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“Best safari experience, absolutely perfect!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Kapama Karula

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Kapama Karula
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5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   R40, Kapama Private Game Reserve | Kruger Park, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa   |  
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Sydney, Australia
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
“Best safari experience, absolutely perfect!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013

Kapama Karula was truly one of the most amazing experiences. We were first greeted by one of the rangers at Hoedspruit aiprort, then taken by jeep to the lodge. We were taken back by the true luxury and serene environment from the second we drove into the grounds. We were welcomed by many of the rangers and staff with refreshing drinks and then shown to our room. Our suite was absolutely stunning and had an expansive balcony that overlooked the river below and opposite reserve. The room was open plan with a large lounge area, fireplace, amazing bed and bedroom area and an extraordinary bathroom and outdoor shower. There were Nespresso, tea and snack facilities, with the fruit bowl and water replenished with daily housekeeping and turndown services.

We were fortunate to see all of the big five on our first full day of game drives, plus the cheetah and hyena. Collin was our ranger who was very skilled and knowledgeable and went above and beyond to track all the animals we wanted to see. Solly, our tracker, was brilliant at finding tracks and led us to some pretty amazing finds. Some of our most exciting experiences were going "off road", knocking down trees to trail the big cats, seeing lions and a rare albino elephants calf with her family, going off-road looking for a male leopard and zooming down the dirt roads at dusk to catch the big cats some other jeep had found. Collin and Solly were truly lucky as we would be the first on many occasions to find certain animals especially the female cheetah, hyena and the male dominant lion and lioness who had been tracked by other rangers for hours. We also did the daytime bush walk with ranger Omega, which was great a great way to experience the Savannah.

Johan was our designated waiter for our stay who offered great service, and attending to our every dining need. On two nights we were lucky enough to have dinner in the outside boma which included a braai (BBQ) on one occasion where we ate game including Wilderbeast, Impala and Kudu. You were constantly being fed at Kapama. When you woke up before the morning drive you had tea and coffee with pastries and yoghurt, while on the game drive we stopped and had tea and coffee with pastries, then after the game drive it was breakfast, then lunch, then high tea before the afternoon game drive, while on the game drive we stop and enjoyed sundowners which included an alcoholic drink and snacks, then dinner. You will never go hungry in this place however be prepared to bring a pants in a bigger size. All food was amazing and the high tea and dinner options changed every night.

  • 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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251 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
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (51)
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English first
Houston, Texas
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2013

My husband and I stayed at Kapama Karula in February for 3 nights. We had an amazing experience and would highly recommend Kapama! Our suite was amazing, the food was 5 star and the game viewing was spectacular! We only had 6 in our car so it was nice to have a small group with the same ranger and tracker the entire trip. We saw the Big 5 in the 1st Day. I cant think of one animal we did not see. The highlight was a pride of 13 lions and witnessing a hippo attack a rhino! We also saw a leopard which was another rare find and tons of baby animals!
Only suggestion I would make to the camp is NOT to charge for bottled water at meals. It seems so petty to charge $1 for a bottle of water when you are given it for free on the game drives and in your room. You can have any fruit juice or tea for free, but not water which is weird. The food was 5 star and very good, but is a little gamey. Some of the menus did not change on a daily basis and did get a little old. Those are my only complaints about the camp.
Overall, an amazing experience and I was sad to leave!

  • 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
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Buenos Aires
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2013

One of the best, if not the best hotel we've stayed, ever.
Everything was perfect, from the moment we were picked up at the Hoedspruit airport to the moment we left.
The rooms were amazing, state of the art-trendy decor, very comfortable beds.
Our ranger (Don) and tracker (Tulli) were very knowledgeable, we saw not only elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, lions, monkeys, zebras, hippos, rhinos, crocodiles, impala, buffalo... but we also learned a lot about smaller animals (birds, frogs, spiders, snakes).
Food was very good and plenty
Recommend spending at least 2 nights, ideally 3.
Safaris are best in the evening, and worth going early in the morning.
I would definitely recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 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.
san francisco
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2013

pro's --
amazing rooms
friendly staff
amazing trackers
great game viewing
beautiful location

con's--
Feels very sterile and austere for a lodge. This is of course my opinion, but all the meals are very formal (how many forks does one person need?), and there is very little interaction between guests due to the set up of the meals.....White table cloth, separate waiters, etc. Its obviously my preference, but it just feels like a very old school set up in terms of service.

Nickel & Diming -- If you are paying $900+ per night for an experience which includes meals and game drives, DON'T charge for bottles of water a la carte. Nothing leaves as bad a taste in your mouth as getting a bill for water after you've paid 900 bucks for a room. Its not even about the money, its the message. If you feel it necessary to charge for beverages, you have two options 1) increase your all- in price or 2) give the guests the total beverage bill at their departure, not after each meal. It makes you feel like you are staying at a hotel, which is not the case. People would rather spend an extra 50 bucks a night and not see a bill for a glass of wine than pay slightly less and have to pay for their wine on top.

Food- We felt the food was wildly hit or miss. SIMPLIFY the menu. My wife had amazing fish and I had a really bad burger. Instead of trying to be so fancy, just make sure everything tastes good.

All that said, we had an amazing time and found everyone to be wonderful.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013 via mobile

We splashed out and stayed here for 3 nights of our honeymoon-we don't regret a single penny. Kapama Karula is fantastic, from the moment you walk in to the stunning rooms, lovely staff and amazing safaris. We would recommend this place to anyone wanting a truly special safari experience-stunning :)
Ps. Collen+Solly are legends-we saw the big 5 (and plenty more) way before any other groups-thanks guys!!

  • Stayed January 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
Los Angeles, California
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 5, 2013

What an amazing experience! This boutique hotel is truly quite an experience. Everything was fabulous from the staff, our ranger and tracker Moses and Sully and the hotel decor. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you are looking for beautiful, upscale and hospitable hotel in South Africa!

Room Tip: Request Moses as your ranger!
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 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.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 4, 2013

We are just back from our first (but certainly not the last) stay at Kapama Karula and I felt I had no choice, but to post my first ever review of a lodge/resort/hotel (despite having been in quite a number in various countries over the years). Our stay of 3 nights in the Karula lodge was simply unforgetable. We flew up from Cape Town to Hoedspruit (2.5 hours) and from the moment that we were collected at Hoedspruit airport it was clear that service at Kapama Karula is on a different level. Nothing was too much trouble and the words "no problem" was pretty much our ranger, Declan's, response to any and every request.
Every member of staff went out of their way to make the experience as enjoyable as possible and although we never felt crowded there was certainly a strong personal touch in the service, most notably from Declan who would take time every evening during dinner to pop around to the tables of the guests under his charge, sharing some interesting and enjoyable stories and determining whether there is anything specific that you would like to look for on the following day's drives. With a shoot for the stars attitude we said; leopard and cheetah.
What did we see on our 6 drives over the 3 days? - 11 lions, 1 cheetah, 1 leopard, 10 rhino and too many elephants and buffalo to count. Here I have to mention Sollie, our tracker. This man ("madoda", if I got it right) was a miracle worker and there is no doubt in my mind that we would not have seen half as much as we did was it not for the team work of Sollie and Declan in tracking (especially the cats) and often anticipating animal movement.
The meals and the lodge itself were certainly also an experience and on our flight back to Cape Town the only topic of discussion was when we could fit a return trip into our diaries and would they allow you to request a specifc ranger and tracker?

Room Tip: The superior suites are worth the money.
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  • 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.
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Additional Information about Kapama Karula

Address: R40, Kapama Private Game Reserve | Kruger Park, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Kapama Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Kapama Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Kapama Karula 5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kapama KarulaSet on the banks of the perennial Klaserie River is one of Kapama’s most secluded and prestigious safari camps named Karula. Karula means "place of peace" in the native tongue, and soon after your arrival you will know exactly why this name is just so perfect for this magnificent luxury safari camp. Peace is but one of the many emotions that will encompass your soul as you look at the serene waterway meandering gently past your doorstep and the age old saying "water is life" will begin to have a whole new meaning for you.Karula Lounge and BarThe open plan lounge and bar area, with floor to ceiling glass doors illustrates the perfect balance with elegant light colors. This modern building with its whitewashed wooden structure, skylights and open air bar, creates a cozy feel to the lounge and makes it a day time favorite to enjoy a drink or just sit back and enjoy the sights Karula has to offer. The contemporary yet African feel to the camp will satisfy and exceed the expectations of even the most discerning connoisseurs. The outside wooden deck overlooking the Klaserie river gives you the opportunity to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and magnificent vistas the camp has to offer.Karula Library & Media RoomA brilliant new addition and multi-purpose room that was built after the floods in January 2012. The library and media room boasts some of the best audio visual equipment but doubles as a library where you can read a good book in a breathtaking environment, or just take in nature’s views through the massive sliding windows. Keep in touch with family and loved ones at one of the two dedicated guest internet stations with WiFi on tap and free of charge. A private, romantic fireplace dinner can also be arranged with the camp personnel, and in a modern romantic setting like this, the answer can only be "Yes". ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Kapama Karula Hotel Kapama Private Game Reserve
Kapama Karula Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa

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