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“Beyond all expectations”

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Shamwari Game Reserve Lodges
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scotland
Level 6 Contributor
337 reviews
68 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
“Beyond all expectations”
Reviewed March 22, 2013

Stayed for three nights at Bayethe Lodge at end of a wonderful South African holiday. It was amazing. I was a little apprehensive about staying in a 'tent' and going out on rough tracks as I am not the most adventurous of people. I was worried about insects and snakes! I needn't have worried at all. The 'tent' was fantastic better than many 5star hotels I have stayed in and there were no creepy crawlies. The drives were so spectacular that I never bothered about the bumps. I always fealt safe and looked after. We were with two other couples on our drives who proved to be great company and added to our enjoyment. Food was good and plentiful and everything was well organised with great attention to detail. We saw so many amazing animals and got so close to them making for some spectacular photos. If you have been thinking of going on a Safari this is certainly the place to do it in style. The management were very attentive and dealt with a problem which we had with total professionalism. Problems will always occur but if they are dealt with well this shows an excellent establishment. I am telling all my friends that they HAVE to go it is so worth it. To think I might not have gone because I was a stick in the mud!!!!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank weelassieScotland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Singapore
Level 6 Contributor
626 reviews
176 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 250 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2013 via mobile

Stayed for 2 nights in the Bayethe Lodge (THAT is the one to go, a mix between wood shacks, tents and 5* resort). Can see elephants from your bedroom! Service and attitude of the staff are great: positive, friendly and helpful. Food is simple, no big selection, but good. You are there for the Game Reserve. We made three drives about 3-4h each and saw all the Big Five. The cars are comfortable, the rangers knowledgeable and passionate about their mission. Saw a herd of 50 elefants (right in the middle of it), lions, cheetahs, leopards, giraffes, white rhinos, black rhinos, warthogs, eagles, water buffalos, hyppos, jackals, rabbits, hyenas and more. Amazing experience!!!

  • Stayed March 2013
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Thank SunriseSki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Macclesfield, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2013

We were traveling as 2 couples and finished our trip to South Africa staying at the Bayethe Tented Lodge at Shamwari. It is 1 hour from PE airport so fitted very well into our trip. We had not been on safari before and, being in our 60s, never like to assume that we will get the opportunity again, so we decided to splash-out and indulge ourselves at Bayethe.
What an experience it was! The 'tents' were huge and gorgeous with every luxury we could ask for including a plunge pool and outdoor shower, yet...we felt we were really in the middle of the bush. Having a shower being watched by an inquisitive group of dulker was certainly different! Relaxing on the decking during the day in such a lovely setting was magic as many animals visited the pond and river. All the meals were tip-top and varied with barbecues on some evenings.
While the accommodation and service was top-notch the absolute highlights were the game drives. We generally left camp at about 6am and 4pm but usually had about a 30 min drive to the main viewing areas (we suspect some other lodges are closer but we preferred being 'in the bush'). Some of the tracks are pretty rough but the vehicles are good so there are no worries. The guides are very informative and entertaining and we always felt in safe-hands with Mr. Headman even when we were right alongside elephants, rhinos, lions and cheetahs. We saw so much and at such close range and Mr. Headman went out of his way to extend our drives when we came across exciting happenings. Where to start? The 3 lionesses killing a warthog in front of us, then bring their cubs to join the feast; the graceful and inquisitive giraffes who came to see what was going on; the elephants groups wandering right alongside our vehicle and the way the youngsters tried to learn how to use their trunks; seeing the rare black rhino along with white rhinos and their young; the herds of giraffe, springbok, impala, kudu, and hartebeest; the sibling cheetahs lying, resting beside the vehicle, so still they could have been models, then they moved...; the young lions starting to devour a zebra but finding it more difficult than expected and needing help from their elders; and more and more. Each morning drive was punctuated with a breakfast snack and each late afternoon drive by a Sun-downer.
Our final memory...finishing the last evening drive with the privileged of watching the male lion, the real 'king', with his pride of lionesses and youngsters, then us moving away to a safe place for the Sun-downer. As we enjoyed our drinks and snacks the sunset beyond the hills and, as we drove back to the lodge, we were held up by....giraffes taking an evening stroll down the road.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank PaulineAD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
England
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2013

We recently stayed at the Sarili Lodge in Shamwari for 3 nights. We were delighted with the intimacy of the lodge and we were lucky enough that there was only 1 small well behaved child there. The welcome from Yolanda was lovely and she took time to explain all the routines. Our room was spotless and had a huge bed and lovely bathroom. The food is wonderful and of a very high standard. While we were there we had one BBQ evening which was served outside in the courtyard. Our game warden was Harry. We cannot praise him enough. He ensured we saw as many animals as possible and his knowledge was unbelievable. He had a great sense of humour and we all had lots of fun. He arranged to take us out on a safari picnic lunch one day. The setting was beautiful overlooking the reserve. The food was fabulous and we enjoyed the experience. Harry also took us out on a night drive after dinner one evening. We were able to see the activities of the animals in the dark and this included close up encounter with the lions. Each evening drive includes a stop in the bush for a sundowner drink of your choice. Where else can you see the sun go down whilst drinking a delicious vodka and tonic complete with ice and lemon and nibbles. Bliss.

Room Tip: Each lodge is different so choose the one that most suits your needs
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank wiganduo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
21 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed March 18, 2013

I just visited Shamwari Game Reserve with a friend of mine and it was her first safari experience and she absolutely loved it! I think it's the perfect destination for tourists visiting South Africa and don't have time to go up to Kruger/Sabi Sands area and fits in fantastically with the famous Garden Route.

We didn't have time to do the Garden Route so we did a quick 1 hour flight to PE from Cape Town, which was followed by a 45 minute drive...so overall very easy to get to. The flights are quite pricey for the length but we also purchased them last minute so that could be why but was totally worth it!

We stayed one night at Sarili Lodge and then moved to Bayethe Lodge for our final night. I would recommend both of them but Bayethe Lodge is beyond amazing and really feels like a bush experience yet luxurious at the same time!

Although I really enjoyed Sarili I would suggest to absolutely not stay in the Courtyard Rooms unless the reserve is fully booked. For nearly $1000 a night room (R7,500) you have absolutely no view and no privacy!! The room is spacious, clean and nicely decorated with a stunning tub and glorious rainfall shower but it has large windows leading out to a garden that there are people constantly walking by as well as the leading area to the pool. We also had the braai and breakfast out there so felt people were always in our space. This means you can't freely walk around your room and would always have to remember to close the blinds if you were going to shower (the windows are blurred in the bathroom area but I mean from walking to your shower to the closest area and basically getting ready in a towel). I also didn't feel comfortable even just sitting on the bed and reading as people were passing by and felt kind of annoyed that to have privacy I had to have no natural light in the room and close the blinds.

Also, by having this courtyard room you didn't really get a sense you were in the bush, you kind of could be anywhere. I do think the rooms upstairs however must have been quite beautiful with a lovely view so would recommend staying in one of those. They are only slightly more expensive with only being R250 extra per person. With the room view of the courtyard I think it should sell at a much more discounted rate and think if you are going to charge that price you need to keep that area private for the guests and make an effort with the garden so it's somewhat a pretty view.

The room situation though was my only gripe as the lodge itself was very personable and the staff was amazing (a special shout out to Yolanda and our guide Harry). Such kind and accommodating people! I was also very impressed with the food selection and quite enjoyed the braai but met a few people staying more than 2 nights and don't think I would want to braai every alternative night but just once, especially with the price tag of R7500 a night!

One of the really nice things about Sarili is that it feels like a villa and if you are traveling with a small group it would be perfect for you. I think this would be an amazing family vacation spot, especially since there are only 5 rooms so you could basically rent out the whole place (and give the kids the garden rooms). Sarili is also only one of two lodges that allow children but Riverdene is more child friendly.

The next day we moved over to Bayethe Lodge which I think is the crown jewel of Shamwari. It truly is amazing! The tents are spacious with a glorious bath tub (as well as outdoor shower), lounge area, air conditioning, fire place, deck area with plunge pool and you are completely surrounded by trees. I have done a few safaris and this is more my style...feeling in the heart of the bush! The meal selection is the same here as Sarili so think they work on the same menu at each lodge. Although there is a good selection I would be interested in how often they change their menu as for lunch on a 3rd day I am not sure what I would have eaten unless I wanted to repeat but if you aren't fussy there is about 5 main course choices.

Because I am in tourism I asked to see a few of the lodges on the way to Bayethe and was able to take a look at Riverdene and Long Lee. Yolanda was incredibly helpful in organizing this for me!

Riverdene is 100% for families and if the reserve is fully booked and you're a couple traveling without kids I would suggest to skip the Shamwari experience unfortunately. The lodge is nice but I can imagine it being a bit of a (well run) mad house with all the children, which is great for families and especially the kids getting to meet other kids. They have a great program for children and even give them a safari backpack with a book for the kids to collect things and place in baggies in the booklet. I think if I was a kid I would absolutely love it. The rooms are also very spacious and have families in mind by having microwaves in them for parents to heat up baby bottles and whatever else. I think they do most of their meals in a dining room there that is kind of lack luster and originally thought of a conference room when I saw it. This is a common theme at Shamwari (eating indoors), think they should come up with more ways to enjoy meals outside.

Next we stopped at Long Lee, which I believe is their largest lodge. It's more colonial in style yet the rooms are surprisingly modern and are completely different to the rest of lodge. If you're going to get a suite I would recommend asking for one of the suites at the bottom by the second pool so you have more privacy and better views or one of the 2 in the main manor house as I could imagine they have great aerial views. I liked this lodge but am personally more of a fan of smaller more boutiquey places so it wouldn't be my first personal choice at Shamwari. They also do their breakfast and dinner in a dining room but this one had more personality to it but my friend found it stuffy, so I guess it depends on your taste (I personally love colonial!). I think Long Lee is CRAZY not to do meals on their huge lawn overlooking their watering hole. They could set up some beautiful lanterns and really make it a great experience. I also think they should add a spotlight to their waterhole for the evening.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to see Eagles Crag, which I think I would have really loved as I am a sucker for safari luxury and where I would definitely want to stay on my next visit to compare to Bayethe.I think most of the lodges are more like a 4 star feel than a 5 but Eagles Crag seemed like it could be 5.

As for the game viewing we had a great experience. On our visit and in 3 game drives we saw lion, cheetah, white rhino, giraffe (lots of giraffe), buffalo, elephant, all the plains animals, tortoise and a puff ader. The game viewing isn't as abundant as Kruger & Sabi Sands and unlike those two parks you do get a sense of the boundaries of the reserve. Also, the terrain is very hilly so not always a particularly comfortable journey but definitely not something that would put you off on going. I think what Shamwari is offering is pretty amazing substitute for people who can't make it up to Kruger and as previously mentioned, a great thing to add on to the Garden Route.

Overall, I would highly recommend this experience! I have done quite a few game drives in places like Sabi Sands, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Tanzania and although this is quite different I definitely think it's worth a visit if traveling in South Africa! And if it's your first safari experience I think you would really love it.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank passtheburts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai
Level 6 Contributor
69 reviews
66 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed March 16, 2013

Just back from shamwari saliri lodge, less than 1 hour drive from PE airport, the lodge is a courtyard hotel room with all the amenities you find in a hotel, very good mobile reception, DSTV, but if you want to avoid kids then to go to this lodge as its a child friendly lodge so bit annoying with kids.
clean room, but didn't like the bathroom set up as there is no door between the bathroom and bedroom so no privacy.
game viewing all depends on luck you might see herds of elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopard, rhino, and sometime just few animals.
food was very good and same as the service.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Khalil A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Retford, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
160 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 99 helpful votes
Reviewed March 15, 2013

Wow, what an experience!
this is one of the nicest places we have ever stayed, then if you throw in the fantastic game viewing then it probably comes top.
Riverdene has only 9 rooms so immediately it feels exclusive without being cliquish or snobbish.
The rooms are all large with a huge bed, luxury bathroom and seating area. On our arrival the bed had been dressed with flowers, it looked beautiful.
We were greeted at the door and offered home made lemonade before being shown around and informed about the daily schedule of meals and game drives.
Riverdene is the 'child friendly' lodge and there were children there while we were there, mostly well behaved but on our last day there were a couple of very exuberant German boys who could be a bit much but it didn't spoil anything. If you've had kids you take it in your stride.
The food is exceptional, everything we had was presented and cooked perfectly and if we have a complaint, it is that there is too much food.
Breakfast consists of a large buffet offering all the things you would expect, plus you are presented with a menu of what is on offer for a cooked breakfasts
Lunch is 3 courses, then there is afternoon tea with small cakes and drinks just before you leave for your 4pm game drive. Dinner is served from 7.30 pm and is either a 3 course dinner or a 3 course barbeque.
Pace yourself!
The game drives are such a wonderful experience. It was our first time on safari and it didn't disappoint. Our Ranger Vincent was knowledgeable and humorous. He managed to find the leopard for us, a rare treat, and we saw lions, cheetah, black and white Rhino, hippo, elephants, not to mention the many types of antelope.
Before we came I had read various reviews telling us to wrap up warn on the drives but when I checked the weather forecast I saw that in March the evening temperature only went as low as around 15 degrees C. I thought, we're from the uk, that's not cold so took it with a pinch of salt and saved on packing by just bringing a fleece and thin-ish scarf. Now, what I hadn't taken into account is the fact that at times you are travelling at a reasonable speed in an open vehicle, add to that the wind, (which is very common in the eastern cape) and it feels like a windy day in February! There are blankets on the jeep but I was also wishing I had brought a hat, (tight fitting or with a chin strap, it WILL blow off) and another layer or 2, maybe even gloves.
If the wind isn't blowing and the day has been really hot, then it's not so bad but if you haven't taken it with you you can'r put it on if you do need it.
Meal times are quite casual affairs, I wasn't sure what to pack for this but found that you certainly don't need to get 'dressed up.'
What really struck us, and we have bored everyone about it since, is the service. The attention to detail, the, 'pleasure madame/sir' after every 'thank you.' the smiles, the planning the greetings after your drives with hot scented cloths and a cold or hot drink, just everything.
This is the first holiday where I seriously didn't want to leave. Seriously!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank SMD1966
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shamwari Game Reserve Lodges

Property: Shamwari Game Reserve Lodges
Address: N2 between Port Elizabeth & Grahamstown, Shamwari Game Reserve 6000, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Shamwari Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Shamwari Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Shamwari Game Reserve Lodges 5*
Number of rooms: 56
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A mere 75 km from Port Elizabeth towards Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Shamwari is the crown jewel of private game reserves situated in the malaria free Eastern Cape, the birth place of Nelson Mandela. This privately owned 25 000 hectares of prime natural terrain has received numerous international awards. Shamwari is an exploration of nature with close encounters of free roaming wildlife and the coveted big five with a choice of unique lodges, an exclusive private villa and the adventurous Explorer Camp. Luxury accommodation is offered in 7 different game lodges on Shamwari Game Reserve, all of which are 5 Star graded. Choose a game lodge that perfectly compliments your ideal African experience. EAGLES CRAG LODGE - Exclusivity, privacy and serenity for the most discerning of travelersBAYETHE TENTED LODGE - The ultimate in luxury tented accommodationSARILI LODGE - A colonial and bush experience. Perfect for families or small partiesLONG LEE MANOR - Refined elegance from a bygone era. RIVERDENE FAMILY LODGE - Colonial Africa in an elegantly restored CHILD FRIENDLY frontier home. VILLA LOBENGULA - Villa Lobengula is a beautiful and tranquil space tucked away in the depths of the valley bushveld. Booked on an exclusive use basis only. EXPLORER CAMP - Camping & walking experience among the Big 5 on the magnificent Shamwari Game Reserve ON SAFARI - Game drives can last up to 3 hours each and are conducted twice a day in open vehicles / Guided walks / Star gazing RELAX - Various treatments can be enjoyed at our Relaxation Retreats which are situated at Eagles Crag, Lobengula Lodge, Bayethe Lodge and Long Lee Manor ... more   less 
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