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“Gotta Get Back to Thanda!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Thanda Private Game Reserve

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Thanda Private Game Reserve
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   D242 off the N2, Hluhluwe 3960, South Africa   |  
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Houston, Texas
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Gotta Get Back to Thanda!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 19, 2012

WOW! Amazing! Incredible! How many more ways can I say it? Glamping (glam+camping) in the luxury tents at Thanda was beyond our expectations. Can you imagine being so up close and personal to lions, zebras, and giraffes? One day, a herd of elephants even made their way up to our lodge to drink water out of the tub! If it sounds like it's a luxury petting zoo, it is not! You definitely know you are in the wild and it's a rush when you are out on a game drive. We loved our experience, especially the people there ... Lianna, our host, was exceptional ... making sure that we were taken care of from the time we first stepped off the jeep to the farewell hugs when we reluctantly had to leave. We cannot say enough about Etienne and Xolani (our driver&tracker); they were so knowledgeable and went out of their way to show and teach us about the Big 5 as well as the other animals/plants on the reserve. One day, we tracked a herd of rhinos for 2 hours thinking it may be a lost cause, but Xotani found them! We learned he is certified as one of the best trackers in the country! The staff, overall, was so personable and helpful. The group of six I traveled with collectively agree that this has to be the BEST trip we have ever experienced. You will not go wrong with Thanda -- the surreal, yet intimate experience is beyond words. We can't stop looking at our incredible photos ... hoping that we will get another opportunity to visit our friends at Thanda.

Room Tip: The only very minor complaint we could think of is the trouble we had with no electricity in Tent 3...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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232 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (59)
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English first
Northampton, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2012

Thanda is simply a stunning place and very much worth a visit and a return visit. The lodge is a work of art and the chalets are huge. My open plan chalet had a lounge area, bedroom. separate bathroom and WC. Outside there is a shower, decking, plunge pool and thatched solarium. The food served was perfect and my loin of kudu was perfect. On our game drives we saw so much, including, lions on a fresh zebra kill and cheetahs. Muzi our guide and Zakes our tracker were excellent. On our evening drive our sundowner stop was a bush bar. Lanterns marked the pathway to two large open camp fires where the lodge staff had set up a rustic open air bar, complete with snacks! Thank you to all at Thanda for a wonderful time

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled solo
    • 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai
Top Contributor
62 reviews 62 reviews
59 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 1, 2012

Stayed for one night at Thanda and its was fantastic, saw the big 5 only in one day, small reserve with high touch of details, Rooms are villas big and 5 stars and not far from Durban airport, just 2.5 hours drive and you are in the big 5 reserve :) truly outstanding service from the staff.
will come back again.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Waterford, Connecticut
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2012

We visited Thanda in the first week of June 2012. Our time at Thanda turned a great trip to South Africa into the most spectacular vacation we ever tookl Upon arriving at the reserve, the day after my husband had run Comrades, we met a lioness within 10 minutes on our drive from the gate to check-in at the lodge. What a thrill! We continued to see lions everyday therafter during our dawn and evening drives. Our driver, Willard and tracker, Wynert, took us on a grand adventure every day where we got up close to elephant, lion, rhino, cape buffalo, and, cheeta, and many other exotic animals. One night we even tracked down a lioness who just had her fill of a warthog. Another day we found ourselves in the middle of lions fighting over territory - amazing - I still hear the roars.

We have the highest paise for the staff at Thanda. Five star all around . Roy, Tommy, Promise, so many - the best. We indulged with excellent massages at the spa courtesy of Nehro. She is a very skilled massage therapist. We also did the cheetah and elephant interactive which we recommend.

We , like many on this site, received an upgrade to a villa (villa 1) due the renovations of the tents - pure luxury! although everyday was so full with activities we did not spend much time in our villa! The food was excellent, whether in the Boma, at the lodge, on our drives, or breakfast and dinner in the bush (which will always bring special memories). I will never forget having a glass of wine under the stars of a beautiful night sky of Africa while out on a drive. We were sad to leave and hope very much to return. A special thank you to Dulcie. We love Thanda

  • Stayed June 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Antonio, TX
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2012

We spent three nights at Thanda last week and were blown away! We arrived late because the airline had lost our bags. When we were on our drive, we heard that we had been upgraded from the tents to the villa. Not really knowing what the difference was since we were halfway around the world from our home, we were great with it. When we arrived, our driver and tracker met us at the gate for our drive into the lodge. And the fun started already! On the drive we saw a lion and a jennet and it wasn't even a planned drive.

We got there on the first night just in time for a great dinner. It wasn't the Texas size plates we were used to but the food was good that night. The staff was absolutely over the top amazing. Always at the beck and call of our needs, I couldn't finish a glass of water without a refill. I wish waiting staff would be as courteous here in the states. Roy was wonderful as our porter and worked overly hard to make sure we were taken care of.

The first morning we woke to some visitors that were not expected. The night had been a strange cold snap even for winter and the ants in the roof of the villa had apparently froze and fallen. I was a bit freaked out but the staff quickly moved us while we were on the morning drive, placing everything we had spread out over the room into a new villa in the exact same place. The rest of the nights were great!

The drives were incredible. The driver, Willard, and the tracker, Willet, worked very well together and tried to balance the drives that everyone was on where everyone regardless of the day they arrived got to see as many of the wildlife as possible. We saw the Big 4, minus the leopard, and they worked HARD for those rhinos and elephants. There was no following a road or a fence to find those creatures. Willet tracked grass, tracks, dung to find the rhinos after an hour of looking. They were about as far off the road as you could get and from the pics below you can tell Willard worked magic getting the vehicle in there close. The elephants were similar and more than one tracker was working on finding them. We got treat of the elephants scaling several acres at a full gallop for a watering spot and then a test of male dominance.

We didn't get just a drive by of different animals, we got to see animal behavior. We followed a lion after her kill to see what she did to hide it from other predators that were hanging around. We don't have the ability to visit other reserves in Africa so we have no comparison in the states. However, you never get to see these things in zoos here.

The people at the lodge were gracious and always asked how things were going. When we needed something, we called up and it was done. Even things that we didn't expect. When they came in the morning to clean, clothes left on the bed were folded and laid on suitacases. After the incredible bush dinner complete with the Zulu dancers, we returned to a wonderful romantic evening.

I loved the villa. I think the thing I appreciated the most was that unlike one of the other reserves we attended for the elephant interaction, the fact the villas are free range is wonderful. You can have wildlife of all kinds visiting your doorstep at any time. We had Nyala, warthogs, kudus right outside the gazebo in the middle of day and at night.

My only suggestion that we could come up with is that someone works with the cook on the shrimp and risotto. Both were overcooked to the point of mush. But the dessert that night was a great rescue on that.

Sal and I both enjoyed ourseves immensely and were so sad to leave that morning. Thank you for the vacation of a lifetime. It will be hard beat this summer's holiday.

Room Tip: We had villa 7, the last on the trail. You could hear the road traffic to the lodge (not a big deal...
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  • Stayed June 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 6, 2012

I spent two nights and three days in the tented camp last week.
it was my first visit to Africa and my first safari.
The tent was beyond my expectations, better beds than at home! The real shower loo and basins were divine.
The staff were local people who were warm welcoming and very attentive. The food was very good and far better than expected while camping.
The safaris were out of this world. The 6am was worth getting up for! We had Trueman as our guide and Dumi as our tracker. We laughed so much while tracking and seeing Leopards, elephants, cheaters, zebras, rhinos, buffalo, lions, wildebeest, impala,giraffe and many more.
Superb experience highly recommended!

  • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2012

We have visited Thanda in December, 2011. Very welcome athmosphere, and fantastic villas. In our villa we had living room, bedroom, fireplace, private terrase with the pool - everything you can dream about. As we are a coule everyone thought that we were on our honeymoon, and one day we have found a houndreds of rose-leaves in bedroom and bathroom, champagne... You always feel very personal touch in this hotel.
And safary was fantastic! We have seen a lot of animals, especially we were proud to see gepards.
And the SPA - it's amazing! We had massage and pedicure with hot stones, very professional, very high level.
It's surely one of the best hotel we ever stayd in!

  • Stayed December 2011, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Thanda Private Game Reserve

Address: D242 off the N2, Hluhluwe 3960, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand > Hluhluwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 27 Specialty Lodging in Hluhluwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Thanda Private Game Reserve 5*
Number of rooms: 29
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Thanda Private Game Reserve is situated 23km north of Hluhluwe in northern Zululand, South Africa, and is set on a 14 000-hectare Big Five private game reserve. Thanda, meaning 'love' in Zulu, unites romance and exclusivity with Zulu culture and wildlife. The nine luxury bush suites at Thanda Safari Lodge have private infinity pools, viewing decks, private salas, lounges, fireplaces and full bathrooms with both indoor and outdoor showers. The individual bomas at each suite offer guests dining privacy. The public facilities at Thanda Safari Lodge include a lounge, library, dining room, boma, dining deck, wine cellar, cigar bar, fully equipped business centre and viewing decks. Villa iZulu can accommodate 10 people, offering accommodation as a unit of five separate suites. Each suite is individually decorated and very private, with own viewing deck. Public facilities at Villa iZulu include a boma, library, cellar, business area, heated pool and a magnificent deck overlooking a waterhole. Thanda Tented Camp is built in colonial safari style, offering an authentic bush experience in 15 tents. The tents have viewing decks and en-suite canvass bathrooms. Public facilities at Thanda Tented Camp include a dining tent, a boma area, and a sala consisting of an 'open-air' lounge and a 10x5m rim-flow pool. The Jabula Tent, located within Thanda Tented Camp, offers a sophisticated mix of romance, privacy and refined comfort in the heart of the African bush. It features a king-sized bed in a spacious bedroom, and a comfortable separate lounge area for relaxation. A highlight of Jabula Tent is the outdoor shower and splash pool which has spectacular panoramic views of the 14000-hectare reserve. Thanda's award-winning spa offers treatments such as aromatherapy and massages using African essential oils in a base of shea butter and the 'Instinctive by Nature' and 'Dermalogica' ranges. Safaris in open game viewing vehicles are conducted exclusively for Thanda guests on the low-risk malaria reserve. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Thanda Private Game Reserve Hotel Hluhluwe

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