South Africa has several outstanding private game reserves but none has been as consistent in responsible tourism as Shamwari private game reserve. It is located in the Eastern Cape and has won multiple awards. Some of the highlights of visiting Shamwari are:
- The Big 5 African animals are here namely, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, rhino, lion
- Proximity to the Garden Route
- Perfect place for an African adventure
Upon reaching your transit point whether it is Durban, Cape Town, or Johannesburg, a private chauffeur will meet you to drive you to Shamwari. It is a family-oriented, malaria-free destination with an area of about 7000 hectares of bush.
History of Shamwari
Adrian Gardiner bought Shamwari originally as a 1200 hectare weekend farm. When neighbouring farms were hit by financial difficulties, Gardiner was able to expand to the current 7000 hectares. His research about the area led him to understand that his land had the potential to be turned into a game reserve since the Eastern Cape has always been known to be rich in natural resources such as animals, flora and fauna. Through the years he was able to restore most of the land which attracted the Big 5 through the growth of new plants and trees.
He started with a staff of 7 in 1992 and recruited 2 experts on conservation to provide for a malaria-free, diverse wildlife reserve, resplendent with natural rain and a balanced eco system. He also began an animal rescue program for captive big cats and teamed up with the Born Free Foundation. By the year 2000, Shamwari was self-supporting and able to pay for the needs of its wild predator animals, employees, and other game reserve needs. It was also in this year that the first lions were brought to Shamwari to live as free animals.
With 7000 hectares, Shamwari is among the largest private game reserves in the area of the Eastern Cape. The world recognizes 7 major biomes and Shamwari has 5 of these. It also has 4 of the 26 smaller biomes which draw in hundreds of interested scientists and nature lovers from all over the world. Since it only has 6 lodges, it can be difficult to make reservations especially on important holidays and weekends. It really is an incredible mixture of African wild with first world dining room furniture (and other luxury amenities).
Shamwari now has about 5000 animals either born in, or brought to, the game reserve, and about 325 staff members to work on the game reserve or in the lodges. A new animal rescue centre was opened in 2005 to augment the first centre, also focused on big cats in captivity. There are 3 luxury spas and one spa located within the bush which is a fantastic and unique experience for anyone.
Aside from the lodge facilities, one can go on game drives but it is limited to children older than 4 years of age. The most recent program launched by Shamwari is about saving the rhino from extinction. The game reserve is selling tickets to a safari adventure in the hopes of being able to raise enough funds to give to the Wilderness Foundation’s efforts to save the rhino. Shamwari is just one of the private game reserves in this promotion. Other game reserves that have signed up to help the foundation include the Kruger National Park, the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, and Jock Safari Lodge.