Shamwari Private Game Reserve has completed the first phase of its $25-million upgrade, opening two newly-refurbished lodges – Riverdene Family Lodge and Shamwari’s flagship, Eagles Crag.
Situated close to Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s ecologically and culturally significant Eastern Cape province, the reserve is known for its systematic, scientific rehabilitation and conservation programs. Over the past 25 years, these have seen ecological diversity restored to the reserve and the reintroduction of the big five and other indigenous animals.
Joe Cloete, Shamwari’s CEO, says the investment is not only to provide an enhanced luxury experience for guests, but also to ensure Shamwari is able to continue attracting revenue to fund its crucial conservation work.
“We want Shamwari to be one of the world’s premier wildlife experiences, so we can sustain and grow an exceptionally successful 25-year conservation program. A stay at Shamwari contributes to conserving a vanishing way of life,” he says.
Eagles Crag has a reputation of exclusivity and luxury, and its upgrade further cements this. The setting is tranquil, in a forest-covered valley floor at the base of the cliff which the lodge gets its name from.
A new viewing deck incorporating a fire pit and two private dining pods elevates guests above the forest canopy, while individual dining pods allow couples to share intimate meals and uncompromised views of the reserve.
On the ground floor, the refurbished lodge now offers an entertainment lounge, complete with a billiard table, and a gym.
The spa facilities have been upgraded, and products from two international brands, Babor and Elemis, introduced.
The nine stand-alone suites at Eagles Crag, each of which sleeps two, have been extensively revamped. Luxurious interiors open onto private decks in the forest. Each suite has both interior bathrooms and outside showers, as well as the added comfort of a heated plunge pool.
Riverdene Family Lodge has been almost entirely rebuilt. The nine spacious rooms are ideal for multi-generational families. All rooms are interconnecting, allowing for family time during the day and privacy for adults after the children are in bed.
The family-oriented design extends to the lodge’s exterior where a fully supervised outdoor children’s adventure playground combines climbing towers, elevated walkways and ziplines – all of which were specially designed for Shamwari. There is also a toddlers’ play area, maze and mini soccer field.
When not out on game drives or enjoying themselves in the play area, children will be able to join in on organised activities arranged by the Kids on Safari programme, which include animal tracking, star gazing, visits to the Born Free Foundation, and pizza evenings.
For parents wanting a bit of quiet time during their holiday, the poolside bar area, lounge and restaurant, looking over a nearby waterhole, are all peaceful retreats.
The next phase of the project includes renovating the historic manor house, Long Lee Manor, and extensively re-building the contiguous accommodation to provide 18 luxury suites. A new flagship luxury tented camp is also being built.
Shamwari’s wildlife rehabilitation centre, considered one of the best and most successful in South Africa, is being expanded and guests will now be able to visit a purpose-built facility on the reserve where animals are cared for and treated before being released back into the wild.
This is in addition to the two big-cat sanctuaries where, in partnership with the Born Free Foundation, rescued African big cats are given a permanent home.