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“Peak Experience”

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Shamwari Bayethe Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

My wife Debbie and I stayed at the Shamwari Bayethe Lodge the week of January 22. It was an excellent experience in every respect. Most importantly, our Ranger, Mino, was wonderful. Not only did he track and locate hundreds of animals for us during our three days of drives, but also provided us the details of their behavior, their place in food chain of the reserve and their background. He tied everything together to provide us with an understanding of the entire Shamwari ecosystem from termites right up to the lions. Mino is a great ambassador for Shamwari and more importantly for the wildlife and environment, and took care of our every need during our stay. As for the Bayethe Lodge, the food was excellent, the lodging luxurious and the scenery beautiful. The staff was very friendly and always helpful. As a word of warning, this is a great experience but also a tiring one. Up at 5 AM most mornings and back from dinner after 8 PM with a mid-day rest. The roads are rough and the ride in truck is bouncy. If you can tolerate that, you are in for an experience of a lifetime.

  • Stayed: January 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank MF1284
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We stayed here as part of our 30th Wedding Anniversary celebration and fell in love with this truly incredible place. Upon our arrival we were made to feel very welcome and special and offered a delicious cold drink and then shown to our tented lodge. It was just so beautiful, a rustic luxurious style with sweet touches ... flowers everywhere adorning the towels and delicious smelling toiletries, the plunge pool bubbling away, a safari bag containing thoughtful touches and suggestions of what to take on the game drives ... I could go on and on. We started with lunch and the setting of the tables looking over the watering hole was so unique, it was fabulous to watch the animals from our table and we were delighted to see springbok, warthogs and a hippo. The food was like a gourmet restaurant and delicious ... take loose fitting clothes as it's difficult to resist the 3 courses! We met our ranger Vuyo at afternoon tea, again beautiful touches, lovely homemade cake and jars full of sweets that you can help yourself to, to take on the game drives. The game drives were magical, Vuyo knew the best places to take us and we saw everything and more that we could possibly hope for. We loved the 4x4 adventures, through rivers and up steep inclines and the views and scenery were breathtaking. The morning stops for coffee and the sundowners with a G&T were just heaven. I feel so very lucky to have visited here and would return in a heartbeat. 10 out of 10 for every aspect of this incredible special place xx

  • Stayed: January 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank kiwigirly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Shamwari was the third of three Private Game reserves in the Eastern Cape that we visited on our recent trip to South Africa. We had selected Shamwari based on its reputation among Eastern Cape Game reserves, and while the reserve itself offered some pretty amazing game sightings, the Bayethe Lodge that we stayed at fell short in many areas compared to the other eastern cape lodges we visited (Pumba and Kwandwe). Our impression of Shamwari was affected from the moment we left the N2 highway following directions from Google maps to Shamwari. Our error was that we should have specified Bayethe Lodge rather than assuming directions to the the game reserve itself would lead us to the same place. Unfortunately this distinction was not made entirely clear to us by the lodge’s direction sheet or by the employee at the main Shamwari Gate. We did pass a signboard on the highway that said Bayethe, but it did not say Shamwari - this is confusing. We eventually ended up at Bayethe Lodge after a rather long drive on rough, terrible dirt roads that led us in and out of the game reserve. Upon mentioning this at check-in we really didn’t get a feeling that the employee checking us in cared that the directions were confusing or that we had driven well out of the way, nor did we get an overly welcome feeling (something that the other reserves exceled at). The ride out was shorter, but still on bad roads. It was a nice touch that they washed our car before we left, but by the time we got to the paved road you couldn't tell. There is something very commercialized about Shamwari and we don’t know if that is Shamwari as a whole or the Bayethe Lodge itself. Bayethe feels neglected and lacks the attention to detail seen in design, upkeep, staffing and overall experience that you find elsewhere. It doesn’t feel like you are at a luxury reserve, yet the prices you pay are luxury prices. For $700 per night, per person, you would think wine, beer and even sodas would be complimentary as they were at the other places we stayed - Pumba (which actually cost less money), Kwandwe, and in fact, every other private game reserve we’ve ever stayed at, regardless of cost. At Shamwari, beverages are only included on the game drives and you are given a tacky form to fill out during lunch indicating the drink you want for the afternoon game drive. Some redeeming qualities were that the food was quite good, and as I mentioned previously, we had some amazing game sightings, but overall Bayethe at Shamwari was not good value for money. I’ve broken down this review into the categories we evaluated.

Lodging: The lodge itself is very plain and certainly does not have a luxury feel. There isn’t a lot of common area space to relax in and the inside dining area is dark and the tables are packed tightly together. The inside dining tables look like outdoor tables (synthetic wicker) and are in fact are the same tables used on the outside veranda dining area. The outside veranda is difficult to move around on - you need to squeeze between tables and aloe plants that are coming up through cutouts on the decking. This veranda overlooks a waterhole that had a hippo in it at one point and some lovely weaver nests around the edge. Unfortunately there were also some unsightly concrete areas as part of this waterhole which ruined the look of the bush. The tented room that we stayed in was spacious and comfortable, especially the bed, but also fairly basic and certainly not luxury for the luxury prices paid. There really wasn’t much view into the bush and in fact there was some ugly piping and concrete in view in front of our tent. There was no internet in the tent, only in the main lodge, which is a negative in our mind. We like to catch up on email from the comfort of our bed in the evenings and not have to return to the lodge to get an internet connection. We did have some monkeys around our pool area one morning and on one afternoon there were a couple of female nyala laying in the shade under our deck - always nice to see some wildlife around the lodge.

Food: The food was very good at Bayethe/Shamwari and was some of the best we had on the trip. The tapas options at lunch were a nice touch and also very tasty. We also enjoyed the “Braai” night at the boma. However, the staff were not overly polished. They seem to get flustered when we wanted to move from the indoor dining area at breakfast to the outdoor area and this is in part because they want everyone that rides together in the game drive vehicle to eat together at the same table for breakfast and the braai at the boma. The game ranger does join you for these meals so it does make some sense to eat together, but we didn’t know this at first so it caused some confusion. Also you had to wait for the other people to show up at the table before you could order and get your food - some people like to go to their room first so we often found ourselves waiting on others. There also seemed to be some tension between the chef who made the cake for the afternoon snack one day and the other staff as to who would cut and serve the cake. It was just awkward and unprofessional.

Game Viewing: This is where Shamwari excelled, although we know there is somewhat of a luck factor to getting great game sightings. We were incredibly lucky in that we saw plenty of game and had quality sightings close to the vehicle including seeing a pride of lions on a kill. Our ranger Dylan was very good, often stopping the vehicle to show us animal tracks or certain plants of interest. Driving off road is allowed here so its possible to get quite close. Dylan was very knowledgeable and it was a nice touch for him to join us at breakfast and at the braai dinner in the boma. At the dining table we could learn more about the life of a game ranger and he clearly enjoys what he does. Our only complaint about the game drives is that the position of Bayethe in the reserve is such that you have to drive out of the reserve and back in to get to the southern part where it seemed like most of the animals were at the time of our visit.

Again, I’m not sure if the issues are related to the accommodation we chose at Bayethe Lodge or they are prevalent across all of Shamwari. As a result I don’t think I would return here or recommend it to anyone looking for an Eastern Cape luxury safari experience.

  • Stayed: December 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SGR_socialmedia, Guest Relations Manager at Shamwari Bayethe Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Dear Valued Guest,

Thank you for your recent review on TripAdvisor. All comments received by our guests help us to improve our service to you and future guests.
I am sorry to hear that your stay with us at Bayethe Tented Lodge did not meet with your expectations.

As the reserve is 25 000-hectares, our lodges are widespread and individually programmed in Google Maps to direct you to each lodge. We had to determine a central location for ‘Shamwari Game Reserve’ and that leads you to our main gate which is the hub of the reserve. On our website, there are specific geographical coordinates and directions to all our lodges.

The signage along the N2 is determined by SANRAL (The South African National Roads Agency Limited) and unfortunately, we do not have the authority to change the name of the sign to ‘Bayethe Tented Lodge, Shamwari Game Reserve’.

We are sorry that you did not feel that the staff were sympathetic or welcoming at Bayethe, this certainly is not the norm as our staff go over and above to make every guest feel special. Bayethe Lodge is a tented lodge to give our guests the ultimate African feel, feedback from the majority of our guests on TripAdvisor find the look of the lodge appealing, contrary to your statement. Last year, Bayethe Lodge had a soft upgrade to enhance the guests’ experience. We are currently working on the possibility of extending wi-fi access to the rooms. In order to prevent soil erosion, a weir has been built to the left of the lodge, this enables us to monitor and control soil and water erosion, and at the same time, it provides a watering hole for the animals and a viewing point for the guests.

We are sorry that you felt that Shamwari Game Reserve represented poor value for money. This statement is certainly not reciprocated with the majority of our guests. In our research conducted, we found that there are other reserves that are substantially more expensive and that we offer similar rates in comparison to other 5* rated game reserves in South Africa. We are also sorry to hear that you were under the impression that beverages were included in the rate, as this was discontinued from our package over six years ago.

We’re thrilled to hear that the food was up to your high standards. Please accept our sincere apologies for the lack of professionalism of and between staff members, we will investigate to ensure it does not reoccur in future. A majority of our staff come from our local villages and towns as part of our social responsibility program and professional training forms part of this.

Dylan is a great asset to our team and it is pleasing to hear that you were happy with your game viewing experience.

We are primarily a conservation company and your stay provides us with the tools to maintain the 25 000-hectare reserve and allow for our conservation efforts. We appreciate that you chose Shamwari Game Reserve as your safari destination and once again thank you for your valuable feedback.

Best Regards,

Mat Matysik

Hospitality Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 January 2018 via mobile

We spent the most memorable 3 nights in the Bayethe tented lodge in Shamwari. Accommodation, food and game drives absolutely fantastic. Beware the food is so good you need to make sure you take some loose fitting clothes!! I am quite a foodie and I was very impressed by the standard of the cuisine. The game drives were awesome. We had close encounters with elephants, rhino and lion. Saw them so close up. Our guide Jaco made sure we saw everything we possibly could and that we had some great experiences. Thank you Shamwari and Jaco for such a fantastic experience.

Stayed: January 2018, travelled as a couple
Thank Karen C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 December 2017

Situated about an hour or so drive from Port Elizabeth airport, we arrived mid-afternoon. As i'd been travelling for over 30 hours, it was nice to be greeted with a refreshing face cloth and a chilled drink. Lunch service had finished - I couldn't remember the last time i'd eaten and was starving. No problem.....Sat out on the deck, menu brought to me without any hesitation. Luggage was swiftly taken to our 'tent'
The 'tent was a very good size, with everything one would need. A coal fire for winter months, sitting area, comfy beds, huge bathroom with a massive bath and a decent shower. On the deck, we had some loungers and a private plunge pool.
Our ranger, Vuyo, was incredible, and has worked at Shamwari for 13 years, so his knowledge was excellent. Saw everything I wanted and more. Highlight was most definitely the 2 lots of lion cubs and a cheetah. Simply incredible.
Food at Bayethe was outstanding, and there was a nice selection of drinks too.
Included in our stay was a visit to the Born Free Foundation. Vuyo whisked us there, where we spent about an hour being shown around and hearing the stories of the Big Cats that reside there. It was truly remarkable.
Excellent safari experience, wonderful accommodation, great food and delightful staff, all in a malaria free game reserve. Simply perfect.

  • Stayed: November 2017, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank amyp123
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
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 1 112 - R 17 151 (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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