If you are a pioneer and innovator in the travel industry, finding somewhere to meet your high expectations, which have been born from decades of experience, requires considerable research. This is an area where Shaun Stanley, the founder of Stanley Safaris, excels. In this feature, Shaun talks to Sara Andrew about what he discovered when he visited the Kwandwe Private Reserve.
Shaun said: As someone who has always found a deep sense of appreciation and respect for the untouched beauty of nature, I’ve always had a hint of scepticism about the nature reserves along the garden route and Eastern Cape.
While I cannot deny the commendable work they are doing from a conservation standpoint – painstakingly restoring old farmlands back into their original, pristine splendour of natural landscapes – I’ve always been unsure if they could match up to the true, raw experience of some of Africa’s most renowned safari destinations.
This year, however, my perspective underwent a dramatic shift after a personal invitation to experience Kwandwe Private Reserve, a gem nestled inland from Port Elizabeth. The whispers about Kwandwe had always been promising, painting a picture of a reserve that was a cut above the rest along the Eastern Cape.
So, together with my family, we embarked on an exhilarating road trip from Cape Town, meandering through the picturesque Garden Route and finally arriving at our destination, Kwandwe Ecca Lodge, where we would spend two unforgettable nights.
The journey to Kwandwe is as simple as it is exciting. Most guests would traditionally fly into Port Elizabeth, from where they can choose between a 2-hour road transfer or a direct helicopter transfer to Kwandwe Private Reserve.
The reserve also conveniently features a tar runway, allowing guests to fly directly into the reserve via private plane.
Upon entering the reserve, we were warmly directed towards the reception building, where we were greeted by the reserve’s guest liaison, a friendly face who welcomes all guests upon arrival. Following this, we were introduced to our skilled guide and tracker, who would be our companions and source of knowledge for our journey.
Kwandwe is home to two lodges and three exclusive-use villas, among which is Ecca Lodge, celebrated for its family-friendly atmosphere.
This unforgettable experience at Kwandwe challenged my scepticism and reminded me of the sheer beauty and raw authenticity that can be found in such reserves.
The blend of conservation efforts and authentic safari experiences creates a unique and inspiring experience that holds its own alongside Africa’s premier safari destinations.
You can learn more about Stanley Safaris at https://stanley-safaris.com/.
By Sara Andrew
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