S Destinations

Kwandwe – South Africa

A little bit of what makes us unique

Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is a renowned conservation and community success story, offering a sophisticated safari experience for the conscientious traveller. The reserve comprises just 22 rooms split across four small Relais & Chateaux accredited lodges, of which two are sole-use villas, providing understated luxury and one of the highest guest to land ratios in South Africa.

The 22,000 hectares (54 000 acres) of pristine wilderness is home to the famous Big 5 as well as a diverse number of smaller and more unusual species. Kwandwe flanks both the north and south banks of the Great Fish River, which meanders for 30 km (19 miles) through this pristine, private wilderness where the Big Five once again roams freely.
The wide open spaces and tranquil scenery belie the area’s turbulent history, and relics of the area’s rich historical and cultural legacy can be found both on the reserve and nearby. This is the ultimate historic Big Five safari.

What sets us apart


  • A 22,000 hectare (54,000 acre) private wilderness comprising only four small luxury lodges, according it one of the highest land to guest ratios in South Africa
  • On 30 km of privately owned Great Fish River frontage
  • Game-rich country with Big Five (black & white rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard) as well as remarkable variety of predators and general game, including cheetah, kudu, springbok, eland, red hartebeest, giraffe, black wildebeest and gemsbok
  • A paradise for birdwatchers, the Fish Eagle and endangered Blue Crane are among a wide variety of birds found on the Reserve
  • Excellent nocturnal viewing – aardwolf and aardvark are regularly seen


  • Immensely rich in history
  • The perfect add-on to an itinerary featuring Cape Town and the Garden Route
  • Malaria-free destination
  • Ideal for families and small groups of friends travelling together
  • Two sole-use safari villas – include private ranger/host, tracker, butler, chef and exclusive use of an open 4×4 safari vehicle
  • Member of Relais & Châteaux
  • Specialist Safaris: Big Game Walking Safaris, Rhino Monitoring Safaris, Rhino Conservation (darting and notching) Safaris

Need to know

Kwandwe is located in the malaria-free Eastern Cape near Grahamstown. The nearest national airport is in Port Elizabeth, which lies 160 km (100 miles) from the reserve. There are daily scheduled flights from both Cape Town and Johannesburg international airports to Port Elizabeth.

Getting There


There is a daily scheduled flight from Port Elizabeth directly to the Kwandwe airstrip. It departs at 13h15 and takes approximately 45 minutes. The return scheduled flight departs Kwandwe at 10h00. Charter flights can also be organised. For both options please note that luggage is generally limited to 12 kg per person in soft travel bags.

Road Transfers

The distance from Port Elizabeth to Kwandwe is 160 km (100 miles) and can be comfortably covered by road in an hour and 45 minutes. Numerous car rental agencies are located at Port Elizabeth Airport, however should guests prefer a chauffeured transfer we will gladly organise this. Please enquire upon making your accommodation reservation. Guests who self-drive will leave their vehicle at our car park at Heatherton Towers and will be transferred to their lodge by open safari vehicle.




Safari Tips

What to Expect

  • Weather: Hot, wet (400 – 550 mm./15 – 21”) summers and cool, dry winters
  • Rainfall: September to March
  • Temperature: Daytime temperatures in summer (October to March) are high and may soar above 36°C/97°F. Winter (May to August) is known to produce beautiful warm days, though the evenings and early mornings can be rather chilly.
  • Best time to travel: Game viewing excellent year round
  • Altitude: 250 – 490m/ 820-1574ft above sea level
  • Vegetation: Kwandwe’s vast landscape is affected by the ocean, with south-facing slopes capturing moisture from the sea breezes resulting in denser or taller vegetation and brightly coloured lichens. In contrast, the north-facing slopes tend to be drier and more open and feature striking aloes, which flower in spectacular profusion during the winter months (June to August). Forest-like thickets of tree euphorbia grow on the steep, south-facing slopes. These spiny plants are immune to destruction from most animal species (except the black rhino) thanks to the poisonous milky latex they exude.
  • Airstrip: Kwandwe airstrip is a bush airstrip. Coordinates available on request.
  • Malaria: This is a malaria free reserve
  • Ratio of guests to staff: 1 to 3
  • Lodge closure: June annually for upgrades and refurbishments

What to Pack

While basics like batteries, camera film, sunscreen and an extensive range of branded safari wear can be bought from most of our lodge Safari Shops, we would recommend you bring the following:

  • Clothing: light cotton trousers, cotton shorts, light cotton shirts (long and short sleeved), comfortable walking shoes, sandals, shower-proof rain jacket / windbreaker, good sun hat, fleece, bathing suit. For winter, pack an extra warm jacket, woollen hat, scarf and gloves.
  • Other: insect repellent, small torch, suntan lotion, sunglasses, camera (telephoto lens recommended) and binoculars.



Kwandwe is an ideal and stimulating location for children. Not only are there a host of tailor-made activities on-site designed to keep little ones enthralled and entertained, but our malaria-free status and proximity to a range of family and child-friendly activities in the area make this a safari experience without parallel for kids.




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Accommodation is specific depending on which lodge is booked.

Ecca Lodge

  • Children of all ages are welcome (Ecca is ideal for families with younger children)
  • Two children under 16 can share with two adults – children are accommodated in the separate lounge area; the relevant child rate applies (children aged 5 and under stay free of charge)
  • Cots are available for children aged 0 – 2 years; children 3 – 16 sleep on individual single beds
  • A playroom area with games and interactive activities is close to the main pool/ lodge area
  • The interactive kitchen caters for children, with cooking and baking classes between safari activities
  • Separate dining can be arranged
  • Unfenced private plunge pools with each suite (nets are available on request) and an unfenced communal swimming pool
  • Due to vehicle restrictions, Ecca can accommodate a maximum of 4 children sharing with parents in campat any one time – 2 quad rooms, or 1 quad/2 triples, or 4 triples
  • A daily ‘Hooves & Stripes’ one hour game drive is offered to children (at no additional charge, with or without parents) to view non-dangerous animals such as zebra, warthogs and giraffe; children 5 years and younger cannot participate in normal game drives unless an exclusive-use vehicle is booked (refer to the Rates sheet for prices); children aged 6 to 11 can be accommodated on game drives at the lodge manager’s discretion
  • Child-minders are available at no additional cost with advance notice
  • The lodge is unfenced

Great Fish River Lodge

  • Children 12 and older are welcome but recommended for families with older teenagers (16 years and older)
  • One child 12 – 16 can share with 1 adult in a suite
  • The lodge is unfenced

Melton Melnor

  • A sole-use safari villa and ideal for families, children of all ages are welcome
  • The lodge is U-shaped, with 2 sets of interleading suites on either side of the central courtyard
  • The villa can accommodate a maximum of 8 guests + 1 infant under 2 (in a cot)
  • Children 3 – 16 are accommodated in their own room (next door to parents’ room, with interleading doors)
  • Lounge offers TV with a library of DVDs and games
  • Outdoor play areas include open bushveld areas around the villa for children to run around and an unfenced swimming pool
  • Private vehicle and guide offers tailor-made flexibility for safari activities
  • The Manor is fenced (perimeter fencing unseen to the eye to keep wild animals out)

Uplands Homestead

  • Children of all ages are welcome and ideal for families with smaller children
  • A private safari home for exclusive use only, Uplands can accommodate a maximum of 6 guests + 1 infant under 2 (in a cot)
  • Outdoor play areas include large lawns for children to run around, unfenced swimming pool and shaded gazebo area
  • Lounge offers TV with a library of DVD’s and games
  • Private vehicle and guide offers tailor-made flexibility for safari activities
  • The Homestead is fenced (perimeter fencing unseen to the eye to keep wild animals out)




There is a myriad of exciting activities on offer for children of all ages at Kwandwe. Through the Blue Crane Conservation Club, the Reserve teaches young guests about living green in a fun way. Safari activities are flexible and arranged around your specific requirements.

  • Children receive a welcome gift on arrival which includes a Blue Crane Conservation Guide for identifying wildlife (‘Junior’ for under 6’s and ‘Senior’ for ages 6 and up), crayons/ pencils, a BPA free water bottle and a ‘Frolicking Rhino’ range of bath products including shampoo, body lotion and bubble bath (Kwandwe supports the Bespoke Amenities Co., who created this range in support of their efforts to eradicate rhino poaching).
  • Activities for children include eco walks, ‘poo safaris’ and spoor tracking with the ranger and tracker, sand art, face painting, making moulds from plaster of paris, beading, chocolate fun (making spider webs and insects with chocolate), Minnow’s fishing trip with the ranger, special game drives outside of normal times where available, baking and pizza making competitions with specially designed ‘Chefs in Training’ aprons and toques, DVDs and popcorn, eco educational board games (learning about recycling and the how to care for our planet in a fun way), creature cookie baking, and African bedtime stories.