November 28 – 30
What can you say about a safari in Africa? While we went on a game drive on this trip already, the excursion to Shamwari was a 3 day, 2 night adventure. We went on a previous safari in Botswana in 2011 and were eager to see how a South African one compared.
It all started after the ship docked in East London, South Africa and our driver picked us up for the 3 hour trip to the Shamwari Private Game Reserve, near Port Elizabeth. We drove through the town of East London and then on a very good road with just normal traffic to the reserve. It was a beautiful day, and we were happy to share the van with Candace and Rodney, friends from Australia that we met on the ship and love to spend time with. (Well Candace is originally from Calgary but now lives in Australia.)
We arrived at the Long Lee Manor in time for check in, tea and then an afternoon game drive. Our guide was Tiem (pronounced Tim) and he was very good and friendly. We saw so many animals (the temperature was cool which made for more activity) and then ended the drive in the traditional manner, with sundowners – cocktails in the bush.
This game reserve sprawls over 60,000 acres. It has been voted the World’s Leading Safari and Game Reserve and Conservation Company for many consecutive years.
To read more about the history of Shamwari, click here for the website: Shamwari . We would highly recommend it for a wonderful safari.
We had a delicious dinner back at the lodge and retired to our lovely room. Shamwari has 6 different kinds of lodges. The Long Lee Manor, where we stayed, was the original manor house (circa 1916) and is a lovingly restored property. Our room was spectacular!
I will highlight several days of experience into a series of pictures vs trying to explain what we did each day. We had a total of 4 game drives, one on arrival on Saturday, two on Sunday and one before leaving for Cape Town on Monday. The morning drives start early, with a wake up call at 5:30 am, time for coffee and a home baked cookie or muffin, then a 3 hour game drive that starts at 6. You return for a 9:30 huge breakfast then have the rest of the day free until lunch from 12:30 – 2, tea at 3:30 and another game drive from 4 – 7 (with sundowners in the bush), then dinner at 8. During the free time, there is a pool, spa, lovely rooms and balconies overlooking the reserve. You can see animals in the distance and monkeys and wart hogs come pretty close. Unlike Botswana, the lodges here are within fences.
We saw all of the “big five” except one – the leopard. They were named originally because they were the most dangerous animals. They are lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo. We also saw all kinds of antelopes, warthogs, monkeys, giraffes, hippos, lots of types of birds, lizards, leopard turtles, cheetahs, two kinds of zebras, hyena, jackal, mongoose and a black headed heron with a nest near the lodge.
An Animal Rescue and Educational program was launched at Shamwari, in partnership with the Born Free Foundation to house rescued big cats from captivity. The Julie Ward Centre was opened on 30 September 1999 with five bush enclosures. We visited two where we saw white lions and other lions. Again, the leopards stayed out of sight. Our guide there said how sad it is to have animals enclosed, even in these large enclosures but these are unable to be in the wild, and at least they are cared for here. Most of these lions were used in circuses or for photo opportunities and have had their canine teeth and claws removed, very sad. They can only take 12 animals here.They do a lot of tours for children and the guide here is showing us the keratin that covers the horns of the impala.
We saw leopards in Botswana, and Tiem says we were lucky, because they are very elusive. We didn’t see any here.
On Sunday, I had a massage and pedicure in the morning after breakfast, then we had lunch outside around the pool. Here are some of the dishes we had for lunch!
Our Sunday game drive ended with the usual sundowners in the bush.
Sunday night’s dinner was a braai (African barbecue) in the building called the barn. Absolutely delicious and fun. All of our meals were at a table for 7, all of us – the guests – plus Tiem.
After our morning game drive on Monday, we had breakfast and were picked up for the 45 minute drive to the Port Elizabeth airport, where we boarded our flight to Cape Town.
We did encounter two “traffic jams”! On Sunday after our sundowners, a group of 5 rhinos were walking on the road. Every time we tried to pass, they spread out in front of us, if we wanted to turn right, they turned right! Very fun to see. And the end of our Monday morning game drive, a group of 20 giraffes did the same thing! And the giraffes are my favorite so it was a wonderful send off.
I will do a short post about Cape Town separately. Great three days!