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“Mixed Experience” 3 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
Boston, Massachusetts
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Mixed Experience”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2008

We got this Safari Package, 6 nights, through a charity auction.
It got us to South Africa, which I never would have visited and we definitely made the best out of the experience. I wish I would have done more research ahead of time to get around some of the bumps with Zulu Nyala.

Positives:
Our tour guide- Sandile, was excellent. He really made the trip. The guide is very important to your experience. We also met a great group of people for the week who were on the drives with us and that was a big bonus.

You can see many animals here and see them up close- elephants, buffalo, white rhino, zebra, giraffes, hippos. For food, the buffet is pretty good for a buffet. We enjoyed the food.

The common areas of this property are nice and the views are very good. The Heritage Lodge, where we stayed at a few nights, was not
nearly as nice in the common areas and views.
Cell phone signal is good. I was able to get reception and even email most of the time on my palm.

Negatives:
We saw almost every animal on the first game drive. This reserve is pretty small. I would recommend staying 2-4 days.
There are no cats on the reserve. Ironically, they put photos of cats all over their website etc. If you want to see lions and cheetahs you need to visit another reserve. Pindha is your best bet. Zulu Nyala advertises Pindha as a side trip, then tells you it will be almost impossible to get in after you arrive. I had to push hard to get into Pindha, which was a fabulous experience, not to be missed. It complements this Zulu Nyala Safari perfectly. I would recommend being firm when you arrive or book 1 or 2 nights at Pindha so you guarantee you'll go on game drives there. Pindha is much more up-scale than any of the Zulu Nyala properties.

Zulu Nyala said it was a 4-star property. I would rate the Game Lodge and Heritage as 3-Star. Things in the room don't work or are broken. Cleanliness is ok. The service is poor in getting responses for just about anything. We had to push for everything, which is annoying when you should be relaxing. Their computers and Internet go down regularly and they're in no rush to fix it unless you stay on top of them. There were many mosquitoes in our room.

Overall, we had a phenomenal vacation. I think 6 nights at any of the Zulu Nyala properties is too many and they definitely are not 4-star.
Get a great guide. See a lot of animals. Enjoy the buffet. Be firm to get what is advertised or what you need/want.
Book a night or two at Pindha to see cats.
Stay in the Game Lodge over the Heritage.

Other tips- we didn't rent a car. I'm thinking it would have been better. Their transfer fee from Richard's Bay is very high at over $200 US each way unless you are splitting it with others.
The prices for the side trips are high too. If you're adventurous and want to drive you might have more independence and save some money.

If you do the Hluhluwe Park it's best to go with the guide from Zulu Nyala. We had quite an experience there with a herd of 20 elephants!

  • Liked — Safari guide, views, common areas, buffet
  • Disliked — Management, servicing broken things, some misrepresentation in marketing
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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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
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English first
USA
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2008

The Zulu Nyala properties are beautiful and the people are very nice but I wouldn't rate them as above average or exceptional. The rooms were nicely done but the mattresses were worn and the pillows so flat we could tell they've been used by many guests before us. The A/C unit worked but didn't provide any heat and since we were there in the winter that was a problem. The staff were friendly, and genuinely tried to be helpful but it was clear that they could use more training. They had trouble getting someone out to our room to fix our safe, bring us towels and the daily cleanings were not the best. Still, I enjoyed the stay there and the game guides were awesome (James and Allen are the best!). The food was pretty good, especially the bbq night where they grill the best chicken ever! Wish the fireplace in the dining room was better ventilated so the smoke wouldn't have lingered in the room but maybe they just didn't open the flue.

The game drives were great the first day but after the second and third times out, it got a little stale. The excursions outside the property were good, and this is due in large part to the quality of the rangers who did a wonderful job taking us around. I especially liked the visit to Hluhluwe village, the school and homestead. It was great to be able to meet the residents and learn about their lifestyle.

  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2008

We purchased a 6 night stay from an auction - almost every guest did the same.

The lodge is nice, but not great. For the price that I paid, we could have stayed in a really nice, 5 star game lodge. I was very disappointed in the game drives, the room, and they nickel and dime you for every little extra -bottled water, drinks, extra activities. The extra activities were quite pricey. Six days was too long. Food was good and the people were fairly nice, but again, we could have stayed at a deluxe game lodge with better game viewing. I think that was the biggest diappointment - the game. We drove around and saw the same things over and over. It's a small reserve.

I wouldn't recommend this lodge.

  • Liked — view of the pool was nice
  • Disliked — game drives were disappointing
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Merida, Mexico
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2008

We, too, purchased our 6 night stay for two through an auction. We weren't sure what to expect, but were delighted with what we found...a beautifully built and landscaped resort. Our room was huge, including the bathroom. Animals wander onto the property, and we spent several mornings watching monkeys, nyala, warthogs, and more right outside our room. The game drives are wonderful, with elephants, zebras, giraffes, cape buffalo, warthogs, rhino, hippos, nyala, impala, and more. The staff is very helpful, and the food was fine...not gourmet, but good.
My only complaint is that they do not like you to leave the property. They don't tell you about other local things to see, such as the Al'lala (spelling?) weavers down the road, which is wonderful. Do your research before you go and plan to take a few days or half days off and do other things. We spent a day in St. Lucia and went to their beautiful beach on the Indian Ocean. Also, you don't have to book your outside events through the resort as they jack up the price beyond reason. We could have driven ourselves through Hluhluwe Game Park and saved well over 75%. Be adventurous.

  • Liked — The bed - very comfortable
  • Disliked — They do not inform you of other attractions in the area - no brochures even in the lobby
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WA
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
79 helpful votes 79 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2008

As with most everyone that stays at Zulu Nyala, we purchased this safari through an auction. For the price of the auction (we paid $2300 2 years ago) it's a decent value. The hotel is located on a beautiful hilltop with great views. The hotel is showing it's age though. No screens on the windows so we couldn't open the windows at night to cool off (bugs, bats, lizards), our air-conditioner leaked on the bed (so we never used it), and the ceiling fans were not reliable, and when they did work were noisy. However, we had a very spacious room, nice private patio, and huge bathroom. Not too many other complaints (the bedding was not very comfortable). Overall we had a good time there and the safaris were very good. The guides were very good as well (we had Norman). They could do a much better job though with the day excursions. It was a bit confusing and not well coordinated. We recommend doing the St. Lucia tour, and Phinda or other day safari trips. The staff were nice, but very reserved. Trying to get a drink at the bar was an ordeal every time and it became a topic for colorful conversation among the guests. Food was average buffet...you won't starve to death but it became a bit boring after a few days. Nothing to write home about. Overall, it was a good stay and an awesome experience to be on safari and in Africa. There are much better places to stay but it all depends on your budget as they can be very expensive. No regrets on the trip or the auction and would do it all over again, regardless of our feedback.

  • Liked — The Safari's
  • Disliked — Food, service, bedding, facility showing it's age
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, WA
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2008

My friend and I stayed three nights at the tented camp and three nights at the game lodge, which we thought was a wonderful way to go. The tented camp was much more secluded and it was wonderful to hear the wildlife at night. The game lodge was beautiful and very authentic and more conveniently located. This was our first time to Africa and we had an incredible time and look forward to travelling to other countries in the future.

What made our time at Zulu Nyala so special was our awesome ranger, Marius. For those of you who are lucky enough to get him, be ready for the trip of a lifetime. He is extremely knowledgeable about all the plants and animals, and is skilled at finding a variety of game to view. He will also get you up close and personal with the animals. Marius is the man! :)

We went to St. Lucia and the Tembe Elephant Park - both of which I would HIGHLY reccommend. If you're going to Zulu Nyala my only advice is to hope for Marius as a guide, take lots of pictures, and be prepared to have the time of your life! :)

  • Liked — Marius :)
  • Disliked — Mosquitos
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2008

As South Africans (with high expectations of a private game lodge) we found Zulu Nyala to be a smallish but delightful resort.We were met by zebra and giraffe within the first few hundred metres of entering the resort, which was utterly charming.

We had a luxury room overlooking the spectacular swimming pool, which in turn overlooks a stunning green valley. Rooms were simply but tastefully furnished in an African theme, and the bath was large & luxurious. No TV in rooms - a good thing - available in the communal area if desired. The whole lodge was also tastefully furnished, with decorative stone pathways, lush trees etc leading to the dining area and bar. These were both set up to overlook the valley and ground beneath, with viewing platforms where wildlife could be seen just below, or quiet African sunsets enjoyed over a sundowner or two.Magnificent!

Meals were served in a buffet style, encompassing both traditional South African dishes and European dishes with broad appeal. Quantity & quality of food was very good. Dinner is often preceeded by traditional Zulu dancing which is excellent. An evening visit to the neighbouring Heritage lodge is worthwhile where the ambience created by the large fire in the middle of the outdoor 'lapa style' dining area and bar can be enjoyed.The hotel offers a simple lunch snack menu, taken up by very few, as most people are out enjoying game drives or exploring the surrounding attractions during the day. To that end, on the days we stayed in the lodge, we had the lovely pool to ourselves most of the time. The lodge also has a tennis court which we made good use of - recommend you choose a cool time of day though.

Service at the Lodge is generally very good, although admittedly at a slower pace (and often in a louder style) than tourists may be used to - I felt that a bit more managerial / senior supervision would have turned 'very good' into 'excellent' eg cleaners making up rooms seemed to do them all at once, leaving cleaning materials, linen etc on verandahs right by the pool for long periods at a time , and chattering loudly to each other as they moved to and fro between all rooms in the area.

Game drives in the game lodge were very worthwhile, and the rangers really know a lot. We saw elephant, giraffe, rhino, hippo, buffalo, zebra, warthog, nyala, kudu, impala, eagles and others. We had the opportunity to walk right upto the giraffes which was truly special.There are leopards in the reserve but they are seldom seen.

A visit to the nearby Umfolozi-Hluhluwe reserve is a must - a meal or even a drink enjoying the spectacular views from Hilltop camp highly recommended. Lots of animals to see, including those mentioned above, as well as blue wildebeest, impala and some others. The curio shop just inside the Hluhluwe entrance is excellent and allows local artisans to sell their curios at fair prices - much better prices and choice than at the small hotel curio shop, and definitely worth a visit for carvings, batiks, jewellery, functional items such as dishes, bowls etc.

A visit to the St Lucia area is also worthwhile.

Overall, an extremely lovely and relaxing break - highly recommended. Just a few improvements in terms of attention to detail can be recommended, but otherwise, excellent value for money

Stayed January 2008
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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 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 #9 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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