Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

An easy two hours drive away from Port Elizabeth, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve encompasses 220km² of former farmland, which the Great Fish River meanders through. The reserve is home to the famous ‘Big Five’ and lots of other wildlife. As the area is regarded non-malarial, it can be a great destination for families with young children. Furthermore the reserve makes a natural conclusion to a trip along the Garden Route.

Flora and fauna in Kwandwe Game Reserve

Kwandwe’s undulating landscape is covered with spekbooms, low termite mounds, low-growing shrubs and lots of thickets, interspersed with some open areas. It is a dry, slow-growing ecosystem, offering a highly diverse vegetation and, for the visitor, generally feels fairly low and almost devoid of tall trees. While bush clump savannah-thickets dominate the flat terrains, tall succulent-thickets can be found on the steeper, south-facing slopes, and euclea, aloe and similar species on the north facing slopes. Come here from June to August to enjoy a spectacular display of winter flowering aloes.

The level of the Great Fish River varies significantly so broad sand bars are periodically revealed or concealed. The views of this big river can be lovely.

Kwandwe is a very game-rich reserve for this ecosystem, and over the years a remarkable 7,000 large mammals have been translocated here. These include black and white rhino, buffalo, elephant, kudu, springbok, eland, red hartebeest, giraffe, black wildebeest, lots of gemsbok, hyena, hippo, a couple of steenbok and predators including cheetah, lion and leopard. There are now thriving populations of all these species. Because Kwandwe Game Reserve remains privately owned, spotlit night game drives are possible and will give you the chance to see nocturnal species such as aardwolf and aardvark.

Kwandwe is also home to many endangered bird species like black stork, the occasional martial eagle, kori, Stanley’s bustards and of course the endangered and very beautiful blue crane, after which the reserve was named: ‘Kwandwe’ is Xhosa for ‘Place of the blue crane’. Other birds to watch for here are fish eagle, bokmakierie, malachite sunbird, black harrier, southern tchagra, South African shelduck, Knysna woodpecker, Knysna turaco, Eastern clapper lark and the Southern black korhaan.

Where to stay in Kwandwe Game Reserve

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve has four luxury lodges, all offering similarly high-end facilities, levels of service and guiding. They are:
  • Ecca Lodge is a small lodge with a very modern, stylish ambience; it’s also very family-friendly.
  • Great Fish River Lodge is slightly larger, very elegantly and slightly more classically styled than Ecca Lodge. It doesn’t accept children under the age of 12.
  • The historic, farmhouse-style Uplands Homestead offers the authentic feel of a real home, and is booked exclusively by a family or small group.
  • Melton Manor is a similar, small exclusive-use property with a mixture of country-style and contemporary décor elements which caters best to families or small groups.

Activities in Kwandwe Game Reserve

At all the lodges on the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve the activities are similar, concentrating 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. Special safaris include rhino monitoring, big game walking safaris, private safaris and rhino darting.

Arriving at Kwandwe

If on self-drive, you will leave your car at Heatherton Towers, the main reception of the reserve. It is an old restored fortified homestead, dating back to the Frontier War period – with gun turrets still intact! From there you will be transferred to your lodge in an open-topped 4WD vehicle. It’s a 15-minute drive to Ecca Lodge and about 45 minutes to Great Fish River Lodge.
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