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“EXCEEDED our expectations...by far” 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   |   Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“EXCEEDED our expectations...by far”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2013

My husband and I did A LOT of research for our south africa trip and safari, so we had it pin-pointed to exactly what we were looking for (in this order):
1. Chances of seeing the Big Five and ability to drive off road to get closer to animals
* this lead us to wanting to choose a top reserve as opposed to the limited road driving of Kruger Park, falling upon Sabi Sands as the highest rated...so we went for it
2. Value: we wanted to be in the most expensive game reserve, so we were concerned about not going over our budget for our trip and did lots of research on lodges
3. Comfort of the lodge: we didn't need a Ritz Carleton, but we are not backpackers anymore...or never really were so we do need comfortable sleeping space, safe, beautiful setting and air conditioner for the husband and a pool situation for me

After knowing what we were looking for and all of our choices of lodges in front of us in the Sabi Sands game reserve, we reviewed all reviews in books, online and talking to friends. We booked Umkumbe and it was the best choice we could have dreamed of. According to what we were looking for, here is what we found:
1. Big Five: Yes, we saw them all. And then some. Our guides tracked Leopards...and found one...then found lions eating a Waterbuck...hyenas holding a carcass...group of 40 elephants, giraffs, zebras...our stories go on. Our game drive guide, Jason whom was with us for all drives plus we would have 1 more for evening drives to be the front light spotter, was OUTSTANDING. We travel quite a bit for a younger couple and spend a lot of time outdoors, so feel we know more than the average joe in regards to animal life, plants, etc...but man did we have so many questions for Jason that he knew ALL of the answers to and gave us in depth knowledge throughout the drives. I feel I could write a book and become a game drive guide myself after spending time with him and the other guides (in theory...). They were all so pationate, you could tell this was what they gave their lives too and completely loved the land, animals and plants. I feel I saw the world on this 3 night stay.
2. Value: This isn't exactly cheap in terms of lodging, but in terms of what it offers it is such a remarkable deal. The food was extrememly well done (and I am picky), healthy, lots of options and way too much food but very fresh. If you stay somewhere outside of the reserve and want to just 'book 1 drive' you are wasting your time and money. By the time you stay somewhere else, book a drive, drive to the reserve...blah blah, it is a waste - we so many people do this and wish they would have just stayed at Umkumbe - they were curious how we found out about such a perfect place (when people booked a drive, they stayed for dinner and we got to spend time with them) because a travel agent had booked them at a hotel an hour drives away. They didn't save money like they thought they would.
3. Lodge: I don't know how anyone reviewing Umkumbe can not give this place full 5 stars, it is gorgeous, absolute oasis. We were put in the newest lodge and it was remarkable, outside shower...huge...in the morning the sun coming up was right there across the entire wall of windows. The lodge itself was picture perfect, calming and the exact thing you want on vacation and in between drives. All of the employees are so happy, helpful and fun to be around. Nothing was ever too much and they were always just a joy to be around.

To summarize, I do not review very often but felt overly compelled to give Umkumbe the credit it deserves and since I use reviews so often. This is the glorious African Safari we always dreamed of and Umkumbe blew our mind away. I wish we would have had more time there to soak it all in. We will forever have these memories and hope to get back someday with family and friends.

  • Stayed March 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
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93 people have reviewed this hotel

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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)
Date | Rating
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English first
Brighton, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2013

I've been on safari in Kenya & in South Africa before coming to this lodge, which we hoped would have fantastic wildlife due to the riverside setting in the Sabi Sands. Unfortunately we weren't too lucky with the animals we saw but appreciate that's just how it goes sometimes. The game drives were ok, we felt we had to ask lots of questions to get full interaction with the guides otherwise it was very quiet & we didn't get much information.
We found the rooms a bit shabby, I understand in the bush its going to be somewhat basic, but concrete floors, furniture where the drawers are hanging off and bedside lights that had questionable electrics aren't great (room 4). Also we felt the mosquito net was for a single not a double bed.
All in all we felt it was average, and maybe we expected too much based on how the lodge was sold to us.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
Frankfurt, Germany
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
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.
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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London
Top Contributor
127 reviews 127 reviews
64 hotel reviews
Reviews in 67 cities Reviews in 67 cities
55 helpful votes 55 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
58 reviews 58 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
20 helpful votes 20 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.

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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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