We stayed at Shingwedzi for 2 nights in Jan 2012. It was my least favourite of the camps we stayed at. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with it, but it just did not shine as much as the other camps did.
It was the second largest camp we stayed in and it seems to have a real mixture of accommodation options. I think we must have been in one the oldest huts in the camp – but were surrounded by what looked like lovely luxurious cottages and newer huts, so maybe we just ran out of luck.
Our unit was extremely basic. Two beds, a bathroom, AC, kettle, a fridge and outside cupboard and braai. There was quite a lot of holes in the walls plugged by toilet paper to try and keep the bugs out. However the beds were comfortable and it was clean…just very worn and dated. I was initially very disappointed when we arrived. I felt it was a step down from Punda Maria..but I gradually realised why I felt like this. There was less of a sense of community. People kept themselves to themselves, unlike in Punda Maria where communal cooking caused everyone to come together and share stories around the braai.
The shop was one of the largest, but not very well stocked. It seemed to be dominated by curios and clothing opposed to meat, fruit and veg. For that reason we broke with tradition and had a lunch and breakfast in the on site cafe which was ok. We certainly didn’t starve, and did manage to have two excellent braais.
The staff are very helpful, but seemed less warm and welcoming than in the other camps. However, they did personally visit every hut each night to provide an update on the closed swimming pool, and when the neighbours found a puff adder outside their hut they did everything they could to assist.
A downside is that there are no real views from the huts we stayed in. You’re quite ‘land locked and enclosed’ in the camp and you have to venture to the cafe or on site picnic area to see outside the camp.
There are not a lot of routes to drive around the camp – especially if you’ve stayed nearby previously, you might find you are limited for new self drives. Saying that, the short drive to the Bird Hide and Dam is well worth it. The river is packed full of bird life, buffalo and elephants. We spent a very pleasant morning in one spot, watching two eagles fight over a fish and watch a group of monkeys play in the trees. It’s not rich in the big five, but it is a place where you can start to appreciate the less ‘famous’ animals and birds.
If you’ve not stayed locally before your visit to this camp, be sure to head out early, pack a picnic and take a drive out to RedRocks. it’ll be quite a long day but it’s worth it. You may see giraffe, eland, ground hornsbills, porcupines, elephants, lion, buffalo and various birds.
If you are self-driving and fancy a shorter drive (or a detour en-route to RedRocks), make sure you take the road out of the main gate and when you get to the crossroads (with the bridge to your right), go straight across and take the short 8k drive. Toward the end of the trail you’ll head past a water storage unit on your left by the riverbank and, if you’re lucky, you’ll see elephants on their hind legs drinking from it. Buffalo and warthog are also common here.
For me it’s a camp to use as a transit point from North to South, opposed to one to linger in. But the surrounding area is well worth the visit.
For further information, visit the SANParks website.
Photos from our South African safari are available in our Taraji Blue South African photo gallery.