• South Africa offers a whole host of scenic wonders from Table Mountain and God's Window to a wide expanse of forest, coast and desert guaranteed to lift your spirit
  • Shamwari game reserve in the Eastern Cape offers a sensational experience for the whole family
  • Observe the local wildlife that includes everything from 'The Big 5', to whales, penguins, meerkats and tropical birds making it a true holiday of a lifetime

Paul Johnson from A Luxury Travel Blog tells us about his safari in Shamwari

Last Summer I travelled with my family to South Africa. After a few days in Cape Town, we headed for the Eastern Cape for a safari at Shamwari - one of the few game reserves in the country that is particularly well suited to families, where we saw four of the Big 5 and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

It only takes you an hour's drive from Port Elizabeth airport.  I would recommend such a trip to families looking to do something a little different to your usual 'sun and sand' holiday.

In terms of accommodation there are a lot of options; for instance, you have the colonial style Long Lee Manor and the more family friendly Riverdene Lodge, the two places where we stayed.

The food was great, kid-friendly and the staff were always happy, charming and polite.  I can’t speak highly enough of our ranger, Geran, and the rangers at Shamwari in general. They are extremely knowledgeable, can distinguish different species of snakes from the tracks that they leave, identify dung and tell you how fresh it is, tell you about the inner workings of a giraffe’s digestive system (or any other animal), and so on.

At Shamwari they use open-sided Toyota Land Cruisers, adapted to hold up to 7 passengers plus the driver/ranger, ensuring you get a great view.

Not that it should be, but if your goal is to ‘tick off’ the Big 5 - elephant, buffalo, rhino (both black and white), lion and leopard – then at Shamwari you’ll at least be giving yourself a fighting chance since they have them all within the reserve.  We saw four of them, just the leopard eluding us… the same happened the last time we went on safari in Tanzania. We don’t mind – it gives us a good reason to go again!

So here are three of the Big 5 (our sighting of buffalo was a little too distant and shrouded by bushes for a photograph to do it justice). The close-up of the elephant (above) is one of my favourite pictures from the trip.

If you're planning a big safari trip, consider buying travel insurance before you go. It probably won't protect you against lions or a buffalo stampede, but it will cover you for almost everything else.  

Find out more about our other global travel experiences:

  • Close up of a giraffe licking its nose
    Africa - Shamwari - A Luxury Travel Blog
  • A male lion standing proudly on a dirt road
    Africa - Shamwari - A Luxury Travel Blog
  • A beautiful male lion yawning and showing his teeth
    Africa - Shamwari - A Luxury Travel Blog