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“Totally Amazing - from start to finish”

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Shamwari Bayethe Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 8 October 2015

What can I say - what a magical place to visit!
From start to finish, this was a whirlwind experience of; majestic wild animals in their natural habitat, wonderful scenery / sunrises and sunsets, beautiful food and luxurious accommodation, all wrapped up in the fantastic hospitality of our Ranger - Jaques (in our opinion, the Crocodile Dundee of Rangers - a great personality and a passion to provide his clients with the best Safari experience he can (even if that means climbing out of the Jeep so that he could change a punctured tyre - in the company of the Black Rhino!))
Day by day we were left overwhelmed at the adrenalin fuelled adventure we had with Jaques, never giving up on the hunt, reaping the dividends when we found the elusive Cheetahs early one morning, and being able to enjoy their company in private for a while before the other Shamwari Rangers and their clients descended. Even now as I write this, I find myself getting quite emotional at the memory.
The 'tents', if you can call them that are extremely comfortable and luxurious - who would have thought that at almost 50 years old I would be happy to take an outdoor shower, and the complimentary toiletries were that nice that we ended up buying the whole range from the Spa to take home with us. The coal burning fire was an additional bonus - not that we needed it to warm us up, but it added to the magic of the experience.
Food was plentiful and delicious too, in fact I can't think of one complaint - other than the fact that we had to leave!
Would recommend to everybody, and would be back there in the blink of an eye given the opportunity. What a place, what an experience, and what a Ranger!

Stayed: September 2015
1  Thank Carole W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 3 October 2015 via mobile

An amazing place.. saw 4 of the top 5 within the first drive.. even in the pouring rain. It does seem to depend on your ranger and the group to enhance your experience. Our ranger Jacques was fantastic. . Plenty of banter and his knowledge was amazing. Definitely recommend this place.. so far the best stay in south Africa.

Stayed: October 2015, travelled as a couple
Thank amanda1970stevens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 October 2015

Our "tent" was wonderfully comfortable, with heating and air conditioning working perfectly (really necessary on hot days with cold nights). The bathroom, with its outdoor shower and wonderful bath products, was very well-equipped. The outside space was great for bird-watching, and the nyala (deer) came right up to our tent. We felt well looked-after, we were fed very well, and the game drives lived up to all expectations - our driver was knowledgeable and observant, and we saw plenty of wildlife, plenty of which was very tolerant of us getting very close.

  • Stayed: September 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank Patsy H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 September 2015

It is very hard indeed to capture in a short space just how remarkable your experience will be here. Every detail has been thought out and attended to by the Bayethe staff, and you will be treated magnificently from check-in to check-out. You will have a 5* experience that circumscribes amazing game drives, superb food, terrific service and luxury accommodation. It's a holistic occasion and it works so well because of the integration of these elements into one consistent, multi-faceted experience -- so approach it this way. My partner and I were here for three nights at the end of our two-week South African holiday and we could not have asked for a better climax to our trip. Here's a typical day:

You're awakened ay 5.30am by a call from your ranger and invited on the morning's game drive. You assemble in the luxury main Lodge for tea, coffee, juice and nibbles, where you meet your ranger and the other members of your group (6 people per Landcrusier). If it's a cold morning, when you get in the Landcruiser you're given blankets and a hot water bottle to keep warm in the 20-minute drive to the Shamwari main gate. Once in the Reserve, you then spend the next three hours with the many animals and guided by your ranger, who is highly trained. S/he can answer any question you ask and will do as much as possible to bring you into close contact with the tremendous wildlife on the Reserve.

I thought we would drive on roads and look at rhinos, etc., through binoculars from a distance. How wrong I was! Your ranger will take the Landcruiser through the park's terrain, however rugged, and position you at times within just a few feet of the animals. We got up close to giraffes, a herd of elephants (twice), cheetahs, rhinos, and on three occasions a pride of lions. I was so close I could have stroked them, although strict rules apply about not standing up in the Landcruiser, etc. It is hard to capture in a review just how close you'll get, and what you'll see, and how you'll feel when watching the animals getting on with their lives. Our ranger -- the brilliant Headman -- talked us thought the animals' behaviour and helped us witness the specifics of what we were seeing; at one point we followed two cheetahs looking for breakfast and learned how and why they moved as they did, in single file, over certain kinds of terrain. While we were incredibly close to the action (we saw the two cheetahs succeeding in securing breakfast), we were 100% safe at all times and never put at risk. The animals are wild but they are used to the sound of the vehicles and basically ignore your presence (you are neither food nor threat). The rangers care a great deal about their welfare and habitat, and are fiercely protective of the animals, from the smallest bird to the grouchiest lion. Conservation is their passion. Also, the rangers are in constant contact between the vehicles, so if a happy hippo pops up in the river, it's reported and you can drive to see the sight if you're relatively nearby.

At about 8.30am you stop for coffee and nibbles provided by the ranger by the side of the Landcruiser, and then head back to Bayethe by about 9.30am. You're welcomed by the staff with warm hand-towels and a drink, and then you sit for breakfast which consists of a full buffet and a hot menu (try the Full African Breakfast). After that, the day is yours to relax in your 'tent' (which has been made up while you're out) or at the main Lodge, or in the spa. Lunch is served from after 12.30pm (another very full menu of terrific food) and you also place your drinks order at this time for the evening drive. At 3.30pm you assemble at the Lodge for the evening drive and are back in the Reserve at 4pm. About 6.45pm, after lots more animal-spotting, you'll be served your drinks and nibbles by the Landcruiser and then driven back to the Lodge (a sherry awaited us on arrival each night). After freshening up, dinner is at 8pm. Some nights you'll eat in your couple or family groups (from a full a la carte menu); other nights there'll be a BBQ or 'braii' when you eat with everyone, including your ranger. We were exhausted by 10pm and often enjoyed a late-night snifter in our 'tent' after dinner, which had been 'turned-down' by the staff while were eating.

The food is superb and the portions are generous. You can sample local fare (I enjoyed the BBQ warthog) along with more familiar dishes. The staff are, to a man and woman, absolutely brilliant. The quality of service you will receive sets the standard, in my view. I travel *a lot* and have rarely enjoyed service as good as this from polite, approachable, attentive professionals.

I don't often enthuse like this, but I genuinely could not find anything to criticise or to question during my stay. The only tricky bit was the drive from the N2 motorway to the Lodge (about 40 long mins) on an unsealed gravel road, which I found a bit taxing in our hired Toyota Corolla; but it you take it slow, you'll be fine. If you need to stay in contact with the outside world, you'll have a phone and 3G signal pretty much constantly and the main Lodge has fast wi-fi. Finally, charge your cameras and take a spare memory card. You will need it: there is so much to see, and many surprises ahead on the Reserve.

Thanks to everyone at Bayethe, and especially to Headman who made the whole experience so educative, bold and exciting, while keeping us safe and well-looked-after. You should heed his words which we heard and echoed every morning and evening before our drive: 'Let's do this thing!'

Stayed: September 2015
8  Thank DrMacca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 August 2015 via mobile

My wife and I have just spent 3 nights at the Shamwari Bayethe lodge and was blown away with the whole experience. The accommodation was perfect, the food was to a superb standard and the staff were nothing short of perfect. They could not do enough for you and were always so attentive, our ranger Siya was very knowledgable and so enthusiastic on our drives and we would definitely go back there or recommend this to others.

We were 2 very satisfied people with the animals we saw, the accommodation and the service provided.

Thanks

Stayed: August 2015, travelled as a couple
Thank Peter M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Shamwari Bayethe Lodge

Address: Between Grahamstown & Port Elizabeth | Off the N2, Port Elizabeth 6130, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Port Elizabeth
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 83 Speciality Lodging in Port Elizabeth
Price Range: R 1 122 - R 17 263 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Shamwari Bayethe Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Shamwari Game Reserve - The Pride of the Eastern Cape!Bayethe Lodge offers the ultimate in Luxury Tented Accommodation.Bayethe is a splendid stone walled & thatch roofed Lodge with a large Deck Area overlooking a Waterhole. There is a double volume Lounge & Dining Area which spills out onto the Deck which is adjacent to the outside Boma for traditional fireside Dining under the stars. The 9 Luxury Tents are camouflaged under trees allowing for ample privacy & unsurpassed comforts. Each Tent is Air-Conditioned & heated & has an En-Suite Bathroom, Shower, private Plunge Pool & viewing Deck.The 3 Premier Tents at Bayethe Hills are the ultimate in tented luxury. These Tents offer the additional luxuries of a Fireplace, Satellite TV, Plunge Pool & Hammocks suspended out of the wooden Decks. Shamwari, meaning “my friend” in Shona, is the pinnacle of private game reserves and home to the coveted Big 5. Stretching 25,000 hectares over a malaria free landscape, it offers an award-winning nature experience and is one of the largest private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa. ... more   less 

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