In the Shona language, the word ‘Shamwari’ means ‘my friend’. There is an ease to safari life here, perhaps due to the well-organised guiding and the comfortable accommodation. All Big Five animals roam the bushveld of the Shamwari, in addition to abundant antelope, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, wild dog, hyena and hippo! The area is a haven for birdlife too, featuring amazing quantities of raptors, waterbirds, and grasslands species. Due to the range of properties offered in the Shamwari, there really is something for everyone – families, couples, groups and honeymooners alike!
The lodges themselves are a brilliant mix of slick, almost hotel-style offerings (Eagles Crag, Villa Lobengula), colonial-inspired grandeur (Long Lee Manor), contemporary chic (Sarili), safari-lux (Bayethe) and play park (Riverdene). Two of these options (Eagles, Long Lee) include corporate facilities, which, for us, detracts a little from the feeling of being on vacation – but if you are hoping to book a conference, for example, we thoroughly recommend both properties! Couples are well accommodated at all lodges, but if you are after extra privacy we suggest Bayethe. The family-friendly lodges are Riverdene and Sarili – and Sarili is fabulous for a small group. The Shamwari does have a mobile camp, the Explorer Camp, which has a more spontaneous feel. Unlike the lodge properties, there is no electric fence around Explorer so big game is able to wander through at any time!
From the main lodges, guests enjoy game drives and game walks or nature walks – drives take place every day, whereas walks are available on request. Guests also have the opportunity of visiting three local wildlife centres. At the Shamwari Rehabilitation Centre, young, orphaned, injured or abandoned animals are nurtured back to health. The Dr Ian Player Rhino Awareness Centre focuses on endeavours to conserve the majestic rhinoceros and to protect the species from poaching. And the Born Free Foundation Animal Research & Education Centre’s efforts are concentrated on educating the public on the exploitation of wildlife in captivity worldwide.
Please note that children aged 4 years and under are not permitted to join game drives and game walks. However, they are welcome to visit all three wildlife centres, provided they are accompanied at all times by an adult. At Shamwari Explorer Camp, the emphasis is on walking. A stay here is restricted to persons aged 16 and over; and persons aged above 60 must present a medical clearance certificate.
If you are travelling as a family with very young children, Riverdene Lodge is absolutely first rate. A designated children’s coordinator arranges activities for the little ones while the adults and older children are on game drives and game walks – and the grounds of the lodge include a swimming pool with shallow end and a fantastic playground featuring a zebra seesaw!