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“Wonderful 'Hatari' Feeling at its best” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Umkumbe Safari Lodge

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Umkumbe Safari Lodge
3.5 of 5 Guest house   |   Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Frankfurt, Germany
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Wonderful 'Hatari' Feeling at its best”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

My first stay is at Umkumbe Lodge. It is probably the most simple and basic stay you can get in Sabi Sands, but actually my most favorite. It is right between Mala Mala and Sabi Sabi two of the probably most expensive locations in South Africa. Oh and yes, there are no heated toilet seats, but: It’s cool and you will get this wonderful ‘Hatari’ feeling. Jason and Oliver are also doing a great job as rangers there!

Life and daily routine on Safari
5:00: The ranger must die! You are tired, it is dark and actually there is no real reason to wake up so early.
5:30: Throw in some rooibos tea
6:00: Of to the early morning game drive
9:00-10:00: Back for breakfast
10:30-15:30 Roll to the pool and do a little bit of nothing (Bush TV)
16:00: Of to the late afternoon game drive
18:00: Sundowner
20:00: Dinner in a boma
21:00 – open end: Fun with other guests fighting the bar resources

...you will love it!

  • Stayed October 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.
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89 people have reviewed this hotel

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    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 (17)
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English first
London
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2013

We had a great time staying at this lodge for 2 nights in January. The game drives were excellent and Jason (the guide) really went above and beyond to ensure we found everything there was to find in the bush. the rooms were compfortable, the staff friendly and the food good and plentiful.
We would 100% recommend this place and will hopefully be back ourselves in the not so distant future.

  • Stayed January 2013, 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.
Melbourne, Australia
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2013

First time visit to Africa and a game reserve and didn't really know what to expect but had a great time, the visit was made special by the guides Oliver and Jason, great guys, patient with lots of knowledge and information. We had 4 nights here, staying in a brand new bungalow (number 12 I think it was), which is really comfortable. We lucked out and saw the Big 5 on our first 2 game drives, which we were told was really unusual, so felt lucky. Given there's no guarantees about when and where the animals appear, to see that much was great. Plus, lots of giraffes, zebras, baboons, hyena, impala, kudo etc. We saw elephants everyday and lots of rhinos. Really comfortable place, food was good although maybe a little light on for the lunches, the staff especially to two guides I mentioned made the stay really memorable, nothing was too much trouble. Would definitely recommend, and to see the animals the key really is, the more game drives you do, the more chance you will have of seeing them.

Room Tip: Room 12 is new!
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Top Contributor
127 reviews 127 reviews
64 hotel reviews
Reviews in 67 cities Reviews in 67 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2012

We have recently enjoyed 3 nights at Umkumbe Safari Lodge. We have been to lodges in and around Kruger many times and chose Umkumbe because we wanted an authentic bush experience, with game drives and food provided. It is a lovely spot, with a fantastic outlook on to a river bed, where we frequently saw buffalo, elephant and other animals. The rooms are clean and quite comfortable, and the food is hearty and tasty. The game drives were good. I wouldn't recommend this lodge for someone wanting luxury accommodation and gourmet meals, but it is a good place for people who enjoy chilling in the bush and want a cut above the more basic lodges in Kruger. It is good value compared to similar lodges.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Franklin, Tennessee
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2012

I had a short two nights here and Loved every minute. The game drives were excellent the accomodations were clean and comfortable with ac. The honor bar was appreciated in the society of mis-trust we live in now. It was an incredible deal in comparison to the other Sabi resorts!

  • Stayed August 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2012

My boyfriend and I stayed for 4 nights and had an amazing time! It is a very simple, cozy lodge with beautiful scenery. While there are only 6 rooms, the lodge is pretty spread out and there is plenty of space so you never feel crowded. Do not stay at Umkumbe if you are hoping to spend your time watching TV or plan to have a personal butler provided by the lodge to cater to your every need. Stay at Umkumbe if you are hoping to have a more intimate experience with nature, where your down time is spent watching the animals that come near the lodge, reading books, and meeting fellow travelers.

Rooms: The rooms are simple, but clean. They have heating and air conditioning, hot water with good pressure, and a comfortable king-sized bed. The rooms were actually cleaned and tidied up twice a day, which was a bonus.

Food: The food was good and always served family buffet style, which I thought was great. Dinner even included a campfire! Breakfast included toast, butter and jam, yogurt, granola, fruit, eggs, ham, bacon, etc. Lunch was usually sandwiches and fruit or salad. Dinner was usually a meat dish (steak, pot roast, chicken) with plenty of vegetable sides, salad, bread, and a dessert. There was a vegetarian traveler while we were there who said her vegetarian meals were always very good.

People: The way the lodge is laid out makes you feel like you are part of a community and everyone was very friendly to us. The rangers Jason and Oliver were very knowledgeable, friendly, and always helpful. There wasn't a single question we asked that wasn't answered and I was actually shocked they weren't annoyed by the amount of questions I was asking them all day long about the animals, plants, bugs, etc. Really great guys! I also thought the owners were very friendly, as they would come out and talk to us during the day and were very accommodating. The owners even helped us book a tour in Cape Town while we were there, which I thought was very nice of them.

Game drives: As with any safari, the animals you see are not guaranteed. Some drives you see mostly impala and bushbuck, some drives you may see all of the big 5. Unfortunately, each of the Sabi Sands lodges is limited to their land for the drives, meaning if there is a lion roaring in Sabi Sabi, we can't cross over (but the same would be true for Sabi Sabi if the lion were in Umkumbe land). But the good thing is the animals move around, so you might end up 5 feet away from that lion on your next drive! I felt like there was still plenty of terrain to cover on each drive, though (we saw more animals than we could have ever imagined ... even a cheetah!!), and the politics of the area were actually really interesting and entertaining.

My suggestion would be to stay as long as you can! The more drives/walks you can go on, the better your chance of seeing awesome, elusive animals. I was never bored for a moment and would have loved to have stayed for another 4 (or more) nights if we could. We were very sad to leave! But also remember your fellow travelers really contribute to your enjoyment. With only 6 rooms, you end up feeling like part of a little family during your stay, so it's great to meet new people. Please don't be that awkward group that doesn't interact with anyone else!

Packing suggestions: Invest in a good camera with a good zoom lens (up to 200/300 mm or so); point and shoots don’t usually cut it because sometimes, the animals are at a distance (esp. by the lodge), and it is great to get nice close-ups of them. Also, bring clothes in neutral colors (tan/army green) for the bush walks; this really does affect how close you can get to the animals! If packing for a winter trip, be prepared for the bitter cold in early mornings and nights and the heat in the afternoon (so, truly pack for four seasons)!

Room Tip: I think all the rooms are the same and all close together, but there is no room service or a fitness...
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  • Stayed August 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
virginia
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2012 via mobile

My daughter and I enjoyed our too brief stay. This is a small, family owned and operated lodge that is NOT a luxury operation. It is clean and comfortable, meals are abundant and well-prepared but not fancy, you collect your own drinks from the honor bar and the owners treat you like visiting friends. Guides can't produce wild animals on demand! Jason knows and loves his job and gives you so much information about what you're seeing. And the location overlooking the river is amazing. I'd stay here again in a heartbeat.

Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
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 Umkumbe Safari Lodge

Address: Kruger National Park, South Africa
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*
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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