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“Best of the best!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

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Toro Yaka Bush Lodge
Sable Road, Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Bloomfield Township, Michigan
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Best of the best!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 13, 2013

This place is absolutely incredible. My review is a bit tardy as our stay was in November 2012 but better late than never.

From the moment you arrive, your worries are forgotten. The lodge ambiance and staff are warm and welcoming. Stacey, also the Game driver/guide, lead us to our room (named Elephant), which was immaculate. The room included both an indoor and outdoor shower and our private patio faced straight towards the wild bush!

The owners, Nicole & Steve, are true professionals. In addition to being an expert massage therapist, Nicole, prepares the most scrumptious and healthy food I've ever tasted. Meanwhile, Steve was busy spotting small Chameleons in pitch-black darkness. Our game walk with Steve the next morning was equally rewarding as he was eager to feed my inquisitive mind with intimate Bush wisdom.

Even the company of the family dog, Nawadee, was enjoyable and this is coming from a Cat-lover! Nawadee loved when guests swam in the pool as she pranced around the edge and begged to be splashed.

Stacey tried so hard to spot lions or leopards on our last morning drive but unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. Nevertheless, her dedication to making our experience authentic was never in question. The rest of the staff (Ridwall and others) were equally pleasant company.

We stayed from 3 nights but were able to complete 5 games drives and 1 bush walk. Other guests booked day-trips to Kruger but we enjoyed never leaving the lodge.

To conclude, Toro Yaka offers an unmistakably intimate bush lodge experience that other larger resorts cannot and at a price-point that won't break your budget. We are not usually one's to repeat vacation destinations but an exception will have to made for Toro Yaka!

Room Tip: Request the Elephant room!
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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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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 (32)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
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English first
Toronto, Canada
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 3, 2013

A girlfriend and I stayed here for 3 nights in January 2013, and left completely relaxed and excited about not only our sightings and experiences on the bush drives and the walk we took, but also with Steve and Nicole's hospitality and gorgeous resort overall. Nicole is an excellent cook and Steve has a brilliant knowledge of the bush that you will no doubt find infectious. Stacey was our bush guide during our stay and we loved her safe but aggressive driving that led us to see the allusive black rhino, among others!

We loved the pool and the rooms, and especially enjoyed the dinner seating configurations. We ate by the pool one night, and in a 'tribal council' type configuration in their boma the next. It was unlike anywhere we'd ever been.

Couldn't recommend more, ESPECIALLY for newlyweds. Our only complaint is that we didn't bring the boyfriends!

Room Tip: You can't go wrong!
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  • Stayed January 2013, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
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 January 24, 2013

We would definitely go back here. The rooms are very good, they deserve full marks. The management, staff and guides were all fantastic, they deserve full marks too. Food excellent. In fact it was all excellent, even the other guests were great. The only reason the overall score isn't 5/5 is the location, as the park felt a wee bit small and close to civilisation. Which REALLY isn't fair of me, as quite obviously the price would have to go up if the location was prime wilderness real estate, and then I couldn't afford to stay there. Honestly, there really is no pleasing some people :-)

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2013

When we saw all these glowing reviews before visiting, we thought it couldn't possibly be as good as people made it seem. But we were wrong. We wouldn't have changed anything about our visit -- the lodge itself was peaceful and relaxing, the food was delicious (comparable to the food we ate at some of the nicest restaurants in the country), the staff was highly professional, and Steve was a superb guide. We saw all sorts of animals up close, and even when we weren't seeing animals, Steve's knowledge of the bush made the game drives interesting and informative. We hope to come back someday.

  • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Panama City, Panama
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2013

We stayed at Toro Yaka from Dec. 26 to Dec. 30, 2012 and the service was impeccable. Nicole cooked gluten-free food for one guest and veggie for us. The food was delicious and very generous! The rooms were elegant and tasteful and staff were all friendly and helpful. And on the game drives, Steve doesn't just take you to the animals, he also educates you about the ecosystem and rhythms of life for everything that creeps, crawls, stalks, gallops, and prowls through the Balule. We did eight game drives and we could have done more. We saw lions (4 times!), rhinos, cape buffalo, elephants, giraffe, zebras, hippos and much, much more! There is a watering hole about 100 meters in front of the infinity pool, so you can also see game while relaxing in the pool! We saw warthogs a few times and other guests saw rhinos.

  • 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Detroit, Michigan
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2013

My husband and I booked Toro Yaka after reading the wonderful reviews here on Tripadvisor. As our November vacation neared I began to worry that the lodge wouldn't meet our expectations...boy was I wrong. Toro Yaka exceeded our expectations and provided us with the experience of a life time! Toro Yaka is set in the beautiful Balule Nature Reserve. This reserve is open to Kruger and has a diversity of animals. Since you are staying in a nature reserve animals are all around. One night during dinner a herd of Cape Buffalo paid us a visit. We could also hear lions roaring many evenings and mornings. Being in a nature reserve means that you may see native creepy crawlers - but it's just a part of the experience. Toro Yaka gives you the feel of really being in the bush while at the same time providing a luxury resort feeling. We loved tracking animals on our daily game drives- watching Stacey, Victor, and Steve track animals was incredible and exciting. Each morning and evening we would set out and spend our time learning about the ecosystem and each of the animals we saw. The guides focus beyond just seeing the big five and instead teach you about how animals big and small co-exist. We loved that. We also went on an excellent game walk with Steve. HIs passion and knowledge is unparalleled. We did see the big five - but we also saw a host of other beautiful animals and birds. We came home with stories of lions, black and white rhinos, leopards, and many many other animals and birds! Nicole was also kind enough to arrange a day trip to Kruger for us. We spent the day with a wonderful private guide - who educated us about Kruger and the animals we observed. While we enjoyed our day in Kruger we were glad we stayed in Toro Yaka.

Toro Yaka felt like a home away from home to us. The staff is outstanding - kind and attentive. Steve and Nicole are wonderful hosts! The food is beyond delicious (and healthy too). The property itself is beautiful and relaxing. The rooms are well appointed but manage a simple charm. When we were not on game drives we spent time relaxing at the lodge and swimming in the pool - so wonderful!

As my husband and I boarded the plane to head to Cape Town we realized that we both felt sort of sad. We realized that we were sad to leave Toro Yaka and the wonderful experience we had there. We both admitted that never before had we felt sad to leave a place. We both hope one day to be able to visit again!

Room Tip: All of the rooms are wonderful. They all have private desks and indoor and outdoor showers. The outd...
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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 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mumbai
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
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 Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 hotels in Balule Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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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