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“Magnificent Tangala!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tangala Private Camp

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Tangala Private Camp
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Thornybush reserve | Hoedspruit, Kruger National Park, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Johannesburg, South Africa
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Magnificent Tangala!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2013

We have just had the pleasure of spending 3 wonderful days at Tangala with our four teenage children. The game viewing was some of the best we have ever experienced. The food was tasty, homely and more than enough for 3 hungry teenage boys. The staff were all welcoming and made sure that our experience was one that we will never forget. We can't wait to go back!

Room Tip: If you are a couple ask for the room with the king size bed.
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Private Camp, responded to this review, October 3, 2013
Thanks for taking the time to write the review - this information is so valuable to both us and to intended visitors.
We are delighted that the bush treated you so well and, of course, look forward to welcoming you and your teenage boys (and all their friends) back again, soon. Keep in touch with us via Facebook if you'd like a peek into what is going on at Tangala, while you are away: https://www.facebook.com/TangalaThornybush?ref=hl and please share some of your pics with the Tangala family.
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79 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
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English first
Brooklyn, New York
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 29, 2013

My wife and I spent four nights at Tangala Private Camp in March 2013. The manager then was Stephen Smith, but he left that post soon after our visit. The majority of the staff, however, seems to remain at Tangala Private Camp even when its ownership changes, so I'm sure the game drives, food, and everything else is just as good as ever. There are about a dozen places to stay in Thornybush Reserve, some quite expensive, but as our guide noted, everyone sees the same animals. And we saw just about everything we could have hoped for, except for the elusive leopard -- though not for lack of trying by our guide and tracker. Just watching these guys track leopards was a treat!

But, back to the camp. I'll try to be brief, because the other reviews on this site already go into detail about the accommodations. I didn't mind the lack of Wi-Fi (it was nice to be off the grid for a few days), but I didn't love the lack of electricity. Not because I wanted to plug stuff in (the camp can charge cameras with its solar panels), but because I got tired of breathing kerosene fumes from the lanterns. The food is kept refrigerated using gas generators, so there's no environmental benefit to the no-electric thing. And, of course, it was dark in our room (it looks bright in my flash photos, but those are deceiving), which is why my wife didn't initially see the Mozambique spitting cobra that slithered (we presume) through one of the unscreened windows for a cool afternoon nap on our bathroom floor. On my wife's way back from the loo, the snake hissed and assumed his defensive posture, erect with hood out. My wife (who has a thing about snakes) froze, and I went and fetched Stephen. He was expecting a garden-variety snake but not this rarely seen species, which he immediately identified. He stood between the snake and my wife and she summoned her courage to move; then he returned with goggles, the ranger and a snake-catching device, and they bagged the serpent. My wife got a lot of mileage out of this story back home in New York, but she will be staying at places with lights and screens from now on! The staff assured us that this kind of thing is exceedingly rare. Otherwise, it's nice to have animals roaming through the camp, especially as you enjoy an afternoon drink or a wholesome breakfast (see photos of the food).

Overall, we had a fabulous time. It was my first safari since 1982 and my wife's first ever, and she was thrilled to get so close to so many animals. The camp is small; all the guests fit in one Land Rover for the twice-daily game drives. Once, there was just the two of us!

To get to Tangala, we rented a car in Hatfield, a suburb of Pretoria (a short Gautrain ride got us to Hatfield), then drove the 5+ hours to the camp, which is just south of Hoedspruit. The route recommended to us had one stretch of nasty potholes on R36, one of which dented our tire rim (I fetched the hubcap from the roadside), but we found a better route on the way home (switching to R540). It's a much nicer drive during the day -- beautiful mountains. But it's possible to get stuck behind slow-moving trucks on the mountain passes, so budget time for that. Other folks take the southern route through Nelspruit, spending more time on R4. Probably less scenic but a more predictable drive.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Karin P, Owner at Tangala Private Camp, responded to this review, October 3, 2013
Wow - good to hear from you after all this time and so brilliant that your memories of your time at Tangala are as sharp as if it were yesterday!
They staff are correct - snakes abound in the bush but it is REALLY unusual to find them lurking around the accommodation area. This has happened once in the time that we have been associated with Tangala and the previous owners seemed equally surprised: what an experience for you!
There have been quite a few staff changes since you were here, but as you will see from the latest reviews, all good!
Thanks especially for the advice to other travellers on the scenic road route you took: very helpful.
If you aren't on our Facebook page already - see you there! https://www.facebook.com/TangalaThornybush?ref=hl
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Manchester, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2013

having spent 3 nights at this camp last year seeing wild dogs with pups we woundered if this time could match up
but I have to say it not only matched but bettered the experience
the game viewing was quite spectacular either in the camp at the waterhole or on game drives
and with food and service of 5 star quality we never wanted to leave nothing was to much trouble for the staff and when we asked to stay on for an extra night due to the lion kill in camp it was all sorted out with no fuss even at such short notice
so its a big thank you to Lowu and staff for a fantastic time the best 5 days ever spent on safari
will certainly be back next year
gary and Julie

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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Karin P, Owner at Tangala Private Camp, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
SO glad that Tangala surpassed your expectations: it certainly was an exciting week in camp, wasn't it. Look forward to your next visit! Meantime, keep in touch on Facebook and please share some of your pics?
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RSA
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2013

We spent three nights at this intimate private lodge. Louw and his team make you feel at home from the moment your arrive. The lodge only caters for 10 guests in 5 rooms. Animals visit the waterhole throughout the day and we were fortunate to see a male lion visit the waterhole. The absence of electricity adds to the ambiance. Margaret's cooking is exceptional and the afternoon high tea was a treat.The game drives were exciting and Louw took us right up to the animals.We saw the big 5 within our first two game drives. We arrived as strangers and left as friends.

Room Tip: Room 6 has a king size bed and a huge private deck. This room however has a bathtub and not a shower...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Private Camp, responded to this review, September 29, 2013
Thanks for taking the time to write a good, descriptive review. We are sure that it will assist other travellers in making their decisions about how long to stay at Tangala.

We do, however, like our service to be 100%. If you would like to drop us a note, explaining what was lacking during your time with us, it would be sincerely appreciated.

karinp@tangalathornybush.co.za
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Surbiton, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 25, 2013

What Tangala lacks in electricity, wifi and mod cons, it more than makes up for with its friendliness, fabulous food (courtesy of Margaret), and its amazing waterhole.

With Louw providing excellent game drives early in the morning, and in the evening, it was lovely to sit on the deck during the day, and watch the various animals come down to the waterhole to drink. With the numerous nyala roaming the camp, and the resident porcupines and side-striped jackal, wildlife was always close at hand.

The rooms, whilst rustic, offer extremely comfortable beds, and the paraffin lamps add to the ambience.

If you're looking for an impersonal, high-end lodge, from which to see your Big Five (which we did in Thornybush Reserve - where Tangala is located), then Tangala is not for you. However, if you're looking for a communal, friendly lodge, with an excellent guide, great food, and the waterhole to die for, then this is definitely the place for you.

Linda & Chris, UK

Room Tip: The veranda for room 6 offers good views over wildlife-rich grasslands.
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Private Camp, responded to this review, September 26, 2013
Such a well-written description of what Tangala is, and isn't. Thank you for that.
I think you may have left just before the gentle wildlife you encountered in the camp was replaced by both a buffalo falling into the swimming pool and a large pride of lion killing a giraffe right outside room 6! They then settled in for a couple of days, much to the delight of our guests from the US.
It would be lovely to welcome you back again and thanks so much for taking the trouble to write the review.
If you would like to elaborate on why the service was only rated as a 4, we would really like that. You can send your comments to karinp@tangalathornybush.co.za - we can't always guarantee good sightings and a solid sleep but we should be offering 5* service at every encounter.
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pretoria
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2013

We went to Tangala for a 3 night stay and had an awesome time. The staff were friendly and helpful, the accommodation was very comfortable, and the food was so delicious. The amount of game that come to the waterhole, is amazing and we sat, relaxed, in this beautiful, quiet setting watching the animals for ages. Our ranger, was extremely knowledgeable and went out of his way to find the most amazing sightings for us. As there is no electricity at the camp, the paraffin lamps lit each night, add to the ambience , and on arrival back at Tangala after the afternoon/night drive, as you drive through the gate, one is greeted by all these flickering lamps , lighting the way back to the camp and it is truly beautiful. .It is an awesome , luxury ,bush experience. All to soon we had to pack our bags and head back to the city. We have plans to go back in November, with family, to share with them , a memory of a lifetime!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Karin P, Owner at Tangala Private Camp, responded to this review, September 26, 2013
So often people think of luxury only in terms of plush finishes and monetary value - thank YOU for recognizing that luxury at Tangala is a unique concept: it is found in the abundance of wildlife, the intimacy of interacting with staff and the unrivalled exposure to the African bush in its most naturally beautiful state.
We are so pleased that you will be coming back so soon. Welcome to our family!
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Malden, The Netherlands
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2013

It was the first time for me to be in Africa. I love Tangala because of the peacefull atmosphere, the beautiful view over the waterhole and all the anmimals that come to drink there. They come very close, the nyalas were walking around my room. As I went to dinner I heard something in the bushes around my room and thought it would be the nyalas. But no, it was a big bull elephant that was going to drink from the swimmingpool. The guides were very good and brought us close to elephants, lionesses with four playing cubs, a roaring lion, black and white rhinos, a big herd of buffalo and much more. I didn't miss electricity, the bed was comfortable, the food very good and last but not least, the staff was very friendly. It was really a great experience.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Private Camp, responded to this review, September 26, 2013
Thanks for taking the time to write the review for us and we are delighted that all the game came out to play while you were there! With it being your first time in Africa, we wonder if you realize how very privileged your were, to have such abundant sightings? It is rare in any reserve in our country. Now that we have you hooked, we really hope that you, your family and friends will visit us again, soon. We would love that.
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Additional Information about Tangala Private Camp

Address: Thornybush reserve | Hoedspruit, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #12 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tangala private camp is an intimate game lodge in the renowned Thornybush Private Nature reserve in Limpopo province, South Africa, bordering the Greater Kruger National park.Tangala private camp is unfenced, has no electricity and our guests love the relaxation of campfires, paraffin lamps and no cell phones ringing. All meals are provided, as are the guided game drives in our open vehicles. Wildlife is prolific in this reserve and our very relaxed game means almost guaranteed spotting of a couple of the big 5 on every trip. Birding enthusiasts will find a haven here, too. It is one of the ultimate spot for raptor viewing. Accommodating only 10 guests at any time, Tangala has a homely atmosphere and is themed as 'great grandfather's weekend hunting lodge', back in 1944 (which is when it was established). Meals are traditionally South African, as is the warm hospitality. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tangala Private Camp South Africa/Thornybush Private Game Reserve

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