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.
- 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