Melton Manor is a private safari lodge in South Africa's Eastern Cape,...
Kwandwe Melton Manor: Our full report
Melton Manor is an exclusive-use safari villa for up to eight guests, designed for families or small groups of friends travelling together. Set against a backdrop of gently rolling hills covered with shrubs and low-growing trees in Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, it was built fairly recently, in April 2007. It was completely refurbished in mid-2013, and its interior design is now full of light earthy colours and comfortable, textured fabrics.
A member of the Expert Africa team visited Kwandwe Melton Manor most recently in May 2013; and then its design was a bit of a mish-mash – albeit a very luxurious one. However, since then it has been refurbished and its interior design has changed completely. To get an impression of how Melton Manor is now decorated and furnished, have a look at our gallery of promotional images, which contains more current photos than the Expert Africa gallery. Our impression is that its design is now more consistent and elegant than it used to be.
We’re delighted that the Manor’s basic layout and facilities have not changed. This u-shaped private villa is still centred around a courtyard with four suites leading off it. The two sets of rooms on either side of it have interleading doors through which parents can directly enter their children’s rooms.
Each of Kwandwe Melton Manor’s suites is similar in size and décor, with a large double bed in the centre of the room, a minibar and innovative “butler hatches" to ensure discrete room service. Each large, en-suite bathroom features a freestanding bath, double washbasins and a large glass-screened shower. Big windows make the most of the views. All rooms at Melton Manor are air-conditioned and possess under floor heating. Outside each suite you can find a private deck with comfortable wicker furniture.
In the large lounge at Kwandwe Melton Manor you will find a computer with internet access, satellite television and a selection of games to enjoy whilst not out on safari.
There is a spacious open-plan dining room with a rustic wooden table and a farm-style kitchen area where your private chef prepares your meals. If they wish to, guests can also join the chef here for some cooking inspiration and guidance. In one corner of the dining/kitchen area at Melton Manor you can find more comfortable sofas and chairs.
In Kwandwe Melton Manor’s library, which is said to be more user-friendly after the latest refurbishment, you will find some books, games, DVDs and a TV.
The deep, cool verandas overlooking the central courtyard house some homely sofas and a dining area for outside meals. At the far end of the yard you reach the swimming pool, which is lined with sun loungers and offers distant views over the Great Fish River.
After its latest refurbishment Kwandwe Melton Manor is now decorated in natural colours and materials like wood, stone, pewer, ceramic and wicker. The dominant colours are beige, brown and white and we’re told that the manor’s design feels much more natural and consistent now. (Given the high standard of the design at the reserve’s other lodges – this is also what we’d expect!)
For activities, guests can explore the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, which is home to about 7,000 large mammals, during morning and late afternoon/early evening as well as night game drives in their private, open-topped 4WD vehicle. Our experience of Kwandwe’s guiding is that standards are generally very high, and are actively supported by a regular programme of guide training.
On water, boat trips on the Galpin Dam and fishing on the lovely Great Fish River can make for a very relaxed, enjoyable day.
Kwandwe Game Reserve has recently introduced a fairly new activity concept called voluntourism. Via the Angus Gillis Foundation visitors can get actively involved in local community work, e.g. assisting in gardening. Children can play with other kids from the local school or take part in arts and crafts activities like the ‘Knit a Bit’ programme, which gives blankets made from individually knitted squares to needy families.
Kwandwe also has many activities specifically for children, and many of these are concucted by the ‘blue crane conservation club’. For more detail on these, see the section on children, below.
Extra activities like rhino darting, rhino monitoring and big game walking safaris are also possible, although they are charged additionally.
Our viewKwandwe Melton Manor is nicely constructed around a central courtyard and comfortably furnished – and since it has been refurbished, it looks very elegant. As it’s always booked exclusively, Melton Manor provides a high degree of privacy and flexibility for any group or family wishing to explore the Kwandwe Reserve. It’s especially suitable for families with small children, who will find outside space to run around in relative safety.
Ideal length of stay: It’s normal to spend at least four nights at a place like this, as once you settle in – you probably won’t want to leave.
Directions: Excellent roads from Grahamstown (30 minutes) and Port Elizabeth Airport (one and a half to two hours) account for the easiness of a self-drive to Kwandwe (160km). All vehicles will be left at the car park at Heatherton Towers (reception), from where you will be transferred to your lodge in one of the reserve’s safari vehicles.
Alternatively guests can make use of the daily scheduled shuttle service from Port Elizabeth or charter a private 20-minute flight from Port Elizabeth Airport to Kwandwe airstrip.
Chauffeur-driven road transfers can be arranged on request, too.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: There isn’t a large team in the kitchen here; but one of your hosts is a capable chef. Guests can expect good, high-quality home cooking here – with the menu decided upon by discussion. The food at Kwandwe’s other lodges is a real highlight, and notable for its fresh ingredients, and we’d expect this to be no different – although we haven’t eaten at Melton Manor.
There’s a selection of good South African wines to hand, and with notice your chef will be able to take most special diet requests in his/her stride. That said, if you require kosher food, then note that there’s likely to be an extra cost for this.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: House wines, beers, local spirits, soft drinks and bottled water are included.
Further dining info: Travellers who like to enjoy their meals out in nature can make use of the options of bush breakfasts, dinners and sundowners and picnics on the reserve. It is also possible to dine on one of the villa’s verandas.
Family holidays: Melton Manor is an ‘exclusive-use’ safari villa that is well-suited for relaxed family safari holidays in South Africa’s Cape. Its courtyard and fenced bushveld areas are particularly nice to play in and game activities here can be tailored specifically to children.See more ideas for Family holidays in South Africa
Birdwatching: Explore Kwandwe Reserve’s rich birdlife from the exclusive-use Melton Manor - with a private guide and the possibility to schedule your meals around your activities. Resident African birds include martial eagle, black harrier and the endangered black stork and blue crane.See more ideas for Birdwatching in South Africa
Wildlife safaris: At the private villa Melton Manor in South Africa you can tailor your wildlife safaris completely around your interests, as it comes fully staffed, including a private guide, and with a 4WD vehicle. Kwandwe Game Reserve is notable for high-quality guiding and large mammals.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in South Africa
Private villas & houses: Kwandwe Melton Manor is a private safari villa in South Africa for groups of up to eight travellers. Having your private guide, 4WD vehicle, butler and chef will allow you to time your activities and meals according to your wishes.See more ideas for Private villas & houses in South Africa
Attitude towards children: Children of all ages are welcome, although Melton Manor can only sleep one infant under two years sharing a room with parents at a time; older children can sleep in an adjoining room.
Special activities & services: The advantage of exclusively booking a private property for families is clear: they can feel really at home and enjoy their own space without concerns about other guests feeling disturbed. As parents don’t have to worry about messes or noise when their children play or run around at Melton Manor, the atmosphere at this private villa is usually much more relaxed for the whole family than at a normal lodge with other guests.
All children staying at Kwandwe receive a little backpack with animal check lists, eco-themed games and puzzles, crayons or pencils in recycled tubes, a reusable BPA-free water bottle, a ‘Frolicking Rhino’ range of bath products and a list of environmentally friendly activities. At the end of their stay at Kwandwe Melton Manor they can also take a “Rangers in Training" certificate home with them.
Children’s activities in Kwandwe Reserve comprise “poo safaris", treasure hunts, creative activities, spoor tracking, DVD-watching, Minno’s fishing trip, cooking, baking, and bedtime stories with milk and cookies. It’s even usually possible for children to head out on gentle game activities without their parents, to view hazard-free wildlife like giraffe, zebra or warthog after breakfast, which is called “Striped and Hooves adventure".
With the launch of the ‘Blue Crane Conservation Club’ on 1st December 2013 there have been more eco-themed activities added to raise environmental awareness amongst even the youngest visitors. Some examples are planting spekboom, which are among the most carbon-storing plant species, and guided ‘Bugs & Bones’ walks to look out for insects, bugs, bones, skulls and the tracks and droppings of wildlife.
Child-minders, who are all first aid trained, are available with prior arrangement at no additional cost.
A children’s menu of suggestions can be discussed to choose meals in advance, and separate dining can be arranged – although many guests simply mirror the way they dine at home!
Equipment: There is one cot available at Melton Manor. Children aged three to 16 can be accommodated in their own room next to the parents’ room.
Generally recommended for children: Kwandwe Melton Manor is ideal for families with children aged six years or older.
Notes: Although Melton Manor is fully fenced, we advise parents to keep their children under supervision as smaller animals like snakes could, in theory, still pose a danger.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Power supply notes: Guests will need to bring a South African adaptor.
Communications: There is a computer for guests' use in Melton Manor's lounge area. However, travellers who bring their own devices can access the internet all throughout the lodge via WiFi. Each suite at the manor has got a telephone.
TV & radio: Satellite television is also available in the lounge.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: If in need of a serious medical treatment, you could go to Grahamstown Hospital, which is 40km (about a 40-minute drive) away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The lodge is extensively fenced. Nevertheless we advise guests to be vigilant at all times.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Included
Money: There is a safe in each of Kwandwe Melton Manor’s suites.
Accepted payment on location: Visa, Master Card and Amex are accepted as well as the following currencies: US Dollars, UK Pound, South Africa Rand.