Long Lee Manor Shamwari Game Re­serve

Tourism Tattler - - PROPERTY REVIEW -

em­i­ni­cent of a by­gone era in South Africa's colo­nial past, Long Lee Manor is a metic­u­lously ren­o­vated Ed­war­dian era man­sion, lo­cated in the Shamwari Game Re­serve just sev­enty kilo­me­tres from Port El­iz­a­beth, and 23 kilo­me­tres from the Addo Ele­phant Na­tional Park in South Africa's malaria-free East­ern Cape Prov­ince.

Af­ter sign­ing-in at the South en­trance ac­cess gate to the re­serve, Long Lee Manor is a short drive along a well main­tained gravel road, which takes an in­or­di­nately long time to reach due to fre­quent game view­ing stops along the way.

The Manor prop­erty is sur­rounded with a low-slung elec­tri­fied wire bar­rier to keep preda­tor species of wildlife at bay, and guests gain ac­cess to the cob­bled drive­way, which is flanked on ei­ther side by man­i­cured gar­dens, through a sen­sor ac­ti­vated au­to­matic gate lead­ing to an un­der­cover por­tico at the re­cep­tion area (tour coaches can dis­em­bark pas­sen­gers along­side the por­tico).

While guests sign-in and sip on wel­come fruit cock­tails at the re­cep­tion desk, or browse through the ad­ja­cent cu­rio shop, the at­ten­tive staff are busy trans­fer­ring lug­gage to al­lo­cated rooms, and the guests' ve­hi­cle is driven away by the valet to be parked in a se­cure area be­hind the Manor house.

The room check-in time is 1pm, and guests can en­joy a sump­tu­ous lunch in the din­ing room before re­tir­ing to their rooms to re­lax before high tea, fol­lowed by a game drive.

Un­for­tu­nately, I checked-in late for my twonight stay on Fri­day April 29th 2016, but we (my wife Bev­er­ley and son Chase) did man­age to freshen up in our ad­join­ing rooms before the af­ter­noon game drive. Before I de­scribe the game drive though, the su­perbly ap­pointed rooms and 5-star ameni­ties bear men­tion­ing.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion

There are 15 en-suite rooms and spa­cious fam­ily suites at Long Lee Manor, which can ac­com­mo­date up to 30 guests at two peo­ple per room. The twin beds can be con­verted into Su­per King beds, and one the suites is de­signed for phys­i­cally im­paired guests. The Sid­bury Wing is tucked away from the main manor house. These well-ap­pointed bed­rooms are all fit­ted with air-con­di­tion­ing and un­der­floor heat­ing, an elec­tronic safe for stor­ing valu­ables, fit­ted in­ter­na­tional elec­tri­cal plug adap­tors, and ei­ther a pa­tio or bal­cony. An hon­esty mini-bar counter and fridge, stocked with choco­lates, crisps, wine, beer and soft-drinks is pro­vided in each room, as is an espresso ma­chine (the Ne­spresso Ci­tiz model uses cof­fee pods that get ‘thrown away' to a waste­bas­ket within the ma­chine − a very tidy con­trap­tion that brews an ex­cel­lent cuppa, in­clud­ing Rooi­bos tea, in under 60 sec­onds).

Game Drive

The guests pre­ferred tip­ple or bev­er­age or­der is taken before each game drive, so there's no de­lay in get­ting the drive un­der­way. And what a drive it is! Travers­ing the en­tire 25,000 hectare Shamwari re­serve could take days but for­tu­nately, our ef­fi­cient guide Pa­trick knows where cer­tain species of wildlife will be found at dif­fer­ent times of the day, and be­sides he is also in con­tin­ual con­tact with the other guides.

How­ever, Pa­trick as­sures us that there will never be more than two game ve­hi­cles at any ma­jor sight­ing (un­like the Kruger Park, which is like rush-hour in Jozi). His as­sur­ance is soon put to the test as we crest the top of a hill to find a pride of lion laz­ing away the warm af­ter­noon. Sure enough the sec­ond game ve­hi­cle only ar­rived as ours was de­part­ing, and we passed a third ve­hi­cle wait­ing its turn as we de­scended the hill.

With an un­canny abil­ity for lo­cat­ing the where­abouts of his wild flock (ably as­sisted by his two-way ra­dio), Pa­trick headed to the plains land and river­ine forests where he im­mersed his awe struck pas­sen­gers into the midst of an ele­phant herd. I com­mented on the placid­ity of the herd and specif­i­cally its ma­tri­arch, whose ma­ter­nal in­stinct know no bounds if she feels that the herds' calfs are threat­ened. “The herd is re­laxed only be­cause they have been ha­bit­u­ated to the sight and smell of our game view­ing ve­hi­cles. You will have no­ticed that all the other re­serve ve­hi­cles used for main­te­nance and staff shut­tle are white, while the game ve­hi­cles are green. It's the main rea­son that we don't al­low self-drive sa­fari view­ing in Shamwari,” says Pa­trick.

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