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“Big Five Stars” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge

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Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
Heatherton Towers, Fort Brown District | Grahamstown, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve 6140, South Africa   |  
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
10% off for 3 Nights
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Philadelphia
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
24 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Big Five Stars”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2014

Kwandwe is truly an exceptional place. The service is incomparable, the game drives excellent, and the food rather good as well. The main lodge is a wonderful place to gather, dine, or just relax and read a book and opens to the outdoors situated high above the Great Fish River. There are only a few units in the lodge and with the way the events are timed, you feel as though you are on you own private safari. The individual rooms are spacious, nicely decorated, and very private. Plenty of game in the reserve including the big cats, and if you are lucky, you might even spot a leopard or two. Management is focused on guests safety both around the lodge and on the drives. It was was never an issue for us. Breakfasts and lunch are amazing. Dinners are not quite so good, but all is included. The ranger and tracker assigned to us were outstanding. This is a heavenly place with amazing vistas only two hours from Port Elizabeth. The only complaint I could find was that they had difficulty making a martini. But, hey, that is something we all can live without for a couple of days.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KwandweManagement, Manager at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, responded to this review, March 3, 2014
Dear ckv500

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. We are delighted that you enjoyed your stay at Kwandwe, and will be sure to pass on your feedback to the rest of the team. Thank you too for your feedback about dinners at the lodge, we will be sure to address this (great to hear you enjoyed the breakfasts and lunches).

We hope to welcome you back to Kwandwe in the near future!

Kind regards
The Kwandwe Family
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160 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (35)
Date | Rating
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English first
Chichester, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2014

I think the Kwandwe Reserve totals over 150 square miles and you do wonder what you will find at the end of the road into the reserve. Don't worry. This is an exceptional place to stay. You leave your car at reception and get transferred to your lodge accommodation in a Safari vehicle. This takes a good 15-20 minutes, such is the scale of this wilderness area.

There are only 9 rooms in the Great Fish River Lodge. There are a couple of other Lodges on the reserve but it is so big you won't even see them. Our room had a private deck and plunge pool, and outside shower. Inside there is a bath and separate shower, washing area and plenty of room to sit in a couple of easy chairs. All the staff were friendly and most helpful.

The evening Game Drive was good but from a photographers point of view the morning Drives are better as the light is steadily improving. (They will get you up at 5:00am for a 6:00am Drive) but it is worth the effort. That of course is what you stay here for, there is not much to do during the day, except catch up on some sleep and relax on the deck.

My wife did see the big 5 game animals. It is not guaranteed of course that you will do so, as the policy is not to pressure the animals. If a Safari vehicle is already "on" a particular animal, your vehicle may not get a look in, but you will already be looking for your own species in a different area of the reserve. We did get some close up views and some good photos thanks to our guide Ross and our tracker/spotter Vusi.

Stephen & Sara Read

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KwandweManagement, Manager at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, responded to this review, February 27, 2014
Dear Stephen and Sara

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. We are delighted that you enjoyed your stay at Kwandwe, and will be sure to pass on your comments to Ross, Vusi and the rest of the team.

We hope to welcome you back to Kwandwe in the near future!

KInd regards
The Kwandwe Family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Welwyn Garden City, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
70 helpful votes 70 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2014

What an amazing place. You turn off the road expecting a couple of km drive to get there. What you actually get is a 5km drive to the gate, a further 6km drive to the reception lodge and then a 25 minute drive to the accommodation! It literally is in the middle of nowhere. Not surprising therefore when you learn that the estate covers over 250 square km!

The welcome on arrival is very friendly and warm, a cold towel and a drink is on offer and you are taken through the basics in terms of the timings of the drives, the fact that you should call for assistance when moving around in the dark (simply to make sure there aren't any nasty beasties waiting for you, which mainly means the likes of scorpions as the larger animals won't come near the lodges). Ryan, the day manager is the perfect host throughout, always on hand but never intrusive.

The accommodation itself is amazing and would grace any hotel, never mind a game reserve in the middle of nowhere. All mod cons, great attention to detail (cold milk in the fridge has become our gold standard), aircon and a large terrace and plunge pool.

Of course what you're here for is the animals and all of the rangers and spotters seem very knowledgable. We we're allocated to Casey, the only female guide and she was excellent. The vehicles are comfortable and the rangers are in constant contact to advise of sightings. This meant that we were able to see lions lying contentedly in the shade on our first trip out along with a group of giraffes.

Up at 5am the next morning we sat and watched a large herd of elephants, including babies for at least half an hour and got to within 10m of white rhino and her baby. What an experience!

The second day we got very up close and personal with another herd of elephants and a male lion came to investigate us and walked nonchalantly down the road with us following slowly behind. It's worth mentioning that for nervous first time safariers this could get a little too intimate. My wife was a little freaked out by the lion and then later when a large female elephant took a step towards us and flapped her ears to tell us to keep our distance. Casey was very calm and explained we weren't in any danger but by then it had happened. No-one else was perturbed by this (including me) so it's a very personal thing.

On the final morning I left my wife in bed and completed the set by sighting a leopard and black rhino, both amazing beasts.

On every return from a game drive you are met by staff with cold towels (or dry ones on an occasion when it rained) and in the evening a glass of something and it seems food is always available! There are even short stops on the game drives for a coffee or hot chocolate in the morning or something stronger if desired later on. The food is generally excellent throughout and the servers very friendly. We even had an impromptu choir performance when I commented on how nice it was to hear the staff all singing in the kitchen. Ryan brought them all out to sing for us and a great show it was! All food and basic drinks are included in the price and they were all more than sufficient for our needs.

It was a fantastic intro to safari for us and judging by the number of return visitors and experienced safari types there were when we stayed it's obviously meets all requirements. We will certainly return. Thanks to all for a fantastic experience.

Room Tip: All the lodges seem of equal quality. When I return I will request a lodge further up river on the o...
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KwandweManagement, Manager at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, responded to this review, February 25, 2014
Dear W3lshman

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. We are delighted that you were able to experience your first ever safari at Kwandwe, and that you enjoyed your stay with us!

We will be sure to pass on your comments to Ryan, Casey and the rest of the Kwandwe team. We hope to welcome you back in the near future.

Kind regards
The Kwandwe Family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Savannah, GA
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2014

This was our first game lodge experience in Africa and it could not have been better. The rooms were large and gorgeous and the service top notch but it was the game tracking experience that made this stay unforgettable. Our guides Ben and our spotter Yuindi (sorry if incorrect spelling) were very knowledgeable and made the drives extremely interesting. They both loved their jobs and did everything possible to make sure we had a unforgettable experience. Both the morning and evening drives although lasting around 3.5 hours seem to pass extremely quickly. Group sizes seemed to vary from 2-6 people per vehicle. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars along with your camera.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KwandweManagement, Manager at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, responded to this review, February 21, 2014
Dear GdTimeCharlie

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. We are delighted that you were able to experience your first ever safari at Kwandwe, and that you enjoyed your stay!

We will be sure to pass on your feedback to Ben and Qondani, and the rest of the Kwandwe team.

We hope to welcome you back to Kwandwe in the near future.

Kind regards
The Kwandwe Family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2014

Our first family safari in the Eastern Cape and it was fabulous, exceeding our expectations. The lodge was excellent with friendly, superb management and staff who went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable. A beautiful setting with excellent accommodation. The game drives and rangers were outstanding with exciting and diverse experiences. I enjoyed the topography, which will only get better with time, and was surprised by the diversity of animals. Thank you to the Kwandwe team for making this a very special and unique experience.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KwandweManagement, Manager at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, responded to this review, January 22, 2014
Dear Trevor F

Thank you very much for taking the time to send us your feedback. We are delighted that you and your family enjoyed your time at Kwandwe. We hope to welcome you back in the near future!

Kind regards
The Kwandwe family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town, South Africa
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2014

We are South Africans who have been on safari in various parts of Southern Africa over the last few years. The 2 days that we recently spent at Great Fish River Lodge rank among the best experiences that we have had anywhere. First of all, the lodge is situated in a spectacular natural setting, overlooking the river. The landscape itself is very special and one is overwhelmed by the wide open spaces and the natural vegetation of the area. Add to that 8 luxurious chalets with every convenience that you could desire -- including your own private plunge pool as well as very effective air-conditioning (much needed in mid-January!) and free wifi. Then we get to the very friendly, efficient and professional staff, including a ranger/tracker team that will turn every game drive into an adventure. Last but not least, there is the food and wine (all included in the price). No one will ever go hungry or thirsty on a safari to this lodge: you will be fed from the time of your wake-up call (at 05h00 in summer) until you go to bed at night, and each meal is an absolute treat.
After 2 nights at River Lodge we spent a further 2 nights at its sister camp, Ecca Lodge. While the latter is also fabulous, our vote would go to River Lodge if only for the fact that River Lodge does not cater for children, whereas Ecca does.
Whether it's your first safari or one of many, Great Fish River Lodge is certainly well worth a visit.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KwandweManagement, Manager at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, responded to this review, January 22, 2014
Dear benrose

Thank you very much for taking the time to send us your feedback. We are truly delighted to hear that you so enjoyed your stay at Kwandwe, at both Great Fish River and Ecca Lodges! We will be sure to pass on your feedback to the rest of the team.

We hope to welcome you back to Kwandwe in the near future!

Kind regards
The Kwandwe family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2014

If you never do anything else in life, this place HAS to be experienced - it was simply a 5 day dream : the accommodation is superb : the food fantastic and the wildlife - with VERY qualified rangers - simply takes your breath away. If you can swing it, try and get Nico as your guide/ranger. This guy's knowledge of animals, flora, fauna, reptiles, and all things wildlife is simply encyclopaedic !!
Cannot recoomend it highly enough

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
KwandweManagement, Manager at Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, responded to this review, January 20, 2014
Dear Lobbos

Thank you for your kind feedback, we are delighted that you enjoyed your stay at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve! We will be sure to pass on your feedback to Nico and the rest of the Kwandwe team.

We hope to welcome you back to Kwandwe in the near future.

Kind regards
The Kwandwe family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge

Address: Heatherton Towers, Fort Brown District | Grahamstown, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve 6140, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This founding lodge with only 9 privately situated suites features a classic-contemporary style of simple elegance that embraces the lodge's splendid setting high up on a steep bank overlooking the Great Fish River. The colour scheme comprises a calm and natural palette of earthy tones, from khaki browns to charcoal greys.Pewter and glass add an effortless yet understated glamour to the furnishings; artefacts such as ostrich eggshells, hides and horns create subtle points of interest and relevance to the lodge's surrounds, whilst natural linens and plenty of texture preserve its simple but sophisticated atmosphere.Watch majestic kudu meander down to the river from the Lodge's expansive viewing decks, or observe playful Cape clawless otters swimming in the cool waters below from the comfort of your private balcony. Suites are spacious and feature en-suite bathrooms, indoor and outdoor showers, personal in-room bars and private decks with plunge pools overlooking the vast reserve. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kwandwe Great Fish River Hotel Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

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