Shamwari Private Game Reserve aims to set a new standard in family safaris with the re-opening of Riverdene Family Lodge after an extensive refurbishment.

Part of a two-year, US$25 million upgrade at Shamwari, every aspect of Riverdene is designed for memorable family enjoyment.

One of the first things arriving families will see is a vast adventure playground, with rope walkways, climbing walls, slides and ziplines. All the facilities are colour-coded according to age and ability and under constant supervision. There is also a bespoke toddlers’ play area.

“We didn’t just upgrade Riverdene, we pretty much rebuilt it,” explains Shamwari CEO, Joe Cloete. “That allowed us to design the lodge around families and their needs, rather than trying to shoehorn new facilities into existing infrastructure.”

This design philosophy extends beyond first impressions and into the rooms, of which there are nine. All are spacious and interconnecting, making them ideal for multi-generational families. The free-flow between the rooms allows for family time during the day and privacy for adults after the children are in bed.

The rooms are also equipped with amenities such as microwave ovens for parents or carers needing to prepare snacks for youngsters.

The children’s menu has been carefully considered to offer healthy options and extends to freshly-made baby purees.

The same thoughtful approach is apparent in other facilities and the activities on offer. The lodge’s swimming pool has a big shallow end for younger children. For parents, the poolside bar area, lounge and restaurant offer unobstructed views of a nearby waterhole and peaceful areas to relax.

When not on game drives or enjoying themselves on the mini soccer field or in the adventure playground, there are plenty of organised activities for children, including a Kids on Safari programme, which includes tracking and animal behaviour, star gazing, educational visits to the Born Free Foundation and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and pizza evenings.

There are also opportunities for parents to get a bit of peace-and-quiet. Trained carers are available to look after children, while adults enjoy a braai in the boma overlooking a bend in the Bushman’s River, where elephant, giraffe and other game are often sighted.

Riverdene Family Lodge was part of the first phase of the refurbishment at Shamwari, which also saw the flagship Eagles Crag extensively upgraded. The next phase includes renovating the historic manor house, Long Lee Manor, and re-building the contiguous accommodation to provide 18 luxury suites. A new, flagship tented camp is being planned.

Shamwari’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, considered one of the best and most successful in South Africa, is being expanded and guests will be able to visit a purpose-built facility on the reserve, where animals are cared for and treated before being released back into the wild. This is in addition to the two big-cat sanctuaries where, in partnership with the Born Free Foundation, rescued African big cats are given a permanent home.

The entire upgrade programme will be completed by the end of 2019.

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