Wednesday, 16 May 2018

CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK

Hello again everyone,
Our Garden Route adventure continues. Just to bring you up to date: after two heavenly days spent at Plettenberg Park Hotel and Spa we headed off to the last spot on our itinerary:  Shamwari  Private Game Reserve.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
Shamwari (meaning My Friend) Private Game Reserve is in one of the malaria free zones in South Africa situated in the Eastern Cape Province. 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.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
After a few hours drive from Plettenberg Bay, we arrived at the park in time for lunch. We were escorted to a circular shaped large green lawn with the pool and lounge chairs on one side and the wrought iron dining tables and chairs opposite.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
As we took our seats, we had a good look around and spotted a family of warthogs grazing nearby and beyond the lawn, the reserve’s grounds stretched all around us as far as we can see and if you strained your eyes hard enough, you were able to spot some animals grazing in the distance under the blazing South African sun. The setting was stunning, the lunch – sumptuous and the service – immaculate – a winning trifecta.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
After lunch one of the hotel staff showed us to our lodge. It looked amazing. All the rooms looked very comfortable and elegant with a reflection of colonial style coupled with the latest electronic equipment. Every window has a lovely view over the savannah. And thus our safari adventure had begun.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
Traditionally, any game park provides two drives each day – very early in the morning  and late afternoon right before the sunset and we opted for both not wanting to miss a moment of this wild adventure.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
Ideally, the objective of each game park in Africa is to make sure that during your stay you will be able to spot the "Big Five" – elephant, leopard, cape buffalo, lion and rhinoceros (black or white). The term "Big Five" was coined by big game-hunters and refers to the five most difficult game animals in Africa to hunt on foot.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK

"STAYING AT THE GAME PARK 
IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST ATTRACTIONS
AFRICA HAS TO OFFER"
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
The guests are driven in open jeeps equipped with a rifle (only used for protection), bottles of drinking water, blankets, rifles and other protective equipment as well as drinks and snacks.  Each jeep takes four passengers and pairs courteously take turns to sit in a front row of a car.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
The driver of the vehicle is your tour guide who, while staying extremely alert, was, at the same time, able to share with us his extensive knowledge and fascinating stories about the park and its inhabitants. He reads the land like an open book and he will apply every effort to make sure that you have seen all of The Big Five.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
And although we were quite excited about the challenge of finding them all, there was so much to see and learn that kept us constantly on alert.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
During the afternoon drive, our driver found us a perfect spot on the top of the hill to watch the sunset and while we were busy taking photographs, he opened the boot of the jeep and got out a big box.
He then walked to the front of the car, opened the box and out came, like magic, a table cloth that he spread on a bonnet of the jeep and then expertly spread out an array of canap├ęs, hot beverages and drinks so we could all sip sundowners while enjoying the sunset. 
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
It was also a perfect opportunity to get to know our fellow passengers who were in the jeep with us while sharing the drinks and delicious snacks.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
 It was also a perfect opportunity to get to know our fellow passengers who shared the jeep while sharing the drinks and delicious snacks.

CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
Upon our return to the camp after the night ride, a sumptuous dinner was all set up for us in an elegantly furnished dining room. On an second night at the park, all the guests were invited to eat in a boma, traditionally a livestock enclosure but used in game parks as a communal place where people gather together around roaring fire under the skies and share local dishes of Africa cooked using the old recipes.
Over the course of the next two days we were lucky enough to see all The Big Five.  Our most amazing encounter was with the lions.  As our jeep approached a waterhole, a lioness came out of the bush and slowly started walking towards it.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
A few seconds later another appeared and joined it, and another one and another.  We were stunned, our jeep was not more then ten meters away from these magnificent animals who at this point looked very placid and all we can hear was a splash of water on their tongues.  I got my camera out and started filming.  Even our experienced driver admitted it is not very often that he is able to witness a scene like the one we were watching.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK

CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
After two most exciting days at Shamwari Park, it was time to return to Cape Town. Our suitcases were loaded into our car, we said goodbye to the friendly staff, exchanged phone numbers with the lovely couple who we had met and feeling refreshed and recharged, we were on the road again. As we were reminiscing about the highlights of the last two days, we knew that we would never forget what a unique experience it was.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
And if anyone asks me what should they do while in South Africa – my answer is always the same “Go to a game park”.
CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK

CATCHING "THE BIG FIVE" IN THE SHAMWARI GAME PARK
On this note, my Garden Route trilogy has come to an end.

Till next post,
Anna
xoxo