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Shamwari Bayethe Lodge
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Reviews (246)
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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
Reviewed 4 August 2015

Not sure where to begin in reviewing this place, it was fantastic. We stayed for 3 nights in a superior tented lodge at Baythe and loved it. The room was gorgeous, huge bed with electric blankets, great sense of space, private deck with cold plunge pool, gorgeous outdoor shower. The room was kept immaculately and the house staff were always about when we were out to leave nice touches. Our deck had lovely private views and in fact our whole tented area was very private indeed, you couldn't see any other tents or buildings from where we were.

The main lodge area was tastefully decorated and had a wonderful deck where you could eat lunch overlooking the valley. We saw Nyala, worthog, and monkey over our lunches but sometimes Hippo and elephant pass by too. The food was delicious and plentiful. The lunches were a 3 course meal or tapas or both! Great selection and quality. The evening meals were either BBQ or fine dining and both were fantastic. The lodge can only accommodate 24 people so the Chef team really pay attention to the fine detail of each plate. Drinks were not included apart from on the game drive but were reasonably priced with good selection. Breakfast was enjoyed with your ranger and again the selection and quality was fantastic.

Out on safari itself the experience was wonderful. This is a large reserve and it really gives a sense of space that can be missing at some of the smaller game reserves. The vehicles sat 6 in individual seats with a cabinet for belongings in each row. As it was winter, the morning drives came with blankets and hot water bottles! After we got back we were always met with a hot drink and a hot towel!

Our ranger Headman was extremely knowledgeable and put together really varied and interesting drives throughout our stay. He was able to position us for good sightings without influencing the animals behaviour. The rangers at shamwari have a system so that in the event of an interesting sighting the number of vehicle present is limited to 2 so as not to disturb the animals or affect the experience. We were very fortunate to see lion, cheetah, hippo, and black rhino to name a few but Headman also took time to explain the bird calls and tracks as he knew we were interested. My wife and I are both Zoologists and we found the drives very informative and memorable. It was also great to stop to have sundowners at some simply amazing lookout points. We would go back there in a heartbeat if we could afford it, and think that for the experience you get, it is definitely worth the money.

  • Stayed: July 2015, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank Richard B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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