Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, a renowned conservation and community success story, promised a ‘sophisticated safari experience for the conscientious traveller’ – and we weren’t disappointed.
This areas history dates back to the days of the early San inhabitants, whose rock art reveals the once abundant wildlife, to the Frontier Wars (1779-1878) between the English settlers, Dutch farmers and resident Xhosa nation. To the many years of farming – first ostrich for their exotic feathers, and then cattle – hunting and poaching which saw amongst other, the decimation of the local cheetah population.
On arrival at Heatherton Towers, the main lodge reception area for Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, we were greeted with freshly made chilled lemonade… very welcome after the drive up from Port Elizabeth. Heatherton Towers is an old Frontier War-era fortified homestead, complete with dramatic gun turrets – look for the interesting old photographs in the passage.
Soon we were in a game viewing vehicle on route to Ecca Lodge. The main areas at Ecca are colourful and welcoming… just the space to sit back and relax.
It was where we had our early morning coffee and rusks, our delicious post morning game drive breakfasts, our late lunches and scrumptious evening meals.
Our suite at Ecca Lodge was funky and sophisticated, in a laid-back kind of way, and exuded the vibrancy and textures of Africa. The views were breathtaking and the private splash-pool an absolute delight.
Our safari experience was equally rewarding with a number of special sightings, thanks to the sharp eyes of our tracker and Ryan, our ranger. Ryan’s birding knowledge soon saw us ticking off new bird species, such as the black-winged stilt and the ant-eating chat.
Special moments included spending time with a female cheetah and her three sub-adult cubs, watching a group of bat-eared foxes hunting for insects and of course seeing the very elusive aardwolf – as well as seeing four of the Big Five.
What makes a safari experience at Kwandwe extra special is the knowledge that their community initiatives, through the Ubunye Foundation, provide social development based on community participation. Read more about our visit to the community centre creche HERE.