Shamwari Bayethe Lodge: Our full report
Bayethe Lodge is a luxurious tented lodge in the well-known Shamwari Game Reserve, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape area.It provides a comfortable base for not-too-wild game-viewing and appeals to travellers looking for a relatively traditional safari experience.
Unfortunately, none of the Expert Africa team has had the chance to stay at Bayethe Lodge yet, however, we do know the area as we’ve stayed on the reserve several times, most recently in May 2013. Furthermore, we’ve had excellent reviews from our travellers about Bayethe Lodge. So until we pop in for a visit ourselves, here is what we understand about it from the lodge’s information and our travellers’ comments:
Tucked away in the vegetation, there are 12 detached tents at Shamwari’s Bayethe Lodge, which offer views of the surrounding bush. With mellow tints like light green, white and beige setting the tone of their interior design, they fit in well with their surroundings and give an impression of airiness and much space. Nevertheless, due to maroon wooden floors and all the amenities the tents offer, they feel very substantial - you might occasionally forget that you’re staying in a tent!
You can choose between the following tent types:
- Of the three Superior Tents at Bayethe Lodge in Shamwari, two come with one king-sized bed, whereas one is twin-bedded. Each of them has an en-suite bathroom with a bath tub, as well as a fireplace, a TV and a minibar. Outside, you’ll find a private deck with a plunge pool, an open-air shower and a hammock. Sometimes these tents are also referred to as ‘Bayethe Hills’.
- There are nine air-conditioned Luxury Tents at Bayethe Lodge. Three of them have a king-sized bed and an indoor ‘spa bath’ with a shower each, whereas each of the six others is twin-bedded and features an outdoor shower. Every Luxury Tent is fitted with an electronic safe, international adaptors, a telephone, a minibar, a tea and coffee station, electric blankets and a hairdryer. There’s also a private plunge pool outside.
Activities in Shamwari Reserve evolve around morning and evening game drives by 4WD, each lasting about three to four hours. On our most recent visit to Shamwari, we got particularly close to both black and white rhino, and generally found these drives very productive in terms of sightings.
However, the sections of the reserve where game drives take place are significantly smaller than Shamwari’s whole area might imply, and so the rangers had a good knowledge of where to go for certain animals – using their radios extensively to fill in possible gaps in this knowledge. As a result, our game-viewing experience here didn’t feel very ‘wild’, in spite of excellent sightings.
Other activities are walking safaris, wellbeing treatments or visits to the educative Rhino Awareness Centre and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
We know Shamwari Reserve reasonably well, even though our team haven’t yet stayed at Bayethe Lodge. Our travellers have stayed here and given it very good reviews, so we have confidence that it’s a comfortable and well-run lodge for gentle game-viewing in Shamwari. However, we wouldn’t come here expecting a wilderness experience.
Country manager: South Africa
- Shamwari Game Reserve, South Africa
- Ideal length of stay
- We feel that you can explore the reserve on an introductory safari within a few days.
- Leave Port Elizabeth on the N2 to the north. Take the signposted turnoff left to Bayethe onto the gravelled Sidbury Road. Continue on this road until you arrive at a T-junction, where Bayethe Lodge is signposted to the right. Alternatively, if you don’t want to drive yourself, you can book a chauffeur service between Port Elizabeth and Shamwari directly via Shamwari Reserve. There is also an airstrip for chartered flights into the reserve.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Attitude towards children
- Children from 12 years are accepted at Bayethe Lodge.
- Property’s age restrictions
- 12 years.
- Special activities & services
- Bayethe Lodge is not child friendly. The tents can sleep a maximum of two adults and they are spaced far apart. Children cannot share a room with their parents. Bayethe does not have a dedicated children’s coordinator.
- Generally recommended for children
- Not under 12 years of age.
- Although Shamwari isn’t known as a particularly wild game reserve, parents should always keep their children under close supervision as game risks do exist.
- Internet access is available at the ‘business desk’ in the main area of Shamwari’s Bayethe Lodge.
- TV & radio
- There is a TV in each of Bayethe Lodge’s tents. In addition, you can watch TV in the main lounge.
Tourists and volunteers educate local communities
The 25,000 hectares Shamwari Game Reserve makes up the home of Bayethe Lodge. Staying true to its name – Shamwari’ means ‘friend’ in Shona – the lodge has been at the fore-front of community education for the past 25 years. Through the Shamwari Conservation Experience, the lodge engages volunteers, sabbaticals and tourists in improving the lives of those living in and around the reserve. Annually, the lodge celebrates Mandela Day by bringing a positive change in the neighboring communities.
In 2014, staff from Bayethe Lodge spent the day educating children in the local community of Paterson about rubbish collection. Each participant was awarded with a packet of chips, sweets and a slice of cake baked by one of Shamwari’s Senior Chefs in exchange for a bag full of rubbish. The initiative proved to be a success, as over 100 bags of garbage were collected by the end of the day. In 2018, the lodge took the international #ActionAgainsPoverty initative in the local communities of Paterson and Alicedale, where most of its employees came from. Teams of volunteers handed out cups of soup to 500 school children, and spent the evening helping out three day care centres with gardening activities.
Tourists can also get involved in the Conservastion Experience weekly, with activities ranging from cultural tours to tracking and monitoring Big Cats. It therefore comes as no surprise that Bayethe Lodge’s efforts for operating responsibly have been widely recognized and awarded with a Fair Trade Tourism certification.
See more great sustainability projects in South Africa
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Fire safety
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
Other lodges in Shamwari Game Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.