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“Fantastic Stay and Great Safari Experience” 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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New York City, New York
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Fantastic Stay and Great Safari Experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2013

My sister and I are beyond thankful for our wonderful stay at the Toro Yaka Bush Lodge. Initially, I was unsure of what part of the park to reside in and where I would see the most animals. This lodge exceeded my expectations and I am so happy we stayed here. The game drives and bush walks provide you with a wealth of knowledge and admiration towards the animals/ecosystem (we saw lions, elephants, black rhinos, zebras, giraffes, hogs, and so much more). Steve, Nicole, Stacy, Debra, Jessica, and all of the staff provide exemplary service, tasty food, and they create a luxurious atmosphere of relaxation. I highly reccomend staying here. Enjoy!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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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187 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 (35)
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Melbourne
Top Contributor
83 reviews 83 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
84 helpful votes 84 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 23, 2013

This place is heaven and a credit to Nicole and Steve. The staff are lovely, patient and friendly - lots of hugs as we left and I'm not a huggy-person usually. The lodge itself is best described as bush-luxury with a open-air thatched roof restaurant and bar, and rooms all over looking an inviting looking infinity pool and surrounded by bush. The rooms are gorgeous with large comfortable beds, an outdoor (and indoor) shower, large double vanity, and views out to the bush. Don't be fooled, this is the real bush here - we saw a family of warthogs wander passed our room to feed on the lawns, a family of waterbuck hanging out behind the pool and heard lions calling to each other in the night. The all inclusive food is ample, delicious and caters to even my weird diet (seafood-bacon-vegetarian). Meals are a mixture of communal dinning around a big table, romantic dinning around the pool and braai.

Now to one of the best parts - the safaris and bushwalks. The safaris are offered twice a day and we did 6! Cruising around in an open-topped vehicle whilst Tracey and Ridwell carefully tracked animals, and then spotting them was exhilarating. Stopping for a "sundowner", a drink whilst watching the sunset, was divine. On the drives we saw too many animals to list but the highlights were lions (multiple siting), black rhinos, elephants, zebras, giraffe, waterbuck, bushbuck, and wildebeast. You may think a bushwalk sounds dull but we heard lions very closeby, nearly walked headlong into an elephant and saw two rhinos playing in a dam up close. Better than a theme-park ride!!

We hope to be back some day soon.

Room Tip: Rooms on the right-hand side of the pool are set back further from the communal areas and have more...
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  • 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2013

Toro Yaka is a truly special place. Steve and Nicole have done a wonderful job creating a haven for enjoying the incredible scenery and wildlife of the reserve.

We stayed four nights in August and had sightings of the "Big Five" and lots of other interesting animals. We got up very close for sustained visits with elephants and lions. A great thing about this reserve is that there is no crowding, as only two vehicles are permitted at a spot at one time. The trackers and guides are very good at what they do and they know the Balule very well. In addition, the owner leads fascinating morning nature walks that allow you to get the lay of the land on foot, see lots of tracks, droppings, and show you how the animals live in their habitat. His willingness to share his knowledge about the animals, the ecology and politics of the place, and his experience working at various other reserves, is a real plus.

The grounds are beautiful and well-kept, and the rooms are comfy, luxurious, and romantic. You can even see wildlife from the room or the pool while they congregate at the nearby watering hole. The food was exceptionally delicious. Each meal was fresh, tasty, and thoughtful. It was the best food we ate the whole time we were in South Africa.

While there are many options for seeing animals and experiencing luxury while in the bush, what separates Toro Yaka is that the owners and staff are incredibly giving of their knowledge, time, and care. In short, we were thrilled with our stay, highly recommend it, and dream of going back!

  • Stayed August 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.
Adelaide, Australia
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2013

I have been to many game parks but this was my first time at a game lodge. It was a wonderfull experience. Nicole and Steve run a very relaxed but organised operation. Cottages are fantastic.
Do have an outdoor shower. Beds and pillows perfect. Good attention to detail. All meals were
delicious and varied. A beautifull setting. Stacey and Steves knowledge is incredible and we learnt
so much. The game rides were informative and enlightening . We saw the big 5 and so much more.Nicole is a massage therapist and does a brilliant massage.We stayed for 3 nights and were very sad to leave. It is also very reasonably priced. This is the place to go if you want an intimate experience. You will love it. We did.

Room Tip: All the rooms are great.
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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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hemel
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

My husband is an old hand at safaris but this was my first experience and it was wonderful. Stacey and the other rangers were incredibly patient, knowledgeable and had infectious enthusiasm. Think we saw all the animals the park had to offer (except leopard which we did not expect to see) with our highlights being close encounters with black rhino and a strolling hippo. The lodge is small and beautifully presented. We stayed in the Elephant room which was brilliant with wonderful views across the bush. Can't speak highly enough about the food - every meal was superb and so fresh. The only slight word of warning would be that nearly all the meals were eaten at a large table with all the other guests - however in our case this was an absolute delight because everyone was such pleasurable company.

  • Stayed February 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
14 helpful votes 14 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
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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