Kwandwe Private Game Reserve contains five properties in total, and Great Fish River Lodge certainly has the most breathtaking setting! Families with children aged 11 years and younger could consider exclusive-use Uplands, Melton Manor, or Fort House, or Ecca if you prefer a classic lodge. Accommodation at River Lodge is booked on a full-board basis, including all meals, a selection of alcoholic and soft drinks, twice-daily game drives, nature walks, big game tracking, transfers between the homestead and Kwandwe’s airstrip, childminding, and a laundry service. Please note, a child rate does not apply.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The lodge is accessed via road transfer from Kwandwe’s airstrip or by driving from Port Elizabeth (2 hours 30 minutes). It’s situated high on a gorge overlooking the Great Fish River, in the north-eastern region of the reserve.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
Guest accommodation consists of nine suites, each occupying a timber, stone, thatch, and glass structure that’s approached from the main lodge along raised wooden walkways. Double doors lead into a small hallway, followed by the bedroom space. This has a double bed or twin beds, bedside tables and lighting, a writing desk and chair, and a pleasant seating area. Additional amenities include air conditioning, overhead fans, and a mini-bar. Best of all, there are framed glass doors extending from floor to ceiling, providing amazing views! You can also marvel at the scenery once you’ve opened these doors and stepped out onto your private veranda, complete with a couple of sunloungers and a plunge pool. The washing facilities are positioned behind the bedroom, and they comprise separate flush toilet, twin washbasins with lighting and mirror over, step-up shower, and freestanding roll-top bathtub. There’s an outside shower too, discreetly tucked away at the back of the building. The overall vibe of every suite is classic luxury safari, very much enhanced by the setting within Kwandwe.
The main lodge is also made out of timber, stone, thatch, and glass. It’s approached down a flight of steps, on a comfortable gradient. Double doors open into a welcoming reception area, featuring hide rugs and other artefacts, and a fairly ornate chandelier. This space flows into the lounge, which contains plenty of well-cushioned sofas and armchairs around coffee tables, a number of occasional tables strewn with interesting arts-and-crafts, and a cosy fireplace. The bar is conveniently close by. Guests can also relax in the lodge’s library, effectively a smaller lounge with a selection of reading material, a television, and an inviting hearth. The dining area has chic individual tables flanked by smart upright chairs, ready for delicious French–Karoo fusion dishes accompanied by a fine South African wine from the cellar! Guests can also dine within River Lodge’s traditional boma, or on its spacious viewing deck. Finally, there’s a shop, which stocks a good range of clothes, curios, and other souvenir items.
- River Lodge offers an exciting variety of activities! Expertly guided game drives take place in the early morning and late afternoon into evening, providing ample opportunities to observe Kwandwe’s wealth of wildlife.
- The reserve covers approximately 220 square kilometres of savanna, shrubs, thickets, and water sources, including of course the Great Fish River!
- All Big Five live here – lion, rhino, leopard, elephant, and buffalo. Among the smaller predators in residence are cheetah, hyena, and rare wild dog, while the herbivore count features hippo, giraffe, black wildebeest, zebra, eland, kudu, red hartebeest, steenbok, and gemsbok.
- Kwandwe is also a thrilling destination for birders, boasting over 300 types of feathery friend not least ostrich, crowned eagle, Kori bustard, red-billed oxpecker, and the blue crane after which the reserve is named.
- Nature walks involve birding, as well as taking a close look at insects and plant life. Big game tracking is also available, although for safety reasons this has a minimum age requirement of 16 years.
- However, special-interest safaris such as photography and rhino conservation are offered to everyone, and all guests can try some catch-and-release fishing too.