“Intimate and stylish lodges in a superb location in the Kruger, offering close encounters of the bush kind at affordable rates”
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
Our top tips
- Safari Lodges
- All meals included
- Only children aged 16+
- Open all year
- Plunge Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
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.
- Mosquito net
- Plunge pool
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.
- All meals included
- 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:
- Private guided tours
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.
Teens (over 12)
Babysitting available by arrangement
Camp Shawu and Camp Shonga are part of the Shishangeni Private Lodges, which are located in the southeast of Kruger National Park: 14km from Komatipoort (and around 500km from Johannesburg). You are just over 30 minutes from Crocodile Bridge gate. At Shishangeni Lodge you rendezvous with your guide and game vehicle before transferring to your camp, which are 10 minutes drive away.
Kruger Mpumalanga International (110km) can be reached via a direct internal flight from Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Mozambique's Maputo Airport (125km) and Malelane Airport (70km) are also nearby. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport
Guests can be met upon arrival and transferred to the Lodge by road - see Rates. This is probably the easiest way to reach the camps.
Driving from Johannesburg will take about 5 hours; from Maputo it is about 1 hour and 20 minutes. If you want to hire a car see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to South Africa and getting around
- Kruger Mpumalanga International 110.0 km MQP
- Johannesburg Oliver Reginald Tambo 500.0 km JNB
- Beach 999.0 km
- Shops 40.0 km
- Restaurant 40.0 km