However, we opted for the flight from Jo’burg to Ngala (at ZAR3,750 roundtrip) making it less good value for money. In hindsight, we would have considered driving, not so much because of the cost, but the flight takes between two to three hours (not the advised 1.5 hrs, and direct flying time is 40-50min.) and more cost effective driving takes five hours on good, paved roads. The problem with the flight is that you cannot be sure of being taken directly to your destination. Fed Air and Ngala neglected to inform us that they drop off other folks at Londolozi, Singita, etc. before dropping us off. The return trip took an unbearable 3 hours as Fed Air changed our pick-up time from 1:30pm to 12:30pm. We were rushed to the Ngala landing strip, flown to Nelspruit and had to wait over an hour until another plane arrived. Then, they first dropped folks off at Londolozi then Singita before taking us to Jo’burg. The lodge was okay, but nothing to rave home about, not exactly Small Luxury Hotel standard. Everything was clean, tidy, and in good working order. And, every time you returned to your room, someone had clearly been in to clear out the rubbish bins, change the towels, put candles out at night, etc. The food was very good on the whole. However, certain things just makes you cringe. My husband is a vegetarian. When we arrived, we asked the hostess who received us, “Monica”, for some food since the flight did not have any vegetarian food and he hadn’t eaten for 6 hours. She said that she will arrange for something from the kitchen. After we unpacked, we arrived at the dining area where there was plenty of afternoon snacks available, but clearly no vegetarian food. When we reminded her, she went into the kitchen and returned with a huge tray of food. Unfortunately, the vegetarian cheese was on the same plate and placed next to non-vegetarian items like beef jerky. When someone is a strict vegetarian, eating off the same plate as meat is pretty offensive. For dinner one night, I asked her if the mashed potatoes served to me contained dairy since I am allergic. “Monica” said that they knew that I am allergic so the chef has made sure not to include dairy in my food, including the mashed potatoes. When I asked her to double-check, she had this look of shock like how dare I question her. When she returned, she quickly whisked my plate away and retuned with a new plate replacing the mashed potatoes with new potatoes and apologized. On top of that, she continues to address us (as well as the other guests) as “guys”. “How are you, guys”, “is everything alright, guys”, “how was the safari, guys”. This got to be annoying as we didn’t appreciate being referred to as “guys”. The breakfast and lunch had a good variety. However, it was a buffet and there were hoards (I kid you not) of bees all over the freshly cut fruit, floating in the juice, on the cheese, jams, meats, salads, cereals everything. It was a truly disgusting sight. When this also happened at lunch, we pulled “Monica” aside and asked if she would mind covering the food to make it more hygienic. She had this look of surprise yet again and seemed like she could possibly arrange for this but it was a big favour to us! Anyways, the highlight of the trip and what really makes a difference is the ranger. We had Richard and he had this enormous enthusiasm for the animals and the environment. The rangers there really work as a team and triangulate where the animals are, so we would get the best chance of seeing them. We saw everything we wanted from lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, buffalos, secretary bird, zebras, wildebeests, empalas etc. It was truly an amazing experience. For our fourth night, we opted for the Ngala Tented Camp which was much more luxurious than the lodge, but despite being closer to where the big game animals inhabit, had a less successful game drives. That’s the trade off, great hotelling but less exciting game drives.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The romance and mystery of Africa come alive in 20 thatched cottages tucked under a dense canopy of tamboti trees at Ngala Safari Lodge. Exuding classical safari charm, the spacious veranda, with its wonderfully comfortable armchairs, looks out onto a popular waterhole. For pure indulgence, the Safari Suite offers an elegant sitting room, private swimming pool and exclusive use of a safari vehicle. Mouth-watering meals are served in the shade of an enormous weeping boerbean tree, while a large swimming pool lies on the edge of thick riverine woodland. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Ngala Safari Hotel Ngala Private Game Reserve
- AndBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge Ngala Private Game Reserve, South Africa