Expert Reviews – Kwandwe GR
Christopher is a British travel writer and has contributed to various Fodor's guidebooks and a range of travel magazines.
Big 5 in the Eastern Cape’s Frontier Country
Kwandwe is one of the newest and most exclusive private reserves in the Eastern Cape, home to all of the Big 5 and with just 4 small luxury lodges dotted across 22,000 hectares of picturesque hills and valleys on either side of the Great Fish River, it has one of the highest land to guest ratios of any park or reserve in South Africa. Watching a storm roll in whilst having a sundowner on top of one of the reserve’s highest peaks is a moment I’ll not soon forget.
Like Shamwari and other parks in the Eastern Cape, Kwandwe is a great conservation success, having rehabilitated former farmland and wildlife species that were long-since eradicated from the region. Today, more than many of the other Eastern Cape reserves, it really does resemble a veritable wilderness and has become particularly renowned for black rhino sightings.
Kwandwe is also a community success, with most of its staff employed from formerly-disadvantaged local communities.
The lodges are all immaculate, the rooms are enormous and the food is top notch, but sometimes the service and guiding still show a few rough edges. It’s not quite in Shamwari’s league, but it’s close.