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“Game reserve, buffet dining” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Zulu Nyala Game Lodge

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Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
4.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Msinene Rd, Hluhluwe 3960, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Game reserve, buffet dining”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2012

Highly recommend this incredible experience, in Zulu culture area. Game reserve had 6 days of safaris offered. We took 2 extra excursions, but I do not recommend the St. Lucia boat cruise, was $163 per person for 30 minutes of ferry ride to see hippos and one croc, plus a few birds. The Phinda excursion is a must - also ~ $160+ per person, but older and incredible scenery. All safaris were fun, the guide William was an excellent reference and guide, knowledgeable. Food very very good, lots of choices, could eat game from the reserve, wild hog, nyala, impala, and others. They call it all "venison", so ask what it is if you like. Would go back again. Staff so very friendly, a valuable experience for all.

Room Tip: All rooms nice, can get pool view rooms for extra charge. Nyala and wild hog come right up to the d...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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335 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (129)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Waterloo, Illinois, United States
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2012

Our group found this destination to be a trip of a lifetime. The ranger we were assigned was great! He took time every day to take our grouop of nine out on safaris each day. Told us safety tips to keep us safe during the safaris and worked very hard to find as much different wildlife as possible. We went out at all times of the day - from early morning to night time safaris - to catch glimpses of the wildlife. Safaris are in open air jeeps so be aware to dress for the weather and that it will be dusty.

Our ranger also helped us to see things off of Zulu Nyala thru different side trips that were available - Phinda Private Reserve, Cheetah Rehab Center, Village School and Market, St. Lucia cruise and the Indian Ocean beach.

Rooms were nice and clean with large bathrooms. The dining hall provided large and delicious buffet meals - never any reason to go away hunger. There was a variety of dishes to try, included salads, entrees, side dishes and several desserts every evening. Breakfast included omelets made to your specifications. Dining room staff were very friendly and were very accomodating to our needs.

We would visit this lodge again. This was my mother's first time out of the US and she felt very safe and had a wonderful time.

Room Tip: Ask for room near pool area. All rooms were quiet
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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
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newton, Massachusetts, United States
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2012

Like most people we met, I was the highest bidder at a charity auction for this photo safari and Im glad I did. That said, I want to assert my strong recommendation that you do not take the resort's transfer from the airport. Rent a car. Period. It is extremely economical and NOT at all hard to drive in South Africa even though, like England, they drive on the left side of the road. You adjust after 5 minutes. Plus you can bring or rent a GPS and you can do some different things which affords you freedom that you won't otherwise have. We made the mistake of requesting the airport transfer from Richard's Bay, thinking that like a taxi, with more people, the more economical it would be. We were wrong though. The transfer rates are per person and at 7 people we totally overpaid for this service. And the schedule is on their time, not yours. This forced us to basically cut our last day very short (10:30 am) and it was tremendously disappointing. So it's almost certain to be the wrong move for many travelers. Although not as economical as renting a car, the alternative is to take a taxi from Richard's Bay at 950 ZAR one way. It's still a better value and they will drive on your time. We would've definitely left at the end of the day and this would've rounded out our experience more in sync with our expectations.

That aside, we had a terrific time. We were two families traveling with three teenagers, one 12 year old and three adults. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the experience was overall in no uncertain terms, memorable and at times, magical.

We spent three nights at the game lodge (high above the landscape) and three in the tented safari at the heritage lodge (at ground level, so to speak). We probably enjoyed the game lodge experience more - the views are gorgeous and the setting is really beautiful. But the tented safari is unique and memorable in it's own way and I wouldn't want to miss it. Impala, nyala and zebra graze right outside on the plain and you can simply sit outside your tent and be amongst them day and night. I think my best photos originated here. Request a "front" tent to ensure this very appealing experience. And don't forget to look at the stars. You've never seen stars like you see stars here. The tents are really permanent structures with full and spacious baths, full plumbing and electricity. Only the roofs and partial sides of the structure are canvas but it enables you to feel and hear the breeze (or in our case one night, the wild winds) which although it made it harder to sleep that night, really gave us the feeling of being in the heart of Africa. The following night I was awakened by two impala bucks sparing with their antlers just outside our tent. I've never been so happy to be awakened!

The game lodge is the property's signature locale. And it is quite the setting. At once, relaxing and adventurous - the beautiful dining room is all that you might expect in terms of ambiance. The outdoor balcony is a must for lunch (we traveled in July). While tea and coffee is available all day, bountiful meals are served three times a day and outside those times, no food is available whatsoever. No snacks, no granola bars. Nothing. So if you're a grazer, bring something for between meals. Otherwise the meals are hearty, quite good and with the all-you can-eat-buffet at breakfast and dinner, very dangerous to your waistline. But all in all, there was a lot of variety. We enjoyed and have a new appreciation for South African wines which were reasonably priced and abundant.

The game drives are pretty cool. We saw animals every time we went out although at the end of our week the weather cooled off and the animals were less inclined to be out and about. The rangers are knowledgeable. Although we requested walks on more than one occasion, our ranger did not oblige us and this was a disappointment, but he was very knowledgable and over the course of the week, we really grew to appreciate his style.

On the afternoon of our first day, we went to Phinda and absolutely loved it. I wished we had gone again, perhaps for a full day - something we might've done had we rented our own car. But looking back it was only offered once - to seek lions, which do not live on the Zulu Nyala reserve. And we did see 3 lions and 6 cubs along with buffalo and a host of other amazing beasts. We say two of the big 5 at Phinda. Topping this day off with a full bar, under the stars made this day particularly magical and a lifelong memory. Phinda is a much bigger reserve and "a must" if you go to Zulu Nyala. I recommend contacting Phinda yourself before heading there and perhaps booking a day or two there so that you don't have to pay the resort excursion rates which I suspect are considerably more expensive.

In closing, I want t say a word about the staff who are extremely hard working and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure an enjoyable and meaningful experience. Consistent with other reviews, the tipping protocol is unclear but elsewhere in SA, tipping waitstaff is 10-15%. A fitness center would really benefit Zulu Nyala. I am sure it would get considerable use between game drives. I definitely needed to move and un-guided walks aren't advised beyond the immediate grounds around the lodge. Other than that, we really enjoyed ourselves. This is a unique experience and one to really relish especially if, like me, you purchased this package at a charity auction, making it a "win-win" all around.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with view. We didn't and wish we had.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2012

Like many others, got a week at ZN via a charity auction. Arrived via Richards Bay and was met at the airport by our driver TK. He took us to get cash and to the grocery store. We stayed 3 nights at the game lodge in room 18 - by the pool, with outstanding long distance views and 3 nights at the Heritage Tents in T6 - nothing between you and the animals, great to have an outside area to just sit and watch them (zebras, impalas, nyalas, monkeys). We liked them both and were glad we did both. We had a wonderful time - not everything was perfect but it was part of the experience.

We only did one side excursion, the walking safari at Leopard Mountain. It was a lot of fun. We did not do the others because we left ZN to go to Botswana, where we would see many more animals.

Our guide was Rowan and he was fantastic. Very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and cares about the animals a great deal. He also tries very hard to show you all the animals and make sure that your experience is good and that you got great pictures, which we did! I highly recommend him.

The negatives, and these are really, really minor. The lighting in the rooms is poor. It is dark when you get up and you need a flashlight to see into the drawers. The pool lounges and the chairs outside the rooms were uncomfortable - which is too bad because its a beautiful setting. The food was mediocre, breakfast buffet was good but the rest was just ok. Bloody Mary's were bloody awful. When we transfered to the tents, at first we were the only ones around and it took us a while to find staff to feed us. Then tour buses showed up and it was packed. They did get very busy towards the end of our stay and by then people were doing side excursions so the logistics suffered a little bit. But nothing to get worked up about.

The positives - and these far outweigh the minor negatives. The staff was very attentive and pleasant. Our guide Rowan. It is a small reserve but our game drives were fun! We saw a lot of animals and had some wonderful sightings - baby rhino, elephants playing, troop of baboons, cheetahs, leopard, etc. We did not miss a game drive and it never got old. It also was a great opportunity to figure out our cameras so that by the end of our trip we were "pros"!

It was a great start to our trip and I would raise my paddle at an auction again and return.

Room Tip: Rooms by the pool have amazing views. If you go to the tents, and are willing to walk further to fo...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2012 via mobile

Our family group of 7, including a 22 month old had a great vacation at Zulu Nyala. We obtained 3 rooms at a charity auction for a very reasonable price. We didn't want to drive with such a large group so we opted to use their airport transfer which was fine. We met our "ranger" Mannie upon arrival. He layed out side trip options for us with no pressure, just advice which turned out right on. He was with us just about everywhere we went and was super, especially to our toddler. You can tell that he loves his job. We went on about 7 game drives at Zulu Nyala which is a relatively small park but Mannie made each drive different and very interesting. Saw plenty of animals, including cheetah with cubs, elephants and a rhino. The scenerary is beautiful. We got great pictures. We stayed the 1st 3 nights at the Game Lodge, by the pool. Fantastic location and the dining room food and service were excellent. We moved to the Heritage Safari Tents for the last 3 nights. The tents were large and nice and there were zebra, gazelle and monkeys right outside which gave an African feeling. However, it was very windy while we were there which made sleep difficult; and the dining was a long walk and not nearly as good as the Game Lodge.
We did several of the side trips. The Phinda safari was fantastic. We watched a pride of lions close up for over an hour and then several elephants eating their way through a forest. Our drive ended with drinks and snacks at sunset. We enjoyed the trip to St Lucia which included a boat trip in the estuary full of hippos, crocodiles and birds; swimming in the Indian Ocean; and a shopping stop. Another must is the visit to a nearby Zulu school and town. We brought gifts and really enjoyed our time with the friendly people there.
We had a wonderful stay at Zulu Nyala. It is a great destination.

Stayed July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chapin, South Carolina, United States
1 review
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

My friend and I bid thru an auction to take the photo safari offered by this establishment and I must say, it was a life changing event! We went in August of 2011, so the area was just coming out of winter into the spring season. A little chilly in the mornings and evenings, but was a reprieve from the hot summer in South Carolina! Upon arrival, we were greeted with nothing but warm hospitality and smiles from everyone we encountered. Walking to our room, we followed behind an ostrich that was wandering around the gardens (ok - it was dirt and some interesting plants, but was I still call it a garden) which we thought was really awesome. After settling in, we went on our first safari with Welcome - our guide. He was very knowledgeable of the reserve, the animals, and the surrounding area. I never felt threatened with him in our presence - even when the elephants came within 15' of our jeep! Welcome even obliged us when we wanted to do a sunrise drive and it was well worth it! We saw everything we wanted to see on our visit and then some. We also explored other reserves while in South Africa too - got within 35 yards of 4 lions and actually watched 2 of them fight! WOW!! I highly suggest renting a car (@ Richards Bay Airport) - they are really inexpensive (about $125 for the week) - and touring around on your own. The area was relatively safe and did not have any issues with any locals. We also rented (@ Johannesburg Airport) a cell phone and an internet cardfor my laptop (about $35 for the week) while there and got great reception (kept us in touch with our families). The food was great no matter where we ate too. I am already planning to do this again, but stay longer the next time I go! All in all - an amzing adventure that I will cherish for a lifetime! Total cost for us - about $2500 each....not too bad!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ventura
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2012

I don’t write reviews, but I also purchased a 6 night package at a charity auction last year. My wife and I returned 10 days ago. It exceeded our expectations.
We stayed at the Game Lodge and the Hotel. Both where great, the service was friendly, food was great, and our ranger was excellent.
I would go back again, and suggest it to anyone.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Zulu Nyala Game Lodge

Address: Msinene Rd, Hluhluwe 3960, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand > Hluhluwe
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 27 Specialty Lodging in Hluhluwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Zulu Nyala Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 52
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An entrancing experience in a unique wilderness area. Zulu Nyala Private Game Reserve provides a unique bush experience in the heart of one of South Africa’s most diverse conservation regions. Nestled between the wilderness reserves of Mkuze, Hluhluwe and St Lucia, this lush stretch of paradise is home to a wide variety of game, from the majestic elephant to rhino, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, the shy and beautiful Nyala buck that is endemic to the region and the secretive leopard. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Zulu Nyala Game Hotel Hluhluwe

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