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“Great food, great staff and great animal sightings” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Garonga Safari Camp

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Garonga Safari Camp
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4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Selati Portion 12, KT 143, Phalaborwa, 1390, Makalali Private Game Reserve 1380, South Africa   |  
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Melbourne
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Great food, great staff and great animal sightings”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 16, 2013

We stayed 5 nights at the main camp and enjoyed every minute. The accommodation was very clean and perfectly balanced between African bush "camping" with western expectations of comfort. The staff were lovely and looked after our every need with a smile. The food was delicious and most nights the chef gave diners a choice between game or "regular" meat for the main course. We usually opted for the game and had a culinary experience to make our foodie friends jealous. We can highly recommend the springbok, warthog and eland, although we weren't overexcited about the wildebeest. The entrees and desserts were also always delicious. We even asked for one of the entree recipes, which the chef was happy to provide. We hIghly recommended taking clothes that are loose at the start of your trip, because they'll be tight by the end (LOL!).

We had Josiah and Patrick and then Moosa and Tularni as our guides and feel very blessed to have had the wonderful animal sightings we did. In respect to the cats, we got to see a mother cheetah with 3 cubs, 2 adult cheetah brothers, 2 adolescent lion brothers, another lone lion male, a fleeting glimpse of a leopard and a pair of lions mating 3 metres from our vehicle! The sounds that the lions make during and after their mating session is incredible. We also saw heaps of elephants, (both at the watering hole in front of the camp and on safari), giraffe, 5 rhinos (including one that did a dance for us - or it could have been a mock charge!), hippos, warthog, monkeys and different species of antelope.

We did both the sleep out and the bush bath and can highly recommend both. There is something exhilarating and adventurous about being left alone in the African bush that makes your imagination run wild (even though you know that you are perfectly safe).

We would not hesitate to return to Garonga or recommend it to our family and friends.

  • Stayed June 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, June 23, 2013
Your feedback is very much appreciated. Many thanks indeed.
It certainly sounds like the Game Experience was excellent; it is improving all the time especially now in Winter.
Thank-You for choosing Garonga, and we hope to see you back one day.
Regards
Bernie
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207 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    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 (55)
Date | Rating
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English first
Gloucester, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2013

This was to be our second experience on Safari and having had an excellent time on our last outing, I really didn't think it could get any better. Well, I was wrong.
Wow, what a time we had! There were four of us, we stayed at Little Garonga and it was absolutely fabulous in every way possible.
It had been a long journey, but after a most welcome drink, a refreshing towel, a tour of the camp with the most efficient Herfric, a quick shower and afternoon tea, we were off on our first safari with Josia and Patric our excellent guides. Then, enough time for a refreshing shower and a quick change before drinks and nibbles around the fire pit, the evening's menu choice from the lovely Maria, (our chef), and dinner under the stars.
I could go on endlessly about the sand messages in our little Zen garden, the handwritten notes, how lovely and clean it all was, never having the table set in the same place or at the same angle, generally, the attention to detail at Little Garonga knows no bounds.
We absolutely loved Josia and Patric, our guides, they were so knowledgeable and answered all our questions and we had lots of really funny moments with them that we will never forget. We also loved the "off road" moments as they followed the tracks to get us closer to the animals.
As many guests have commented before, we too spent a night on the sleep out deck. I was just a little nervous about not having a net, but there was no need for it at all. We listened to the lions roaring close by and watched the shooting stars which put on a really good show for us that night. Josia and Patric picked us up in the morning for another fabulous game drive followed by a picnic breakfast on a dried up river bed. It was beautifully laid out on bright blankets complete with attractively placed leaves and another great spread from Maria.
We will not forget our time at Little Garonga and would dearly like to return sometime in the future.
Our thanks go to absolutely everyone who made our stay so memorable.

  • Stayed May 2013, 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, June 23, 2013
Thanks indeed for your very positive feedback.
The staff there are a true credit to Garonga.
Josia and Patric indeed are a very entertaining but very knowledgeable team.
I will pass on your feedback to them.
Regards
Bernie
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Odiham, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

Believe everything that other reviewers say about Garonga. It really is THAT good!

We were married there and enjoyed the first few days of our honeymoon afterwards. It is a fabulous mix of 5 star service without being stuffy and formal. Standards are exceptional but you always know that you are in Africa on safari, we really didn't want to stay in a generic hotel which could be anywhere in the world. It is so relaxing and all of the staff are wonderful. The food was excellent and the game drives were brilliant. The trackers are very knowledgeable and go to great lengths to ensure you see the animals well and it was amazing to see the animals so relaxed around the Garonga safari staff. The animals are wonderfully healthy looking and clearly the whole safari side of everything is as well managed as the "hotel" side.

The wedding was a truly magical experience. We were married up on the sleep-out deck which is about 25 minutes drive from the main lodge. How many people see giraffe, elephants, zebra etc all just on the drive to the ceremony? The wedding itself was a very personal affair, carried out by a lovely chap called George. We actually had 2 ceremonies, the standard, exchanging of rings version and also an African one where we exchanged meaningful African curious which symbolised various aspects of married life and caring for one another. George provided all of the items and they were ours to keep!

We cannot speak highly enough of the whole experience at Garonga, you'll only ever know how good it is if you go yourself!

Room Tip: We slept in tent number 6. It is the furthest from the lodge and does not overlook the watering hole...
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  • Stayed May 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, June 1, 2013
Thanks indeed for your very kind words. It was a pleasure to host you on your very special day here.
Weddings are very majical in the Bushveld out amongst Nature and only the Animals to keep you company.
Best Wishes
Bernie
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 25, 2013

we stayed 3 nights at Garonga and enjoyed every minute there. Everything was perfectly organised, the accomodation spacious and clean and the safari drives were fantastic. We were close to lots of the animals and always felt safe. Jaffad and Rebel knew where to go to see the animals and we did some exciting four-wheel driving. Bernie looked very well after all of the guests and nothing is a problem.
The food was great, the staff friendly and helpful and there was enough of everything.
It was a really great experience and we will come back to Africa at some stage.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, June 1, 2013
Thanks for your very positive comments. Jaff and Rebel are a great team together.
We hope to see you back.
best Wishes
Bernie
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2013

Garonga Safari Camp is simply magical! I decided on Garonga based on the reviews from Trip Advisor. I took my 79 year old mother, who had always wanted to go on a Safari. I thought the pictures and videos of the property were too good to be true, but the property looked exactly as advertised.

The "tents" were actually done in a Moroccan style, which added an amount of elegance that was very functional and pleasing to the eye. I put "tent" in parenthesis because the foundation was rock solid, with a polished stone floor (to keep snakes out) and a stucco style walls. The roof was a heavy canvas. Each tent had a very nice bathroom, washing area and an unbelievable shower (another shower was outside). The beds were king-size, very comfortable and protected by mosquito netting. The main dining area was great for socializing with other guests. Wine, beer, certain liquors were all complimentary. The food was outstanding!

The best part of the trip, however, were the safaris. We took two safaris each day, each between 3 to 4 hours. We left at 0615 in the morning and would return around 0945. We'd eat breakfast, then have the middle of the day to ourselves (swim in the fantastic pool, get a massage, lie in the hammock, etc). We'd eat lunch around 2:00 pm, then get ready to go on the afternoon safari around 3:30. We'd be out until about 6:45pm, then freshen up and have dinner around 7:30pm.

The safaris themselves were unforgettable experiences. We drove in an open air Land Rover 4 wheel drive vehicle that accommodated 10 people. There was no roof or windows on this particular vehicle, so the animals theoretically could have just jumped in with us (although they never would). These Land Rovers were engineering marvels. They could take the steepest grade, ford the deepest rivers, and drive at impossible angles without rolling over. The reserve was about 10x10 square miles, full of brush and trees. The property was shared by numerous game reserves, not just Garonga. It was a delicate ecological balance to keep so many animals on that property without one breed of animal exerting total dominion over the others, but it was done masterfully. We saw lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes, antelope, buffalo (in a separate area), zebras, hyenas, impala, jackals and numerous other animal and bird species. We came across a pride of lions feasting on a zebra carcass. We were only about 20 feet from them! We also came across a bull elephant in heat, the only time I got really nervous! The highlight of our safari experience was on our last day, when we say two cheetahs chasing zebra, and then the zebra reared up and chased the cheetah!

I could go on and on about this fantastic place: the internet connectivity, the evening safari cocktails, the treehouse lunch, breakfast on a dry river bed. Best of all, the staff was fantastic. The overall value was tremendous. Congratulations to Bernie and the rest of his crew for creating such a magnificent experience!

  • Stayed April 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, June 1, 2013
Thanks indeed for your very kind comments; you certainly had a great Safari. I will pass this on to the staff on our weekly meetings.
Best Regards
Bernie
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Chicago, Illinois
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

We spent 3 nights at Garonga the end of April and cannot say enough how much we enjoyed our stay. It was highly recommended by a friend when we started planning our first safari and I am happy to say that our expectations after hearing from her were not only met but exceeded! We felt the timing of our stay was perfect as it was a little chilly in the morning and evenings but nice and warm in the afternoon. It is an absolutely beautiful place, both looking out of the lodge and our own tent, truly a "safari for the soul". I loved our tent and felt completely at peace there and in the lodge eating meals overlooking the bush, as well lounging by the pool during the day relaxing with some beers. It was also nice that it is only 12 guests max - there were only 6 of us the first night and it was lovely! Bernie and the entire staff could not have been more welcoming and we LOVED the food (Bennett, you are a fantastic chef!) and had some great meals there. We did the sleepover and I highly recommend it - when else do you get to go sleep in a treehouse and literally see no other lights when looking out, and just listening to the sounds of the animals. We saw plenty of animals during our 5 safaris (including a lion cub on the gravel runway as we were leaving!) and were so sad to leave. Thank you to Bernie and the entire staff for a truly once in a lifetime experience, although we certainly hope to make it back again soon! :)

  • Stayed April 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
Thank-You indeed for your very positive comments.
The sleep out is a must, especially now in the Winter when ity is so clear at night!
It was a pleasure hosting you!
All the best
Bernie
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Surrey UK
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2013

We spent 3 days at Little Garonga for our daughters wedding in April and cannot speak highly enough about Little Garonga, the staff, the atmosphere, the surroundings, the games drives, the list is endless! The wedding was truly magical from the service under a fig tree to the choir, reception, food and stunning location! From the very minute we arrived to the very minute we left we were treated to sights, sounds and experiences we will never forget. Thanks Bernie and your great staff (CJ and Hefrek in particular) for looking after us so well including the small touches (ie sand messages). We so appreciated your efforts on our daughters big day and the rest of our stay with you.

Room Tip: The Buckingham suite has a wonderful outlook from the decking area
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  • Stayed April 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, May 20, 2013
Thanks indeed for your very kind comments.
I will certainly pass on your message to CJ and Hefric!
Best Regards
Bernie
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Garonga Safari Camp

Address: Selati Portion 12, KT 143, Phalaborwa, 1390, Makalali Private Game Reserve 1380, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Makalali Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( Wi-Fi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Makalali Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Garonga Safari Camp 4*
Also Known As:
Garonga Safari Camp Hotel Makalali Private Game Reserve
Garonga Safari Camp South Africa/Makalali Private Game Reserve

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