Camp Shawu and Camp Shonga

Kruger National Park, Kruger & Around, South Africa Book from

Intimate and stylish lodges in a superb location in the Kruger, offering close encounters of the bush kind at affordable rates
Secreted away in the Mpanamana private concession in the southeast of Kruger, the Shawu and Shonga camps strike a near perfect balance between an authentic Out Of Africa bush experience and design-mag-memorable camp aesthetics. The views and settings of the camps are simply stunning: Shonga is wrapped organically into a stand of ancient thorn trees which opens out to the surrounding veld, whilst Shawu's front deck nudges right up to the edge of a watering hole where big game viewing, and myriad birdlife, is guaranteed at any time of the day.

Each camp sleeps just 10 guests with a guiding ethos of keeping you far from the madding crowd and close to the game. Planked walkways link Shonga's 5 thatched-and-tented suites and Shawu's 5 bandas with their communal living spaces; Shonga's tented and decked lodge feels as if it has been lifted straight from a Hemingway novel whilst Shawu's diaphanous glass-and-wood design draws the eye out to the life of its watering hole. These camps are romantic with a big 'R' and will leave you wanting more.


  • Amazing area for game viewing: you'll see many more animals besides the fabled '5', and the variety of birdlife is simply mind-boggling
  • Set in the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains, the views of the African bushveld are stunning
  • The generators that fire up at night, and the flickering mosquito lamps, feel authentically bush
  • Really relaxed vibe; at Shawu you'd be forgiven for skipping the odd game drive: watching hippos, crocs and fish eagles at such close quarters can be addictive
  • Perfect for a honeymoon, or consider hiring an entire camp for a special celebration with family or friends
  • 100% black owned


  • Being such small camps, meals tend to be served at a communal table so you are obliged to be sociable
  • Neither camp has much in the way of facilities, apart from their small swimming pools. But we felt that this added to the 'away from it all' vibe
  • The bathrooms are only partially seperated from the bedrooms; some may find this a little too intimate
  • Kids under the age of 12 are not allowed

Best time to go

The Kruger is spectacular at any time of year. For game viewing, their winter (May-October) is best, because it's the driest (meaning animals congregate around water holes) and the lack of foliage and grasses gives you a clearer view. But it does get cold at night and during the morning game drive, so pack accordingly. For birdwatching, their summer (December-March) is best: the rivers are full, the bushveld is lush and there is no shortage of materials for food, nesting and hiding. This is prime holiday season in South Africa, but it can get seriously hot. Autumn (April-May) is also good for birding but probably the worst time for bigger game. In spring (November-December) you can spot lots of newborns.

Our top tips

Shawu and Shonga offer such a unique bush experience that it would ideally be savoured over a number of days. We regretted only being here for 2 nights and would happily have extended our stay by another 2 or 3. These diminuitive bush camps really do wrap you in their embrace: a week at either of them, or at a combination of the 2, would be a very special treat. And it would be great to book the whole of the camp with friends or family: you'd really get the feeling that the Kruger was all yours.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Lodges
  • 10
  • All meals included
  • Only children aged 16+
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym


Both camps have just 5 sleeping units, reached via planked walkways which cut through the bush from the main lodge. Shawu's take the form of bandas made from buffalo dung pisé with a canvas front, whilst those of Shonga are classic safari-style tents slung beneath finely thatched roofs.

All have beautiful private platforms of polished wood: Shawu's look out to its watering hole, Mpanamana Dam, whilst those of Shonga hug a low hillside with views out through the thorn trees. We marvelled at one of the Kruger's largest bull elephants grazing just yards from our tent.

Decoration at both lodges has been faultlessly orchestrated in a classic colonial-safari style. Each of the tents and bandas has a free-standing woodburner, leather chairs and ottomans, unusual woven-metal wardrobes and twin beds that can be made up into kingsize doubles - indicate your preference when booking. Mud cloth hangings, funky bedside lamps and appliqués, durries and old leather suitcases and trunks add a twist of decorative zest.

The bathroom areas of each lodge have been partially delineated by screens of woven cane, allowing you the luxury of views out to the bush from your freestanding clawfoot bathtub. Sinks are set atop surfaces of burnished copper and at both camps you're treated to a second, outside rain shower. Expect snowy white towels and linen, a hairdyer, bathrobes, extra blankets in the wardrobes, lashings of hot water throughout the day, and mozzie netting both above your bed, and across all door and window openings.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Plunge pool
  • Terrace


If you're joining the early morning game drive - it tends to leave camp at around 6am - tea and biscuits will be laid out for you first thing, or can be delivered to your tent. A big breakfast is served on your return. This will be an extensive array of fruits, cheeses and cold cuts, a cereal and yoghurt cup, then the cooked breakfast of your choice.

Lunches stick to a light buffet formula with a choice of 2 or 3 different salads, a pasta or a rice dish and some kind of grilled meat: we were treated to delicious chicken kebabs with a satay sauce.

Dinners are memorable occasions at both camps: once night has fallen, and the oil lamps have been lit, the romantic allure is honeymoon-perfect. Your meal begins early, taking into account that you're likely to be leaving early the following day on a game drive: at about 6.30pm in winter, an hour or so later in summer. Aperitifs are laid up along a candlelit table, as are the different wines, which are all South African, and all good.

At both camps you eat on the deck in warmer weather or inside at cooler times of year. Starters tend to be thick soups in winter, salads in summer. You're offered a choice of 2 main courses, one meat - sirloin of beef, rack of lamb with mint sauce, lamb chops, fillet of kudu or ostrich steak - the other fish: hake, kingklip or trout, which is often served in a lemon, white wine and butter sauce. Our dinners were accompanied by plenty of vegetables and everything had been cooked to perfection by the local Shangaan chef. If you have any special dietary requirements, let them know in advance.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Enjoy top game viewing in the Mpanamana Reserve and along the banks of the crocodile river, with excellent guiding. The Kruger is renowned for the 'Big 5' - lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino - and you will see plenty more

  • Head off on a bush walk with armed expert rangers. There's no better way to experience the raw beauty of the Kruger

  • The camps are ideal for birdwatching: Shawu's watering hole is full of avian action at any time of day, and Shonga's bushveld teems with feathered things. There are over 500 species recorded in the Kruger, including kingfishers, storks, shrikes, weavers, herons, eagles, vultures, kites and the giant eagle owl

  • Lounge by your camp's plunge pool with a book or a pair of binoculars

  • Chill on your private deck, drinking in the extraordinary sights and sounds of the surrounding bushveld

  • Greet the dawn with your camera and capture that marvellous light

  • If you enjoy multi-tasking, there's a 9-hole unfenced golf course in the Kruger; watch game while you chip and putt

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife


Children over 16 are welcome. No kids under the age of 16 are allowed. Independently minded teenagers would love it, and either camp would be perfect for a family gathering to celebrate a big life event.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)


Babysitting available by arrangement

Kid Friendly:

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Rates for Camp Shawu and Camp Shonga