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“Luxury in the Bush” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

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Toro Yaka Bush Lodge
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Sable Road, Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
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Gurgaon, India
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Luxury in the Bush”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 29, 2012

Toro Yaka was our first African Safari experience (we've done some in India) and exceeded our expectations on every front. From the warmth of the hosts and staff, the quality of the rooms, meals and types of guests we felt right at home and would be back for more soon.

Here's a little more detail:
The hosts: Steve is extremely passionate about wildlife (and conservation) & serves as a solid example for the rest of his team. Nicole ensures that Toro Yaka is run more like a home than a resort and this is evident in every detail from the quality of the rooms & food to the bedtime fable placed on your bed at night. Also, her massages are phenomenal.
The rooms: Room quality is phenomenal with large french windows/sliding doors on two sides ensuring a nice panoramic view of the bush. Our room had a deck with comfortable chairs to lounge about. All rooms have outdoor and indoor showers.
The food: One of the best places we ate at in South Africa, Toro Yaka rightly believes that food doesn't have to be unhealthy to be tasty. All meals included fresh fruit and veggies and quality was top notch. Don't miss Nicole's muesli at breakfast. Lunch was typically a light affair with a phenomenal salad (we were there 4 days and nothing was repeated). The bar had a great selection of wines and good selection of other alcoholic beverages at very reasonable prices.
The game drives: We got lucky on our first day and saw a pride of 7 lions including 4 cubs. Steve & Stacey's tremendous knowledge and passion for wildlife are evident and whats interesting is that they take smaller sightings as seriously as the big 5. Sun-downers and tea breaks were always at scenic stops (tip: don't miss the muffins with your tea).
The team: Everyone from Benedict, Victor (who also doubles up as a ranger), Debra and Stacey were polite and a treat to be around. The environment is very warm and when we left we felt like we were leaving family.

Strongly recommended!

  • Stayed December 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
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215 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (40)
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English first
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2012

We didn't stay at the lodge, but we were lucky enough to go on several drives with Steve. He is an absolutely amazing individual and we had the time of our lives with him.

He and his amazing tracker brought us face to face with lions, rhinos, and hippos...as well as lots of other wonderful critters.

Steve's work with hyena's and his knowledge and expertise in African ecology and conservation made our game drives fantastic learning experiences in between very exciting chases. Steve doesn't hold back a bit when the chase gets interesting!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 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.
Tonbridge, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 21, 2012 via mobile

We have stayed at a number of the top SA lodges and at lodges owned by friends but TY is definitely the best lodge that we have stayed in as a total package and we are already recommending it to our friends. The thought that has gone into then
food, rooms, layout including pool and BOMA is extensive with the result that our four night stay was an absolute delight.
The game is not as extensive as in the Kruger ( which is only an hour away and day trips can be organised) but we saw some
incredible sightings of a python kill of an impala and three youngish lion cubs playing. We shall be staying at TY in 2013. John H

Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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London, UK
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2012

There is little that I can add to the previous reviews except to say that we stayed here for longer than most people do and still had a fabulous experience. The raves about Nicole's cooking, Steve's ability to find the wildlife and the rest of the staff are all true.

This was our first trip to South Africa and were treated with some spectacular game sightings during our stay. I know that most people stay within the Kruger park and there it is a different scene. We did take a day and go into Kruger and that was nice but I felt that the quality of the sightings that we had in the Balule were much better. And if you can have such quality sightings combined with great dining and a casual atmosphere at a small lodge what's not to like?

Steve and Nicole have carved out a unique niche with Toro Yaka and have set the bar awfully high. I look forward to the next time we stay there as we will most certainly be back.

  • Stayed December 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 2
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London
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2012

Nicole's loving attention to details and Steve's articulated knowledge make for a winning combination. That and the fact that they surround themselves with wonderfully capable and attentive staff (from The Tracker to The Cook) make the experience at Toro Yaka memorable and complete. I went 3 years ago with a group of friends ... and ... after all this time there are images and moments that are still vivid in my head. Toro Yaka is a place where you can get inspired (Nicole and Steve's passion for what they do is contagious) ... you can truly unwind and relax ... and, you can create wonderful memories. It goes beyond hospitatlity ... you feel taken care of and cared for! Toro Yaka is cozy ... low key .... perfect.

  • Stayed January 2012, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Copenhagen, Denmark
Top Contributor
135 reviews 135 reviews
77 hotel reviews
Reviews in 92 cities Reviews in 92 cities
103 helpful votes 103 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2012

From the moment that i booked Toro Yaka and had contact with Nicole, i felt that this lodge was the place i was looking forward to visit during our 3 weeks vacation i S.A.
After passing through the gate at the highway you drive about 15 min and suddenly the sign Toro Yaka turns up - and right there in front of the beautifull house was Steve, Benedict from the staff and Stacy - the new ranger at Toro Yaka waiting for us. We were invited to the living room and while filling out some papeers, and nice cold ice tea and a hot towel was brought to us, and we have only been there for 5 min. Our room or should is say our little lodge in the lodge with excellent view over the bush and the newly established waterhole was right next to the wonderful pool - and waht a room. Other reviews in here have explained how great they are, but let me add one more thing- the outdoor shower. Fantastic.
A huge bed - long enough for vikings form the north - love build in bathroom in the rough style - and towels - do you make them yourself Nicole? - have not seen towels so thick ans soft anywhere in the world -
All the meals are proffessional preparred and let me say with a gentle touch that just made them so much more delicat and "homey" than any other meals i ever have tasted.
Our gane drive - twice in the day with Steve, Satcy and Victor - was amazing. I mean Steve knows so much about the nature, trhe animals - everything - that why we lobe this palce. WE did not only get here to see the animals, but to learn and to bring back some knowledge. And we did.
Let me finish with a few words about the staff - Victor, Benedict, Deborah - if i forget someone please excuse me. They are so kind and just want to help you and make sure you got the best time of your life while you are here. I miss you guys.
The day we left - Nicole packed a lunch box as we were leaving very early - so kind of her. We drove through Kruger - to the south -and let me say - if´you want to see animals and have a bush life experience, skip Kruger and stay at Toro Yaka. You will not find it better around the planet.
I almost forgot : Every night when we went to bed - the light has been switched on, our shoes was taken inside, the mosquitonet ( did no see any ) was folded out and there was a fresh decanet with water at each side. And : A little story was placed on the bed together with a little chocolate. Excellent. I want to go back.

Room Tip: All rooms are great - just book one.- Nicole and Steve will take care of you.
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  • Stayed November 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.
Brooklyn, New York
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2012

We spent 4 nights at Toro Yaka while honeymooning in South Africa. It was the last part of our trip, and we kept saying that if we had gone there first we never would have left. We added an extra night at the end just because we didn't want to leave.

The rooms are large and comfortable, with indoor and outdoor showers and private decks. There are only 6 rooms. The bed with the mosquito netting was incredibly romantic. The common areas are comfortable and the pool looks out onto a watering hole. The staff of the lodge is incredible; they are warm and kind and you can tell they love where they work. Every night there is a different chocolate on the pillow and a different bedtime fable. It's small details like this that make Toro Yaka stand out. It is not only as good as you want it to be- it's consistently better.

Nicole and Steve are wonderful hosts. The food that Nicole prepares is just delicious. And they really think about the guest experience- some meals we took just the two of us, one dinner we spent with everyone at a large table, and one dinner was done around a firepit where everyone had their own individual table. It would be so easy to serve meals the same way every day and the guest would never know the difference, but we really noticed these details and appreciated them.

Steve and JB are both fabulous field guides. Absolutely go on a bush walk with Steve. The combination of the two- Steve is very experienced and an encyclopedia of knowledge and JB is so enthusiastic and filled with energy. Steve is so interesting- he is so clearly passionate about conservation and has amazing stories. The game drives are so exciting- you never know what you will see that day.

We would recommend Toro Yaka without reservation to anyone who is looking for a more intimate experience in the South African bush. We are so glad we stayed here. We didn't want a big-box game reserve with 20 trucks out every day and 250 other guests. The experience at Toro Yaka was so lovely and romantic. And it was an amazingly good value. We simply don't have one negative thing to say about it. If it sounds like the kind of thing you're looking for, then don't hesitate. We're already dreaming about going back and bringing our family.

Room Tip: We stayed in Lion, which has a fabulous private deck, but I'm fairly sure all 6 rooms have this.
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  • Stayed October 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.
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Additional Information about Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

Address: Sable Road, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Balule Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Balule Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Owner/Manager team Steve & Nicole Baillie would like to invite you to visit Toro Yaka Bush Lodge. This special lodge is nestled in the heart of the Balule Nature Reserve, a 38 000 hectare conservancy, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park area. ToroYaka means “My Dream” in Northern Sotho, one of South Africa’s local languages, and the creation of Toro Yaka Bush Lodge has fulfilled the dreams of Steve and Nicole, by establishing a haven of peace and tranquility from which to share their passion for nature. The lodge has been designed in a modern elegant style, with a relaxed atmosphere, allowing guests to sit back, relax and feel at home. The six en-suite double rooms ensure tranquility and comfort at all times. Steve has spent more than a decade sharing his knowledge and love for the bush with clients from all over the world at luxury game lodges throughout South Africa. Nicole is a qualified holistic massage therapist and takes care of all the tiny details. Together with the Toro Yaka Staff, they will ensure your stay to be a memorable one. Balule is home to a large variety of plants and animals. From the smallest spider to the largest elephant, from the tiniest flower to a 1000 year old Leadwood tree, owls at night and eagles by day, every aspect of the ecosystem is explored. The Olifants River, which flows year round through the Balule, is home to hippos and crocodiles, and the whole area is one of scenic splendor, with the northern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range being visible from many points. Together with all of this, Toro Yaka Bush Lodge offers you good home cooked food, friendly service, warm South African Hospitality and loads of enthusiasm. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Toro Yaka Bush Lodge South Africa/Balule Private Game Reserve

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