Kwandwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge

Price per night from$1,227.93

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (ZAR22,469.57), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Just the thicket

Setting

Restful, riverine reserve

With its spectacular riverfront setting on an off-grid private game reserve in Eastern Cape, Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge will soon have you hooked. Daily game drives, wildlife walking tours, and fishing trips are all included in your nightly rate, as are the home-cooked South African meals (best enjoyed at the boma, under the stars). This all-suite stay also reels in relaxation points, with roll-top tubs, outdoor showers, and individual plunge pools in every stone-and-thatched dwelling.

Smith Extra

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Binoculars to borrow and a bottle of fizz in your suite

Facilities

Photos Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Nine standalone suites.

Check–Out

11am and check-in is at noon. Both are flexible, on request and subject to availability.

Prices

Double rooms from £1124.41 (ZAR25,840), including tax at 15 per cent.

More details

Rates are full board (including game drive refreshments) and cover two safari excursions a day.

Also

Guests with limited mobility should request suites six and seven as they’re closest to the main lodge. Access isn’t entirely step-free though, and there are no specially-adapted rooms for wheelchair users.

At the hotel

Wildlife viewing platforms, library and lounges, safari boutique, laundry service and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: plunge pool, air-conditioning, minibar, writing desk and Karoo Lavender bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Connected by wooden walkways which snake through the thicket, each of the nine standalone suites camouflages into the Kwandwe wilderness with thatched roofs and stone walls. The earthy, safari-inspired interiors are the same throughout, with private plunge pools and outdoor showers to cool off in, plus ruggedly handsome river views at every turn.

Poolside

Soak up the far-reaching views across the Great Fish River and surrounding subtropical thicket from your in-suite plunge pool, with comfy loungers to kick back on beneath a thatched pergola. Bonus points for spotting wildlife while you’re wallowing in your own watering hole.

Spa

Soothing post-safari treatments are delivered in your suite using natural ingredients from African wellness brand, TheraNaka. We’d recommend a Baobab-infused massage and detoxifying mud wrap out on your panoramic terrace for maximum ‘aaah’ effect.

Packing tips

The lodge’s quick-turnaround laundry service and expedition essentials-stocked boutique mean you can pack light (we’re talking duffle bag light). Just be sure to bring a pair of thoroughly broken-in boots if you plan on joining the nature treks.

Also

If you’re planning a special occasion, the lodge’s library can be converted into an intimate private dining room with its own fireplace.

Children

Over-12s are welcome, and every suite can be twinned on request – there aren’t any adjoining bedrooms though, so families will be better catered for at sister property Ecca Lodge.

Sustainability efforts

As part of the vast Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, stays at Great Fish River Lodge contribute towards ongoing conservation and community-based projects both on and off the reserve. The nightly levy helps to fund rewilding and reforestation schemes, alongside social impact initiatives run in partnership with the Ubunye Foundation – a local development trust striving to create sustainable livelihoods for the Eastern Cape’s marginalised rural communities. The reserve initially reclaimed 54,000 acres of farmland for conservation, and reintroduced over 7,000 wildlife species including the endangered black rhinos and rare African wildcats. The lodge itself is just about as off-grid as they come, running almost entirely off renewable energy from the reserve’s three solar farms. Bathrooms are stocked with eco-friendly products by South Africa’s Karoo Lavender, and the water supply comes from onsite rainwater harvesting.

Food and Drink

Photos Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge food and drink

Top Table

Any of the outdoor tables to drink in more of those river views.

Dress Code

As rough and ready as you like, you’re in the wild out here.

Hotel restaurant

Set in the main lodge just metres from the Great Fish River, the restaurant keeps explorers well fed and watered with a daily-changing menu of South African dishes. Everything is locally sourced, right down to the homegrown herbs and vegetables plucked from the reserve’s organic gardens. You can stay fuelled on the go too, with bush breakfasts, safari picnics, and boma dining on request.

Hotel bar

Tucked off one side of the restaurant, the lodge’s bar is a cosy spot with traditional woven baskets adorning the exposed brick walls, and a crackling fireplace facing the sandy river banks. Game drives can be thirsty work, so make like the graceful kudu (recognisable for their spiral horns), who often wander down to the water here for a drink, and sip fine South African wines or a refreshing G&T out on the deck.

Last orders

Times for dining are not strictly adhered to, but adjusted around your itinerary, whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Room service

The full menu is available during restaurant hours.

Location

Photos Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge location
Address
Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
Eastern Cape
Grahamstown
6140
South Africa

Perched on the bush-carpeted banks of its namesake river in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, Great Fish River Lodge lies within the remote Kwandwe Game Reserve.

Planes

Chief Dawid Stuurman International in Port Elizabeth is the closest airport, with daily connections from Cape Town and Johannesburg. Port Elizabeth is a two-hour drive from the lodge, and private transfers are available on request for an additional charge.

Automobiles

It’s best to let the lodge’s experienced rangers take the wheel, but there’s free parking at the lodge (protected by an elephant fence) if you decide to drive yourself.

Other

There’s a private airstrip on the reserve if you’d like to ask for charter flights and GPS coordinates in advance.

Worth getting out of bed for

With over 54,000 acres of grassy plains, bushland and river-carved valleys to explore, Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge’s experienced rangers and animal tracking teams are on hand for dawn-til-dusk activities. The daily game drives leave at sunrise, and again during late afternoon, in open-air 4x4s; or, track black rhinos, elephants, and buffalo on foot with three-hour walking safaris that depart each morning. Keep your eyes peeled for antelopes, giraffes, zebra, hyenas, hippos, cheetahs, and of course, the Big Five, with private guides and vehicles available (at an extra cost) for fully flexible excursions across the Kwandwe Game Reserve. Specialist photographic safaris and birding tours can be arranged on request to take in the reserve’s blue crane nesting ground, alongside canoeing and catch-and-release fishing for bass, yellowfish, and catfish. Rhino monitoring drives, spekboom planting (native carbon-storing vegetation) and visits to the Mgcamabele Community Centre are wonderful ways to experience the reserve’s conservation efforts firsthand.

Reviews

Photos Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this riverside safari stay on the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve and unpacked their wide-brimmed hat and rooibos tea, a full account of their walk-on-the-wild-side break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge in South Africa…

Taking its name from its gently flowing, wildlife-drawing neighbour, Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge promises animal action and nature-focused relaxation in equal measure. Safaris start here before you’ve even left basecamp, as all manner of majestic beasts can be spotted from the expansive viewing decks, which connect the main lodge to thatched standalone suites. Out on the euphorbia-studded hills, the dense subtropical thicket can make wildlife watching slightly more challenging – which is where the Kwandwe Reserve’s eagle-eyed guides come in to make sightings all the more rewarding. And as you’re roaming one of the reserves with the highest land-to-guest ratios in South Africa, every experience feels wildly remote – whether it’s tracking buffalo through the bush, picnicking on the plains, or drifting off to birdsong (serenaded by some of Kwandwe’s 315 recorded species) beside your personal pool. 

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Price per night from $1,227.93