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“Spotty, without four legs” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Makalali Private Game Lodge

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Makalali Private Game Lodge
4.0 of 5 Lodge   |   PO Box 809, Hoedspruit, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
los gatos, ca
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“Spotty, without four legs”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2013

Our arrival from another camp was a bit late, so the camp manager, Dave, rushed us into the bush truck without offering lunch. We had been on the road six hours and he finally relented, giving us the lunch that had been prepared for us and must have been sitting in the kitchen. Off we went and had a great drive, with rhinos, elephants along the river, giraffes, and the usual impalas, etc. on the way back, we even spotted a small pride of lions. Next day's morning drive featured a recent kill by three lions, which was terrific. After that we saw almost nothing for 5 straight drives. Maybe just terrible luck, but we would have been much better off just enjoying camp. Another problem was that the ranger had scheduled destinations, such as a sunset viewing, and because he was late, we had to endure 10 minutes of bone jarring travel. On the good side, rooms were fantastic and food very good. Some game came onto grounds, which was fun.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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159 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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 (26)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Brisbane, Australia
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2013

We did a Safari Tour in May 2013 and Makalali Private Game Lodge was certainly the number one stand-out place.

The rooms are just perfect, luxurious with a great African feel. The food was amazing and the game drives were just awesome. A BIG shout-out to Laurence who was just such a great guy and very good ranger. He really made Makalali especially memorable.

The grounds were also lovely, with a very picturesque pool. There are some photos of the grounds, pool and room attached as well as a couple of highlight snaps taken when Laurence took us out on the grounds.

Really I just loved Makalali and would entirely recommend a visit there.

  • Stayed May 2013, 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ConsultantSafari, Manager at Makalali Private Game Lodge, responded to this review, July 15, 2013
Lawrence is and has always been such a great Ranger at Makalali! His knowledge is extensive and his charming personality makes him so good with guests. I am glad that he contributed to your experience at Makalali.

Thank you for your photos. I am sure they help to persuade other Tripadvisor users to come and expereince Makalali for themselves. Your great review of us will also help!

We would love to welcome you back to Makalali in the future for the same quality experience.

Kind Regards
Lana Botes
Makalali Private Game Lodge
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Berlin
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 14, 2013

We went to Makalali for our first Safari in Africa. We werent prepared much and started with just our backpacks. It turned out as one oif the best trips we ever made. The Rangers did get us right close to all animals we anted to see. Two game drives daily over 3 days gave us the opportunity to see the big five. The lodge had a lot of charme and excellent service. Our room provided a safari feeling with its fireplace they started for us every evening as well as outside showers. The food they cooked was excellent. We have been there in late May, so winter time started.... In the evening times and early morning the staff did escort us from our room to the restaurant place for safety reasons as in the night time time elafants or Rhinos were coming through the lodge occasionally. We would highly recommend it for adults or families with kids >10years. For smaller kids this is not the o9ptimum place as you would have to watch out what they are doing.

Room Tip: The rooms are great for couples or singles, but not optimum for families
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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.
ConsultantSafari, Manager at Makalali Private Game Lodge, responded to this review, July 15, 2013
Thank you for your great comments. We always appreciate it.

Seeing the Big 5 is always such a great experience and creates memories that last a lifetime! The firepalce and the outside shower create a lot of charm and the fact that you enjoyed that is very good to hear.

The staff go out of their way to make our guests feel at home and it is very rewarding for them to know that their efforts do not go unnoticed.

May your Makalali experience be one that you talk about for years to come.

Kind Regards
Lana Botes
Makalali Private Game Lodge
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palmerston North, New Zealand
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2013

We stayed at Makalali for 3 days & it was the best 3 days ever. A huge thanks to all the great staff, their service was amazing and they thought of every detail, the food and service was amazing. High five to our game driver & tracker Derrick & Moosa you guys were superb & a big tick on seeing the Big 5 Thanks!! The accommodation is superb and the animals are literally on your doorstep.

  • Stayed May 2013, 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ConsultantSafari, Manager at Makalali Private Game Lodge, responded to this review, July 15, 2013
We are very glad that you enjoyed your stay with us, we were very happy to have you as our guests.

Thank you for the great comments on the staff and especially Derrick and Moosa, it is always good for them to get such positive feedback!

We hope to welcome you back to Makalali in the future and hope that we will always be your preferred game destination in South Africa.

Kind Regards
Lana Botes
Makalali Private Game Lodge
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Verbier
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2013

Luckily, I happened to have one of the best game sighting of my trip while at Makalali. Great place to stay, great team. It is not full on luxury like other places one can find in SA, but it is definitively one of the best value for your wallet.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled on business
    • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

Of course I gave it 5 stars – safaris are an amazing experience and it seems like everyone who goes on one gives their lodge top reviews. I have to say, that made it incredibly difficult to compare options while I was planning my trip. But with some help of a few friends who have a little more experience with safaris, I’ll tell you why I think Makalali turned out to be a great choice:

1. You say in individual huts rather than a room within a bigger lodge. This was high on the list of advice I received and makes a big difference. The huts are spread out over a few different camps and felt really private. The huts themselves were a good size and everything was clean and well maintained, the bed was comfortable, and I loved the outdoor shower. I also think they make an effort to assign camps thoughtfully – we were with a few other couples around our age and passed one jeep that seemed to have an older crew and another with more kids. I’m not sure if this was intentional, but the guides told us, at least, that they try to keep the families with kids together.

2. The food was really good. And they feed you constantly. We’d have coffee/tea and biscuits before heading out for the morning drive and we’d stop somewhere along that drive for cookies and more coffee. Then, we’d have a big breakfast when we got back to the camp – eggs made-to-order, fresh fruit, breads, etc. We stopped around sundown for drinks and light snacks (samosas, popcorn, chips, etc.) on the evening drive. My favorite was when dinner was out in the boma. There was always a soup, some sort of appetizer, and then a wide selection of meats and grilled veggies and dessert. No complaints.

3. The trackers knew what they were doing. I feel like we worked really hard for each animal, driving around tracking them. But when we turned the corner and finally saw them it was unbelieveable – my highlight was the last day when we watched a group of 7 lions (two moms and 5 cubs) hunting for their next meal. I was also fascinated to watch the trackers in action and learn more about how they read the tracks and animal behaviors. My friend has been on a few other safaris so I will take her word for it when she said that while the sighting we had were not as numerous as her time in Tanzania, the quality of each sighting was stupendous. We saw 4 of the Big 5 – if I were to do it again, I may choose a different time of year as the brush was really thick and our odds of spotting a leopard were pretty low.

On top of all that, the price was about half of what we saw listed for comparable properties. Overall, it's a great deal.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 5, 2013

My wife and I spent three (sometimes noisy--as expected) nights there in mid-February. We went on 6 game drives and saw the big 5 and 20+ more. Our ranger/driver and spotter/guide were awesome, well-informed, great-natured and very patient with the critters and us, sometimes whacky humans. It seemed to be baby time in the bush for we saw little lions, zebra and elephants during our drives. Many hushed "ohs" and "ahs." The food was great and the changing settings for our meals were creative, photogenic and truly natural. We even had a wart hog living under our deck where we had breakfast...no he/she did not say "hakuna matata," but it would have been appropriate. We lacked for nothing with fantastic service and a very helpful and friendly staff. For Valentine's Day our room was bedecked with flowers, candles and an air of romance. Just grand! We would go back in a heartbeat, all the way from Portland, Oregon.

Room Tip: Our bungalow and deck overlooked a stream with hippos at night and critter traffic during the day...
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  • Stayed February 2013, 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.
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Additional Information about Makalali Private Game Lodge

Address: PO Box 809, Hoedspruit, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Hoedspruit
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #17 of 84 Specialty Lodging in Hoedspruit
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Makalali Private Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 24
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Makalali Private Game Hotel Hoedspruit

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