Sarili Lodge – Shamwari
Despite its popularity, you’ll hardly see anyone on your stay in Shamwari Reserve, apart from the other guests in your lodge, your ranger and your lodge’s staff.
Its not just the exclusivity and privacy that makes Shamwari so popular. It is, of course, the animals. Thanks to its unique setting – hills, rivers, plains, valleys – this 25,000-hectare malaria-free reserve is home to five distinct ecosystems, which support a huge variety and number of animals, including the ‘Big 5’.
Sarili is the most intimate, sleeping a max of 10 guests, and its style appeals more to older couples and families. You feel right at home as soon as you step into this intimate rustic-luxury safari lodge. The living room’s stacked-stone fireplace is glowing. Your en-suite bedroom has views over woodsy, rolling hills, with a river below.
Thatched-roof, wood and stone floors, and smooth mud walls make this feel very authentic. Wildlife motifs pop up here and there – in the handmade wallpaper on one wall, or in a locally made sculpture. Furniture and amenities are top notch: extremely comfortable mattresses, luxurious cottons, and gorgeous bathrooms. The ubiquitous views over the game reserve are stunning. Slide open the doors of your suite for wildlife spotting any time of day.
With just five luxury suites, Sarili Lodge is intimate, and its friendly staff cook, clean and concierge. You will be assigned a ranger for the duration of your stay, and she or he will share some meals with you and help plan your game drives and other outdoor activities, while your in-house staff organize spa treatments. There is a small pool as well.
Sarili Lodge is the newest accommodation and its eco credentials continue an upward trend compared to older lodges on the reserve. The design of the lodge has been influenced by the Greenleaf standard developed by Wilderness Foundations with help from one of Shamwari’s founders. The water related aspects of the lodge are particularly notable in part driven by the Greenleaf standard but also reflecting the importance of water in this dry region. Rainwater collection from all roof surfaces and dual flush toilets reduce consumption of potable water. A biobox collects water waste – resulting greywater is reused in gardens.
Solar panels provide hot water for guests and heat the pool. Energy efficient lighting and above average thermal performance of glazing and insulation for South Africa. The lodge construction uses local materials for thatched roof and built on site of a previous structure to minimize its environmental footprint.
Recycling services can be limited in South Africa but Shamwari has contracted with a waste company in nearby Port Elizabeth. Vegetable and herb garden at Sarili provides a portion of food for meals.
Shamwari seems to be making a genuine difference and improving the life opportunities of the local community. Shamwari Game Reserve is a pioneer of South Africa’s high quality private game reserves. At the heart of the enterprise is the management, rehabilitation and development of the ecosystem to allow spectacular wildlife to thrive in a former farming area.
South Africa’s ‘wild’ province, the Eastern Cape features expanses of untouched beach, bush and forest. This was Nelson Mandela’s home province, and is an area with some enticing attractions – among them the Addo Elephant National Park, with the densest elephant population in the world; the dramatic Wild Coast; and, of course, Mandela’s home at Qunu.
There are some spectacular private game reserves here, including Kwandwe, Shamwari and River Bend (on a private part of Addo).