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When considering a safari in South Africa, you may want to consider a lesser-known reserve for your clients. Located about 50 miles outside of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, Shamwari Private Game Reserve is one of the most luxurious game reserves in South Africa. As a big five reserve, Shamwari encompasses nearly 100,000 acres in this malaria-free region and boasts mild year-round weather, lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. It is an absolute gem for a safari holiday in South Africa. What’s more, its location makes for an ideal itinerary when paired with a road trip down the Garden Route to Cape Town.

An Adventure Fit for All Travelers
Shamwari has something for everyone. Home to seven luxury lodges, each with its own distinct character and appeal, guests are spoiled for choice. From intimate and romantic to adventurous to family-friendly, there is something to match your clients’ travel needs and style. The lodge styles are unique and include luxurious tented camps, an elegant manor house, and even a more simple and remote explorers’ camp that allows guests an itinerary of walking safaris, bringing them up-close and personal with nature.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve
Enjoying the surroundings. (Photo credit: Mayra Bazavilvazo)

Take the Little Ones
There are family-friendly safari destinations, and then there is Shamwari, home to one of the largest kids’ club of any game reserve! Although three lodges at Shamwari welcome children of all ages, Riverdene is the place to be when visiting with little ones. The Riverdene Lodge is home to a one-of-a-kind Kids on Safari Adventure Centre, where children can participate in a myriad of activities, from climbing walls to ziplines as well as indoor craft activities. Children from the age of 4 years old can join on game drives, and babysitters are available on request.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve
Exploring the kids’ activities. (Photo credit: Mayra Bazavilvazo)

The Safari Adventure Centre was a huge highlight for our kids. They couldn’t get enough of the ziplining, suspension bridges, maze and tree houses. And even though we didn’t stay at Riverdene, they visited daily. The Safari Adventure Centre is an ideal way to have kids get their wiggles out after sitting for a few hours on game drives.

A Refined Safari at Long Lee Manor
At the time of our visit to Shamwari, Riverdene Lodge had not yet reopened after shutting down for improvements during the pandemic, so we stayed about 15 minutes away, at Long Lee Manor. Long Lee Manor is an Edwardian-style manor that has been recently redefined. This elegant lodge boasts large sprawling verandahs, an expansive infinity swimming pool and beautifully manicured gardens, all overlooking the magnificent plains and wildlife of Shamwari. Long Lee Manor is also home to the original Manor House of the reserve, so it is rich with history.

The accommodations vary from Garden and Plains Rooms with interleading options, to Manor Suites, and one 2-bedroom Family Suite. All rooms spoil their guests with a private verandah or balcony, fully stocked minibar, coffee bar, luxurious welcome amenities, and heated beds and bathroom floors to keep guests cozy during cold evenings. Children will arrive to find a “Kids on Safari” backpack filled with gifts and activities to keep them entertained throughout their stay. Guests at Long Lee Manor can enjoy a well-equipped fitness center and indulgent treatments at the Relaxation Retreat spa, as well as purchase unique, local souvenirs at the onsite boutique.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve
View of the lodges. (Photo credit: Mayra Bazavilvazo)

The cuisine at Long Lee Manor is to die for and dining there is an experience in and of itself. The options are diverse and the presentation stunning; even your foodie clients will be blown away. At each 3-course meal, the lovely servers bring out a variety of appetizers for starters, then allow guests to choose their entree and dessert. The restaurant offers a children’s menu as well, but they will gladly cater to any requests or special cravings.

Something distinctive of dining at Shamwari is the fact that your clients will share breakfast with their guide daily. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about this at first. My family and I are a bit picky about our personal time, and we already spend a good portion of our visit with our guide during game drives, but our guide was wonderful and we truly enjoyed his company.  The extra time together also allowed us to plan our day with him and discuss any sightings or questions we had from the previous day.

Going Above & Beyond at Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Shamwari Private Game Reserve
Observing big cats. (Photo credit: Mayra Bazavilvazo)

Conservation is very much the core of Shamwari Private Game Reserve. The reserve is the perfect example of an ambitious conservation project that prevailed and has now reversed centuries of human impact. Shamwari has essentially restored this part of South Africa to its natural state, and guests are presented with a multitude of opportunities to learn about all its conservation initiatives.

The Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries are awe-inspiring, and I highly recommend that your clients consider visiting them during their stay. Visits to the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Rescue Centre allow guests to observe big cats that have been rescued from dire situations of captivity. The center gives these animals a second chance, allowing them to live out the remainder of their lives in the most natural way possible.  The center seeks to educate and promote the conservation of these cat species and their habitat. Their goal is to create awareness of the horrific ways that wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world.

Over the years the Born Free Foundation has been able to rescue many cats from such terrible circumstances.

The Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is equally amazing in that it helps to rehabilitate and care for sick, injured, abandoned or orphaned animals. With a professional veterinary team, they nurse these animals back to health, so they can be released back into their natural habitat. Although guests cannot interact with the animals because the goal is to rewild them, the educational opportunities at the center are fascinating. Our family truly enjoyed touring the center, led by our very unique guides-companion goats that keep the rehabilitating animals company during their stay at the center.

All in all, Shamwari Private Game Reserve is an extremely well-rounded safari holiday and an ideal alternative to the more traditional safari at Kruger National Park. Your clients can experience the big five in the lap of luxury, enjoy the gorgeous scenery and learn about conservation, all while skipping the crowds.

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This story originally appeared in, a family travel website created to inspire families with kids to expand their idea of adventures. You can follow the adventures of the Bazavilvazo family @worldstompers on Instagram and The Worldstompers on Facebook.