Explore with Us…Encounters of the KIND Wild Kind

South Africa is home to some of the best safari lodges and camps in the world.  Ranging from world class to rustic wilderness, guests are spoiled for choice.  Our focus for this ‘Explore with Us’ feature is on the KIND side of the wild side of some of our much loved lodges.

Shamwari Game Reserve

Shamwari Game Reserve is home to two wildlife focused centres.  The Born Free Big Cat Rescue Centre is made up of the Julie Ward Centre in the South of the reserve (opened in September 1999) and the Jean Byrd Centre in the North of the Reserve (opened in 2006).  Several big cats have been rescued from impoverished situations over the years with the Born Free Centres providing them with lifetime care in spacious sanctuaries.  Guests of any of the Shamwari lodges are welcomed as visitors to the centres however in line with an approach that we at Thompsons Africa also support, no interaction is allowed.

Jora and Black before being rehomed at Shamwari's Born Free Education Centre and Sanctuary
Jora and Black before being rehomed at Shamwari’s Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary
Jora and Black at Shamwari's Born Free Education Centre and Sanctuary (2)
Jora and Black at Shamwari’s Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary

Differing from the sanctuary nature of the Born Free Rescue Centres, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, which opened in 2006, takes care of a variety of injured, orphaned and sick animals and birds which are then released back into the wild once treated.  As with the Cat Rescue Centres, no interaction with the animals is permitted, however guests are encourage to visit the rehabilitation centre to learn more about the incredible work done here.

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Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

What a special experience for guests!

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Read more about Shamwari Private Game Reserve, a collection of luxury game lodges located in the heart of the Eastern Cape.

Founders Lodge by Mantis

Mantis is part of a one-of-a-kind Rhino Adoption.  A highly endangered subspecies of the black rhino has been adopted and lives at Founder’s Lodge by Mantis.  There are only 250 left in the world!

_DSC6027.JPGGuests that stay at Founders Lodge will have the opportunity to meet Munu the Rhino and learn about how he is cared for, his species and much more.

Munu the Rhino is protected in an adapted environment where he can live a life that is as wild as possible.  His contribution to the preservation of his species, research, and conservation education are an important part of the Eco-Innovation Hub that Mantis will launch at Founder’s Lodge in 2020.

_DSC6023.JPGFounders Lodge and Mantis are committed to community and conservation.  Guests have the opportunity of experiencing this first-hand when staying at Founders Lodge.  From a tour of the history of Shamwari and opening the first reserve in the Eastern Cape, the onsite Founders Museum, learning how the land was rewilded from degraded farmland – listen to stories as told by the rangers of their commitment to conservation and what guests can do to join efforts through the CCFA – Community Conservation Fund Africa.

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Founders Lodge is located in the malaria free Eastern Cape, South Africa.  Read more about this lodge, once the private residence of Adrian Gardiner, founder and visionary of Mantis Collection and Shamari Private Game Reserve.

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve

Situated within a recognised hotspot of biodiversity in South Africa, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve supports over 300 species of birds, 47 large mammal species, 57 species of reptile as well as a myriad of smaller animals such as bats, small rodents, amphibians and invertebrates such as spiders, scorpions and insects.  It has over 90 species of trees and many more shrubs and grass species.

Sabi Sabi’s conservation philosophy is based on two principles.  The first is the need to conserve rapidly dwindling wilderness areas and to provide a sanctuary for fauna and flora as part of South Africa’s heritage.  The second is the belief that the business must be a true example of eco-tourism effectively linking tourism with conservation and the community.


Sabi Sabi’s environmental management system is a holistic one, where the ecological needs are balanced with the needs of people and their communities, in other words, focusing on the interdependence of tourism, conservation and local communities.

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An important aspect of conservation lies in the guide/ranger training. New rangers are selected after a structured training camp, and are then included into onsite training relating to orientation and geography of the reserve, animal and plant identification, principles of ecology and guest etiquette. The training is intensive and of a very high standard. In effect rangers are environmental educators, the information and knowledge that they impart to guests may in a sense also represent a benefit that transcends site boundaries nationally and internationally.

Safari (24)Similarly the trackers meet the highest standards in the field with most being local Shangaan people that possess an innate appreciation and deep knowledge of the bush. Besides being able to track the Big Five on foot and interpret the diversity of animal tracks and signs like the back of their hand, they also have a wealth of knowledge on medicinal uses of the plants and trees as well as a depth of knowledge on almost all animals encountered.

Sabi Sabi is actively involved in habitat management activities (e.g. controlled burning; waste management; waterhole rotation; road maintenance etc.)  with a dedicated Habitat Management Team, which is operational all year. The development of a competent habitat management programme with input from qualified ecological consultants has allowed for informed decisions on the successful management of the reserve and to continually assess, review and revise this plan.

Through eco-tourism and sharing the respect and love for the wilderness with both guests and staff , Sabi Sabi is able to create stable employment for indigenous communities.

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Sabi Sabi’s collection of luxury lodges is located in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve.  Each lodge offers something unique and special.  Read more.

Contact a Thompsons Africa consultant today to make a booking or learn more about these and other properties.

Email: info@thompsonsafrica.co.za / viki.haasbroek@thompsonsafrica.co.za

Tel: +27 31 275 3500


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