Kwandwe Private Game Reserve: Our full report
Located an easy two hours drive from Port Elizabeth Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is located on 22 000 hectares of land. On arrival at the reserve you are directed to their main reception called Hetherton Towers, which is an old restored fortified homestead, dating back to the Frontier War period – with gun turrets still intact! Here you are greeted with a glass of cold lemonade and a refreshing cold towel.
Leaving your car at Hetherton Towers you are transferred to your lodge in an open 4 wheel drive vehicle. It was a 15 minute drive to Ecca Lodge, where we were staying, and about 45 minutes to Great Fish River Lodge.
Ecca Lodge in the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is modern, chic and very luxurious. The main areas are predominantly glass and stone. The lounge is decorated with bright modern art and furnished with orange, brown and olive green sofas and chairs. The large coffee table is covered with various wildlife books and games to while away the time when you are not out on safari. The floors are made of polished concrete and the walls are stone with a big fireplace dominating one wall. Big glass sliding doors lead outside onto a deck furnished with more comfortable sofas.
The dining area is open to the kitchen and is decorated with modern dark wood tables and very comfortable high back chairs upholstered in a bright orange and red striped fabric. Glass sliding doors lead out to more tables on the patio.
There is a small library with a television where you can sit and enjoy wildlife DVD's. In one corner of the library are some shelves where a few curios' and some Kwandwe merchandise are for sale here.
Outside is a long narrow swimming pool surrounded by a wooden deck and a few sun loungers and umbrellas.
Ecca Lodge has 6 luxurious modern suites, each with their own private plunge pool. Each suite has a separate lounge and bedroom area, each with sliding doors leading out onto a large deck. A large spacious bathroom is off the bedroom and also has a sliding door leading outside.
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve also has three other lodges. About 20 minutes drive from Ecca Lodge is the slightly larger, more colonial Great Fish River Lodge.
Great Fish River Lodge is located on a hill overlooking the Great Fish River and has nine very elegant thatched suites.
The main lounge area is decorated with old leather furniture and African prints. The floors are a combination of polished cement and reclaimed yellowwood floorboards on top of which are laid Persian-style rugs. The walls are made of stone and dominated by a large fireplace.
The dining area has individual wooden tables with comfortable high-backed chairs. Old mirrors hang on the walls along with black and white wooden framed photos - reminders of the history of the area.
Antique wooden cabinets stocked with jars of jams and pickles are against the wall. Large wood and glass folding doors open out onto a vast wooden deck with more seating areas to relax and enjoy the views. From the deck, a boardwalk leads to the suites.
Each suite at Great Fish River Lodge is comfortable, although not as large as the suites at Ecca Lodge. Each has a large bedroom with a comfortable seating area and an en-suite bathroom dominated by a traditional roll top bath.
Not far from Great Fish River Lodge is Melton Manor, a recently built (April 2007) exclusive-use house with four suites, ideal for small groups of friends or families traveling together.
The large lounge is decorated in dusty pinks and browns and uses a mixture of modern and antique furniture and has polished wood floors. Here you will find a computer for logging onto the internet, satellite television and a selection of games to enjoy whilst not out on safari.
There is an open plan dining room and kitchen with a large, wooden 8 seater table and a farm-style kitchen where your own chef prepared your private meals. In one corner of the dining/kitchen area is another seating area with comfortable sofas and chairs.
The house is located around a central grass courtyard with the four suites leading off either side of it. At the far end of the courtyard, with views over the river, is a swimming pool with sun loungers around it.
All four of the suites here are exactly the same in size and décor with a large freestanding double bed in the centre of the room. The theme again is beige and pink, with black and white prints of ostriches on the walls.
Large en-suite bathrooms have big windows making the most of the views. There is a freestanding bath, double wash basins and a large glass screened shower.
Outside each suite is a private deck with comfortable wicker furniture.
The other lodge on the Kwandwe Private Reserve is Uplands Homestead which is also used on an exclusive basis for small groups traveling together. It is more traditional homestead but decorated to the same high standard as the other lodges and has three suites.
At all the lodges on the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve the activities concentrate on day and night game drives as well as walks with an armed guide. The guiding here is of a high standard and a tracker always accompanies the guide in the vehicle.
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is home to the big five and when we visited in November 2007 we saw rhino, lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe and numerous other game.
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve has four luxury lodges, all offering high end service and game viewing. It is a must for travelers wishing to experience the big five in a non-malaria area.
Kwandwe Ecca Lodge has six modern suites in the über-chic Ecca Lodge. While being Innovative, stylish and intimate, there is little separation between you and the African bushveld.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: House wines, beers, local spirits, soft drinks and bottled water are included.
Family holidays: For a family safari with small children, the malaria-free Cape should be top of your list. This excellent private reserve has three lodges within it, two of which cater very well indeed for families and children, and will happily arrange special activities specifically for the children – like 'frog safaris' to seek out local amphibians.See more ideas for Family holidays in South Africa
Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at both the Kwandwe Ecca Lodge and the Uplands Homestead.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Health & safety
Malarial area: No
Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk
Security measures: Fully trained security staff monitor animal activity within the lodge areas, and always escort guests to/from their suites from dusk to dawn.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Included