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“Great game drives with good accomadation and good value for the cost” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Umkumbe Safari Lodge

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Umkumbe Safari Lodge
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3.5 of 5 Guest house   |   Luilekker Farm | Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Derbyshire
Top Contributor
116 reviews 116 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Great game drives with good accomadation and good value for the cost”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 1, 2012

We were at this camp September 2011 It was part of a 14 day safari booked by On Track Safaris. Our room was the last one furthest away from the main lodge. We had all sorts of game passing our room. The game drives and guide were very good we spent all one night 5 hours with a leopard wich had a kill but lost on the way up a tree.Some people came to this lodge to see the big 5 and tick the book. This is not this lodge is about. Spending time with one animal gave us a better experance. We would recommend Umkumbe to other travers.

  • Stayed September 2011, 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
    • 4 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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142 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 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 (24)
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San Francisco, California
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2011

The lodging was good and all our gripes are with the game drives. Writing this review made me think hard on how I should rate them.

The basic problem they have is that the size of the area that they can cover in game drives is very small. And, to make it worse, they don't have any tie ups with neighboring properties which really limits your game viewing experience. You should definitely NOT stay more than 2 days (3-4 game drives) as the drives will be repetitive even if you see a lot of game (which we didn't and we were there for 4 days). It got to a point where we (and others in the lodge we talked to) started skipping game drives as it was going to be thru the same path and there wasn't a lot of wildlife for us to see. We got to see 3 of the big 5 in 4 days which is pretty poor. We heard similar sentiments from a couple of other families who were there before us.

Now, the thing you need to realize is that Sabi Sands reserve overall is one of the best for Big 5 and animals are very relaxed towards the rovers used for game drives. So, you should look for another lodge on Sabi Sand is what I would recommend.

Now, over to the rest. The food was good (though not as good as at Gomo Gomo where we stayed as well), the rooms were decent as well, lodge was well maintained and it oversees a river with very little (if any) water. But we did get to see a herd of elephants pass by and the common area makes for a good place for relaxing and reading a nice book. The staff was AMAZING! and would go to lengths to cover for our needs.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bainbridge Island
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2011

We had a terrible experience here; The owners of the property packed in too many guests by shipping them in from other hotels for game drives/dinners so they didn’t personalize the experience at all. Everyone sat at separate tables and the owners sat in a small group by themselves with their family and didn’t really express any interest in getting to know visitors. We had different drivers for each of our drives and basically heard the same stories repeated over and over again (The “best” driver we had over the two days was the least experienced one who focused on educating guests). We felt that Herman, one of the owners, was very unprofessional in his demeanor with guests as he made repeated sexual innuendos/stupid jokes with guests (like lighting his lighter near the gas tank of our jeep that clearly smelled of gasoline). Other guests we met shared similar feedback with us about their experience and they were traveling with their two children. One of our four drives was led by one of Herman’s friends who was “covering” for Herman on a day when he went to Nelspruit on business. This individual had his girlfriend with him on the drive and basically spent the entire drive talking to her and “cuddling” with her rather than being professional and educating us about the area/animals. It was just all around a very poor experience and I would never, ever recommend it to anyone, not even an enemy.

Room Tip: Do not stay here
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  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scottsdale, Arizona
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2011

We spent two nights recently at Umkumbe and were generally pleased with the lodging, but disappointed with the safari drives. Umkumbe is limited to a relatively small parcel of land and as a result, drives are very repetitive and, if game are not present, there are few options for pursuit.
Lodging is comfortable with a/c rooms being a welcome comfort during the hot days of November. Our shower was very unpredictable--sometimes no water or at other times, no cold water. It was disappointing that the camp did not respond when we complained about the shower. We did learn from others that our shower problem was not unique to our room.
Umkumbe apparently has a contract or sared arrangement with other camps to provide safari services and some meals. So, although there are only a few rooms at Umkumbe, don't expect that safaris will not be crowded. We would have expected to not be crowded in vehicles based on the camp size, but that was not necessarily the case.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Frome, United Kingdom
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2011

An amazing location with plenty of game visible just from the terrace overlooking the river bed. Rooms were comfortable though not spectacular and food was average to good considering the remoteness of the location. There's no choice so if you have fussy kids make sure to take some snacks.

Our only real gripe was with the way the game drives were managed. The young ranger worked very hard, was very knowledgeable and very polite. I really enjoyed my bush-walk with him looking at all the smaller stuff you miss on the landrovers. However, a family dispute between land owners meant that neighboring reserves did not share their reserves. The amazing Malamala was off limits except with binoculars from the lodge terrace looking across the river bed (dry when we were there). Our previous two days (see review of sister lodge Nthambo Tree Camp) had 4 landrovers all communicating with each other to tell everyone where the best game was to be seen. We saw no big cats and spent a lot of time driving in silence with nothing to see. Compared to the excitement of nThambo's game drives of the two previous days this was a little bit disappointing.
As a place to relax and enjoy some game viewing from the comfort of a sun-lounger by a plunge-pool this would be hard to beat at the same price.

Room Tip: Not much to choose between. Try book the furthest from the main lodge - better views and no one walk...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Top Contributor
104 reviews 104 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 46 cities Reviews in 46 cities
107 helpful votes 107 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2011

Just back from 2 days Kruger, and 2 days Umkumbe Safari Lodge - after 30 years of Luxury Lodge experience in Africa including all the big names in Sabi Sabi. It is remarkable that hosts Herman and Celeste can offer this standard of accommodation and game viewing experience in tip top Land Rovers at this price. The game ranger, young Jason is quite the most knowledgeable ranger I have encountered in over 20 game lodge visits, and the friendly atmosphere at Umkumbe beats them all.

The Lodge is situated in the prime position in the Sabi Sands, and a quick look at the map will confirm that it is surrounded by all the top name lodges in the area. Game viewing however is dependent on pure luck and chance, and boy were we lucky!

We were fortunate to come across a leopard resting after climbing a high tree where she had hidden her kill, and watched her for several hours. After dark she made her way using the two game viewing vehicles to give her cover, a trick she had obviously used to her advantage on previous occasions. This time it was not to be - but we enjoyed the thrill of the moment and the explosion of excitement as the herd of impala she had almost succeeded in nailing, fled in every direction.

Buffalo, rhino and elephant were all viewed at close quarters, and lion were heard nearby but unfortunately not on the property so we could not follow them. The veld has turned green with the oncoming of the summer rains and the spring flowers, including the indigenous gladioli abound in a park like setting. Bird life we saw was interesting and varied.

Previous reviews complain of the food which I feel sure could be improved without adding to costs... but deal with it and enjoy the very best lodge experience South Africa has to offer. Accommodation is spotlessly clean and comfortable, and the staff friendly and obliging. The main area, where meals are taken, alongside the pool deck is situated with a most glorious panorama over the Sand River. I have scored Umkumbe a FIVE based on all it has to offer, including best value for money. If your budget is stretched, and even if it is not, look no further - this is it!

Room Tip: Request a room facing the Sand River - only ours did not, but sitting on the terrace more than made...
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  • Stayed November 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
Olympia, Washington, United States
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2011

Best safari experience ever . . . and there is more to it than the accommodation. The room was very good: comfortable bed, clean spacious room, environmentally controlled with plenty of hot water for a morning shower. Likewise with the main lodge with the dining area overlooking the river: while eating breakfast watched a herd of 20 elephants. Meals nicely complemented the outdoor safari experience, tasty and nothing fancy, breakfast included a nice diversity of stick prepared foods, dinner was more of a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal that always included a dessert worth looking forward to. Can't say enough good stuff about the service, first rate, starting with a check-in process that was nothing more than a handshake and warm greeting by Herman the owner, and ending with an unrequested car wash on the morning of departure. in between it was all about the safari. Animals were present in abundance. What really set the experience apart though was the guide: Jason, what a guy, despite his youth seemed to know it all, used sight, scent, signs and sounds to find a continuous stream of animals that Sabi Sand has present in abundance, also freely shared his knowledge, even though I'm a zoologist by training and an environmental manager by profession, I came away knowing so much more than when I showed up.

  • Stayed September 2011, 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
    • 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.
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Additional Information about Umkumbe Safari Lodge

Address: Luilekker Farm | Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Umkumbe Safari Lodge 3.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Umkumbe Safari Lodge is located in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, considered by many to be the premier wildlife reserve in South Africa. Located on the banks of the seasonal Sand River, Umkumbe Safari Lodge is perfectly situated in one of the best Big Five game viewing destinations in Africa. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Umkumbe Safari Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Umkumbe Safari Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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