I'll write this review by describing a typical day at Kwandwe.
We arrived by private plane & were driven to the check-in lodge, where we sat outside being served yummy home made cookies & lemonade. Then a 30 minute drive to the actual lodge, where we were greeted by a staff of 4 who stood in a line waving hello, which I thought quite unusual. We were offered a drink and lunch, chosen from a 3 course daily menu, and very good. I was just recovering from a lung infection & was taking antibiotics daily, so I asked for some plain yogurt, which they brought. From then on, our server asked - would I like my yogurt now?
Since I was not feeling well, I stayed in the room rather than go on the first game drive. I had a massage in the room, and let me tell you it was the BEST massage I've ever had in my life! The large room was of rustic decor, very comfortable & had a great view, along with a private plunge pool which was 1 story down via steps. At sun down I opened a bottle of sparkling wine to toast the first night at Kwandwe, went out on the deck and was greeted by 2 warthogs! Dinner that night in the open air boma was 3 courses plus salads and a cheese plate if you could fit it in. A young female chef appeared tableside to introduce herself and say she was at our disposal. After dinner we were led back to our room by a flashlight-bearing guard due to the extreme darkness, and the slight chance of encountering a dangerous animal (they had had a lion kill just outside the kitchen a few months back.)
Wakeup: 5:30 a.m. by Phil the Ranger. After coffee we were off for a game drive. During the 4 days we were there, we saw every animal we could imagine except hippo and leopard. Plenty of lions, elephants, cheetahs, giraffe, zebras, buffalo, white rhinos, eland, impala, wildebees, sprinkgbok, warthogs, kudu, plus more; a wild dog, jackal; a monitor lizard on the pathway to our room,birds galore, all passionately described and tracked by our ranger Phil and his sidekick Saki the tracker, who sat in the front jumpseat a la John Wayne in Hatari! We stopped for coffee and a light breakfast snack (in the evenings it was whatever alchoholic drink you wanted plus snacks.) Return to the lodge at 10:00 or so for breakfast outside, which always consisted of a delicious tray which consisted of the wonderful South African health bread, plain yogurt, homemade granola, fresh fruit kabobs, fresh muffins, tomato, a piece of ham or salami, a cheese and freshly squeezed orange and a second choice (mango, pineappple, etc.) THEN you are asked if you would like the breakfast of the day (a hot entree.)
Back to the room to rest, or check your email on the lodge computer. At 1:00 it's lunch time - another 3 course menu to choose from, changing daily and always delicious. Back to your room to rest, or lounge by the private plunge pool, which was too chilly when we were there. Then 3:00 - it's Tea Time! Assortment of sweets and fruit along with tea or coffee, then shortly after it's off to your afternoon game drive, returning at 7:30 for drinks by the fire if warranted, then dinner. You can eat alone or with others if you prefer.
Something else - since laundry service is included, we were preparing our stack for pickup in the room. The laundry service slip we filled out had a bullet point that noted 'occasionally hyenas and baboons raid the laundry yard' - a warning just in case you don't get your clothes back.!
I think the best part of this stay was the service by the staff. They were so personable and relaxed that you feel like they are close friends or family by the time you leave. "Where anything is possible...' was the common remark by one of our servers. Take them up on it! I wish I had more. The delightful rooms, with their outdoor shower, large indoor shower and bath tub, glass doors and African decor. And of course the animals. Our ranger obviously loved what he did, and gave us every opportunity and more to get a glimpse of these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, including some tense and exciting encounters.
It is pricey, but you do receive a lot for your money and it's an experience you'll treasure.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Kwandwe Great Fish River Hotel Kwandwe Private Game Reserve