First-hand feedback from Johan’s recent trip to Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape.
Shamwari Long Lee Manor:
The lodge wasn’t just refurbished but actually closer to totally rebuilt. The rooms/suites are actually all brand new (rebuild from ground). The classical ambience has been retained but in a contemporary style. The colour palate has modern grey undertones but sparkled with greens, coppers and warm earthy browns. Natural fabrics, leather, stone, wood, coppers and metal contribute to the warm and welcoming feel you experience at the lodge. Traditional “lodge/safari/South African” food has been re-interpreted in innovative and modern ways including tapas styled plates and health focused options. The lodge is now also more child (teenager) friendly and accommodating – although Shamwari Riverdene remains the ideal lodge for families with younger children.
My verdict: Classically stunning with a bit of contemporary spice.
Until the opening of Sindile Tented Lodge, Eagles Crag was the modern flagship at the Reserve. Eagles Crag also had a do-over and emerged as a stylish and evolved adult. Deep dark greys, chocolates and stormy dark blues contribute to a sexy, sultry and powerful product. A “Romance de force” that caters for couples and ideal for any anniversary or special occasion trip. Eagles Crag can easily be twinned with the new Sindile for combination stays at Shamwari.
Many safari lodges claim to be child friendly. Riverdene is child-focused, child-obsessed even and undoubtedly set the standard for any safari lodge wanting to compete in this segment.
Although stylishly designed, it is uncluttered, practical and functional. Any parent will immediately sigh of relief that they can let kids ‘run wild’ without the immediate sounds of things breaking (well mostly coming from me as a non-parent).
The icing on the cake is however the “Kids on Safari Adventure Centre” on site that specifically caters to take care of the children while at the lodge. It contains THE “jungle gym” that would spoil any backyard, park or school equivalent for any child – and would probably make most of the parents wish they could be children. The expansive structure is age appropriately sectioned to allow for safe and enjoyable experiences for different age groups. Specially trained and dedicated staff look after the children (while parents can relax at the pool, on safari or just have some child-free time). An indoor section will entertain kids less adventurous or wanting a bit of a less active playtime. A word of warning: The kids might never want to leave again!
Sindile Tented Camp
Views to die for greets you as you enter the lodge reception. The expansive views across the savanna plain in front of the lodge is ever present – in your room, bathroom, private plunge pool, the bar and restaurant. Everywhere! The immaculately designed lodge pays homage to East African style tented lodges which automatically ads a touch of romance to the ambience. Glass and light sand coloured timber, twinned with a colour palate of ochre, rusted orange, deep mustards intermingled with flashes of blues and wine reds puts the lodge firmly back in the Eastern Cape semi-arid environment.
An unexpected tented delight for the region! I also had a look at the Sarili, Bayete and Lobengula lodge while at Shamwari. Should you need updates on these, please contact me or one of the team for updates.