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“Fantastic experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Pumba Private Game Reserve

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Pumba Private Game Reserve
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Highlands (just off N2) | (100 kms from Port Elizabeth), Grahamstown 6140, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence
Colchester
Level Contributor
24 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Fantastic experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2012

My wife, children ( aged 12,14 and 14) and I visited Pumba for a 3 day safari in August. Having researched extensively a game reserve suitable for children and first time safariers, Pumba seemed to fit the bill.

We were not disappointed, from the minute we arrived and were met by warm towels and a refreshing drink, to the minute we left at 6am when they arranged for the Kitchen staff to arrive especially early to prepare us breakfast, they could not have done anymore to make our first safari experience special.

Rooms

We had booked the Kudu suite as we wanted the children to be in the same room as us, and this provided a 2 bedroom suite. The room was huge, 2 very large bedrooms, with equally large ensuites, joined in the middle by a massive living area. All rooms opened onto the decking terrace that overlooked the lake, giving the most spectacular view. The deck had a plunge pool, although as we visited in winter, the water was very cold and we didn't make use of it. Each evening, wood and fire lighters were provided to get the open fire going in the room, lovely to return to a cosy warm room after dinner.

Food

Quite simply fantastic, some of the best food I have had anywhere. Beautifully presented at all meals, to be fair a limited choice, but we always found something to eat. I even tried the kudu steak one evening, which was fantastic. Some reports on here have said that service was sometimes slow, we certainly didn't experience this, all you need to appreciate is that everything is cooked fresh and to order, so it takes 20 Minutes or more sometimes. There is also always a children's menu available, that our children appreciated.

Safari's

You need to appreciate the difference between a private game reserve and a national park safari. In a private game reserve there are limited numbers of each animal, so do not expect in smaller reserves to see thousands of wilderbeast or zebra crossing the plains. However, what you can expect to see in a short space of time are some of the experiences of the wild that would take weeks or months to see in a national park. For example, On our last day, we were lucky enough to locate the reserves 3 cheeta's, and track the at close quarters, at times no more than a few feet away, whilst they hunted wilderbeast. on the occasion we experienced, we were amazed to see them corner a wilderbeast, only for the rest of the herd to return and chase he cheeta's off, quite extraordinary to see.

Service

Again, quite simply exceptional. Nothing was too much trouble, whether it was the housekeepers, the waiting and dining staff or the rangers. We had Justin as our ranger for the 3 days, and he was fantastic, extremely knowledgable, always willing to take us off road to get the best view of the animals, and extremely polite and friendly.

Would we return to Pumba? Probably not, although that is not any reflection on the reserve. We felt it was a fantastic introduction to safaris, and may well go to a bigger reserve or stay on Nnational park next time, although the chances of them living upto the exceptionally high standards set by Pumba are unlikely.

Thanks Pumba for a truly memorable trip.

The marshall/ Ketley family

Room Tip: They have 2 lodges here, the water lodge and the msenge lodge ( in the bush) we stayed at the water...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LesClaireM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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606 reviews from our community

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Bicester, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2012

My husband and I stayed at Pumba as part of our honeymoon, and we absolutely loved the experience! Even driving up to the lodge in our hire car was exciting as we paused to watch a herd of impala and zebra grazing. The welcome was great, as we were given welcome drinks, shown round the water lodge, taken to watch the hippos swimming in the lake, and then shown to our room. Our room (no 1) was huge and really lovely, with a fantastic view of the lake - the first thing we did each morning was look outside to see what the hippos were up to! We could also see right round the nearest end of the lake, which meant we got to watch herds of impala, warthogs and, one day, two elephants walking along really close to our room. The game drives were amazing, and our friendly, helpful and knowledgeable ranger Gladman really went the extra mile to make sure we had a great experience and saw what we wanted to. He even provided us with hot water bottles on particularly cold game drives! We saw lots of animals every day - elephants, rhinos, buffalo, giraffes, and the beautiful white lions, and got very close to them all in our open-sided Land Rover without worrying the animals at all. The food at the lodge was delicious and they were very accommodating in making me delicious vegetarian meals even when there weren't any on the menu that day. The whole experience was a truly fantastic way to end our honeymoon, and we can't wait to go back there one day!

Room Tip: Room 1 has fantastic a 180 degree view and is right opposite where the hippos sleep - highly recomme...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank magicalkatie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

We arrived for a 3 night stay in heavy rain with good signage on an unpaved road which our little hire car did fine with. When we got to the main gate we were greated with a smile and asked to park by the gate and be picked up by a ranger as our hire car would not make it through the mud on the road in, she was right! The land rovers used really did go through anything and needed to in all the amazing landscape on our safaris.

Our luggage was unloaded and taken to our room as we were welcomed with THE BEST hot chocolate ever followed by a walk around the main building. The main restaurant and lounge had open fires and made for a lovely atmosphere.

When shown to our room we could not believe we were on safari, we were at the water lodge, the room (number 6) was huge. We had a bath in the lounge, private pool, balcony, walk in shower, heated floors, free laundry service, free drinks, free welcome snacks... The list goes on.

Our ranger for safari drives was Freedom. He was amazing, very knowledgable and lots of fun. We had as much fun driving in the land rover on the variable terrain searching for animals as watching the great creatures, well almost. We saw 4 of the big 5 we could not find the leopards who are extremely hard to find as they hide in the valleys in the reserve. We did however see the white lions and 1 yr cub just after a kill which i cannot put into words. Freedom did everything he could to get us as close as possible, within a couple of metres or closer, of the animals but was carefull not to intrude into their space and backing off when required.

We did not spot the lions at all our first 3 rides but on returning from our 4th ride siting down for breakfast Freedom rushed over and apologised for interupting before we ordered but said the white lions had been spotted, we had been dying to see them, and asked if we would like to go back out unscheduled, hell yeah! That is what i call service. The rangers communicate through radios on different routes to help each other spot the animals to help everyone get the best experience.

I must not to forget to mention it was winter and when we return to are room for the evening the fire was set to be lit and under the covers we had our own individual hot water bottles heating our bed!

Thank everyone at Pumba for an amazing visit!!!

Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank CMay29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Port Elizabeth
Level Contributor
87 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2012

Went for 2 night stay with wife and 2 kids. The weather was terrible, rainy, cold and windy. However hospality of personnel made everyting excellent, good food and wine, warm and tasty bar experience and atmosfere of lounge made you feel at home. Best part was game ranger that went xtra mile to show us a leopard.

Room Tip: We were at Water Lodge, but I think you can expect more from Bush Lodge.
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Centrino583
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lahaina, Hawaii
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2012

As soon as we entered the gates we saw all kinds of animals, zebra, impala, wildebeest, warthog and the female white lion and her cub. The cub was trying to catch a warthog but was unsuccessful. That next morning we actually got to see the female lion show her cub how its done. It was very exciting! The game drives are amazing. You get to be up close to all the animals. We did other safaris, including Kruger, but this place was very special. The staff was excellent. Very friendly and extremely attentive. Definitely a first-class, five star experience. The rooms and views were beautiful and breathtaking and the food was fantastic. This was by far our favorite stay!!

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Katiejoshep
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leeds, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2012 via mobile

We had 4 nights at the Water Lodge in June 2012. The whole experience was excellent from the moment we arrived. We arrived too late for the main drive that afternoon but they had someone waiting on stand by to take us out if we wanted to, we did and were pleased we had because we saw the male white lion. Over the course of our trip, we saw loads of wildlife and had some amazing experiences. We didn't see everything but the fun was in looking. The ranger made it very exciting and was very knowledgeable about all aspects of the reserve.

After getting back from the drives, there were always drinks waiting for us which were constantly refilled. It really was fully inclusive and the quality of the drinks on offer were good too. We were expecting cheap wines etc but they weren't at all. We really enjoyed sitting around the fire in the evenings talking to the other guests over drinks before and after dinner.

The food was delicious and some of the best we have ever eaten.

The service was excellent and nothing was too much trouble. On our last day, they arranged a private lunch for us on the boardwalk down by the lake. We weren't expecting it so it was a lovely surprise. That night after dinner, we got back to a candle lit room, with a bottle of fizz and a bath waiting for us. A lovely touch and made us feel very special.

I can't rate Pumba enough and we will definitely be returning when we're next in South Africa.

Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Hannah W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
leeds
Level Contributor
20 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 6, 2012

We started our honeymoon with 3 nights at Pumba and it was my favourite part of our whole three week trip. We felt very looked after our whole stay, we never wanted for anything. The food is fantastic and there is plenty of it. The staff are friendly and attentive. The game drives are brilliant, you don't see everything every time, but for us the thrill of the chase added to the whole experience and after a couple of quieter drives we saw three cheetahs hunting wilderbeast, and it was just fantastic. We saw elephants, white lion, giraffe, white rhino, vervet monkeys, baboons, zebra, and hippos. This really is a 5 star experience, and we 100% recommend it.

Room Tip: There are two lodges, we stayed at the water lodge. They are very different feels. The bush lodge ha...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank joperks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pumba Private Game Reserve

Address: Highlands (just off N2) | (100 kms from Port Elizabeth), Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Grahamstown
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Grahamstown
Price Range (Based on Average Rates):
Hotel Class:5 star — Pumba Private Game Reserve 5*
Number of rooms: 23
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Awake to the sounds of the African bushveld as the sun makes its appearance on the horizon, bringing with it the prospect of another perfect day. Eco friendly Pumba, a proud member of the Green Leaf Conservation Initiative, is set in the malaria-free Eastern Cape and provides an intimate African safari experience never to be forgotten. The reserve is home to Africa's Big Five as well as rare white lion, hippo, hyena, cheetah, giraffes, various antelope and more than 300 bird species. Feel the heartbeat of nature as you explore the reserve in custom landrovers or on guided walking safaris. Water Lodge offers 12 waterfront chalets overlooking Lake Cariega while Bush Lodge is set on a floodplain with scenic mountain views, offering 11 luxury thatch and glass chalets. All Chalets open onto private game-viewing decks boasting plunge pools and outdoor showers. The indulgent bathrooms offer free-standing tubs and double basins, and each room is fitted with an earthenware fireplace. Whether dining indoors or under the starlit sky, meals at Pumba are simply sublime. Enjoy African fusion cuisine with an Eastern Cape flair, complemented by a superb selection of local wines from our Director's Cellar. Revitalise body and mind in the Soul Spa or enjoy a workout in the glass-enclosed gym at Bush Lodge. Other activities include bird watching, bass fishing, stargazing, archery as well as nearby horse riding and golf. An hour from Port Elizabeth and 15 minutes from Grahamstown. WiFi. TGCSA 5-star Lodge. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pumba Private Game Reserve Hotel Port Elizabeth

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