Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
$ 692 (Pps)
Kwandwe Game Reserve offers 22,000ha of pristine malaria-free wilderness in the Eastern Cape. It has a magnificent, ecologically varied landscape resulting in a diverse range of game: elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo as well as aardvark, aardwolf, cheetah and the endangered blue crane. Kwandwe is also sanctuary for other threatened species such as the Knysna woodpecker, the Cape grysbok, black wildebeest and crowned eagle. Today thousands of animals roam the reserve and Kwandwe offers morning, afternoon and night game drives in open 4x4s. Kwandwe's night drives are renowned with aardvark and aardwolf regularly spotted.
Alternatively you can enjoy longer big game walking safaris which take the place of a morning game drive, or join the rhino monitoring team for a few hours to learn more about these magnificent endangered creatures. (Both activities are offered at an additional charge.)
Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge lies on the lush green banks of the Great Fish River (no surprises there) - surrounded by flowering euphorbias and aloes (from June to August). Here you can watch majestic kudu come down to the river to drink from the expansive viewing decks or observe the playful Cape otter swimming in the cool waters below from the privacy of your own private plunge pool or deck.
Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge is a magnificent open space with a soaring thatched roof adorned with imposing chandeliers and massive stone chimneys with roaring fires in winter. The décor is a soft settler style, very easy on the eye, with richly woven rugs, yellow wood chests, stylish wooden furniture and antique china, pewter and silver reminiscent of settler life. Within the massive stone-built walls, there are plenty of private areas to read and relax.
Great Fish River Lodge offers 9 luxurious suites stylishly decorated in a pioneering African style with natural palettes of earth-toned fabrics. Each has an elevated wooden veranda, outdoor shower and a private plunge pool overlooking the river below. Floor to ceiling glass doors fold back to invite the bush into the suite. Overhead fans and air-conditioning are offered to help with the summer temperatures. Lovely glass-walled bathrooms offer a ball and claw bath with a view, as well as shower.
Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge on the map
Nine Luxurious Suite(s)
Nine luxurious suites feature en-suite bathrooms, indoor and outdoor showers, separate w.c, twin basins, personal bars and covered verandas with plunge pools.The decor is classic-contemporary African-inspired, with natural palettes of earth-toned fabrics. Pewter and glass add an effortless yet understated glamour to the furnishings, while artifacts such as ostrich eggshells, hides and horns create subtle points of interest and relevance to the lodge’s surrounds.
Kwandwe Game Reserve review by Kate
I recently stayed at Kwandwe again and was reminded why Kwandwe is my first choice for game-viewing in the Eastern Cape... if your budget allows.
In an ideal world you would combine a few days at Kwandwe with a Kruger private lodge as the style of safari and animals seen differs considerably. Here you are much more likely to see cheetah, (but highly unlikely to see leopard.) Similarly your chances of seeing aardvark and aardwolf are probably second to none and we even saw meerkats (though this is not guaranteed!). Elephant, lion and buffalo are also plentiful as well as black rhino which are less commonly seen (and rarely seen in the Kruger).
At Kwandwe the focus is on spotting the animals on the open plains from high vantage points rather than tracking animals in thick bush as you would in the private game reserves of the Kruger
Kwandwe in Summer and Winter
Kwandwe’s climate changes dramatically from Summer to Winter with very hot days in high summer and very cold nights in winter. This leads to a very different summer and winter game viewing schedule. In summer, you wake up at 5am out 5.45am and return at the latest by 9am when it is already hot. You have plenty of time to catch up on missed sleep during the day with the afternoon drive only starting at 4.30-5pm and back at 8pm or later. However in mid winter, you sleep in, have breakfast first then out for game drive at 8-8.30am, staying out until 11am In the afternoon you meet at around 2.30-3pm for the game drive and you’re back by 6pm. Autumn and spring schedules straddle the middle.
Ecca is ideal for those preferring a modern contemporary look, which is not too minimalistic. I really liked the décor. The showers were amazing, massive with a stone backdrop and waterfall showerhead. The pleasant main rooms comprise a sitting room, cosy dining room for the winter months, summer dining on the expansive deck and a separate TV room slightly away. The food was exceptional, some of the best on the trip.
Our guide, Chase, was excellent - just the right mix of deep knowledge, enthusiasm and relaxed informality. He was clearly passionate about Kwandwe which became infectious.
Great Fish River Lodge
I actually preferred this lodge though its all a matter of personal taste. I loved the setting overlooking the impressive Fish River, the suites which were airy and light, modern yet romantic. I also loved the main building.
This is the larger of the two Kwandwe villas and is ideal for larger family parties, two families travelling together or even a party of friends. Its a modern take on an old settler homestead and I loved the decor. The setting was magnificent overlooking the mountains with a rimflow pool. Bedrooms had a slightly strange layout as you came into the room to face the back of the bed (which faced the view) but that was my only (small gripe). The bathrooms were filled with light with either a bath with a view and shower or massive shower but bath with no view.
Uplands Manor is the real McCoy, an original 19th settler homestead filled with period pieces and artefacts. As such its a bit like marmite. You will either love it or hate it. Personally I love historic homes so I loved it. But its only suited to a family rather than friends as the rooms vary in size and luxury. The fenced lawns mean that its ideal for kids who like to let off steam but I preferred the overall setting of Melton. (My comments are from a previous visit but I am assurred that the lodge hasn't changed!)