinos and cheetahs among many others. The main event was being in the right place at the right time to witness a lion make a kill. Simone was always cheerful and positive, very informative and focused on making sure we had the experience of a lifetime, which we absolutely did! If you’re thinking of a safari in South Africa, Bayethe Lodge won’t disappoint. Make sure you bring warm clothing. The game drives can be cold, even for a couple from Scotland! Read less