Kwandwe Ecca Lodge is a small, 6 suite modern safari lodge which has been designed to be luxurious and family-friendly. It is located on rolling hills within Kwandwe Game Reserve, one of the best reserves in the Eastern Cape.
The suites at Kwandwe Ecca are very stylishly furnished with a mixture of clean, trendy pieces and some old collectables from the region. The bedroom, living room and bathroom of the suites at Ecca Lodge all have sliding doors leading out onto a large private veranda. In part of this large wooden deck is a private plunge pool and an outdoor shower. There is a pool, as well as a small library room, with a television where you can sit and enjoy wildlife DVDs.
Ecca’s original, inventive architecture and décor – which varies from giant Warhole-like prints to retro light fittings – make it a really stylish lodge.
Two children under 16 can share with two adults in the separate lounge area; child rate applies (the number of children sharing with parents is restricted to a max of 4 in camp at any one time). Families are made to feel welcome, and flexible dining arrangements can be made if you would like to eat earlier than other guests.
The lodge also has special activities for children such as a ‘Bugs and Bones’ walk (a great way to stretch little legs and learn all about this ecologically diverse reserve whilst searching for insects, bones and skulls and being taught how to identify animal tracks and droppings), sand art, face painting, making moulds from Plaster of Paris, beading, chocolate fun (making spider webs and insects from chocolate), and Minnow’s fishing trip with a ranger.
Children receive a welcome gift on arrival which includes a Blue Crane Conservation Guide comprising animal checklists, themed games and activities, and a pledge to ‘live green’ (‘Junior’ for under 6’s and ‘Senior’ for ages 6 and up), crayons/ pencils, a BPA free water bottle and a ‘Frolicking Rhino’ range of bath products including shampoo, body lotion and bubble bath (Kwandwe supports the Bespoke Amenities Co., who created this range in support of their efforts to eradicate rhino poaching).
The playroom area is close to the main pool/ lodge area and includes , DVDs and popcorn, eco-educational board games (learning about recycling and the how to care for our planet in a fun way), chocolate mold making, creature cookie baking, and African bedtime stories. An interactive kitchen caters for children, with cooking classes between safari activities, complete with baking and pizza making with specially designed ‘Chefs in Training’ aprons and toques.
For families with children aged 5 or under, you would need to go on an exclusive drive (additional cost), and for children aged 6 to 11, you can of course also go on an exclusive drive, but it is the lodge manager’s discretion for children of this age to go on shared game drives. Children of all ages are welcome to join a ‘Horns and Stripes’ adventure, a daily one hour morning game drive after breakfast with or without their parents to view ‘non-aggressive’ game at no additional cost.
In addition to morning and afternoon game drives, guided nature walks, picnics, fishing and boat rides on Galpin Dam are also offered. In the morning you can visit the nearby Mgcamabele Community Centre. In the cooler months here (July/August), the middle of the day can be just as good a time to go on safari as the early morning or late evening.
Extra activities which may be possible – and would usually be booked in advance, and paid for as an extra – include rhino darting, rhino monitoring and ‘big game walking safaris’. The latter is a walking trip accompanied by an armed specialist ranger and a tracker team, with the aim of tracking and getting close to some of the reserve’s larger game. The lodge normally also has private guides and vehicles which can be booked at additional cost.
Childminders are available at no additional cost and are first-aid trained. The lodge is fenced, and all-in-all, this is one of Africa’s best lodges for families.
South Africa’s ‘wild’ province, the Eastern Cape features expanses of untouched beach, bush and forest. This was Nelson Mandela’s home province, and is an area with some enticing attractions – among them the Addo Elephant National Park, with the densest elephant population in the world; the dramatic Wild Coast; and, of course, Mandela’s home at Qunu.
There are some spectacular private game reserves here, including Kwandwe, Shamwari and River Bend (on a private part of Addo).