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“Please, Trip Advisor, let me give a rating greater than 5” 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   |  
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Hotel amenities
Melbourne, Australia
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Please, Trip Advisor, let me give a rating greater than 5”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2013

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.

  • 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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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)
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English first
Perth, Australia
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2013

There are many options of where to go to get the best African safari experience, so what sets Toro Yaka apart from the rest, why is it consistently rated so highly by all who stay here? It is the little things that are done so perfectly. From the moment you arrive you are given the individual personal attention you will only get from a small lodge. The rooms are beautifully appointed, but it is the chocolate on the bed, the local legend story provided as well, the arrangement of the insect screen on the bed, the light that appears on the low branch every night that sets this place apart. The meals too are outstanding but the creative use of different spectacular locations around the camp makes meal time and adventure as well.

With only a few other guests you will meet everyone and stay a few days you will move from being the 'new arrivals' to being part of the fabric of the lodge. You will know your hosts well and the staff will know you, nothing is a problem and everything is done pefectly.

The game drives too are outstanding too, the various guides from all the lodges work well together, it is not a competition, it is cooperation to ensure all guests receive the best possible experience. You will drive around seeing no other vehicle and when a premium sighting is made, then within minutes other vehicles will appear and all will share in the experience and get the photographs. The guides are very knowledgable and the tracker is very skilled. The bigger, more expensive lodges can promise more but regularly fail to deliver, Toro Yaka regularly delivers personal services and experiences of the highest standard. Trust the reviews this is the place you should strongly consider.

  • 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.
San Diego
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013

i have done a safari before but never like this! from the minute you drive up, nicole and the staff are there to greet you and from that point on, your vacation starts! they tend to every detail from putting down the mosquito net to placing a fable on your pillow before bed. there are only 8 or 9 other guests so you get to know everybody and the owners eat with you too. it makes for a very friendly and personal atmosphere which is nice. the game drives are great, the driver, stacey, knows everything! if there is a lion out there, she will find it! and she will tell you about the constellations along the way :) if you go to kruger, stay here, i know the next time i go, i will!

  • Stayed March 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
71 helpful votes 71 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
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
58 reviews 58 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
25 helpful votes 25 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.

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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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