Short stay: Long Lee Manor, Shamwari Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

 

Having taken a short flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, we were taken by our driver to the Shamwari Game Reserve where we were to spend the next few nights, leaving the industry of PE with its ’mechanical giraffes’ (cranes that looked very much like giraffes) behind and passing the Maitland sand dunes as we departed this host city for the 2010 World Cup. It was only about half an hour or so before we turned off the main road, entered the reserve and made our way to Long Lee Manor – an Edwardian manor house with colonial style accommodation in the form of 15 suites of varying sizes and configurations.

The welcome

We were greeted on arrival with refreshing, homemade lemonade whilst we sorted out some paperwork and our bags were taken to our room.  With the formalities completed, we were then led to our rooms, surpised to see warthogs grazing in very, very close proximity (just a few metres away). They had burrowed their way under the perimeter fence that surrounds Long Lee Manor, thus avoiding predators (they had seemingly become quite tame as a result although we didn’t go any closer!) and giving them access to much lusher grass, too.

The room

We had two interconnecting rooms that were pretty much a mirror image of each other, giving us a perfect set-up for a family stay.  We each had the privacy and independence of our own rooms whilst at the same time knowing that our children were close by.

Bedroom at Long Lee Manor

The rooms are spacious as you can see, with comfortable seating, a desk area and flat screen TV. Of course, you don’t really need a television when you can be watching the wildlife outside, but one of the channels did show the classic 1960s drama ‘Born Free’ on a continuous loop. Winner of two Oscars, this is a real life story about the raising of an ophaned lioness cub that is later released back into the wild, and there’s now a Born Free Foundation with a big cat sanctuary at Shamwari (more on that in a later post).

Bedroom at Long Lee Manor after turndown

The rooms led out on to a large patio area with table and chairs and an elevated view over the reserve from where you could see animals grazing in the distance.

Long Lee Manor bedroom view

It wasn’t a bad spot to watch the sunrise also.

Sunrise at Long Lee Manor

The bathroom

The bathroom had twin basins, a bath and separate shower, all done to a beautiful finish.

Long Lee Manor basins

Long Lee Manor bath

Toiletries included Shamwari Group-branded rooibos liquid soap and Rooibos hand and body lotion. Perhaps best known for its use in ‘red teas’ (it’s caffeine free and full of anti-oxidants), rooibos is a plant that grows in South Africa’s fynbos (shrub-like vegetation that grows in a belt of the Western Cape).

Long Lee Manor toiletries

Robes and ample towels were provided but there were polite reminders too to support conservation, encouraging guests to conserve water, not leave lights on and put towels back on their hanger if you plan to re-use them.

The facilities

The lodge has two pools (more suited to the Summer months), a small spa and a fitness suite that’s handy for burning off all those extra calories (see below!). There is even a private air strip adjacent to the lodge although the transfer from Port Elizabeth does not take long.

Long Lee Manor pool

For lunch I chose the suculent grilled ostrich and apricot kebab with parmesan crisp potato wedges and an onion marmalade.

Long Lee Manor grilled ostrich

Breakfast the next morning consisted of scrambled egg and springbok on a toasted muffin… the perfect start to an early morning game drive.

Long Lee Manor breakfast

The food more than met expectations in terms of both presentation and quality.

Other nice touches

Staff were very attentive and acommodating throughout our stay. At turndown we were left complementary nougat and a short African tale about animals we’d encountered on our drives. These made for great bedtime stories for the children!

Turndown at Long Lee Manor

We were given a courtesy call in the morning so as not to miss the early start to the day and of course therefore one of the best opportunities to observe wildlife on a game drvie on the reserve.

Cost

Rooms start from around 6,300 ZAR per night (about £350 / $570 at current exchange rates). This includes meals, high tea, water, tea, coffee, game drives, taxes and a minimum donation to Forever Wild – Rhino Protection.

The best bit

Although the accommodation was beautiful and offered us every comfort we could possibly want or need, the highlight of our stay here has to be the game drives in the reserve (more about those in a later post also). Pictured are three elephants that we saw passing Long Lee Manor (you can see the building in the top right of the image) on the last game drive of our stay at Shamwari.

Elephants passing Long Lee Manor

A little unfortunately, just as these three were passing co-incided with when a strimmer or mower was being used at the lodge, and one of the elephants seemed to be a little ‘spooked out’ on hearing this unfamiliar noise, sending the other two into a similar frenzy and resulting in all three of them briefly charging across the plain, with their tails held up (a sign that they were unhappy about something) until they felt they were a suitable distance away.

Elephants

The final verdict

A wonderful place to stay on a first class game reserve.. and a truly magical experience.

Long Lee Manor sunrise

Disclosure: The above formed part of a luxury trip to South Africa sponsored by Hayes & Jarvis, specialists in personalised, luxury holiday itineraries for discerning travellers to over 55 destinations worldwide.

Comments (10)

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  1. I love the homemade lemonade welcome, very civilised indeed. This place looks perfect to me, I would love to spend some time there in the future. The food looks delicious also.

    What a funny start with the warthogs, and I guess your sons must have really loved this place as well.

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    They certainly did, Jackie… but the next place we stayed, also on the reserve – Riverdene Lodge – was even more geared towards them. :)

  3. What a lovely place to stay and I love all the African touches in the toiletries and other small gifts. Lucky that those elephants didn’t charge in your direction!

  4. Paul Johnson says:

    They were just running to get away from the noise, Heather… we actually ‘followed’ them for a bit (well, travelled parallel to them, at a safe distance) and they very soon calmed down and became much more settled.

    When we saw elephants a couple of days earlier, they walked right by us and were so close that (had it been wise to do so, which it wasn’t!), we could have leaned out of the vehicle and touched them. Never felt threatened in any way, though… they were just calmly walking by. It was a wonderful experience to see them so close.

  5. Anna Parker says:

    This is my kind of place, and something that SA are so good at delivering. I like that you went up to PE and the Wild Coast, I think that area is fast catching up with other areas and still has the charm that other locations might have lost due to volume of tourists

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Anna… it was actually my first time in PE and, to be honest, we didn’t see a great deal beyond the airport and the areas we drove through. That said, the driver did tell us there are big plans for a waterfront in the city, akin to Cape Town’s, which I believe is expected to happen over the next few years. I’d have thought that should be really good news for Shamwari and other reserves, and make a twin stay that incorporates the city and a safari even more appealing.

  7. Kathryn says:

    What a fabulous base for your wild adventure. I too love the sound of homemade lemonade plus I think I’d have to watch ‘Born Free’ again there too. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen it.
    Sorry to see the elephants spooked like that but not surprising – quite a sight to see I should imagine.

  8. Paul Johnson says:

    It was fairly short-lived, Kathryn, so not too much of an issue, I don’t think… it was interesting to see how quickly they were able to cover quite a considerable amount of ground, though.

  9. Those beds look so fluffy at turn down and topped with native woven blankets-cosy! Nothing like Born Free to get everyone in the mood for all the animals that are no doubt coming up on your posts. I look forward to reading about all parts of your trip Paul. I have a lot of South Africa exploring to do.

  10. Paul Johnson says:

    Thanks, Alison… you can follow the whole of this trip through this link:

    http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/tag/hayesandjarvis/

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