Eastern Cape favourite, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve has won a string of admirable awards at the 2017 Safari Awards held in London on 8th November. Most commendable is Kwandwe Ecca Lodge’s award for Best Ecologically Responsible property for which it came first place in the South Africa category and second place in the overall Africa category.
Great Fish River Lodge also won Best Location in South Africa whilst Ecca Lodge went on to win second place for Best Family Experience in both South Africa and Africa. Ecca Lodge also came second place in the Best Community Focused category and was Highly Commended in both the Best Safari Cuisine and Best Design categories too. Last but certainly not least, both Ecca and Great Fish River Lodges came 2nd and 3rd place respectively for having the ‘Best Safari Guiding Team’ in South Africa!
A vast 54,000 acre wilderness region, Kwandwe Private Game Reserve has a holistic approach to green and sustainable practices. Offering exceptional wildlife viewing, the reserve’s 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.
With just 22 rooms split between two small safari lodges (Ecca and Great Fish River Lodges) and two private safari villas (Melton Manor and Uplands Homestead) Kwandwe has one of the highest land to guest ratios in South Africa. Its high-yield-low-impact policy consciously produces less environmental impact, resource consumption and waste generation. Kwandwe captures vast amounts of rain water for human consumption rather than having large scale water treatment and water waste systems. Solar technology is used extensively throughout the reserve to reduce electricity consumption and therefore carbon emissions whilst their policy of supporting local businesses assures food miles are reduced, with some herbs and vegetables grown on the reserve.
A safari at Kwandwe is carbon neutral too. Portulacaria afra, known as Spekboom in Afrikaans, is a nutritious thicket favoured by many grazing herbivores and one of the top five carbon-storing vegetations on the planet. Found in abundance across the reserve, it is thought that as much as four tons of carbon may be stored per hectare.
A safari at Kwandwe is fun and interactive with flexibility at the core of the guest experience. Gaining the well-earned applause from guests and industry peers, the superb team of engaging guides host guests on a wide variety of safaris from bush walks and birding by boat to conservation activities. Family safaris have an adventurous eco-focus with new activities adapted around their ages whilst the gastronomic offering, both in lodge and out on the reserve, offers an element of innovation and surprise. It is these subtleties that made a safari at Kwandwe stand apart.
Community development has also been at the forefront of Kwandwe’s activities. Kwandwe differs greatly from other game reserves in South Africa by virtue of the large numbers of people that live within the reserve, many of which work for Kwandwe making it one of the largest employers in the area.
It initiated a social development arm in 2002 with the aim of unlocking the vast potential of local individuals and communities and has since made a real difference to people in the Eastern Cape. They have provided adult education and training for potential staff; launched a positive health programme for Kwandwe staff, their families and 10 local rural villages; funded the construction of Fort Brown primary school and co-funded the construction of a Development Centre for Rhodes University; donated land for the development of an agri-village and Community Centre and set up a pre-school and aftercare centre on the property for children of staff. Guests are invited to spend time with the ladies and the children at the Community Centre through their Community Voluntourism programme.
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