Kwandwe Game Reserve

Eastern Cape, South Africa

Kwandwe Game Reserve

This 50,000 acre big 5 private game reserve is malaria-free and easy to access. A short distance from Grahamstown, Kwandwe Game Reserve is a great extension to a tour of South Africa's famous Garden Route.

Kwandwe is a big 5 game reserve located near to Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, a short two hour drive from Port Elizabeth. The relative ease of accessing Kwandwe makes it a logical conclusion to a tour of South Africa's famous Garden Route. It's also a great choice for families, thanks to its child-friendly lodges and malaria-free status.

Kwandwe Game Reserve is made up of almost 50,000 acres of former farmland, which since 2001 has undergone a process of rewilding that has seen over 7,000 mammals reintroduced to the area, including lion, buffalo, elephant and both white and black rhino. Today, the reserve is once again home to the big 5, as well as giraffe, kudu, hippo, hyaena, gemsbok and much more. As well as being rich in game, Kwandwe is also a region of dramatic scenery, of rugged bushveld intersected by the Great Fish River. With good reason, Kwandwe was rated the third best game reserve in the world by the Sunday Times in 2003. Over a decade on it still stands out, even as many new reserves have opened up in South Africa and beyond.


Kwandwe Private Game Reserve offers a selection of lodges, including the classic Great Fish River Lodge, the historical Uplands Homestead, and the intimate Ecca Lodge.

Main Lodge (now Great Fish River Lodge) has just nine suites, scattered along the banks of the Great Fish River. These sturdy suites are made of stone and glass, and blend in easily with the rugged environment that surrounds them. They are luxuriously furnished, and open onto private viewing decks with plunge pools overlooking the dramatic landscape. The public areas at Main Lodge are equally lavish. The glass-fronted dining room and lounge overlooks the Great Fish River, and is decorated with ornate light fittings and Settler-era period pieces.

The Uplands Homestead is a restored early-twentieth-century farmhouse accommodating just six guests in its three private guest rooms. It is situated within a quiet valley, and, like Main Lodge, combines modern features with Settler-era decor. Roaring fireplaces dominate the high-ceilinged living and dining areas, while glass lanterns, thick rugs and antique pieces decorate the rooms. There is a pool and gazebo. Guests at the Homestead have access to their own private vehicle, guide, and chef.

Ecca Lodge is smaller than Main Lodge, with just six suites. Chic and family-friendly, Ecca is less formal than Main Lodge, and more eclectic in its design, utilising lots of corrugated iron and gabion. The suites at Ecca are huge, with separate living areas that can be converted into additional bedrooms for families with children. There's a cosy lounge, bar and dining room, and a small swimming pool.


The food at all of the Kwandwe lodges is excellent. The meals at Main Lodge are typically served on the outdoor decks overlooking the river, around the boma, or in the dining room. The Uplands Homestead's old dining room has a warming fireplace and is a wonderful location for a candlelit dinner prepared by your personal chef. Ecca Lodge features a more relaxed, open-plan lounge, dining room and bar area.


- Swimming pool
- Lounge area
- Dining area
- Boma


- There are 2 game drives a day
- Golf and polo tours can be arranged
- Bush sundowners
- Guide river-walking/hiking
- Canoeing
- Fishing

Child Policy

Children of all ages can be accommodated at Kwandwe, but do note that children under the age of six cannot join game drives, and those under 12 only at the manager's discretion.