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“Great value for money” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hluhluwe Umfolozi Hilltop Camp

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Hluhluwe Umfolozi Hilltop Camp
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Hluhluwe Game Reserve, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
London, UK
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Great value for money”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2012

We spent 2 nights at Hilltop in order to do some self drive game viewing. The game was amazing particularly in the southern park and the scenary was great. Our tiny hire car was adequate (not comfy) on the roads but we didn't feel we missed out on seeing the game. In one day we saw 4 of the big 5 as well as many other wonderful creatures.

We chose to stay in a 2-bed non-catered chalet which had privacy, great views and wildlife on the doorstep. The decor could be described as simple but dont be put off - it is clean, well maintained and has some nice touches.The food available there is what you'd probably expected - basic but hearty and tasty. All done at a very good price relative to the private reserves.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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73 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (15)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
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English first
Durban, South Africa
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2012

Hilltop camp is brilliant but they could really do with marketing themselves better!

The camp itself is really nice - there's a main building with reception, bar, restaurant etc and then a variety of stand alone residences spread out along a couple of roads.

Myself and my family stayed in a four bed self catering chalet - this was how it was described on the, really bad, website. What it actually was was a 2 bed detached, thatched house, with two beds, two bathrooms (one en-suite), a massive lounge/kitchen plus an outdoor deck.

We also had satellite tv plus flat screen, a safe in the bedroom, free wifi in the main building and a nice (shared) swimming pool

And all this cost less than £200 a night.

Remember - this place is in the middle of one of the oldest and best game reserves in the country - there only a fairly weedy electric fence keeping the "big five" out. We looked at smaller more exclusive options but they were charging £250 per person per night and up - at least four times as much.

Food and game drives are extra but reasonably priced. The quality of the food is surprizingly good - better than other, more expensive, lodges I've stayed at. You can also self cater easily - we went to the local town and got some provisions and did breakfast ourselves and used the BBQ provided in the chalet.

The rangers on the game drives were knowledgable and friendly too but even there you can self cater - you can drive yourself round the game reserve and we had our closest encounter with giraffe and rhino on the way back from the shops.

We found the staff friendly and helpful - by Caribbean standards they were brilliant!!!!

Couple of practical things to note....

1) Hilltop is about 15km INSIDE the game reserve and in summer the gates close at 7pm. They don't make this fact very obvious when you book online. We turned up late and thought we'd be locked out but fortunately they do let late arrivals in under escort from a ranger - however they charge 500 rand for this (about £43).

2) The reserve is huge - if you're travelling up from Durban the closest gate is nialzi on the road off from Mtubatuba. If you're running late don't go here as a) they don't let late arrivals in here and b) if you just make it in time theres a 27km drive to hilltop. So if you do just scrap in then it will be pitch dark by time you get to Hilltop. The best gate to use is Memorial gate.

3) There are a bunch of cute monkeys that inhabit the camp - cute right up to the moment they open your door and ransack your kitchen (apparently they also know how to open the fridge) - so keep your doors locked!!!!

Overall a great 4day trip - would highly recommend.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
49 hotel reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
66 helpful votes 66 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2012 via mobile

I hate to break with the overwhelmingly positive reviews of this place, but I'm afraid I was a little disappointed. Yes, the view from the top is lovely but (a) the whole place has a slightly impersonal government-run feel to the place (partly but not wholly a function of its size); (b) it seems that much of the game has headed to the sister park in the south; and (c) I don't think its all that good value once three meals a day, park charges game drives at 300 rand pp are added to the bill (even the guided walks, which I recommend, are 250 rand pp). The park itself is stunning, and there really are stacks of rhino, but we preferred our time in Ithala and Tembe. And if you are heading to this neck of the woods I'd give some thought to staying in the Umpholozi (sp?) lodge rather than here if the movement of game southwards is something other than seasonal.

  • Stayed January 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Clarita, California
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2012

Booked into the Mtwazi Lodge as there were a group of us not quite knowing what to expect. Imagine our surprize when we drove past all the rondavels & bungalows to find our lodge was this huge residence at the end of a private road, complete with its own garden, additional cottage and live-in cook! Morning & afternoon visitors of monkey & buck were a welcome treat as we sat outside on the outdoor patio enjoying our coffee & drinks. Laying out watching the stars at night, swimming in the nearby pool & going on the early morning game drives made our holiday complete

Room Tip: For a larger group I would recommend the Mtwazi Lodge
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  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • 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
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Perth, Australia
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2011

We stayed at the main lodge at Hluhluwe - that came with a cook/ housekeeper. What a pleasure it was to have someone else cook our meals exactly as we wanted them! Monkeys were a bit of a pest as they are in Zululand! Don't leave your windows open or they will steal your dried fruit as they did to us!
Lovely colonial lifestyle, a must for every visitor to South Africa!

The game viewing is spectacular,
We can highly recommend the early morning game drives.
its also nice having a swimming pool to cool off on the sweltering days!

  • Stayed October 2011
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florida
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 13, 2011

We stayed at Hilltop in late November, the equivalent of late May in the northern hemisphere. A couple of days - just a couple - were rainy, and it got very cold. Like most visitors, we saw four of the Big Five there - all but the leopard - plus a lot of other animals. Because someone forgot to close - or perhaps just lock - a balcony door, Vervet monkeys invaded one of our chalets and raided the kitchen. Despite the initial shock and inconvenience, watching them turned out to be more fun than, well, a barrel of monkeys.

We saw a lot more animals driving around the area on our own than on the guided game drives, perhaps because we had more freedom to drive into the southern part of the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserve, and for as long as we wanted. I recommend buying a guidebook-with-map at the H-U gate and taking one guided game drive to get your bearings. This is not to say the human guides were not knowledgeable or entertaining. They were; we just did not encounter as many animals on those three-hour drives. One risk of going on your own is the possibility of having to get out of your car to change a flat tire, as happened to us, but nothing attacked us.

We found the accommodations adequate and, at approximately $150 per bedroom per night in a self-catered two-bedroom chalet, less expensive than many other options. The food at the restaurant was good.

The merchandise at the "curio shop," as at the craft centers inside the reserve, was pretty, and less expensive than in larger stores in, say, Cape Town. This is a good place to find Zulu objects and literature you won't find in other provinces. As many others have pointed out, if you plan to do your own cooking, buy food before you get to the reserve, as not much is sold here.

Most of the staff was quite friendly, but they seem to be bound by tight rules. Whatever the reason, they couldn't solve our problems, e.g., there was no way we could cancel our prepaid game drives, even days in advance. ("You can cancel them, but you still have to pay for them," was one polite reply.)

Budget for the daily "conservation fee" that gets added to your bill, and about which you are nicely but constantly bugged until you pay up. It was 110 rands per person per day when we were there.

All in all, we had a great, exciting time at Hilltop and would definitely go back.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Geneva-Switzerland
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2011

On a cold and rainy october day we arrived half an hour before "official" check-in time and although the resort was far from being full, we could not check-in and were totally ignored. No welcome drink or anything else.
The room was big. Hot water worked, just don't look at the color of the water. View? We had only fog.
The game drive was spectaculor and we spent 45 minutes observing 3-month old lion cubs playing at dusk.
On arriving back to the lodge at 8pm after the game drive, a lot of things were already missing in the diner buffet.
Good choice for breakfast.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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 Hluhluwe Umfolozi Hilltop Camp

Address: Hluhluwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 hotels in Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hluhluwe Umfolozi Hilltop Camp 3.5*
Also Known As:
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Hilltop Camp Hotel Hluhluwe Game Reserve

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