Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the malaria-free Eastern Cape is home to five of South Africa’s seven major biomes. Within this biodiversity you’ll also find the Big Five, luxury lodges like Lobengula and Bayethe (and five more), plus the Born Free Foundation’s big cat sanctuaries. Shamwari has heart as well as beauty.

Did you know?

A large chunk of Shamwari’s land is set aside for endangered species like the Cape mountain zebra.

There is a sunny lightness and warmth about Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Maybe it has something to do with being in the Eastern Cape, where many of the flowering plants you’ll see in South African gardens originate.

In addition to thorn-tree savannahs, you’ll see valley thicket brightened by the sky-blue flowers of sprawling plumbago; bright orange trumpets of honeysuckle flowers; and bush violets clambering up the aloes. All of this is interspersed with candelabra euphorbias, pink-flowering crossberry bushes and starry white-flowering num-nums.

The Eastern Cape’s flora is almost as much an attraction as its Big Five and other notable animals. No fewer than five of South Africa’s major biomes are found here and are represented in the reserve.

Part of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany global biodiversity hot spot is found in Shamwari.

Shamwari Game Reserve, which also has the virtue of being malaria-free, has seven lodges on its 25 000 hectares. All offer five-star luxury, but Shamwari’s Lobengula and Bayethe lodges have suites that offer just that little bit more.

At Bayethe, the premier suites have fireplaces, satellite television, their own plunge pools and hammocks suspended over wooden decks.

At Lobengula, the chief suite also has a fireplace and plunge pool.

The spa facilities at Shamwari are an attraction on their own. At Lobengula, there are two treatment rooms, along with a sauna and steam room. At Bayethe, you can opt to have your treatments in the privacy of your own suite.

Apart from the fact that Shamwari is one of South Africa’s premier private game reserves, it also provides a home for many African animals that once lived miserable lives in rundown zoos or other forms of captivity.

Guests are welcome to visit the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Sanctuaries. Here these wild animals can finally live out their years with quality of life on African soil.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Shamwari Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)41 509 3000
Email: reservations@shamwari.com

How to get here

Shamwari is about an hour's drive from Port Elizabeth, the closest airport. You could book a transfer from there or hire a car for the drive. From Port Elizabeth, drive north-east on the N2 towards Grahamstown. After 65km, you’ll see a sign to Shamwari. Turn right there, onto the R342 and travel for another 7km until the gate. Note that directions may vary depending on which lodge you have chosen.

Best time to visit

This is a good all-year-round destination. Temperatures in the Eastern Cape are usually milder than further north, although midsummer (December to February) temperatures can be very hot. Spring (September and October) and autumn (March and April) are particularly pleasant, often with light showers. Winters (May to August) are generally warm during the day and chilly at night.

Around the area

Shamwari is at one end of the Garden Route. You could choose to drive towards Cape Town from Shamwari and enjoy Garden Route towns like Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and more. You’re also not too far from the splendid beaches of Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred. Or you could drive up the Garden Route from Cape Town and end at Shamwari.

What will it cost

Expect to pay between R4 500 and R6 000 per person per night. This includes accommodation, two game drives, all meals and most alcoholic beverages.

Length of stay

Set aside at least two nights for this experience.

Where to stay

At Shamwari you can choose from seven different lodges, each with a different feel.

What's happening

Shamwari is quite close to Grahamstown, which hosts the National Arts Festival in early July every year.