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“An Amazing Experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve and Safari Lodge

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Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve and Safari Lodge
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PO Box 87 | Heatonville, 3881, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Staffordshire
Top Contributor
110 reviews 110 reviews
58 hotel reviews
Reviews in 67 cities Reviews in 67 cities
68 helpful votes 68 helpful votes
“An Amazing Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2010

This was the highlight our trip to KZN. To meet the author of the Elephant Whisper, Lawrence Anthony was a real pleasure. He was in the bar every evening and was happy to chat to all the guests. He personally signed my copy of his book which made my day.

To be able to meet the elephants I had read about was a fantastic experience, especailly to see Mabula who was a real character and liked to show off to the guests. He took great pleasure in pretending to charge the vehicle showing us who was boss!

Pieter and Promise the two rangers were excellent guides. We had two game drives every day one before breakfast and another in the evening before dinner. The evening drives were best especially when we stopped for sundowners and watched some fantastic sunsets. Another evening there was a terrific thunderstorm and to watch the lightening in the clear skies was amazing.

The Lodge itself was fantastic. The individual lodges were very comfortable and beautifully furnished. The food was of a very high standard, Francoise has trained all the staff. Even breakfast was a three course affair not just bacon and eggs here it was gourmet cooking.

We saw lots of wildlife and even had the Vervet monkeys playing right outside our lodge every morning.

Thabo the orphaned baby white rhino was great fun too. He enjoyed a walk around the grounds and liked to meet everyone. He was just like a big puppy and enjoyed a fuss. It was entertaining watching him trying to join us for breakfast one morning!
A very special place.

  • Stayed November 2009, 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
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95 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (17)
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Stellenbosch
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 2, 2010

This was most unexpected to find such luxury in a tent at Thula Thula.
Food was excellent and although it was probably the coldest time of the century, staff managed to keep us warm even during outside dinners!
Our son was treated like a prince and he cannot stop raving about Thula Thula! The guides were unbeilivable and really adapted to their clients.
We loved it and wished we had stayed longer! Françoise and husband are amazing people and we hope that there won't be any further "poaching" of animals.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Hawkinge, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
374 reviews 374 reviews
150 hotel reviews
Reviews in 163 cities Reviews in 163 cities
1,280 helpful votes 1,280 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2010

We stayed in the tented camp for Xmas - we had three tents: ourselves; teenage daughters; another couple and had a fantastic time, would thoroughly recommend it. I'm not a great fan of camping but these tents eliminate all the things I dislike about the experience normally. Really they're like chalet suites with canvas walls. There is a proper hard floor, they are very large, there is a proper plumbed in bathroom with a large claw bath, sink and loo, and an outdoor shower for showering under the stars. The furnishings are reminiscent of a Victorian gentleman's campaign tent - wonderful fourposter beds draped in mosquite netting (not really needed) and every comfort. As I said, it is like a large suite with canvas walls, you won't feel you are in a tent really. They are widely spaced and very private. There is a main lodge which contains the lounge, the restaurant and bar area and there is a pool which is great for cooling off in.
There is another part of the resort which is the main Thula Thula lodge but it is about 2km from the tented camp.
The staff were very welcoming and service was good. Meals were mainly buffet and pretty good but not haut cuisine (up in the main lodge, the food is of a gourmet standard). In the tented camp, you get one game walk in the morning and one game drive in the late afternoon. The afternoon game drive was absolutely superb. The park is gorgeous, extremely green, full of game - giraffe, elephant, rhino, antelope, wildebeest, zebra, monkeys and many birds. We saw our fill and up close too. The rangers were excellent and the vehicles were extremely comfortable and we were generally alone. They always stop for sundowners at a scenic spot and will bring what you want - g&t, wine etc plus snacks - all very civilised.
We arrived on Xmas Eve and left on Boxing Day and didn't know whether to expect any celebrations, but the lodge was decorated and we had a lovely Xmas eve dinner which ended with the staff giving us an impromptu song and dance. On Xmas day, we had a champagne lunch which was also very good. The owner - elephant whisperer - visited every day and was available to tell about his adventures.
There were a couple of points just short of perfection: the lighting in the tents is quite dim - very atmospheric but hopeless for reading in bed or finding something in the corners after dark. The morning game walk was not particularly enjoyable or useful. Instead of splitting us as per the game drives we all went together and frankly if you were at the back of the line of about 15 people, you couldn't hear what the ranger was saying and anyway we all made far too much noise tramping along to see anything of interest. We went once and all decided that we wouldn't bother again. It would have been much better to have have a morning game drive (interestingly the guests staying at the main lodge got two drives) rather than a walk and we would have paid extra to do this if it was a matter of cost.
All in all, we loved Thula Thula - my teenage daughters counted it their favourite of all our South African locations. The elephants were very special and we got to see them a lot. One day my daughter and I were walking to the pool and the whole herd passed by just across the river. Magic.

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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New York
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2009

The staff at Thula Thula are amazing and respond to your every need. the food is amazing. We stayed in the main camp as my friend wanted "real walls" not the canvas walls of the tented camp. The main lodge was beautiful and peaceful with a small dunk pool and indoor and outdoor seating areas. We had our meals on the outdoor deck each day. We saw monkeys and Kudu right from the deck and our front door. The safari drives were wonderful and while they do nothave all of the big five we were happy with some very close sightings of elephant, giraffe, zebra, wildebeast, kudu, springbok, baboons, and a plethora of beautiful birds.
The owner came by each eveing for a chat in the main lodge before dinner. The staff were amazing and the grounds beautiful. the only thing that could improve our stay was an extension of time.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hampshire
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2009

My wife and I spent three days at Thula Thula, for two of them we were the only guests. We found it a little quiet to begin with, and found it disconcerting to sit in the boma eating dinner, with more staff than guests! The lodges(only six of them) were well furnished and comfortable, but a bit dark, so much so lights were needed on during the day. Thula Thula has two camps, the Safari Lodge where we stayed, and a tented camp a short distance away. The owners, Lawrence Anthony and his charming French wife Francoise, have made good food a feature at the Safari lodge, so much so that lunch and dinner were eagerly awaited each day. The game viewing was quite good. We were lucky that Lawrence took us out one day to meet the resident elephants.The story of the herd is amazing, and it was a real treat to meet the heroes of his book "The Elephant Whisperer", in person. The rangers and trackers were most helpful and informative. The staff in the Lodge were, in the main, helpful and polite.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rome, Italy
Top Contributor
84 reviews 84 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2009

The service was perfect, professional and friendly. The food, a SouthAfrican/SouthernFrench fusion, was great (and really TOO MUCH). The location is nice and the bungalows very comfortable and well apart, with a view on the bush (and the occasional antelopes and vervet monkeys). The game drives and walks were great too: you don't go to Thula thula for the Big Five, but the elephant herd is wonderful and lots of smaller animals, too. David (ranger) and Promise (tracker) are very prepared and you can see they love their job.

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Durban
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2009

An excellent few days. Too short!
Didn't mind the animal poo in the "yard". Some people! The wildlife is not as diverse or plentiful as some of the bigger reserves, but you will not do better for elephants.
The staff were friendly and efficient with excellent service at the lodge, and couldn't have been more helpful. The food was superb except standards fell slightly on Saturday evening which seemed to be the chef's night off. Overall though - very good! The lodge cottage was comfortable, clean and well equipped, with two small criticisms. There is insufficient storage space - extremely small, inadequate wardrobe - and the lighting is poor, especially in the bathroom. One blot was the final evening someone turned the bed down while we were at dinner, but left a pile of cushions from the bed in the middle of the floor.
Small criticisms maybe spoilt it a little, but overall it was a superb few days, well worth the price, in a magnificent venue, with excellent and knowlegable people. Thoroughly enjoyed it and we will be back!

  • Stayed August 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve and Safari Lodge

Address: PO Box 87 | Heatonville, 3881, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #45 of 501 Specialty Lodging in KwaZulu-Natal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Thula Thula private game reserve is a unique safari destination and home to elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and superb bird life, in Kwazulu Natal, in a malaria free area. With its unique atmosphere, stylish decor and superb cuisine, Thula Thula offers you the choice of exclusive accommodation between the luxurious Safari lodge, renowned gourmet destination, and the 4 star Luxury tented camp, offering an authentic bush experience in great style. Special packages, spa massages, Zulu culture tours. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve And Safari Hotel Kwazulu-Natal
Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve And Safari Lodge South Africa/KwaZulu-Natal

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