Eagles Crag at Shamwari Private Game Reserve has achieved a perfect balance between adventure, comfort, service excellence and a fantastic bush and game experience.
Located in the depths of the Eastern Cape Province’s wilderness and on the legendary Shamwari Private Game Reserve, this lodge is one of the best that I have visited.
Private Game Reserves vs National Parks
If a visit to Africa is on your bucket list or only happens rarely, then my recommendation is to obtain your game and bush experience at a Private Game Reserve rather than a National Park.
There is nothing wrong with South Africa’s National Parks, in fact they are exceptionally well managed, but they exist first and foremost for conservation. Tourism is secondary.
Private Game Reserves, on the other hand, are only able to provide conservation because of your tourism Dollars.
Private Game Reserves offer visitors a lot more than National Parks are able to offer. National Parks are often larger than private game reserves and are less expensive but the experience at a private game reserve is vastly superior to that of a National Park.
National Parks are all about basic self-catering accommodation and self-drive tours. Private Game Reserves offer all the comfort s of a well-run hotel and excellent restaurant as well as the services of a highly experienced and knowledgeable tour guide.
The difficulty for Private Game Reserve management is how to balance a bush and game experience with creature comforts. Do you focus more on the coarseness of the African bush or on the cushiness of luxury hotel?
This is not easy to achieve. I have stayed at private game reserves that have been VERY coarse but offered an incredible game experience and I have also spent time at those that are more about lounging and eating than about getting into the sounds, smells and sights of Africa’s incredible bush. Neither left me feeling satisfied.
Eagles Crag, to my mind, has the perfect balance.
About Shamwari Private Game Reserve
Shamwari Private Game Reserve’s moto is “Conserving a vanishing way of life”. Mammals the world over are facing an unprecedented attack on their habitat. Roughly 90% of all mammals on the planet are made up of humans, their pets and their food. Just 10% of mammals are wild!
Only 30 years ago man shared Earth on a 50/50 basis with wild mammals. Shamwari, and other private game reserves, are bucking this trend and preserving our heritage.
Shamwari was also the first Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape to use tourism to fund conservation. They were so successful that the region now has vast tracts of land that offer a similar experience thanks to like-minded entrepreneurial conservationists.
The Eastern Cape of South Africa is exceptionally beautiful with a vast diversity of fauna and flora and Shamwari lies in the heart of this Eden.
Shamwari is, as one wold expect, home to the Big Five as well as many other very popular species such as Zebra, Giraffe, Hippo and Meercats. Birdlife is prolific and there are more plant species within the borders of Shamwari than there are in Western Europe.
Much of the land on which Shamwari exists had been devastated from over grazing but, thanks to Shamwari’s conservation efforts this has been rehabilitated.
A visit to Shamwari is not only an incredible experience but a conservation effort in its own right.
The Shamwari Experience
Expect comfort on a par with a five star establishment, meals prepared by a food loving chef, service once reserved for the aristocracy, vista’s that will take away your breath and animal sightings that will be served at your dinner parties for years to come.
Each visitor can expect two game drives for each night booked, full board and lots of smiles from the staff.
The game drive vehicles have open sides and canvas roofs and the seats are elevated to provide a good viewing platform. The vehicles are open to the elements as well as the aroma’s and smells of the African bush and the myriad of bird, insect and mammal sounds that make Africa unique.
The game guides are experienced and well educated and offer a good mix of entertainment and education. Don’t be shy about asking questions. Game guides WANT you to ask and thoroughly enjoy imparting their knowledge.
The morning game drive usually departs just after sunrise and the evening drive returns to the lodge just after sunset. Even in the very high temperatures of summer, game drives can be rather chilly thanks to the time of the day and the wind chill facture of a moving, open vehicle. Dress warmly and use the rugs and hot water bottles provided.
The game guide on my most recent visit showed a thorough knowledge of Shamwari. Once being a game guide myself and having spent much time in the bush I am not easily excited. However, on our morning drive we had an incredible encounter with four young, male white rhino who were sorting out their high rachial structure. A crash of Rhino’s indeed!
Depending on time and circumstances, the game guides will stop off at a location with a great view where you can alight and enjoy hot coffee in the morning and something with more kick in the evening.
What can you expect at Eagles Crag at Shamwari Private Game Reserve
The Eagles Crag is one of the most remote of the Shamwari Lodges and sits in the heart of a gorge that is thick with forest sandwiched between the towering stone cliffs and a trickling brook.
It is named for the Black Eagles that nest in the crags that look down upon the lodge. The setting is peaceful and beautiful.
There are many aspects that I enjoyed and found to be top of their class. The lodge has recently been renovated and the architecture contains the lessons learnt from the many years of Shamwari’s existence.
The buildings integrate beautifully with the surrounding environment but do not sacrifice comfort, style and functionality.
The lodge is so much a part of the landscape that it only becomes visible on the final few meters of the approach to the reception area. The interior is cool, spacious and beautifully decorated. The bar lounge is so inviting that it draws you into its space and you can’t help but order a Gin and Tonic.
The dining room is romantic, unique, cosy and full of African ambiance. The reed woven cubicles are awesome.
The wrap around outdoor upper deck with aerial viewing pods, fire pit and magnificent view is the focal point of the lodge. It’s the place to be between game drives and the best place to meet fellow guests and to discuss the day’s experiences.
The staff are awesome. Friendly, helpful and on hand when needed. They talk of the lodge with pride and will relate their experiences with pleasure.
There are nine suites and so the lodge is never overcrowded and each visitor can expect personal attention from the staff and game guides.
The suites are spacious, luxurious and set in the heart of the forest. Trees integrate with the decking of the private verandas and each unit has its own swimming pool. The bar fridge is well stocked and the bedding crisp, white and fresh. You will seldom experience as deep a sleep as you do in the fresh air, thick night and far off animal sounds of the African bush.
My favourite is the outdoor shower. You probably never thought to add a hot, naked, outdoor shower to your bucket list but, believe me, it’s something not to be missed.
I have left the food till last as one will leave the best delicacy till the final seconds of a meal. The food at Eagles Crag is abundant, delicious, healthy and full of local character.
My absolute compliments to our chef! I am a foodie and will walk the extra mile to find a good restaurant or culinary experience. Well, at Eagles Crag, I was satisfied, satiated and replete. A more complete eating adventure I have seldom experienced.
Thank you to all our hosts who gave us such a wonderful experience. I cannot wait to return.
Click here to find out more about Eagles Crag at Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Click here to make an online reservation and click here to find the lodge on Google Maps. You may also call to make your booking by calling 042 203 1111.