These are supposed to be reviews, not paeans or tributes to all things Toro Yaka, but that is impossible. The people, the place, the experiences, the food (my god, the food) - there is no down side to staying at Toro Yaka. The rooms are spacious, comfortable, and have all that you need for a bush stay (dressing table, cupboard, mosquito net, inside shower, *outside* shower, double vanity, comfortable bed, coffee and tea facilities, safe), and kept clean and tidy by the friendly, efficient staff. The food - well, the food. Being as isolated as it is, you can't really have dinner anywhere else (you can leave the Balule Game Reserve during the day, for lunch somewhere else if you really wanted, but...), which is beneficial, since it removes any temptation not to stay for Nicole and Jessica's meals. To create such dishes - the best we had in all of southern Africa - at a lodge in the middle of a game reserve defies comprehension. The honesty bar was well-stocked, and often staffed by Deborah and Ridwell in the evenings.
Now for activities. Toro Yaka advertise that they can organise activities other than their own game drives and bushwalks, and I believe that they can. Over the course of six days, however, we did not leave Toro Yaka and did not participate in anything except their game drives and bushwalks and had no *desire* to do anything else. There are two game drives a day - dawn(-ish) and dusk(-ish), and Stacey and Ridwell do a most excellent job of tracking animals, spotting animals, explaining animal behaviour, explaining the geography of Balule, and making each of the drives (which I had thought might get repetitive) unique and fun. It is probably not fair to comment on the bushwalk - Steve did an excellent job with pointing out the flora, the smaller animals, the game trails, and generally discussing South African politics and history, but I get the feeling that the walk we did was perhaps unusual in the amount of large animals encountered, and that people shouldn't go into the bushwalk expecting to see so many game animals so close.
There's still more - the pool, from which we saw warthog and bushbuck. The common areas, which were helped relax between game drives. The braai on Saturday night. The friendly, relaxed atomosphere, that is often missing from places that throw disparate people together and keep them away from the rest of the world. If it were possible to rate Toro Taka higher than 5, I would. Great thanks again goes to all the team there.
- 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