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“Trip of a lifetime! 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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New York City, New York
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Trip of a lifetime! Absolutely perfect”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2014

We booked a regular suite for 3 nights. The rooms and common areas are luxuriously- and tastefully-appointed, they look just as nice as all the photos from the website. We had considered getting the Superior Suites, but kind of glad we didn't because with all the activities and meals, we hardly had time to enjoy our room, plus the common pool area was very pleasant and uncrowded. Staff are all friendly and accommodating. Highlight was the game drives. They limit the number of people per vehicle to six (and most had fewer); we saw other vehicles from other lodges and a lot of them were filled to capacity. Your game sightings are of course dictated by nature, but we saw game within a few minutes of being picked up at the airport, but we wound up seeing all the big 5 except the leopard. The variety of wildlife big and small is stunning, and the vistas you encounter are breathtaking; it's perfectly pleasant to just be driven around, even if you don't see any big game. There were times when we thought the drive would end without a "big" sighting but somehow our tracker and ranger (you get the same ones for your entire stay) always managed a grand reveal. In addition to three large meals a day (you pick from a set menu for breakfast and lunch, and dinners are always different) you also get a continental breakfast before the first game drive, coffee during the first drive, high tea with snacks and cakes before the afternoon drive, and drinks during the afternoon drive. I almost wish they didn't offer lunch because I would have liked to have had more time to lay around by the pool or enjoy the common areas (skipping a meal is never an option for me!). They will drive you to the wellness centre if you want. There is wifi throughout. Rooms are well-stocked with toiletries and even insect repellant. The price is actually a good value considering everything you get; wine is very inexpensive. Let all your cares go and you will have a most amazing experience!

Room Tip: It was totally fine "only" getting a regular suite and not the Superior Suite with its own...
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  • Stayed February 2014, 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.
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219 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
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London
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4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2014

This was one of our best family vacations ever!

The small size of the resort, the modern design of the suites, restaurant etc as well as he overall layout, which offered absolute privacy, is outstanding. We had one of the large 2-bedroom family suites and truly loved our house with its remarkable large private pool.
Also the food offered during the day (there is a lot!!) was exquisite especially he BBQ in the bush under the clear night sky by the open fire.

The staff was just incredible and so so service oriented, at the same time warm, authentic, with a good sense of humour and a true joy to be with. It almost felt like being part of a family.
Andries, the general manager was always around, helping us to have the best holiday experience we could have had and making sure we had a great time.
Our ranger Reckson and tracker Nicolas were outstanding in finding all animals, explaining every detail of the wildlife to us and even providing an astronomy lesson of the Southern night sky which was foreign to us. We saw all the Big 5 multiple times as well as plenty of other animals from snakes to cheetahs. Also learned a lot about nature's toothbrushes, toothpicks etc...
As mentioned by other guests we appreciated the fact that we had the same guide and tracker during our many drives over the 6 days we spent at Kapama Karula since thus they were able to tailor the drives based on our previous viewings.
Our waiter Emotion was so good to have around, constantly ensuring we had everything we needed and sharing his great sense of dry humour with us.

Some little things we find worth mentioning since they made quite a difference: the coffee and snacks offered during the morning game drive, the towels, drinks and welcome reception after each game drive, the sundowners during the evening game drives, the Nespresso machine in the room...

Thank you to Andries and all the team at Kapama Karula who made this trip something we will never forget!

  • Stayed February 2014, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 11, 2014

I would just like to put in writing my sincere appreciation for an amazing time spent at Kapama Karula this past weekend.

As frequent travellers, and we have travelled far and wide, I am yet to experience better accommodation , service and an overall incredible experience that Kapama Karula offers. The owners, management and staff should be extremely proud of the establishment that they run ; this game lodge is just sheer luxury bliss in every aspect of the word.

We loved that fact that we were assigned one game ranger, one tracker and one waitron for the duration of our stay. This adds so much more quality and personal touch to the whole experience. Hilary and Edwin who were our ranger and tracker respectively are exceptional in every regard. The highest quality of service, awesome knowledge of the bush…. Nothing was too much trouble for them. They are superb !

Our waiter, Emotion was young, friendly , humble and offered exceptional service from start to finish. The quality of food as well as your chef is outstanding.

Your wellness spa is an amazing experience on its own , to be experienced by all who visit your establishment.

Overall Kapama Karula rates as one of the best experiences South Africa has to offer. I shall definitely recommend it to all my friends and colleagues and will definitely return many times in the future.

A HUGE thumbs up to all the Owners, Management and Staff

  • Stayed February 2014, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
71 helpful votes 71 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2014

We recently spent 2 nights at Kapama Karula. It was our first safari (to be followed by two others) so we did not know what to expect. All in all it was a wonderful experience.

We booked two Superior Suites, one for us and one for our two teenage sons. They were simply stunning. We have stayed in many high end hotels but I can say without a doubt, this was the nicest accommodation that we have ever had. The suites are massive and the photo's don't do them justice. As mentioned in other people's posts, they are not the traditional colonial style. Rather they are in soothing neutral colours, with endless windows and light and look as if they should be on the cover of Architectural Digest. I can not praise them enough. The decks and private pools were lovely and the furnishing was tasteful and elegant. There are coffee stations, snacks and port provided. The fireplace was a lovely touch after a particularly rainy safari. I was very sad to leave the accommodation when it was time to go. All of the common areas are done in the same style and very elegant and understated. Of the three safaris that we eventually did (Kapama Karula, Kings Camp and Londolozi Varty), Kapama Karula was the absolute winner for accomodation.

There was a spacious library with two computers for public use. The Internet access worked relatively well. Then there was another huge common area where there were refreshments and seating. Both were lovely, with big fireplaces, very spacious and welcoming. There was also the dining area, which had canvas walls to allow views to the water. It was a bit chilly one evening but most of the time was very comfortable. There is also a very pleasant gift store with a tasteful selection of items to purchase.

The food was good at Kapama Karula, but not outstanding. Of the 3 safari's they definitely fed us the most. There would be beverages and ample snacks at 5 am, followed by a buffet breakfast with full menu at breakfast. Then there would be a big lunch with a menu to select from, followed by lovely beverages and a full compliment of snacks at 4:00 pm prior to the afternoon safari. You would have sundowners on the safari, followed by a large dinner. I found the other safaris had much smaller food offerings prior to the both the morning and afternoon safari. Karula definitely excelled there. The Chef was kind and prepared kid friendly food for our younger son. We had a rather standoffish waiter, but everyone else's seemed really lovely. I would give the food a solid 8/10. There were some excellent things and some average.

My least favorite thing about Kapama Karula was our Guide. While doing research on safaris, I had read how the guides would give you lots of information and were very interactive. Ours was not. Infact, the little information he shared with us, turned out to be largely incorrect, as we later found out. Nonetheless, we saw all the Big Five within the first two game drives, so there was nothing wrong with the safaris, just a general feeling that our guide was mediocre. Kapama Karula is entirely fenced in, a concept that didn't really sink in until we went to other safari's which are open to Kruger. As such, you have a very good chance of seeing the animals, as they will be guaranteed to be somewhere on the grounds. We maybe glimpsed the fence once or twice over the two days, but it was not at all obvious. The only other thing that marred the beauty was that is some areas there are massive power towers for miles and miles. But on the upside, there were baboons sitting on them. There was some stunning scenery in Kapama and I especially liked their open planes with herds of zebra, etc.

The animals were fantastic and we saw giraffe and warthogs as we left the airport, before we'd even gotten to Kapama. We appreciated the convenience of the Airport, it is only 20 or 30 minutes to the Lodge. As mentioned we saw all the Big Five and cheetah, hyenas, giraffes, all the grazers, lots of birds, etc. It was an excellent introduction to safari life. We did have 1 safari with torrential rain but we set out as we wanted to make the best of it. I would recommend if it is extremely heavy rain to not go. All the animals are taking refuge and it was a really long two hours until we eventually gave up. But to commend Kapama Karula, they did not cancel the safari and still went out. I just found it really wasn't worthwhile.

Finally, things that might help you if you haven't done a safari. The jeeps are extremely comfortable. I was very pleasantly surprised. They supply you with rain capes so you don't need to lug along extra clothes for the rain. The rooms were all equipped with bug spray - so you can leave that at home too. There are a LOT of bugs on safari, especially during their summer and if it has been raining. SO be prepared to get used to them. They were constantly in my hair, especially in the evening.

I summary, we really enjoyed Kapama Karula and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to friends. The only reason that I am not giving it an "excellent" rating is I was disappointed with our Guide and our Waiter. If you are a seasoned safari goer, you might not enjoy the fact that Kapama is enclosed.

Room Tip: If you can splurge, the Superior Suites are extraordinary.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 3 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.
Melbourne, Australia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 13, 2014

Kapama Karula is one of several lodges inside the Kapama Private Game Reserve and sets a high standard for luxury accommodation and service. We stayed in a "standard" suite which included just about every imaginable luxury except for a private pool! Design and decor is light, airy and modern, with huge windows and sliding doors overlooking the river. You can brew an espresso right in your room, and of course there is a big bath, his and hers wash-basins etc etc. Dining room has canvas walls which are rolled up unless it is rainy or windy. Meals were very good, though not hitting the exceptional standard that we have experienced (once) in the Kruger area. Waiters were charming.

Morning and evening game drives take guests onto the many tracks meandering through the reserve. Civilization intrudes a little bit as we seemed to quite often come across the power transmission lines which cross the reserve, but that doesn't diminish the pleasure of seeing such a variety of wildlife within a few minutes drive of the lodge. The rangers and trackers do an excellent job of finding specimens of just about everything that one could hope for, and explaining the bird, plant and animal life.

Overall, a superb combination of luxury, fine dining and exciting safari experiences! And when it's time to leave, Hoedspruit Airport is just twenty minutes away.

  • Stayed January 2014, 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2014 via mobile

We just left Kapama Karula after four nights and definitely didn't want to leave this awesome place. We loved the two game drives per day, we saw heaps of animals including lots of Lion action and we saw a Cheetah twice, only missed the leopard but we had seen it already in Tanzania so we weren't bothered.
Our guide Reckson and tracker Nic were both fantastic and looked after us very well, our waiter Emotion was also a delight to see at breakfast lunch and dinner.
Food was great, the chef knows his stuff and is also a lovely guy and our room was stunning.
Will definitely try to come back here, thanks to all of the staff for your warm hospitality.
Marnie & Ash

Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
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Switzerland
Top Contributor
105 reviews 105 reviews
82 hotel reviews
Reviews in 71 cities Reviews in 71 cities
196 helpful votes 196 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2014

Kapama has a modern contemporary design and breaks with the traditional safari lodge style. You love it or dislike it - we loved it. If you are looking for a lodge style "out of africa" with dark wooden, colonial interior, this won't be the place for you as it has a modern, contemporary feeling. We found it excellent value for money comparing to the lodges at Kruger park. This was one of the most beautiful rooms we ever stayed. We had a superior suite with pool which was huge and beautiful in style in every detail and very new with 100% privacy.
Food was good to excellent We had 2 times dinner at the boma. food was focused on meat. On the 3d night, we had a real gourmet menu at the main restaurant,excellent and different to the previous nights. With the afternoon tea came a nice buffet with sweets and apéro like mini pizzas. Wine was reasonably priced and with high quality.
We saw all big five on our game drives, including lions several times. The vegetation was not as dense as it was at Kruger park, more open space. We never saw fences and newer felt that the reserve is small (comparing to Kruger).
I highly recommend this place. It's easy to get there from Hoedspruit airport, you see many animals and the lodge has the best value for money. A truly luxurious five star lodge!

Room Tip: Go for a superior suite with pool
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  • Stayed November 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 1
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 ( Wi-Fi ) 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*
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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