Shamwari Wildlife Reserve - 3 hour Excursion
Shamwari Private Game Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape, an hour’s drive from the seaside town of Port Elizabeth, South Africa’s 5th largest city located on the Wild Coast. Shamwari encompasses approximately 25,000 hectares of privately owned land that was rehabilitated and restored to its natural condition almost 20 years ago, with the reserve officially opening in 1992.
Shamwari is now one of the premier game reserves in the country, home to the Big Five, including white and black rhino and provides some of the best game viewing in South Africa. In addition, it acts as a beacon of conservation within the region. The Rehabilitation Centre and Animal Hospital seeks to help injured or orphaned animals that have the potential to be reintroduced back into the wild. Shamwari also provides a home for the Born Free Foundation from the UK, to create awareness for the plight of wild African cats kept in captivity. There are two Born Free Centres on Shamwari which are home to rescued African cats as an example of how animals should not be treated. There is also a Breeding Centre for rare species and an anti-poaching unit, while a few Shamwari Lodges have received the acclaimed environmental Green Leaf Standard for their commitment to conservation.
Shamwari Private Game Reserve is situated in one of the Global Biodiversity Hotspots of the World, Maputuland-Pondoland-Albany Thicket. The cycle cuts across the north eastern section of the reserve, an evergreen landscape with rolling hills, lush valleys and dramatic gorges. The vegetation is predominantly Subtropical Thicket with scattered clusters of Montane Grassland, Afromontane Forest and Grassy Fynbos. This region was once impenetrable and many early explorers gave the area a wide berth as the land was fraught with hardship and danger. As a result, much of the north remains relatively unaffected by previous farming practice due to its extreme nature. Since then Shamwari has carefully opened these magnificent valleys and scenic splendours teaming with wildlife for the exclusivity of our visitors, the perfect place to get off the beaten track with your bike!
The trail starts from Rippons Safari Lodge in the northern section of the reserve – guests will be transferred here from their respective lodge. We begin with a level journey traversing the land behind the lodge, before a slight climb towards the cliff face, being rewarded with spectacular views of the valley below. Zebra and giraffe, as well as a smattering of antelope, are often found in this region.
We loop our way over the hill, reaching our maximum height of about 500m above sea level, now blessed with panoramic views on both sides. These ridges are part of the ancient Zuurberg Mountain Range and form the end of a long series of mountains running about 60 to 70km inland from the coast. These are known as the Cape Fold Mountains that separate the dry interior from the lush coastline.
After the stretch of uphill we take a moment to catch our breath before easing down into the spectacular terrain below. An immense variety of wildlife can be spotted from the saddle, ranging from elephant, white rhino, black rhino, hippo and buffalo to a plethora of antelope species such as eland, kudu, waterbuck, gemsbok, impala, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, mountain reedbuck, bushbuck and grey duiker as well as zebra and warthogs. There are also a host of birds that may be found along the way, an ornithologist’s dream. Predatory birds include the well known secretary bird, booted eagle, jackal buzzard, yellow billed kite, black shouldered kite and many more!
We continue along the trail, breaking for refreshments and snacks at an appropriate spot. We wind our way back up the mountainside and over the hill to begin the descent towards Rippons. With the wind blowing in our faces, we meander back towards the lodge after the eco-active adventure of a lifetime!
NB: This 3-hour excursion is fully supported, including custom-designed bicycles and all equipment, as well as snacks and drinks, and the services of an expert ranger and back-up vehicle.