Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

May 2007 : Shamwari

Shamwari is an award-winning private game reserve, situated about an hour's drive outside Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape. After discovering it on the Internet, we decided to split our short stay in South Africa between Shamwari and Cape Town, spending a couple of nights in each. On arrival at the appropriate gate for Riverdene Lodge, we were presented with a letter, which stated that "... we have taken the liberty of upgrading you to our premier Eagles Crag Lodge". We decided that, on balance, this would be acceptable

Eagles Crag Lodge

My first safari, in the 1980s, was based in tents, with nothing but a sheet of canvas and a spear-wielding Masai warrior between me and the screeching hyenas at night. My second, in the 90s, used canvas-walled huts similar to Shamwari's Bayethe Lodge, though nothing like as well-appointed. Walking through the door of Eagles Crag for the first time in May 2007 I knew that, at last, I had 'arrived' in Africa

This is Shamwari's premium lodge, and it certainly lived up to its billing. Beautifully situated beside the rocky hill that gives the lodge its name, Eagles Crag consists of a main building, nine detached suites and an excellent spa facility. All have a modern, but stylish, appearance. The suites have a spacious and open feel, yet are also thoroughly private, including the outdoor decking and pool areas. The quality of the food and wines was superb. Overall, an exclusive and stylish retreat, with more than a touch of pampering about it. Very highly recommended

Game drives

Two game drives per day are included, with the customary dawn and dusk timings to maximise game viewing potential. As with everything else at Shamwari, these were exceptionally well conducted, with an expert ranger and an open Land Rover that managed to be much more comfortable than similar vehicles that I have experienced in the past. As the early morning and late afternoon temperatures during our stay were much colder than is usual for the time of year, warm clothes - supplemented by blankets and hot water bottles! - were the order of the day. We managed to see a wide selection of animals, including real gems such as a leopard, a group of white rhino and a baby giraffe. Strangely, however, our luck was out when it came to lions and elephants. In a very nice touch on our afternoon drive, we enjoyed a selection of drinks and snacks as the sun went down.