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Anyone who remembers the ‘old’ Riverdene Lodge will be surprised to see the complete transformation afoot at Shamwari – and for families with young kids, the new safari adventure centre is unlike anything else in the Eastern Cape – a winner for anyone with super active children who need exercise and don’t always want to be sitting on game drives. Of course, there are families who would prefer to be miles away from other kids (just ask about our private portfolio or watch this space for the refurbished Sarili Lodge when it reopens – it may be booked exclusively). Different strokes for different folks you might say, but one thing’s for sure: Shamwari has had a kid’s programme for years and they do it well.

The big news is the new adventure centre, which is next-level fun for kids with everything from zip-lines, climbing walls and tree houses. It’s wisely been zoned in ages – for toddlers, 4 to 12s and older so that every age has its space. And on rainy days, a fully qualified kids club coordinator does arts, crafts, painting and even pizza making or baking cookies. Speaking of food, the healthy kids menus have been perfected over the years and staff are especially chosen for their warmth and care of children. This extends to rangers who are seen happily collecting dung to identify on the walks or taking families to the new wildlife rehabilitation centre for and up-close educational experience on the deeper story behind conservation and the challenges it faces. Luckily, Shamwari has a more liberal policy on game drives than most reserves: children over four years can go on drives which is a relief for many parents wanting to share their love of the bush with little ones from an early age.

What we love!

  • That it’s less than an hour from Port Elizabeth airport so you can easily escape for the weekend
  • That the Eastern Cape is malaria-free and a great place to combine a beach and bush holiday
  • All the suites now have an interleading room to connect to and have fold-out sofa beds, which is great for multigenerational family bookings or smaller children wanting to be close to parents. There are only nine suites and all the rooms open out to garden and the swimming pool.

What you need to know…

  • Come summer or winter, there are plenty of things to do: a soccer pitch has just been completed next to the activity centre, and a great selection of board games is available for evenings and rainy days while parents spa or relax.
  • Big Five game viewing is excellent here, however, there are times when you drive within distant sight of the N2…
  • Sarili Lodge is another option for families on the reserve (sleeps 10). It less than ten minutes’ drive from Riverdene and kids from Sarili will be able to use the Kid’s Club at Riverdene. If you book both lodges for a big family gathering or milestone celebration, they can sleep 28 in total. Sarili Lodge is about to undergo refurbishment and will be re-opened in the second week of September.


Reviewed by Michelle Snaddon


Children's policy

Children of all ages are welcome! Kids over 4 can go on game drives.

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2019/2020 fully inclusive rates:
Low season: 1 May 2019 to 31 Aug 2019
Adult sharing R7 360 per person per night
Adult single R9 570 per person per night
Child R3 360 per child per night

High season:1 September 2019 to 31 October 2019
1 April 2020 to 30 April 2020

Adult sharing R9 890 per person per night
Adult single R12 855 per person per night
Child R4 945 per child per night

2020/21 fully inclusive rates:
Low season: 1 May 2020 to 31 Aug 2020
Adult sharing R7 910 per person per night
Adult single R10 285 per person per night
Child R3 955 per child per night

High season:1 September 2020 to 31 October 2020
1 April 2021 to 30 April 2021

Adult sharing R9 890 per person per night
Adult single R12 855 per person per night
Child R4 945 per child per night

Conservation levy: 
R100 per adult per night
Children under 12: R100 per night
Children under 4: no charge