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“Awesome game drive, service below expectation” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Arathusa Safari Lodge

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Arathusa Safari Lodge
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4.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
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Londrina, PR
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Awesome game drive, service below expectation”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2013

Our ranger Brandon and the tracker Roy were amazing. In the first drive we saw 2 leopards so close of the car that was breathtaking. The advantage of a private reserve is the offroad experience, that was great. Finally we saw the big 5 and much much more. Brandon is very passionate for his job, and the vibe during safaris were uplifting. Those hours passed very fast, and were a combination of fun, learning and adrenaline. Regarding the room, location and view were nice, however cleaning and general maintenance were poor. Basics things like broken piece in the air conditioning should not be accepted in such Lodge. Service in general was slow despite of friendly staff. There was one that was very nice, Nelson. He told us stories andnseems that he trully cares for us.
Another point to be taken into consideration is the access. We went after heavy rain and it was very challenging without a 4WD. Also the distance from Kruger Mpumalanga airport is not ideal.
We do recommend this lodge mainly by the game drives, specially because of Brandon.

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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502 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 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 (150)
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Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Top Contributor
79 reviews 79 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2013

One of the most spectacular meals we had in South Africa was the lamb on the spit that greeted us as we arrived on New Years Eve.!
The accommodations were absolute fantastic and the daily safari drives with our Ranger and Tracker were more than adventures in the pursuit of leopard, lion, rhino, cape buffalo, wildebeest and much more. Their knowledge of the wildlife and eco-philosophy of South Africa shared generously during our drives and afterwards was awesome and right in there with a National Geographic experience.
The open surroundings with stunning views of wildlife visiting the watering hole and the family of hippos that call Arathusa home created a very unique atmosphere . The only advice for non-South African visitors would be to fly into the local Sabi Sands airfield instead of driving in.
Arathusa Lodge is spectacular value for money and the attention to customer service memorable.

We will definitely stay longer next time to enjoy the Spa, the bush walks, the infinity pool, the creative dining creations and more than anything the adventurous drives with Brett.

Room Tip: The standard rooms are more luxurious and spacious that you will have at most five star hotels.
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  • Stayed January 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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New Jersey
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2013

My husband and I spent a lot of time reading reviews of lodges in Sabi Sands and finally settled on Arathusa for a portion of our honeymoon. We could not have been happier. The game drives were incredible. Our tracker had an eye that was out of this world. On top of seeing the big 5, including tons of leopards and two prides of lions that are known throughout the reserve, he spotted small animals - like a chameleon on a tree in the night. Our guide was very knowledgable and clearly cared a lot about the wildlife in the area.

Being able to go off-roading was a huge advantage (we were unable to where we stayed in Botswana and it greatly effected the game drive and wildlife viewing experience) and at most animal sightings we were either the only or one of two vehicles there. There were never more than three at a given time, which allowed you to fully experience viewing the incredible animals in their natural habitat.

The lodging was lovely and private, as we had a little "hut" all to ourselves. They gave us a nice bottle of champagne, roses and drew a bubble bath our last night there, without our expecting, which was a nice touch. The food was also very good overall. There was a choice of two entrees at each meal - for dinner usually a meat and a fish - and enough sides, etc. that you were always full and never left wanting. However, we ultimately were interested in the game drives and they have that nailed down!

  • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2013 via mobile

Let me start by saying that we visited Arathusa after heavy rains. I will therefore comment little on the wildlife and the park in general as you will always find less of that after rains.

The lodge itself seemed nice, but also lacked enthusiasm in the character of the staff and the maintenance. The best part of the lodge is probably the chef and lunch and dinner cuisine. Breakfast choice is a bit small.

The rooms seem to have been nicely designed, but feel like they need some maintenance. The toilet seat was rotten and the washbasis was a cheap fixtire cabinet that shifted. The shower drain was lose and kept moving around in the shower heads were calcified.

The pool with view of the hippo lake is great.

The lodge operates on an early wake-up rhythm that will let you view game and then return to breakfast. Lunch at 2, then tea time at 4, another game drive and then dinner after 8 o'clock. Personally I would prefer breakfast at 4.30 followed by a long game drive and lunch at 12.15. But that's personal.

Roy and Brandon are a great tracker/guide couple that make the drives entertaining and informative. The rest of the service staff seemed tired, uninterested and at times even grumpy. This needs some real attention.

On my personal scale (out of 10) I give Arathusa a 7 for relaxation, a 6 for discovery and a 4.5 on inspiration.

Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2013

My husband and I stayed here for three nights; it was my first safari experience. We spent two nights in a luxury bungalow and one night in a regular bungalow.

The luxury bungalow, like previous tipsters noted, is farther away from the main lodge, and we liked it a lot. The privacy was nice, but more than that, the accommodation was terrific. We had a huge room (including sitting room), a plunge pool, and a covered outdoor patio area. These amenities were on top of the outdoor/indoor showers, less spacious outdoor seating, and minibar, etc., that the regular accommodations had. The regular accommodations were closer to the main lodge, which matters if you like the company of other guests (we did, though this didn't make it break the choice), mind asking the staff to escort you when it's dark (we didn't), or if you encounter adverse weather (which we did, and thus the reason for the move). The main lodge was really cool, mostly open air with a view of a dam that hippos ventured into,

While we were there, we had two days of sun and a third day where the area received a third of its annual rainfall in one day(!). Service was terrific throughout, but during that monsoon-like downpour, the staff really went the extra mile. They were constantly cleaning the place, inspecting the grounds, helping folks get in or off the premises, and offering food/beverages. We were able to switch rooms to get a location closer to the lodge so that we had an easier time coming and going between during the weather. The rain made safari impossible and transportation in and out incredibly difficult, and the staff went the extra mile to escort guests (including us, when it was time for us to leave) to a safe enough place for them to drive away or meet transfers. The owner and his family joined for the weekend that the storm hit, and he even sent staff out to fetch some stranded visitors that had been headed to a different accommodation they either couldn't take them or that they couldn't reach, which was above and beyond, because otherwise, they would have been stranded.

The safaris themselves were incredible. Our ranger and tracker struck the right balance between pursuing great photo opportunities and not lingering so long that we didn't see enough animals. Rhinos were elusive, but we saw four of the big five, as well as hippos, impala, kudu, wildebeest, and loads of other wildlife. Our ranger and tracker also knew a lot about the animals and terrain, sprinkling the safari drives with anecdotes and getting us to safety expertly when adventurous predicaments like a potential elephant attack or thunderstorm threatened our game drives. The staff followed a relatively predictable schedule, but not inflexibly so. It seemed like stragglers (including us, occasionally) could keep pace. For me, personally, compared to the stories of dust-riddled safaris in drier countries or seasons, I preferred having visited in the summer when it was more lush and green. But as discussed above, obviously no one can control the weather, so good to keep in mind when planning a trip.

The food was amazing. The lodge serves lunch and dinner in a group setting, though they sometimes vary it so couples can eat separately, etc., and the chef walks you through what he's (or she's, in one case) serving. The conversation and the food demonstrate that the kitchen is clearly very enthusiastic about Its work. The food is extremely inventive and offers a variety of game, seafood, and fresh produce. The breakfast is made to order and continental mixed, and it was really good.

Minor nits? There was a fair amount of critters (insects, mosquitoes, spiders, whatever) everywhere to match their larger friends. It's safari, so I think to be expected. Just bring your mosquito repellant (or use the one they have, though I didn't try it) and take advantage of the mosquito netting. Also, the luxury suite that we stayed in didn't have blinds in all the windows, so there was very limited space to change out of potential public view. There was not foot traffic nearby, so maybe it's due to the increased privacy or do folks can enjoy the views, but that can work both ways so just FYI.

Overall, I'd highly recommend the place.

Room Tip: Choose the luxury suite if privacy and space trumps location; otherwise, choose the regular accommod...
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  • Stayed January 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
    • 4 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.
Redditch, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2013

My husband and I were on some of the same drives as Lauren (previous contributor). I totally agree that the game drives were awesome, and we saw all of the big 5 almost every drive. Our ranger Armand and tracker Kriss were so good at finding the animals. We were the first to spot a baby leopard hiding in a tree and got some great photos thanks to Lauren and her pal. We found our room which was one of the 'standards' to be well specked and air conditioned. We overlooked the watering hole which was permanently occupied by hippos and had lots of visiting game including a herd of 15 elephants which contained a baby of about two weeks old, hyena, buffalo and more. The food was very good and we liked the way the chef came out at lunch and dinner to introduce the dishes he had prepared. We had a surprise one night when on our way back from the sunset safari we stopped on the airstrip where our dining area had been set up and the chef, staff, bar and equipment had been moved there. We were welcomed to a bush dinner under the stars. It was a great experience, I was worried about being bitten by insects but didn't get one bite on the whole trip. The beds are shrouded in mosquito nets and there is body lotion insect repellent in the bathroom. Our group was from all around the world and we got on really well, I didn't want to leave and can't wait for another opportunity to go back.

Room Tip: We had a standard room which overlooked the watering hole and easy access to the facilities. The lux...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2013

Just returned from a four night stay in Arathusa with a friend (I thought this was a perfect amount of time). The accommodation was gorgeous, there was tons of delicious food, the watering hole out front was always filled with breathtaking wildlife. On our drives, we saw an awesome variety of wildlife on every drive - the drivers kept in close touch and for the most part made sure that we all saw as much as possible. Trackers also great. A few small nitpicks to note: we were charged for extras like water, and drinks we had on our sundown ride. Honestly if we had paid an extra few bucks a day, no one would have even cared and it would have been much nicer. Also, because they stuck to a pretty strict schedule, we missed out on some adventures because the drivers had to be back at certain times. I wish they cared a little less about schedule to see where adventures took us. Also, it was pretty warm at night in our rooms; sleeping was a bit tough in the heat. But overall, this was an incredible experience!

Room Tip: The standard rooms are better located (right on the watering hole) than the luxury lodges!
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 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
    • 4 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 Arathusa Safari Lodge

Address: Kruger National Park, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Hotel Class:4 star — Arathusa Safari Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 13
Also Known As:
Arathusa Safari Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Hotel Arathusa Safari
Arathusa Safari Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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