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“Memorable- The big 5 and more” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Umlani Bushcamp

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Umlani Bushcamp
3.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
Kruger Safari Option
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Perth
Top Contributor
74 reviews 74 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“Memorable- The big 5 and more”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2013

This was our first African safari experience an what a great way to start. The camp is an open bush camp, which means animals can (and do) wander right through the camp. The 2 hyenas killing an impala in full view during our dinner was a novel if slightly unnerving experience.

The huts are rustic but comfortable with solar power only. They do have a generator for charging cameras etc in a hut nearby. A torch or headlamp is very useful. The beds are comfortable and the outside shower OK once they got the hot water going- you have to expect that these sort of things happen in an isolated camp and it really didn't detract from our holiday.

Meals were good without being brilliant- you certainly didn't go hungry.

The game drives were spectacular- elephants, lions,giraffes, leopards, buffalo, rhino, warthog, honey badgers, lots of antelope, birds, etc etc. Our drivers and spotters were top notch and took you right up to the animals . Drinks out in the bush while the sun went down- just a brilliant experience.

It's well worthwhile spending a few hours at the tree house overlooking the watering hole. You can spend the night out there or just a few hours during the day. We watched zebras, giraffe, warthogs and then a herd of elephants came down for a drink- amazing

David and his staff were fabulous and I really can't thank them enough for providing us with such a memorable experience.

Coming from Australia where tipping is not part of our culture, I found it a bit annoying to have to put tips in envelopes for the various staff members. I wish they would just increase the overall tariff and save us the trouble but I guess this system works for them. Maybe they should provide those of us not so familiar with tipping with some "tips on tipping". I would hate to think that I might have under tipped such wonderful staff.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, November 19, 2013
Thank you for your review of Umlani Bushcamp I am glad its was a good way to start on your first safari .

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify tipping on Tripadvisor . We deal with many different travelers from all over the world and most countries have their own tipping culture . We respect each countries different tipping cultures and tipping is by no way obligatory it is purely on the guest wish to do so and what ever amount the guest is comfortable with.

We presume that it would not suite every traveller to pay tips as part of our overall tariff .The general info folder in the rooms gives the same advise on tips. We mention that it is not obligatory and purely if a guest wishes to do so. The amount is what ever suits you the individual and is always much appreciated. Many guests wanting to do the right thing ask us and we refer them to the info folder in the rooms. Your review has prompted me to furthermore put the tipping guide lines on our website for travellers pre travel information.

Thank you for that......... best regard Marco
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236 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 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 (44)
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English first
Carlsbad, California
Top Contributor
189 reviews 189 reviews
54 hotel reviews
Reviews in 81 cities Reviews in 81 cities
83 helpful votes 83 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2013

We were lucky enough to stay at Umlani on our first trip to South Africa. The ratings were high and the rates very reasonable, the location for game viewing excellent, BUT, the reason to return is for a 'lodge' experience not isolated from the land and animals. Umlani is casual, open, and centered on the biodiversity surrounding it. Yes, the food is good and the rooms comfortable, service is excellent, and the staff knowledgeable. But there is none of the separation one often feels in more luxurious settings.

Room Tip: All the thatched rondovals seemed about the same.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, November 10, 2013
Thank you for your review on tripadvisor and you mentioning that your ratings are high and about the reasonable rates .
We look forward to your return visit with friends. All the best Marco
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Stellenbosch
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2013

Our 4th visit to Umlani and it remains top of our list for a visit to the lowveld bushveld. Marco has created a very special place indeed. Just the right combination of rustic and comfort to enable you to fully immerse yourself in the bushveld experience.

Service, meals, rangers, game viewing, birds, all superb. Viewing elephants and lions from the camp was very special.

Thanks!

  • Stayed November 2013, 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.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, November 10, 2013
Thank you for the review , super happy that you mentioned Umlani is very special place and remains on top of your list . We look forward to you 5 th visit . all the best Marco
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bedfont
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
41 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2013

Firstly, apologies for the delayed review (we visited back in July 2013) but this review needed a decent amount of time to write, to do Umlani justice! This was our first safari experience and it was unforgettable! And if you cant be bothered to read the whole of my long review....just take my word for it and book!!! :P

I'll start with the camp itself...as you've probably guessed there is no electricity...at all! (even the refrigerators in the kitchens are solar powered!! - talk about green! :D ) This doesn't mean that the camp isn't comfortable though. With oil and solar lamps, hot outdoor shower and fully functional bathroom with lots of running water your little individual hut has everything you'll need. The beds are comfy with mosquito nets and lots of storage for luggage. The whole camp is small, rustic, charming and full of proper South African character. It blends in with the natural environment perfectly...because after all WE are the visitors in the bush!
If your looking for luxury with all the mod-cons this isnt for you....but if you want to immerse yourself into the safari experience through great game, people and atmosphere then Umlani is it.

The game drives are amazing!!! We visited in winter time when it was very cold in the morning and evenings but there were blankets provided in all the game vehicles for when the wind got abit chilly. (I would recommend lots of warm layers if your visiting in winter - but upside is there are no bugs!) We saw looooooads! All the big 5 plus tonnes more!
The drivers and trackers are really passionate and knowledgeable about the bush and wildlife - and have incredible senses to spot some of the animals. Elvis is brilliant! He is funny, engaging, and makes every game drive something to remember! Thank you Elvis for finding all the cute baby ones for me! :)
All of the viewings are really private and the drivers communicate with all the other camps' trackers so that you will never miss a viewing and they will never be too crowded.
I cant put into words how exciting it is to see such beautiful animals in their natural habitat!!
We booked a private walk with Elvis one afternoon which was another great experience - giving us a chance to see everything at ground level as opposed to in the jeeps. Elvis was fantastic - getting us to touch, taste and smell different plants, showing us tracks and even seeing wildlife....soo exciting!
We also stayed for a night in the tree house - which is a once in a lifetime!! Not for the faint-hearted as you get dropped at the treehouse at night (good 5mins drive from any camp) and left with a torch, a radio and a bucket. Haha! It was the most incredible experience to lay under the stars (which are unbelievable) and listen to lions calling, hippos splashing in the water hole etc. Just give it a go! - if you decide you dont like it you just radio back to camp and someone will pick you up. We woke up the next morning very cold and wet due to mist and fog and we got picked up so we could change into something dry for our morning drive. Elvis was there in minutes.
Even sitting and reading a book in the bar area whilst watching the waterhole can turn into an exciting viewing. With wildlife frequently visiting you could almost not bother getting in the jeeps!

Your stay would be all-inclusive - inc food, drinks, game drives, private walks, treehouse. You need not worry about getting your wallet out whilst at Umlani! Open bar is accessible at all times of day. The food is delicious - all fresh and local produce - Ruth and her team do an amazing job. Dinner and lunch are buffet style with hot breakfast to order.

Umlani felt like a home from home almost immediately! David, our host, was lovely - greeting us after every game drive; sharing stories and facts over dinner and drinks. We also had the absolute joy of spending alot of our stay with the owner, Marco's, family. Margaret & co were so welcoming and friendly it was a delight to join them on nearly all of our game drives and they were even kind enough to invite me and my boyfriend to join them for pre-dinner drinks. Lovely family that just reflect the entire ethos for the camp! We hope you are all well and hope to be back soon!

Emily & George x

  • Stayed July 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
    • 4 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.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, November 10, 2013
Thank so much for your informative review . We are glad you felt at home immediately and it was lovely to meet you guys and we hope to see you again sometime in the future back at Umlani.
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Fredewricton
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2013

This was our first visit to a game reserve, and Umlani did not disappoint. It is a small camp, but this adds to the attraction. The accommodation should be described as rustic, but to us this was an added bonus. We have Holiday Inns at home. Management, service, game viewing, food and wine left nothing to be desired. I would not hesitate a second to return.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, November 10, 2013
Thank you for your review of Umlani Bushcamp , I am glad to hear that Umlani left nothing to be desired . The Team look forward to your welcoming you back sometime in the future.
best regards Marco
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Fareham, United Kingdom
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2013

Umlani! What can I say. The most exciting, exhilarating, calming, peaceful, fantastic place to stay for the best African experience. We stayed in Hut No 3. My daughters, 7 and 5, thought it was brilliant. Comfortable and very exciting staying in a hut with no electricity and an outside shower. It is amazing just how good you feel when you don't have all of the electrical and technological distractions of the modern world. The staff were brilliant and very accommodating. We travelled with family, there were 11 of us - 7 adults and 4 young children. The entire camp and staff were fantastic. David, the manager, or Gavin, his second, were always there to greet us after every drive. Our ranger and tracker were Shaddy and Robert, and we couldn't have wanted better people. They educated us constantly and were superb with the kids who listened intently whenever either of them had anything to say. Before lunch and dinner the drums would play and this just added to the whole African experience of our stay. If I could have stayed longer I would have and both my girls said that they would definitely come back, even at their young age. Because of the age of the children, they were not allowed to go on a bush walk but David very kindly took us - myself, my brother and his wife and our 4 children - on a mini-bush walk around the camp which my girls still talk about now. No matter what I write in this review it will still not be enough to say how wonderful Umlani is. The only way to find out is to go and do it and I would strongly recommend that anyone does. My thanks and love go to all of the staff at Umlani for such an amazing experience and for putting up with me, my parents, my brothers and their wives and our 4 children.

  • Stayed October 2013, 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, November 10, 2013
Wow... your review was such a treat and motivation for us to keep on doing what we doing , thank you.
We the team highly appreciate you recommending others to visit and your mention how wonderful Umlani is . Thanks again .....truely touched Marco
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Leicester, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2013

It was a very personal trip for our party. How do you get 7 adults and 4 children under 8 into the wild safely. If you want the real taste and touch of nature this is the only place to stay. We stayed for three nights and were all blown away by a truly magical experience!! You really feel in the home of the animals, apart from the high Elephant wire anything below 2.5 meters can and did walk straight into camp. Our host David was excellent, as was his team. The detail from raking the sand around the camp, to see what had come through in the night to the sound of the drums calling for food were perfect. Our driver Shadrick and spotter Robert were brilliant! Bare in mind they had two seven and two five year olds on board they did not disappoint. Apart from the 5 different Leopards we saw, we also came across Caracal, Honey Badger, Rhino, herds of Elephant and Buffalo, 2 Black Mambas and an abundance of general game. Oh and I’ll never forget the dung beetle!! I could go on and on. The impact was and still is amazing.

Room Tip: Dress up warm for drives and stay for a week!
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, November 10, 2013
Thank you for your review , the Umlani team are happy to hear that we had a amazing impact .Also glad you had good game viewing .We welcome children as we believe that the children who visit Umlani are touched by the experience and go on to become custodians of nature and the environment through their early impressions of wilderness.
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Additional Information about Umlani Bushcamp

Address: Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 15 Specialty Lodging in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Umlani Bushcamp 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Umlani Bushcamp, a rustic yet exclusive lodge, accommodates guests in cozy en-suite reed and thatch rondavels. Early morning and evening game drives are in open four wheel drive vehicles accompanied by experienced rangers and trackers offers exceptional game viewing opportunitys. Umlani makes the whole event personalized and specializes in escorted walks into this unspoiled wilderness. Umlani, meaning Place of Rest, was established in 1990 by Marco and Marie-Louise Schiess, in the central section of the Timbavati Nature Reserve, which is part of the greater Kruger National Park. Umlani is the perfect nature lovers choice. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Umlani Bushcamp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Umlani Bushcamp South Africa/Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

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