At points we wondered beforehand if we should have pushed to go to Kruger since this seemed to be better known by other Americans, but in the end this was the perfect spot for our first safari. We saw the big five in addition to many other interesting animals / birds, and furthermore the weather was ideal (sun for all 3 days). This was particularly gratifying since it ended up raining a ton in Kruger!! We thought particularly highly of our guide (Casey) and tracker (Andy).
Feedback by: Jonathan & Emily Stone | Date Posted: January 12, 2014 | Lodge Stayed at: Great Fish River Lodge
We have just got back from an amazing holiday to Sa.We spent 2 days at GFRL and had the most amazing time. This was trueley the highlight of our holiday.Our ranger JP and tracker Saki were fantastic, giving us amazing drives. Thank you again to all the staff for making this a truly memorable holiday. we will be back. , elaine, matthew, aaron and jacob. xxx
Feedback by: Elaine Taylor | Date Posted: January 6, 2013 | Lodge Stayed at: Great Fish River Lodge
Thank you to all the staff at Ecca Lodge for providing a wonderful experience during our recent stay.
The setting was spectacular and the quality of accommodation was excellent – spacious and beautifully designed rooms with attention to detail.
The staff at Ecca provided warm and friendly service but were always efficient and professional. Delicious food and wine was served at meal times. In particular, the breakfast was a special treat after the morning safari – so generous and beautifully presented.
On our game drives, Eric our ranger and Sia our tracker, were an experienced and knowledgeable team who ensured that we encountered a variety of amazing animals and birds. The lions, elephants and the cheetah were favorites – we had not expected to see them so closely. We must also complement them on their cooking and presentation skills at the snack and drinks breaks – most enjoyable!
Feedback by: Vesma and David Sutherland | Date Posted: November 22, 2012 | Lodge Stayed at: Ecca Lodge
visit in June 2011. We’d had an amazing visit then & wanted to return in a different season & also hoped to see the elusive leopard. Any worries about could it be as good as the first visit were completely unfounded when we saw FOUR leopards within 2 hours of arriving!
Once again the Kwandwe family looked after us from the moment we arrived until I said my tearful goodbyes. The lodges have all been refurbished since last year & look very elegant. Visiting in spring meant earlier game drives, a brai, dinner in the boma & the evening drive returned in darkness after fabulous sundowners. It was also much warmer, so we could use the plunge pool & relax in the outside areas in the afternoon.
The game drives were as wonderful as last year, but we saw the animals in different situations. The males lions chasing after a fight, lions killing a warthog, we were charged by juvenile lion, rhino & elephant…the list goes on! There was also more general game to see, after a re stock earlier this year. To see herds of springbuck running is stunning. There were birds, snakes, lizards & ants to watch too, everyday bought new creatures to see. Our guides were Doc & Siza….they are FANTASTIC! I cannot say enough how they made the trip so interesting/funny/ magical. Thank you guys, we miss you.
Our dream is now to return at Easter time. Different seasons bring different experiences, but as long as the Kwandwe family are in charge you will have the holiday of a lifetime & if you’re are lucky as us, two lifetimes … & hopefully a third!
Feedback by: Tracey & Jim | Date Posted: October 15, 2012 | Lodge Stayed at: Great Fish River Lodge
This is the first time in my life that I have written an unsolicited testimonial for a holiday. My family recently spent 4 nights at Uplands. To say that we enjoyed ourselves is an understatement. The people provided a first class service in a friendly and ever helpfull way. Zoy and Julia and their team did that “thing” of offering what you might need just before you realised that was exactly what you wanted. My 16 year old son on being met by all the staff on arrival was at first unsure if he would be able to handle this .Yet when Zoy explained to us that all the drinks that side of the tray were free to try ……Though he did keep an eye on the boys consumption levels.The knowledge and experience within Jami was very special, and his way of offering the information was just right.He will probably end up teaching. Sibos'spotting was also remarkable ,and he seemed unphased by sudden up close rhino appearances. I just needed to share my thoughts with you and thank you for the experience. Kwandwe ,it's people, the place and of course all the creatures are remarkable. This was my childrens first experience of Africa . They and we will be back. Regards, Mike
Feedback by: Michael Lavin | Date Posted: August 15, 2012 | Lodge Stayed at: Uplands Homestead
Regaling us with colorful tales of local, tribal circumcisions, performed with a spear on young men of 18, and sharing her obvious love of the Addo Mountains, the Alexandria coastal dunes, and Grahamstown, all places along the route to Kwandwe, our driver was the perfect host to usher us to our first safari experience. By the time we entered the vast reserve, we felt more familiar with the customs, the people, and the land, all equally important in South Africa. So it was with appreciation that we said goodbye to our knowledgeable guide as the staff at Kwandwe warmly welcomed us with kindness, serving delicious lemonade and sugary biscuits before escorting us to Ecca Lodge, once more a place I immediately professed never to leave.
Kwandwe is a place where warm towels and a hot fire always awaited us after a chilly game drive and where the sun came up mid-morning, daring anything to darken our day. A place where an evening walk on a gravel path spiraling through the private suites (which is a feat in itself if you’ve recently run the Comrades!) required an escort and reminded us we had replaced roaming cells with roaming animals.
A place where Reid found a sharp, black and white porcupine quill, but no porcupine, proof that what we can’t see is still very real and very present.
Kwandwe is a land of contrasts – refined, elegant human surroundings in wild, restored animal country. A place where freshly squeezed orange juice is served each morning on a hanging, silver platter outside the door where animals had prowled the night before, obvious from the paw prints on the path we then padded each morning.
A place where individual lap pools and outdoor showers graced the teak decks of each suite, yet wild animals freely laze under those decks and drink from those lap pools.
We saw neither, but we were careful, and on the day we departed, one huge angry-looking elephant seen earlier on the road charged his way to the lodge lap pool and drank his fill to the entertainment of the respectful guests inside who did not have to be told to stay put, but who now have a fabulous story to tell.
And the fabulous stories we heard. The tale of the wild dogs that once herded antelope against the electric fence just because it was fun and because they could, dogs who have since roamed elsewhere. The tale of a white rhinoceros that ambled to a ranger’s vehicle and stared him down, nose to horn, before he eventually roamed away, leaving the guide with a story he considers his most frightening.
And the fabulous stories we now have to share. The amazing lion entertaining us for hours on the road, but who had lost his territory to a younger male so was somewhat lost himself. The white rhinoceros calmly standing in the thicket to our right while we’re staring off in the distance with binoculars trying to find others. The hippopotamus ambling in and out of the water before finally disappearing, leaving us grateful for having seen such a creature. And then there was our first encounter with the cheetahs when our ranger quickly backed up the open-top vehicle and hid behind the thicket so the tracker, who rode in a seat out front, could hop back in and not alarm the animal. And then the excitement as we stalked that mama and her two cubs for 30 minutes as she moseyed on down the road with hardly a backward glance.
Attentive to the animals on the reserve, Kwandwe is also a place of personal attention to its guests. After a morning of pecking notes on my phone because my laptop was not working, I was frustrated and concerned that I was going to forget too many unique experiences, so I asked Bongi for some paper of any kind. Two notebooks immediately appeared in my room. Then, after four days of using a comb and not a hairbrush (pack lighter, I had been told), I asked Bongi if there was a way to get a larger hairbrush. One large brush appeared shortly in my room; the manager had sent for one in the closest town at least an hour away. And then, after celebrating Ian’s birthday on our last night, we returned to our room to find champagne and chocolate waiting for us. And always, personal notes from the staff. Kwandwe’s kindness and personal attention to the details won’t be forgotten.
In the heart of South Africa’s Eastern Cape, Kwandwe is a land to learn from, to listen to, and to love. And it’s also a land where there’s much to see and to appreciate. A land where the life of the animals is not interfered with by man unless it’s a problem caused by man. So we listened, we learned, we loved, and we quickly grew to appreciate the land, the customs, and the people. The emotional look on Ian’s face as he held back tears while Bongi and the other Kwandwe staff sang and danced for his 59th birthday proved we had learned that lesson. Singing us goodbye was yet another symbol of a land that doesn’t ask, but freely gives.
And as we, yes tearfully, said goodbye, we didn’t need souvenirs at a gift shop to remind us of Kwandwe for we left with the gift of our unique experience at this incredible place on God’s earth.
Feedback by: Becky Bader | Date Posted: June 15, 2012 | Lodge Stayed at: Ecca Lodge
As seasoned visitors to prime lodges in sub-saharan Africa, we were initially disappointed staying at kwandwe, after being convinced to give the reserve a second chance, we returned to discover a totally different game lodge; dedicated staff, excellent food&beverage and two game drives intriguing even for us serengeti-spoiled visitors. The health of the animals convinced us that kwandwe is making a great contribution to wildlife conservation. The cheetah looked like they’d been treated to a spa! In one game drive we did see 4 white Rhino’s on a couple of meter distance, Oryxes, Lioness, and all the other great african animals. The point is not only to see these beatifull animals, but to experience them in entirely private setting…we and the enimals nobody else no other vehicle; this something Kwandwe is able to offer…and not many places in Africa can copy this. Erich was great as a ranger and Marna did a wonderful job as assistant general manager. Needless to say, lodging and interior design of the lodge holds the standard of top notch game lodges. Excellent fine dining in the evening curtesy of a young captonian lady-chef, and a wonderful turn down service with candles when we arrived back into our room. In summary Kwandwe is now in our favorite list of Top African Lodges. This is the place, to be away from the crowds , and experience Africa as it if you would be the owner…very very nice,,
Feedback by: Dr. Toons Overstijns | Date Posted: May 7, 2012 | Lodge Stayed at: Great Fish River Lodge
Back home now after an experience to savour for a long time. We didn’t really know what was in store for us but it far exceeded our expectations. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience of both the hospitality and the game viewing. Thanks to everybody involved in making our stay so enjoyable. To Doc and Siza for amazing game drives, to Zoucho for looking after us so well during our stay with you, to the chefs for superb meals and to the ladies who looked after our lodge. Best wishes Frank and Joan Bainbridge
P.S. Apologies if I’ve not spelt names correctly. We hope to see you again in the not too distant future
Feedback by: Frank and Joan Bainbridge | Date Posted: March 23, 2012 | Lodge Stayed at: Great Fish River Lodge
we stayed there this year 2012 for 3 nights,did the 2 safari’s per day ! Magnificent is the word: full staff were very kind and caring and chapeau to our ranger Ian and tracker Saki…..they were so kind and enthusiastic about their work,they don’t call it work :) They told us a lot and shared as much knowledge as possible….thnx guys and rest of the staff !!!! sweet greetz from Europe,Amsterdam from the fam. van ‘t Klooster….and a little something for Ian and Saki….in the jungle the quiet jungle….lalalalalllla….keep up the good work !!!
Feedback by: siti saebu van 't klooster | Date Posted: March 17, 2012 | Lodge Stayed at: Ecca Lodge
I enjoyed myself immensely and would like to thank all the staff for one of the most amazing experiences of my life. A special thanks to our guides Brendan and Digby for making my experience unique and amazing. Tell them if they are ever in Atlanta, I will be their guide to the local wildlife.
Feedback by: Emory Durell Hiller | Date Posted: February 8, 2012 | Lodge Stayed at: Great Fish River Lodge