Reviews of Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
A private reserve with a full range of game
We chose to stay at Kwandwe after having read on South African websites of Kwandwe's conservation and rehabilitation success over the past 15 years. How it's last owners bought the land and together with a team including game rangers, the local people and other wildlife experts are returning it to the wildlife wilderness it once was. People living and working the area were not displaced; a Charitable Trust was set up from which the community benefits; the reserve provides employment including posts as rangers and trackers.
Although Kwandwe does not offer the vast herds of game found in other parts of this continent, it is well represented by most major species and birding is good. Rare and endangered species are also to be found including the beautiful black wildebeest. Kwandwe boasts one of the few herds of TB free Cape Buffalo. Good sightings of Caracal and puff Adder compensated for not seeing aardvark and aardwolf during our stay.
We found the quality of guiding and tracking good. Both Ranger Doc and Tracker Si had lived all their lives in the immediate area and this was their 'backyard'. Doc not only possessed a great depth of knowledge and patience but was most engaging with a wicked sense of humour. We were fortunate to have the vehicle to ourselves on two occasions when my husband and Doc shared their love of birding.
Great Fish River Lodge comprises nine stone chalets. We shared our five days between No 4 and 8- 4 having very limited views whilst 8 provided a panoramic view of the surrounding bush and river gorge. The rooms were well appointed and tastefully furnished. The only downside for us was the feeling of being cocooned whilst in our room and therefore missing the sounds of the bush which tented camps offer.
We welcomed the two opportunities for communal dining which we prefer when staying in game lodges. Both offered the chance to share the game drive experiences of the day with fellow guests. All other meals were taken at our own table either in the pleasant dining room or outside veranda.
Having read of Kwandwe's Executive Chef Guy Nahman and being impressed by his dishes in the book '32 Inspirational Chefs', we were disappointed that such gastronomy was not reflected in the dining room during our stay. The meals were varied and appetising, especially lunches, however we have eaten equally as well at guest farms in SA.
The entire Kwandwe staff provided excellent customer service and spoke of being part of a happy team.
Best part of the trip
every aspect of this was great and so well thought out.
the staff were very attentive and helpful and the guides knowledgeable.
we were a liitle driving down their dirt road for 11km when the hire car people had given us stern warnings about NOT driving on dirt roads and the perils of invalidating the insurance.
as we did not need a car there I would suggest that you offer a driver to and from eg Port Elizabeth especially for anyone flying to and from PE
My only criticism is that there was not much physical activity available between 11am and 4pm . If like me you run or swim a lot, it was enjoyable reading, bird watching or animal spotting but two days was quite enough!
This is a beautiful place run by beautiful people.
Our thanks to Claire for recommending it. We would love to return
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve review
The highlight of our holiday. Everyone was very welcoming, and couldn't do enough for us. This was our first safari experience, but it's hard to see how anywhere else could better Kwandwe - even the animals co-operated! It took some self restraint to say no to the constant supply of great food.
The ranger and guide who took us out on each day were brilliant - very knowledgeable and informative, and easy to get on with. We were fortunate that when the party who shared the first couple of drives with us had left, they were not replaced with a further party, and we had the vehicle all to ourselves, which made it even more special for us.
Finally, the lodge manager and staff put on a candle-lit dinner for us, as we had let slip that the trip was a special celebration for us. When we left, it felt as if we'd become part of the furniture - quickly corrected by the staff to "part of the family"!