If you are looking for a place to get up close to wildlife, then this is the place for you.

The Shambala Private Game Reserve is located in South Africa, with the closest major city being Johannesburg. It is a luxury resort with a limited number of accommodations, but it has everything you could ever want when staying at an animal reserve. There are numerous different activities offered to guests so everyone who visits can get the best experience possible. While the reserve is not cheap, it is also not as expensive as one may think, with rooms starting at approximately 750 USD a night. Your booking includes all of your meals and non-alcoholic beverages as well as one evening safari cruise.

Shambala Reserve is a unique location away from the city, in the natural landscape of South Africa. The reserve is home to many different species of animals including lions, cheetahs, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, zebras and many others. As well, the resort has programs for breeding animals, protecting endangered species, preventing poaching and rehabilitating animals. There are even some opportunities for volunteering at the reserve which allows you to get a personal and hands-on experience with some of the animals, of course accompanied by a trained staff member for safety.

20 The History- unique and traditional

The reserve and resort have a history of breeding animals, particularly those which are endangered. There is an active anti-poaching program run in the reserve, as well as an elephant rehabilitation program. The Nelson Mandela Villa itself offers plenty of history for visitors. As do the Zulu chalets, which are shaped as traditional honeycomb buildings. The reserve is a chance to be away from modern life while experiencing experience nature and African history while still being comfortable. It is away from cities, so the resort is an ideal location to take a relaxing and peaceful vacation.

19 The Location- picturesque

The reserve is huge. It is approximately 10,000 hectares in size, which provides visitors with lots of space to explore. It is located away from the major cities in South Africa, the closest city being Johannesburg, which is still two and a half hours away by car.

The reserve is a great place to get away from the rest of the world and enjoy seeing the animals which inhabit the space. The reserve is close to the Waterberg mountains, which adds to the secluded feeling of the location. It is also a malaria-free reserve, so visitors do not need to worry about getting sick while on vacation.

18 3.  The accommodations- Villas and Chalets

The resort has two accommodation location options. The first is the Nelson Mandela Villa, which is a larger hotel style building. It is known for its African Art collection and is the pricier of the two accommodations. The villa has five suites and one larger presidential suite, as well as a dining area, a lounge and other amenities.

The second option is the Zulu chalets, which are smaller and private. There are eight in total, and they are shaped in a traditional honeycomb shape and are a bit cheaper. The chalets are located more in the bush, allowing visitors to feel closer to the wildlife. All of the accommodations include a personal butler

17 4. The food - Local and Fresh

The reserve has chefs and a restaurant that provides for the guests of the reserve. Your daily meals are included in the price of your room, so you do not have to worry about any cooking. If you are staying in the Nelson Mandela Villa, you have your own private chef for all of your meals.

The restaurant is located near the water, and has a deck making it a beautiful place to eat your meals and observe the wildlife around you. Chefs use local and fresh ingredients in their cooking and the food is said to be delicious.

16 5. The views- Incredible

The reserve itself is beautiful. There is a view of the nearby Waterberg mountains which provides some change from the rest of the picturesque landscape of the reserve. The man-made dam and the waterways offer beautiful views as well. If you are visiting the reserve, make sure to check out the views during the evening and nighttime as well. The reserve provides a chance to get away from modern civilization and the busy cities, so take advantage of the natural beauty of the location, as well as the peace and serenity of the resort.

15 6. Safaris - See all the animals!

The safaris are typically referred to as “game drives”. You are accompanied by rangers and guides. Your drive will allow you to get up close to the animals, while still safe. The guides and rangers have plenty of knowledge about the animals and the reserve to share with guests. There is plenty of wildlife and birds to be seen while on your safari.

The drive is usually in a shared vehicle with other resort guests, but private drives also available through special arrangements. There is a good chance that you will spot some of the so-called “Big Five” as well as the many other species living in the reserve.

14 7. The "Big Five" – lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and Rhinos

The reserve is home to the “Big Five” safari animals. The “Big Five” are usually known as the most fierce and dangerous animals and include lions, leopards, African elephants, African buffalo and rhinoceroses.

While on safari at the reserve, there is a good chance that you will be able to see most or all of the five. The Leopard is that hardest to spot as it is nocturnal, and its habitat is hard to access, so spotting one is extra special.

There is a chance to see these animals while on the guided walking tours as well (from a safe distance of course).

13 8. Endangered species - Protected and Bred

The reserve is home to some of the endangered species of Africa. There is a breeding program run by the reserve to grow the numbers of these endangered species, and to maintain the population numbers of other species. As the reserve is an enforced poaching-free area, it is an ideal location to run the breeding program. During your stay at the reserve, you may see some species that you would not be able to see on any other safari experience in Africa. You might also get a chance to meet the anti-poaching team which protects the reserve and the animals who live in it.

12 9. Wintertime Animal Spotting - Best time to see animals

In the wintertime, there are still plenty of animals out to be seen by those staying at the resort. The reserve actually considers the winter as the best time to view the wildlife due to shorter grass and fewer leaves on the trees.

As the temperature is still moderate during the daytime but a bit chilly in the mornings and the evenings, the winter is still a great time to visit the resort, especially if you are looking to see as many animals as possible.

Keep in mind that wintertime at the reserve is from June to August.

11 10. Springtime Babies - so cute

Springtime, which runs from September to November on the reserve allows visitors to see the young animals coming out to explore and play. The temperatures are warmer, but still not too hot, and the landscape is green and alive after the winter months. If you are wanting to see the babies and young animals, then spring is the ideal time for you to stay at the reserve.

As well, if you are travelling from the Northern Hemisphere, it is a great chance to escape the cold and the winter.

10 11. Evening cruises - beautiful sunsets

With your booking in the Zulu Villas on the reserve, one evening cruise is included. The cruise takes place on the 30-hectare man-made dam that is located within the reserve. From the boat, you might be able to see some animals on the shore as many come down to the dam to drink. Some of the animals you might see in the water are hippos and crocodiles, and plenty of fish. Antelope are often seen on the shoreline as well. The cruise offers guests an ideal opportunity to see the sunset from the boat.

9 12. Guided walks - up close to nature

If you want to experience the reserve from the ground, there are guided walks available. The walks have pre-set routes through the reserve, to ensure safety for the guides and visitors. It is also a great way to see animals in the park, as they are less likely to be scared off by people walking than they might be by a safari truck.

The guides provide information on the species you might see, or the sounds that you hear on your walk. The walks often take visitors to a watering hole or other location where multiple species of animal will group.

8 13. Picnics - private and serene

The reserve offers visitors the chance to have a romantic and relaxing picnic in the park. You are accompanied by guides and rangers to a good picnic spot to ensure that your location is safe, and you get good views of the landscape. You also get a special picnic meal provided by the chefs at the resort. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the company of your travel partner or partners, and to experience the reserve up close.

You may be able to watch some animals and birds during your meal, all while taking in the views and sun.

7 14. Quad rides - for those looking for some added excitement

If you are looking for some adventure while on your vacation, you can take a quad ride through the reserve. There is a special route planned out for quad riders through the park, making your experience safe but still exciting. The route also includes an obstacle course, providing added excitement. The quad rides are tailored to the experience level of the riders to provide the best experience possible.

Depending on the time of day you go, you may also be able to see some animals from your quad, making your experience even more unique.

6 15. Stargazing - no light pollution

Due to the reserve’s location away from the major cities, there is little light pollution affecting the night skies. Therefore, the reserve is a fantastic place to stargaze.

Many different Southern Hemisphere constellations can be seen from the park depending on the time of the year and on very clear nights the Milky Way galaxy can usually be seen as well. Stargazing offers guests a chance to experience the peace and serenity of the landscape during the night as well. You may be able to hear animal calls too.

5 16. Fishing - eat what you catch

There is a fishing location on the dam within the reserve, as well as along the rivers that run through the reserve. If you enjoy fishing or just want to get a closer perspective on the marine habitat in the park, this is a great way to interact with the local wildlife. You might also be able to see the animals come down to the water to drink or cool off. It is common for visitors to catch Bass in the dam and river.

If you choose to eat what you catch, one of the resort chefs accompanies you and assists in preparing your catch.

4 17. Birdwatching - many species

For those who enjoy birdwatching, the reserve is home to many species of birds, including some unique species that cannot be seen elsewhere in the world. You can birdwatch from the evening cruises, or from the restaurant. Plus, you might have great birdwatching chances when on the guided walks or picnics.

You can also listen to the many unique birdcalls from the walks and picnics. Also, the guides and rangers who accompany you during your time on the reserve would be able to tell you about the variety of bird within the reserve.

3 18. The Spa - relax and have a great view

If you are looking to relax for a while when on your stay in the reserve, there is a luxury spa to visit. The spa offers some treatments including facials, manicures and pedicures and full body massages.

Even if you are not looking for a spa treatment, the location of the spa itself is worth a visit while on the reserve. The spa has a deck and is a quiet and serene place to view the surrounding landscape.

2 19. African art - Many styles and mediums

The Nelson Mandela Villa is filled with many different examples of African art. It is a great place to see multiple styles of art from different artists. There is a variety of mediums showcased to visitors including sculptures, paintings, and architecture designs. It's a great way to experience many different elements of the African cultures that are on display without having to leave the reserve.

The Zulu villas also offer African art as part of their décor, but the Nelson Mandela Villa is the area of the reserve known for its art collection.

1 20. A Different experience each time

Each time you visit the resort, you get to have a different experience. As the reserve is working on breeding animals, there will be changing populations over time, meaning that when you visit again, you could see different animals.

Depending on when you go during the year you will get a different experience, such as seeing babies in the spring. If there was an option that was offered to guests and you did not get to try on your first visit, try on the second. You could also try staying in the other accommodation, which would give you a completely different feel for the reserve.