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“Excellent experience”

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Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Yenzi
Level Contributor
34 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Excellent experience”
Reviewed May 14, 2012

After an entire morning driving from Knysna to the lodge, we received an warm reception. We left our lugagge in our very comfortable room and in our first game drive: a big lion, a lionesse, 3 white rhinos and a herd of zebras.

We stayed there three days and we saw also: hippos, eland, giraffes, black wildebeest, black rhinos, oryxes, hartebeest, waterbuck, etc. We also did a night drive from 20h00 to 23h00. It was amazing: brown hiena, spring hares, aardwolves, bat-eared foxes, and an aardvark!

Service leves goes up to 11 at Kwande with special mentions to Alfie (ranger) and Zuko (butler). In one of our drives, we stopped at sunset in the top of hill where there was already a table with a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for us. In one of the evenings, we had a surprise dinner in our room. Thee food was great with a creative menu.

Another big plus was fishing with Alfie, who is also an accomplished fisherman. I managed to catch and release a nice 4.5 kg carp.

Kwande is the perfect place if you are looking for excellent service, nice game viewing, and stay away from the crowds.

Room Tip: Stay in a room with a view to the river
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank Marcelo72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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261 reviews from our community

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English first
Vienna, Austria
Level Contributor
103 reviews
73 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
Reviewed May 2, 2012

As seasoned visitors to prime lodges in sub-saharan Africa, we were initially disappointed staying at kwandwe, after being convinced to give the reserve a second chance, we returned to discover a totally different game lodge; dedicated staff, excellent food&beverage and two game drives intriguing even for us serengeti-spoiled visitors. The health of the animals convinced us that kwandwe is making a great contribution to wildlife conservation. The cheetah looked like they'd been treated to a spa! In one game drive we did see 4 white Rhino's on a couple of meter distance, Oryxes, Lioness, and all the other great african animals. The point is not only to see these beatifull animals, but to experience them in entirely private setting...we and the enimals nobody else no other vehicle; this something Kwandwe is able to offer...and not many places in Africa can copy this. Erich was great as a ranger and Marna did a wonderful job as assistant general manager. Needless to say, lodging and interior design of the lodge holds the standard of top notch game lodges. Excellent fine dining in the evening curtesy of a young captonian lady-chef, and a wonderful turn down service with candles when we arrived back into our room.
In summary Kwandwe is now in our favorite list of Top African Lodges.
This is the place, to be away from the crowds , and experience Africa as it if you would be the owner...very very nice,,

Room Tip: All rooms seem to be great and have a private pool
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
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6 Thank toversti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane
Level Contributor
128 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed April 27, 2012

Met at Port Elizabeth Airport by our pilot, who decreed weather not suitable for light planes. He immediately hired a vehicle and we were driven almost to Kwandwe by our pilot, who then handed us over to his son and girlfriend to complete our drive. A different, but absolutely fun way to arrive! We thank them for their efficiency and courtesy.

We were given a warm welcome by the Manager, Jure and taken to our luxurious lodge. The next day we asked to be moved closer to the main facilities and were effortlessly transferred to Lodge 5, which overlooks the river.

Our ranger was Erich and tracker Siya. My goodness, what a wonderful team they make. This is our second visit to SA Game reserves, but our first to Kwandwe. With four of us on the jeep, Erich gave a run-down of what to expect, etc. and off we went. Erich is an passionate and knowledgeable guide and he and Siya ensured we enjoyed many memorable sightings on each drive. Lions, cheetahs, elephants, white rhino, buffalo and more. We enjoyed our sundowners and Amarula of course, but one morning Erich surprised us with a bush breakfast of pancakes, warmed berries and cream! All this on a ridge he had chosen to perfectly position us to observe a lioness on the opposite ridge and through binoculars,we watched her stalk warthog.

To have Erich and Siya track a herd of buffalo up a hill and along thick, bushy country was a highlight and later that afternoon, we started our return to camp. On dusk, Siya spotted a magnificant black rhino. After a very careful viewing, we turned for our lodge, only to have one very crabby black rhino decide to give us a send-off. Thanks to initial briefings, everyone was very composed, though on the second mock-charge, there wasn't time to try and focus the camera - we just sat quietly and watched this awesome creature. On our way back to our lodge the next evening we were rewarded with a sighting of three bat-eared foxes, huddled together to keep warm.

We enjoyed two drives in the company of Kwandwe's General Manager, Graham and his delightful partner Lucy. Graham is a former resort Ranger and they were both so interesting in their perspectives on wildlife. On one of those drives, we went as close as practicable to a lioness, her sister and 4 adorable cubs. With the sun setting behind them and their ears pricked and alert to our presence, they were just golden.

I won't spoil your trip by giving away some of the secrets of dining at Kwandwe, but they were all memorable, including Jure rising early (we left at 4a.m.) to present us each with a wonderful breakfast bag to enjoy on our return drive to Port Elizabeth.

We found the food here very good and the wine quite delicious and absolutely nothing was too much trouble for the serving staff. I particularly loved the fresh daily scones.

On Easter Eve, we returned to our lodge to find the most delightful "nest" on our bed, complete with a variety of different sized colourful sugar eggs and on our last evening we were treated to candles twinkling throughout our lodge and and glasses of Amarula and an array of chocolates to enjoy.


We loved our 5 days at Kwandwe and look forward to a return to Great Fish River and the anticipation of an early morning game drive with Erich!

Room Tip: Lodge 5 looks over and down the river
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Tuppy1Brisbane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed April 23, 2012

After a warm welcome, I was given a thorough orientation of the luxurious accommodations, an explanation of the game drive schedules, and tips on how to get the most out of my visit. It was my first safari experience, I was travelling on my own, and I had no idea what to expect....well I can best describe my experience as magical - it was that amazing!! Each day was a new exciting adventure. Two game drives were provided daily with my ranger, Robin, who had an endless knowledge of the incredible wildlife and surroundings (as well as a wicked sense of humour!) and his tracker Ernie, who seemed to have a sixth sense for sightings. Not only were they expert at finding big game drama to witness, they were also pros at finding a spot with a fabulous view to pause and stretch your legs while they whipped up sundowners, hot chocolate and treats. Through their expertise I was able to witness a lion roaring, a mother cheetah reuniting with her lost pups and many other memorable sights. The great lodge and my private bungalow had all the elegance and luxury pictured on the website - the menus were imaginative and varied - the food delicious and the service impeccable. It all combined to create a truly incredible experience and life long memories!

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank fierceandfree
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed April 18, 2012

This was our first experience of a safari and we were more than thrilled. Our lodge was spotless and beautifully furnished. The views were magnificent and the staff delightful. The food was also of a high quality and not over facing. Our guide Robin and tracker Ernie took us on morning (cold!) and evening drives and impressed us with their huge knowledge of animals, builds, plants and stars. I learned so much and saw a huge variety of animals. Just missed out on my leopard though which gives me a good reason to go back!

  • Stayed April 2012
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Helpful?
Thank Fonzie16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
25 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed April 13, 2012

Check In: . When we arrived at the reception area, one of the lodge staff, Maya, welcomed us with ice lemonade and homemade cookies. We filled in some forms and also noted any food (dietary) preferences. We were then whisked away to the Great Fish River Lodge. We were welcomed by Jure, the General Manager at the lodge. He was very friendly and showed us around the main lodge. He explained the daily schedule as well as what's included in our rate (which was pretty much almost everything with the exception of some premium, top-shelf alcohol). Wi-fi was free and worked well for the most part, though very slow. Laundry is also included in the rate.

Room: Patrick, our wonderful butler, took us to our room and gave a mini tour. The room was beautiful with a colonial/traditional design. There was a personalized welcome note that was a nice touch. There was a king size bedroom, oversized couch, desk/office area, and a private plunge pool. The room had windows everywhere which gave it a very nice, open feel.

The bathroom included dual sinks, separate toilet area, a bathtub, and an indoor and outdoor showers. They even provided mineral water for us to use to brush our teeth. The lodge was not brand new but was well maintained. Some areas could probably use some updating. One definite area of improvement were the towels which were rather worn and over-used. For a 5 star lodge, I think they could afford to provide some new towels. :)

Safari: We thoroughly enjoyed our safari experience. We saw 4 of the big 5. There was a good variety of animals, and we had some great sightings. Our ranger, Robin, and our tracker, Ernie, were amazing! Robin was very friendly and knowledgeable. The only "downside" of being in a private reserve such as Kwandwe was that we didn't see a large herd of 20 lions, for example.
One of the highlight for us was our breakfast in the bush where Robin made fresh crumpets for us and Ernie made us hot chocolate with Amarula!

Service: We were very impressed with the lodge and the service at Kwandwe. Actually, this was probably the best service we've had anywhere. Everything we asked for was always answered with "my pleasure"; they truly made us feel like royalty.

Food: We weren't sure what to expect of the food at the safari. I thought it would all be meat and potatoes or something like that. Turns out the food at Kwandwe was quite elaborate (3 course dinner and lunch). We definitely did not go hungry at our stay in Kwandwe. They really fed us well!

Overall: We loved our stay at Kwandwe Great Fish River lodge. We absolutely took in the slow pace of life while we were at safari. We were somewhat disconnected from the world (there was no TV in the room, which was actually nice), and it was really a great feeling to be in the middle of nature. It was scary at times to think that a wild animal could show up at our balcony at any time, but I guess that's part of the thrill. We thought that safari would be a once in a lifetime experience. But we are now looking forward to our next safari...someday. :)

Room Tip: Ask for room closest to the main lodge so you don't have to walk too far.
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank m4rcla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Como, Italy
Level Contributor
65 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed April 10, 2012

We spent 3 nights at this lodge in the magnificent Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, two hours by car from Port Elisabeth. Probably not very well-known to the majority of public, this is exactly what attracted us to this amazing location. This was our second stop of our honeymoon trip after 4 nights in Cape Town. You arrive by car to the reception area where you are very warmly greeted by the reception staff who offer you a terrace seat and fresh cool lemonade as you wait for your jeep to collect you and your luggage to take you to the lodge. After a 20 minute ride literally in the middle of nowhere, you get to the Great Fish River Lodge, where again you are very warmly welcomed by the manager that gives you a little tour of the restaurant, bar and common areas.
Our bungalow-cabin was one of the closest to the Lodge itself (#6) and I would highly recommend this type of solution especially when returning to your room at night after dinner, even if escorted by security (safety reasons - all kind of wild animals out there).
The room was very large, very clean and all the comforts of a 5-star hotel. This 9-room lodge is part of the Relais Chateaux chain. We also had a jacuzzi in the garden, a beautiful bath tub in the bathroom, a massive shower and an outdoor shower too. Amazing !!!
The staff are all great, our private waiter Sim was brilliant. Always smiling and very kind. The food was delicious, the breakfast superb. The best eggs and bacon ever. And try Amarula on the rocks, a local liqueur similar to Bailey's, but nicer. The morning and afternoon safaris were stunning and the tracker seemed to have bionic eyesight, spotting animals at an incredible distance. Our ranger was Doc, a local guy with great sense of humour and a great deal of experience in his job. We got to see all the big 5 and more. The scenery was absolutely breathe-taking.
The last night they surprised us with a private candlelit dinner in the library with champagne.
This was the most overwhelming stay in my life. Everything was perfect.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Caslino
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge

Property: Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
Address: Heatherton Towers, Fort Brown District | Grahamstown, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve 6140, South Africa
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 #1 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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