Kwandwe Private Game Reserve’s Ecca Lodge, located in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, outshone some of the continent’s finest safari lodges and experiences at the 2018 Safari Awards on 6 November in London.
Nominated as the Award’s overall winner, Kwandwe Ecca Lodge was named Africa’s Best Safari Experience. Judged by a panel of 15 of the most highly-respected, knowledgeable independent tour operators selling safaris this accolade pays testament to the consistent high-level experience enjoyed by guests, both in the lodge as well as when out exploring this magnificent game-rich wilderness region.
Of equal magnitude and a huge tribute to the guiding and tracker team’s energy and enthusiasm, was also the award for being Africa’s Best Safari Guiding Team. An accolade received additionally last year under the South Africa category, this again demonstrates the reserve’s formidable ability to offer consistent excellence in its guest experience. Furthermore, Ecca Lodge came second place in the South Africa category for Best Ecologically Responsible lodge, won third place in the Best Family Safari Experience category and was acknowledged also in the Best Design category.
With flexibility at the core of the guest experience, Kwandwe’s guests are invited to choose between a wide variety of wildlife viewing activities each day hosted by personable guides who reveal the wonders of Kwandwe’s vast wilderness by open-topped 4×4, on foot or by boat. At 22,000 hectares / 54,000 acres, approximately four times the size of Bermuda but with only 26 rooms split between two small safari lodges (Ecca and Great Fish River Lodges) and three private safari villas (Melton Manor, Uplands Homestead and recently opened Fort House), Kwandwe offers not just a personalised safari experience but a very private one as well. Furthermore, with just a small number of guests on the reserve at any one time, it boasts a light environmental impact and one of the highest land to guest ratios found anywhere in South Africa.
Specialists in Big Game Walking, Birding and Photographic Safaris as well as Fishing, guides encourage guests to spend as much time out of the vehicle as in. They can choose a thrilling Big Five bush walk, enjoy a slow safari, pausing to learn about the reserve’s impressive biodiversity as well as the more difficult to encounter and observe insects, bird and wildlife or enjoy some quiet contemplation time surrounded by the African bush whilst fishing for bass.
Each with their individual interests and passions the guides’ areas of expertise are as varied as the reserve itself. Offering exceptional wildlife viewing, its diverse landscape and 5 biomes are home to wide variety of game including the Big 5 and threatened species such as the Black Wildebeest, Crowned Eagle, Black Footed Cat and the highly endangered Blue Crane, from which it gets its name.
Kwandwe’s popular Family safaris too have an adventurous eco-focus with activities tailored to different age groups, from ‘poo safaris’ for little ones to treasure hunts involving clues, compasses and landmarks for older kids, whilst the gastronomic offering, both in lodge and out on the reserve, offers an element of innovation and surprise. It is these subtleties that make a safari at Kwandwe stand apart.