Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape () welcomed its first guests on 16 September after being closed for nearly six months as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

It has initially opened just two of its seven lodges, Long Lee Manor and Sarili Private Lodge.

This is to allow for the implementation of strict health protocols as well as to keep overheads down while domestic tourism gradually recovers.

To incentivise South Africans wanting a bush break after months of lockdown, Shamwari is offering a range of packages and specials.

These include a first-ever full-day safari package starting from R1,500 per person and R750 for children aged between four and 11. It includes lunch at Long Lee Manor, a visit to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and a three-hour game drive.

The special lead-in price for Long Lee Manor is R4,150 per person sharing. This includes accommodation in a five-star suite, two game drives a day, guided bush walks and tours of the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Visits to the Riverdene Children’s Adventure Centre can also be arranged. The only additional costs are the mandatory conservation levy, beverages, spa treatments and laundry.

Extended families or groups of friends are able to book the entire five-bedroomed Sarili Private Lodge for R38,000 per night. The offer includes an itinerary that is tailored to the group’s needs and a private staff, including a personal chef, housekeeper and house manager. The minimum stay is two nights.

CEO Joe Cloete says it’s fitting that Shamwari is re-opening during heritage month.

“Private game reserves play an essential part in conserving South Africa’s natural heritage. Tourism is what funds these conservation projects and every Rand spent contributes to a business model that absorbs the cost of wildlife conservation, protection and rehabilitation.”

Shamwari has implemented stringent health protocols which have been reviewed by medical professionals, vetted by the WHO, The Tourism Business Council of South Africa and other tourism regulatory bodies.

The re-opening offers run until 20 December and can be booked via [email protected] or by calling 042 203 111.