Top Activities to do in Shambala Reserve

Nelson Mandela Centre for Reconciliation on Shambala Private Game Reserve.
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A visit to Shambala is the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can take in the reserve on an elephant back safari or you might prefer to view the wildlife in their natural environment from the comfort of a game viewing vehicle, enjoy a leisurely bush picnic, and set off on a sundowner cruise, before ending the day in the most perfect way with a magical star-gazing experience. If you are keen to participate in more energetic activities, you can go on guided bush walks, and there are also exciting volunteer programmes for those who are passionate about conservation.

Sundowner cruises

For memorable moments to last a lifetime there is nothing quite like a leisurely sundowner cruise on the 30-hectare Douw Steyn Dam, the largest man-made dam in southern Africa. The dam is home to herds of hippos as well as crocodiles and a large and varied indigenous fish population. From the boat deck you will also see various species of antelope and other wildlife that come down to the shores of the dam to drink water. This is the ideal opportunity for taking in the spectacular sunset views as the birds wing their way home and the bushveld slowly turns to dusk.

Bush picnics

Bush picnics at Shambala are romantic and unforgettable, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the African bush with its plentiful wildlife and lilting birdcalls. You will be accompanied by our professional game rangers, who will select the perfect spot for spreading the picnic blankets and luxurious cushions for you to spend a relaxing afternoon in the warm sunshine. Sit back and enjoy the delicious gourmet picnic feast prepared specially for you by our chefs. You will be amazed what animal sightings you might have from your picnic setting.

Elephant volunteer program

Conservation starts with education, and elephants play an important role in educating people about elephants and their complex family units. Our family of elephants interact with our guests during the elephant back safaris, but for the rest of the time they roam free on the reserve. The Shambala elephant volunteer programme gives our guests a unique opportunity to gain a better understanding of the amazing world of elephants. As a volunteer you will appreciate their extraordinary social structure and derive satisfaction from knowing that you are making a positive contribution to their wellbeing. Through your hands-on involvement in every aspect of the management of our elephants, you will learn more about conservation while enjoying this remarkable experience of a lifetime.

Game research and monitoring

Shambala Private Game Reserve is actively involved in wildlife conservation and a comprehensive anti-rhino poaching programme. Our main objective is to maintain the most favourable natural conditions for the wildlife to thrive. The Shambala game research and monitoring programme gives our guests the opportunity to experience some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife while working on a team expedition to complete projects that are designed to improve life for all the species on the reserve. In addition to learning more about conservation you will see the immediate benefits of your volunteer work, while getting up close and personal with the elephants, cheetahs, zebras and many more animals that have found a safe haven at Shambala.

The project requires an all-round commitment from volunteers. There is an option for volunteers to focus on a particular species or to move around and work with different species of wildlife inhabiting the refuge. Volunteers will work consistently alongside our trained staff to gain hands-on experience, including elephant walks or sessions with the various animals. This is a most rewarding experience as volunteers will have the opportunity to challenge themselves physically, while also introducing innovative ways to contribute to the ongoing success of the reserve.

Game drives

Visitors to Shambala are treated to unique personal experiences of the bushveld and exciting close-up game viewing under the expert guidance of qualified, experienced game rangers and guides who share their knowledge of the African bush and its wildlife. You can expect to spot a wide variety of game species, from black and white rhino to elephant, lion, leopard and cheetah, as well as buffalo, giraffe, sable antelope, black impala, tsessebe, nyala, blesbok, waterbuck, klipspringer and Cape mountain zebra, and even spotted hyena, in addition to abundant birdlife.

Guests are taken on game drives in a shared game viewing vehicle.

Guided bush walks

A walking safari is the ideal opportunity to experience the African bush in a way that most people have never dreamed of. Your guide will give you an insight into the sights and sounds

of the wildlife in their natural surroundings. You will be able to immerse yourself in the ecology of the area, the flora, the fauna, the insects and, most of all, the various species of game. Along the way you will learn how to interpret the signs of the wild, including a wide range of animal spoors, and you will be surprised to discover what animals have crossed your hiking path. You might come face-to-face with an elephant, or watch a dung beetle rolling his ball of dung across the veld. This is an amazing experience and, as you learn more about the different species, you will begin to realise just how impressive and interconnected our African wildlife really is.

On your bush walk you will be accompanied by a qualified ranger, together with a back-up guide or tracker, who will ensure that you are kept safe at all times. These professionals will guide you along trails and tracks to watering holes and rivers, sharing with you their vast knowledge and the secrets of the bush in a unique way that is up close and personal.


Prepare yourself for the thrill of a lifetime. Most people who live in cities are not used to seeing breathtaking constellations like the Milky Way. When you experience star-gazing in the wide expansive skies of South Africa you will be treated to a magical display of stars beyond your wildest imagination.

Star-gazing takes you on an unforgettable journey of the great African skies. If you’re out in the bush or in the mountains, look up on a clear night and you’ll be dazzled by the magnificent brilliance of the stars. In the evenings you will see the big, bright constellations of the southern hemisphere, which are particularly exciting because they look close enough to touch. Gazing up at the Milky Way stretching out across the sky at Shambala Private Game Reserve is a must-see during the winter months. Every day at Zulu Camp brings a renewed sense of adventure. It is this Africa that beckons you, the Africa that will leave you with a lifetime of memories.

Big Five interaction

This is the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime experience, a close encounter with the Big Five, thrillingly close enough to feel your heart beating faster and yet far enough to keep out of harm’s way. This is the most remarkable bush walk you could ever imagine. Our professional guide and ranger will take you up close but keep you safe and protected, whilst allowing you to truly feel part of the natural bush environment that is home to the Big Five and an abundance of other wildlife.

Many of South Africa’s rare species are becoming endangered because of the ever-increasing threat of poaching. Through our extensive anti-poaching programme we maintain constant vigilance to combat poaching and ensure the ongoing safety of our wildlife. You will have the opportunity of meeting our anti-poaching team and learn more about how we protect the endangered animals at Shambala.

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