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“Great Time!!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Cheetah Plains

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Cheetah Plains
Sabi Sand Game Reserve | Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Scott, Louisiana
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Great Time!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2012

Just getting back from our Safari in South Africa. Our first stay was at Cheetah Plains and we were beyond pleased with the place. They've just completed a remodel (I've been following their Facebook page for the past few months) and everything looked great.

The lodge area is beautiful, with a bar and stools, along with other very comfy lounge furniture. I spent most afternoons here, resting from the morning drives and sipping on a coke or a nice glass of wine. Wifi worked great so I was able to load up pics to my Facebook and share with family back home.

The rooms are very nice; beds are super comfortable. Sleep was not a problem. Rooms were clean; they have on-demand hot water tanks in each room that ensured everyone got that much needed hot shower after game drives. Our rooms were serviced each morning and we had bed turn-down in the evenings. Our clothes were washed - we'd leave in the morning and in the evening, they were left on our beds, pressed and folded. This at no charge.

Game drives with Justin were FANTASTIC! We saw the two brother Cheetah's the very first afternoon! After the boys went their way, we all prepared to start off again...only to look up and see a herd of elephants coming our way! Moms and babies! I got some great pictures and learned so much about the animals from Justin. Very fun and educational. We met Andrew, the other guide, and he is an absolutely wonderful man. He and my husband enjoyed several conversations at the dinner table!

As for the complaints about the "no bush walks," this is true but we were well aware of this before we arrived. We have followed this thread, along with their Facebook page. Bush walks will resume at Cheetah Plains but NOT until the government gives them the proper licensing to do Bush walks. In order to do Bush walks, you MUST carry a weapon. In order to carry that weapon, you MUST have the proper licensing from the government. Cheetah Plains has done everything necessary to get that licensing; now they must wait on the government. As we did a Bush walk at another lodge, it wasn't a big thing for us. And because Justin got us "right up in the animals," even if we hadn't done a Bush walk, we were extremely satisfied with the animal interaction we had. We were able to see everything except the Leopard, along with a lot of the "middle" five. :-)

Food at Cheetah Plains is, simply put, delicious. The two Chefs there are locals and really do a good job of putting some top notch dishes on the table. Chef Eunice has a Butternut Soup recipe that is to "kill for." I actually got her to give me the recipe!

The service at Cheetah Plains is nothing less than excellent. We had a young couple with us who had a mid-morning departure. They would have had to miss morning ride but Justin got with us and okayed a plan to return to camp by 9am to drop them off and then we headed back out. A few days later, they did the same for us....even had our breakfast made early!

One of the most interesting things we did here was actual "tracking" of a Lion. Justin would follow the prints and explain what was going on, how he knew the prints were fresh, etc. Between him and Andrew, they were able to find the Pride of Lions!

Leaving Cheetah Plains was very difficult.....we had a very good experience and wonderful bonding with the staff. We left with new friends. I sure hope, when we return to South Africa next year, we can at least come to spend one night here and see our dear friends again.

  • Stayed August 2012, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amanda V, Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, October 9, 2012
Hi Becky,

Thank you for your lovely review, we really appreciate it. Everyone at the lodge was so pleased to read it. They all loved spending time with you and Day during your visit. We are really happy that we could do our part to ensure that your first safari was a very memorable experience.

Please do stay in touch with us, we would love to hear from you, Justin and Andrew give us regular updates on their gameviewing and latest sightings for our Facebook pages, so we can share it with all our friends who are far from the bush. We do hope that we will be able to welcome you back again to Cheetah Plains soon!

Wild wishes,
Amanda Vermeulen
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Rating summary
  • Location
    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 (21)
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English first
Johannesburg, South Africa
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 15, 2012

I agree with everything James outlined in his April 16th review, we have just returned - August09-12, 2012. Big disappointment that there were no bush walks as advertised. In Amanda's response to James she said that this would be addressed and taken from the website, nothing yet! The photos in the promotional material do not correctly portray the facilities - the camera has been very, very kind. Look at other bush camps before making a decision to stay at Cheetah Plains.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Amanda V, Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, August 19, 2012
We have been in direct correspondence with this guest, to personally address the concerns she had with Cheetah Plains during her stay and are surprised that she still chose to post this review on Trip Advisor.

In terms of being good value for money… Cheetah Plains is a traditional bush lodge, newly refurbished in the sought after Sabi Sands Game Reserve, at a rate of R2695,- per person per night (std rooms). We provide comfortable accommodation, with excellent game viewing at an affordable rate, complimented with "amazing food and staff"

During the guests stay she did encounter a maintenance problem in her room, which was immediately attended to by our General Manager and maintenance team.

With regard to the comments about the Bush Walks, we do not advertise bushwalks on our own website as we are not currently able to offer any walks, for the reasons explained in our reply to "James" in April. All reference to Bushwalks have been taken off our own website since April, we do not advertise offering bushwalks and we clearly say in all our rooming information and marketing material that we do not offer bush walks.

Whilst we endeavour to inform 3rd party website of updates at the lodge, we can unfortunately not take responsibility if information about our lodge is found on other websites, which still reflects outdated information. From our side, the situation has not changed, we are still at the mercy of the Rifle License Issuing Authority and until the licenses have be issued, we firmly stand by our decision to not conduct illegal/unsafe walks in a Big 5 Game Reserve and compromise the safety of our guests.

With regard to the promotional material, we have just received the newly commissioned photographs of the lodge and rooms and are in the process of updating our own website with the new pictures which should be live in the next couple of days - please take a look at our website to see the vibrant colours and elements that have been incorporated in the refurbished interiors.

We trust that this information is helpful, for any queries you are most welcome to contact me directly.

Amanda Vermeulen
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Johannesburg, South Africa
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
48 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

The setting of the lodge is out of the top draw with views from the bar overlooking a grass plain and the restaurant and pool area nestling neatly under trees at a watering hole. Accommodation while not the most luxurious neat, spotless and well maintained. Our family of 5 chose this lodge as we had been advised that the game viewing was exceptional. We were not disappointed. We spent 4 days enjoying eventful game drives almost all the time. The rangers and trackers were always willing to leave earlier or stay out longer depending on what our family wanted and what game viewing was taking place. Sightings were numerous including elusive wild dogs on 3 of the 4 days. Leapards were found on 2 days and a kill narrowly missed on one of these sightings. Meal time at the lodge were memorable and kids simple pallets well catered for as well. Staff were attentive 24/7 and no request too much trouble whether at the pool, at the restaurant or in our rooms. We were also told that the rooms were soon to be refurbished. This being the case, no one will be able to point any fingers as those who value better appointed accommodation will now also be well catered for. We look forward to coming back.

  • Stayed April 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
    • 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.
New York City, New York
Top Contributor
124 reviews 124 reviews
41 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
70 helpful votes 70 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2012

My husband and I spent 3.5 days at Cheetah Plains in late August/early September of 2011. It was definitely an excellent value for the price. The chalets were basic and clean and as other reviews have said a little tired/dated, but they are currently being renovated. My husband and I stay at a lot of 5 star resorts but we opted for Cheetah Plains because we had heard that the game drives were exceptional, and we were more concerned about having a great safari experience than a fancy resort -after all, you're in the bush! It definitely lived up to and exceeded our expectations. Maybe it was beginners luck but we saw the big 5 on our very first game drive, and a chase and a kill. Andrew was our guide and Ramson was the tracker. We thought they were both great, explained a lot and went off the beaten path all the time to get us closer to the animals. One reviewer mentioned he wasnt impressed by Andrew - I guess I can understand that because we did have a few people in our group at times that you could clearly tell annoyed him and he wasn't afraid to express his annoyance with them. Ramson on the other hand was very friendly and helpful. That man's vision and ability to spot animals is one of the most impressive things I've ever encountered. In the dark of the bush he could find a bug on a leaf! The staff at Cheetah Plains is wonderful, the food is delicious, the vehicles are nice and new - honestly, everything is excellent- just on a basic level. Nothing fancy. We did a massage one afternoon and it wasn't anything special. A nice afternoon treat, but not much nicer than what you get at a nail salon in NYC. I would recommend Cheetah Plains to anyone looking for a really great game drive experience at a great value for your money. If you're looking for a super fancy resort type lodge or a super romantic honeymoon then this isn't your place. I'd recommend 3-4 days here tops. That should give you plenty of time to see all the animals and enjoy yourself.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2012

We really enjoyed staying here and consider it one of the highlights of our trip. The staff were extremely friendly and catered to us every step of the way.

The facilities are being renovated so I won't talk too much about that. However the layout of the camp is great, separate thatched huts and walking trails lead you to the main lodge with the bar, dining room, swimming pool, the campfire that overlooks a field with impala herds and other animals. We had the luck of swimming while hippos played in the pond just behind us.

The food was top notch. We were treated to excellent campfire meals every night and at brunch. The chef would come out each evening and describe our 4 course meal, followed by a host of waitstaff presenting it to as at our tables around the campfire. We could talk to the guides more and get to know the other guests. It was such a special way to dine. They also had a covered dining room with several large tables. Each meal was a good cross between the comfort of home, the luxury of a fine restaurant, and the excitement of camping. Even the snacks we were given during the game drives were great; fresh fruit, chicken satay, muffins, wine, coffee, etc.

Where this lodge shines is probably their guides and trackers. Our guide was excellent at finding the animals we had wanted to see. Within 24 hours or (two game drives) we had managed to see all big five animals, not to mention hippos, impala, kudu, giraffe, and birds. While the guide often uses his radio to communicate with other vehicles in the area, I noticed that many of the other vehicles from other lodges in the Sabi Sands reserve weren't seeing the wildlife that we were seeing. One time another lodge vehicle drove right past 6 hippos and exclaimed to us "we haven't seen anything yet!", after we told them what they just missed the other lodge's guests looked both excited to finally see something and slightly peeved they had been missing out. This continued throughout our three day stay, where our guide and tracker were ofter first at hunting down a hard to find animal, then reporting over radio to the other lodges. Our guide was also well trained in most of the animals habitats, food, behavior, lifespans, etc. We could ask any question and he could talk with length like a zoologist. This was far better than the guides we encountered at other camps. The Sabi Sands Game Reserve has several lodges and many of them cooperate with each other with the exception of one, Mala Mala, I believe. Mala Mala doesn't allow other lodges on their land, nor do they share information on where animals might be. Cheetah Plains, however, with cooperation of other lodges has much more land to drive upon and opportunities to see animals as they move around the reserve.

We weren't allowed to do any bush walks, but we didn't feel like we were missing out. Our guide showed us plenty of smaller critters and birds from the vehicle and some of the snakes we saw I wouldn't want to get near anyway. Because it is a private reserve, we are allowed to drive off the road to get closer (yet respectfully distant) views of the wildlife, so bushwalks to us weren't that necessary. We preferred to spend our afternoons lounging in the pool with a cocktail watching the hippos nearby.

In three days, we saw just about everything we possibly could have (they even had a checklist). Zebras, Hippos, Giraffe, Monkeys, Wildebeast, Lions (male and female), Rhinos, Elephant (young and bulls), exotic birds, Cape Buffalo, Leapard, Hyena, Impala, Kudo, and other antelopes, lizards, snakes, cameleons, and so on and on. The mixture of early morning and sunset game drives ensured we saw just about everything in a variety of settings.

Bottom line, Cheetah Plains made us feel special, treated us to gourmet food, showed us all the wildlife, and gave us a wonderful experience we won't forget.

  • Stayed April 2012, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2012

We arrived at Cheetah Plains hoping to experience the beauty of Sabi Sands and the huge amount of wildlife in the area.

The lodge itself was a little tired in the public areas, they are refurbishing this year (May/June I think). compared to the other lodges we saw on our travels, it seemed to be a little below par, but it was cheaper than some of the others.

Friendly welcome from the two girls on reception and a lovely welcome from Renius, the helpful barman/houseman. Good bar service, drinks not too pricey. Food was fantastic and in a lovely setting, so absolutely no complaints there.

However, you come to Sabi and pay more than Kruger because of the wildlife, and this was where Cheetah Plains was a real let down. The vehicles were fantastic, new, well equiped and comfortable, but that's really where it ended. Our guide, Andrew, was surly at best, answering questions with one line answers and very rarely explaining things. From what I could gather sat at the front of the vehicle directly behind the vehicle, we seemed to do little more than follow the radio to sightings that other people had made us aware of. This meant that we spent much of our drives haring around the game reserve trying to see something somebody else had already discovered, slowing only if we happened to drive straight past something. This certainly did not give the tracker any time to look for tracks himself and actually the game viewing was fairly average compared to what other people saw in other vehicles. Sadly, even though we were not seeing a huge amount, the guide and tracker would not stop to show us tracks or any interesting features of the bush, even though this would have at least provided excitement to those in the vehicle.

Outside of the game drives, we had hoped to learn more on the Bush Walks, that are advertised as running every day. Unfortunately Cheetah Plains does not have a gun licence... A fundamental flaw in an African bush safari in my opinion. This meant that we were not able to do this. When we asked if we could be reimbursed for this element, there was little by way of understanding from the girls at reception and we will now have to take it up with our travel agents, Imagine Africa, who sold us the trip.

Overall thoughts, lodge was fine, although you wouldn't expect any less for the location or price. An honorable mention for Renius, the cleaning staff and a far more enthusiastic guide Jacques who certainly gave his customers a more enjoyable experience. I did hear that Andrew had been away on holiday and only come back on our first day, so maybe he just had the Sabi equivalent of the "Monday blues", but still, was average.

If you are going before the refurb, then probably try to negotiate a discount, after that, maybe they will have a gun licence.

Good for families.

Room Tip: the whole lodge is being refurbished, so pay no attention after june!
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Amanda V, Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, April 28, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback on your trip, we always appreciate it.

If we could address some of your concerns:

The lodge is scheduled for a complete renovation, and will be closed from May to August 2012, to enable the builders to complete the work fast and without any inconvenience to guests. We are very excited about the renovations. Keep an eye on our website over the next couple of months for updates on the work.

We are sorry to hear your comments about Andrew. He is one of our best and most experienced game rangers, with an intimate knowledge, love and passion for his job. The guests on his vehicle, usually loves his kind, gentle nature. Unfortunately, when one starts comparing game drives with what the guests on the other vehicles have seen, is can become a breeding ground for disappointment. As many people have commented, Game Reserves are not Zoo’s, animals move freely, and one vehicle can spot 3 lions on a kill, when the next vehicle, who arrive 5 mins after, could see not a single trace of anything exiting on the exact same spot.
It has also been our experience, that when, guests are insistent on seeing certain animals – such as the big 5, especially if their game drives till that point have not been so exciting, that the game rangers start feeling the pressure and will then also start scanning the radios more frequently to try and locate more exciting sightings.

With regard to the Walking Safaris and the lodge’s Firearm Licence.
When the new owners took over, the lodge, which used to be called Djuma Safari Lodge, the name had to be changed. The authorities were not prepared to transfer the existing Rifle licence to the new name and a new application had to be launched.

At this stage, we are at the mercy of the Authorities in charge of Firearm licence issues and can not expedite the process as this government department's wheels turns slowly.

As a result of this, our directors took the decision in January, when the existing licence became invalid to suspend all Walking Safaris at the Lodge, as Cheetah Plains is not prepared to operate illegal walks, without the proper licences in place. We operate in an area with dangerous game, and as such we are not prepared to compromise the safety of our guests, by conducting walks without a rifle.

We have taken care to remove all mention of the bush walks from our marketing material and website and have endeavored to advise all operators who sell packages about this change. We have also been open and honest with guests who enquired about this at the lodge.

We trust that guests who visit Cheetah Plains will appreciate our firm stance on this issue, till it is resolved.
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London
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2012

Wonderful staff in a fabulous reserve. The rooms were a little 'tired' but I understand that it was about to be renovated due to new owners. Rather disappointingly though, they weren't doing the bush walks when I stayed due to not having a gun licence in place with the new owners. This was the only downside. The drives were amazing - great guides and spotters (big thumbs up to Patrick who tracked some lion to a remote part of the reserve, off the beaten track)

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Cheetah Plains

Address: Sabi Sand Game Reserve | Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #35 of 41 Specialty lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Cheetah Plains is a small, authentic bush camp in the world renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, with 500 hectares of privately owned land & another 8000 hectares of additional traversing - you can be assured of exceptional game viewing - especially leopard and the rest of the "big 5". Cheetah Plains has only 8 traditionally thatched rooms - set amongst indigenous gardens - creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.We focus on freshly produced meals in wonderful surroundings - complimenting the friendly and attentive service from all at Cheetah Plains. We look forward to welcoming you to our special bush home. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Cheetah Plains South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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