Shamwari Game Reserve

Eastern Cape, South Africa

Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari Game Reserve is one of the best of the many private game reserves on South Africa's Eastern Cape. It is malaria-free, home to the big 5, and easily accessible from Port Elizabeth.

Shamwari is a small, 60,000-acre private game reserve located in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, a short one hour drive from Port Elizabeth. It is one of several big 5 reserves in the Eastern Cape, but it stands out as one of the best, and has received numerous awards for its efforts in wildlife conservation.

Located between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, Shamwari works well as an easy add-on to a trip along South Africa’s famous Garden Route. As well as being easy to access, Shamwari Game Reserve is also malaria-free, making it a great option for families with children. There are a number of places to stay within the reserve (see below for an overview), from small guesthouses to comfortable safari lodges.

One should always keep their expectations in check when visiting South Africa’s private game reserves. Compared to the reserves found elsewhere in Africa, they are small and confined, and ringed with fences (for good reason, of course, but it does nevertheless detract from the sense of being in the wild). Do not expect the sort of wilderness experience on offer in the Kruger and Kalahari.

That said, Shamwari is one of the best private game reserves in the Eastern Cape, and those looking for a short safari in a responsibly managed reserve will get a lot out of a visit here. It’s also worth pointing out that the small size of reserves such as Shamwari can be an advantage, making it easier to track the rarer game that they contain—your chances of seeing black and white rhino, for instance, are as good in Shamwari as anywhere else in Africa.


Accommodation consists of six different lodges, divided evenly between the northern and southern sectors of Shamwari Reserve.

Eagles Crag Lodge is the standout lodge, a wonderful design of thatch, stone and glass in the rugged north of the reserve—it takes its name from the rocky crags that surround it, where eagles are known to perch. It has just nine rooms, each with a private deck, plunge pool, and large en-suite bathroom with indoor and outdoor shower.

Long Lee Manor is an old Edwardian manor home originally built in 1910, whose furnishings recall the settler era. It accommodates upwards of 30 guests in lavishly furnished en-suite rooms, as well as several family suites.

Bushmans River Lodge is a carefully-restored Victorian-era country home, which offers just four deluxe rooms.

In contrast to the modern aesthetics of Eagles Crag and the settler-era nostalgia of Bushmans and Lone Lee Manor, Lobengula Lodge draws on traditional African themes. Very exclusive, it offers just five luxury rooms, and one Chief suite with private plunge pool, lounge and fireplace.

Riverdene Lodge is a little simpler. It has nine fully en-suite and air-conditioned rooms, equipped with the expected modern amenities, and is best-suited to families.

Bayethe Lodge is a more traditional safari camp, with twelve tents situated on the banks of the river. It’s not a bush camp, however—the tents are lavishly furnished and fully air-conditioned. Each has a private pool and verandah.

Facilities (dependent on choice of accommodation)

- Swimming pool
- Plunge pool
- Dining room
- Lounge
- Library
- Boma
- Spa
- Tennis
- Gym facilities


- Game drives twice daily
- Nature walks

Child Policy

Varies according to the choice of accommodation. A number of the Shamwari lodges are well-suited to families and offer family suites.