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“Wonderful experience.” 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
Marlow
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“Wonderful experience.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2014

This was my second visit to Umlani and it was another great experience. All the staff that we came into contact with were first class and the food was enjoyed by all. The game drives were excellent, in particular the off road excursions following rhino, buffalo and leopard.

  • Stayed January 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
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, February 3, 2014
Thank you for your review on Tripadvisor happy to hear it was your second visit and you enjoyed your stay hope to see you a third time.
all the best Marco
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236 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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)
Date | Rating
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English first
Brisbane, Australia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 17, 2014

We stayed at Umlani Bush Camp for 3 nights during our Safari holiday and loved every moment. We arrived just in time for lunch on our first day and were surprised at all the different varieties of food they had on offer for their guests. Their vegetable quiche was to die for. After stuffing ourselves full of food, we were shown to where we would be staying, we were told that we were at the further end of the camp a little ways away from majority of the other guests which we were at first apprehensive about, but upon arriving at our thatched rondavel we were excited to find we had our own little private swimming pool which was just what was needed to cool off from the hot African sun. We were pleasantly surprised at our living quarters and absolutely loved our room. The shower under the stars was an absolute treat. Their is only gas hot water so if it were not so cold after my quick 2 minute shower I could have stayed there gazing up at the stars, listening to the sounds of the wild animals surrounding our hut all night. There is no electricity in the rodavels but if you do need to charge your phones, camera etc. the staff at the camp and are more then happy to put these on charge for you in the main office.
We had fantastic game viewing - elephants, wart hog, buffalo, lion, hyenas (and their babies), all varieties of birds, rhino (and their babies too), giraffe, impala, baboons, monkeys, zebra and my personal favorite the elusive leopard. Their overland vehicle's are great and you get to also go off road which was so much fun. If you get a chance, you must try and book to stay at the tree house. We were lucky enough to have the chance to stay overnight, armed with our flashlights and radio just beside a watering hole we got the chance to see the animals close up without them even knowing we were there. We even stayed for a few hours during the day around lunch time, and have fantastic footage of a herd of elephant (we counted up to 30) come down to the watering hole for a midday drink and swim with their babies. They have both morning and afternoon game drives which will never disappoint and at the end of the day you are also spoilt with sundowner drinks and then back to camp before dinner. Another highlight of our stay, we had two male buffalo just outside our hut 'bashing heads', we crept down with our driver and watched the hole scene unfold, it was brilliant. We had a once in a lifetime experience at Umlani and I would highly recommend this camp to anyone who loves being outdoors. Just a little tip beware of the cheeky monkeys, keep your bag zipped tight as they can get in and love to look through your bags for any traces of food they can find.

  • Stayed September 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 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, January 23, 2014
Thank you for your wonderful review on Tripadvisor. I am very pleased to hear that you loved every moment. Its great to hear that you used the tree house and were well rewarded. A special thank you for highly recommending us to outdoor people. Hope to see you again. best regards Marco
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Durban, South Africa
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2013

We stayed at Umlani in late November and had an absolutely fantastic time. We stayed for just three days, but at the end of it, we felt like we'd been away for 2 weeks! It is incredibly relaxed and easy going!! Just what you want in the bush! The staff are extremely friendly and attentive to your every need!! We saw fantastic game, including leopard and wild dog!! The birdlife is superb!! The bush itself is so attractive and the dry riverbeds are such a wonderful feature of the landscape!! I would definitely return, and look forward to visiting again!! Elvis our ranger is a wealth of knowledge and a true character. Of any bush trip I have been on, he is by far the most knowledgeable ranger I have met, and certainly the most interesting!!
Although it was quite hot during our stay especially on one particular day, we found the rooms very cool, and very comfortable. The outdoor showers are super!! The swimming pool on the riverbed is magnificent for hot days, and you can search for game, while cooling off with a cold drink!! Really wonderful!! Thanks to all at Umlani especially Elvis, Thembi and Mike, we really look forward to coming back soon!!

  • 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 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, December 28, 2013
Thank you for your review and I am happy to hear you had a fantastic time and that you want to return one day.I will print review for Elvis and I am sure he will appreciate your positive feed back. We look forward to your return . all the best Marco
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Slough, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2013

Second visit to Umlani Bushcamp and another wonderful experience. The staff are fantastic and you feel part of the "family" from the first time you step onto camp. Be prepared to share you hut with guests that you may not find at first glimpse! We loved our matching gecko's and our friends shared their shower with the frogs. Monkeys apparently love to steal your malaria tablets and fudge so another couple found out so pay attention to what you leave hanging around. Sit at the bar and see who visits the waterhole on the other side of the bank. Candlelit dinners and drinks round the campfire.

Room Tip: Sleep quality depends on how noisy the animals and birds are ! Good room depends on who is around!
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 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 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, December 28, 2013
Thank you for your review of Umlani and fantastic that it was your second visit .It was good to hear that you felt part of the family hope to see you again.
Best wishes Marco
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Perth, Australia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2013

Thanks to all at Umlani for making our stay so wonderful - from the rooms, to the early morning wake up calls, to the meals, and the exceptional game viewing - it was 6 nights to remember forever. Huge thanks to Shaddy, Robert, Tembi and Marco for making us feel so welcome and special.
This camp is highly recommended, particularly for the very real and natural environment.
Will definitely be suggesting this as a destination for any friends wanting to experience South Africa!
Louise and Alan Irvine

  • 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 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, December 28, 2013
Thank you for your review , we appreciate you recommending Umlani to your friends .It was lovely to meet you both.
best regards Marco
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Perth
Top Contributor
74 reviews 74 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
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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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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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 #3 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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