We stayed at Riverdene for 2 nights at the end of September. This was our second visit as we stayed there in September 2008. A repeat visit was needed as we had such a wonderful time on our first visit. We booked on the Mantis Madness deal, which gave us a free hotel stay in Cape Town (Waterfront) for booking 2 nights at Shamwari. This is available from May to the end of September and is good value.
We were welcomed enthusiastically at the lodge. A nice touch was the bottle of wine and a lovely card welcoming us back to the lodge.
Our room was large and luxurious with everything you could wish for to make the stay enjoyable. There is a small patio in front of the room to sit out and enjoy the garden. There are lots of birds to watch, including sunbirds feeding on the aloe flowers - beautiful. There is also a viewing area, which overlooks the river, to view passing game.
We went on four game drives. Our ranger, Konrad was top class. He was very informative about the animals, birds and bush plants without being over the top. He went out of his way to show us the main animals, but also spent time trying to find more elusive species such as cheetah, leopard and brown hyena. He was happy to extend our game drives so that we could watch a leopard feeding on its kill. The noise of the bones crunching, as she ate, will always stay with us.
We are keen photographers and were able to get hundreds of photos. Konrad was keen to position the truck, just right, to get the best of shots.
We went on an additional trip to the Shamwari veterinary hospital, so often seen in the TV series about the reserve. We saw the baby elephant, Temba, which had been hand reared from being a tiny baby. However the tiny 3 months old Cape Mountain zebra, (Debra!) stole the show; it was so endearing. You can also visit the Born Free Foundation facility, which is very close by.
We were lucky to have 2 other couples from England sharing our game drives. We got on very well and this made our visit so much more enjoyable. Mealtimes are a shared experience with the other people on the truck. The ranger also joined us for breakfast.
It is important to plan ahead for a game reserve experience. At the end of September, the weather is very pleasant during the day but cold, especially on the drives, early morning and in the evening. We had rain on two of the drives. Ponchos were provided to help keep us dry. The drives were not curtailed due to inclement weather. In fact the longest drive we had, 4 hours in length, was on a very rainy, windy evening. This proved to be our most memorable drive.
Shamwari is a wonderful game reserve and rightly deserves its rating as one of South Africa’s best. Everything is done to make your stay so enjoyable. Staying at Shamwari is not cheap, but when you consider the quality of the lodge, the all-inclusive meals and drinks and the marvelous game drives, it is good value and worth saving up for.
We would not hesitate in recommending Shamwari for a safari experience. We will certainly go back again; we enjoyed it so much.
- 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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- Also Known As:
- Shamwari Game Reserve Hotel Shamwari Game Reserve