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“The best of the best” 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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Exmouth, Wa Australia
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“The best of the best”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2013

This was our last camp after 12 days Namibia, 3 days Ant.s Hill Waterberg. Dark weather when we arrived and quite cool but we saw 2 Cheetah.s that in 5 yrs Africa I had not seen before. Elephants in front of our tent, Lions in the riverbed, you name it we saw it. Absolute fantastic accommodation, food delicious and staff so lovely, would have loved to have stayed there a lot longer as lots of things on offer. Lots of honeymoon couples, but all ages blended in nicely.
Bernie is a great owner of the lodge and Lillie is an asset to the company. Top Marks

Room Tip: There are 8 tents all overlooking dry riverbed and waterhole, would not recommend for children as th...
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  • 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 1
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, October 27, 2013
It was a great pleasure hosting you here, and so glad you managed to have a great Game Experience.
Thanks very much for your positive feedback.
Best Wishes
Bernie
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236 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    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 (61)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Mechelen, Belgium
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2013

"We stayed at Garonga for 5 days as part of our 10th anniversary trip. Garonga was amazing, from the location and style of the camp, our tents, the food, staff, pool, and of course the drives and our rangers Patrick and Josiah. We opted for all the options: sleep out (what an experience), picnic in the tree, bush bath, and microlight flight, all was really really worth it! Massages were excellent. Bernie is a brilliant host and he also gave us tips for our afternoon in Joburg. We particularly appreciated the staff's attention to details, the different dinning locations every evening and the fact that they rotate in their duties which gave us a closer connection with them.
A truly memorable experience."

Room Tip: All are great, but nearer to the lodge is best
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  • 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 3
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, October 27, 2013
Thanks indeed for your very positive feedback. A 10th Anniversary is something very special!
You certainly tried all the activities on offer; the microlite is a great fun experience as you can see so much of the reserve.
A pleasure having you out here.
Best Regards
Bernie
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St. Lawrence, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2013

We were very wary of going on safari and joining a herd of people clicking their cameras away at some rather distant animals. Hence we did a fair amount of research and settled on the intimacy of the Garonga experience. We were not disappointed.
We booked the Hambledon Suite at Little Garonga for a little more privacy and couldn't have been more delighted with it (no drinks writing down here - just ask when the gin runs out!).
We flew in and back from Kruger airport which was hassle free and spared the long road journey after an already long flight from the UK via Joburg.
The game drives were superb, I really can't believe we were just lucky. Our experienced tracker CJ always seemed to be in the right place at the right time for the animals to pass often within 10-15 feet of the vehicle. The video I took of the bull elephant in 'must' passing just 8 feet behind us as we all held our breaths, has to be seen to be believed. The leopardess hauling her recent kill up a tree before calling her cubs to join her, the lion pride washing and drinking after their recent kill, the cheetahs stalking, the white rhinos warning us not to get too close, the mating hippos, zebras, giraffes, goodness knows how many different kinds of antelope and other bush animals. No, we didn't see a live kill but then we were only there for 3 days!!
Gotta save something for next time!
This camp certainly deserves all the accolades it has received. I can't imagine how there could be a better safari experience anywhere. Well done and thank you to the whole team on providing one of the most memorable trips I have experienced.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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 1
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, October 27, 2013
Your Game experience sounds fantastic; of course it doesn't always happen like that which is the beauty of experiencing a pretty much natural wilderness experience where anything can happen.
Thanks very much for your feedback.
best Regards
Bernie
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London
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2013

We stayed in the Garonga Safari Camp for our honeymoon and we didn't regret it. It is set in the middle of a private game reserve - over looking a dry river bed and the wild African nature. The lodges are pure luxury in a tent with comfy beds, indoor jet showers and outdoor bush showers (the later is just fabulous). We saw elephants and impalas on various occasions from our window/balcony and heard the lion's roar at night - just spectacular: we felt so priviledged. Our safari drives were all successful and we ended up seeing pretty much everything we wanted to see .. sometimes at a very close distance too!! The guides are very knowledgeable. Staff are very warm and friendly - it feels natural and it's not over done (which I like). At night, the atmosphere is very convivial and you have the opportunity to talk and share your experiences with other visitors while having a drink. The food is one of the best I have ever had (and I am French so I know my food!). Everything is homemade and so tasty. They also have bush bath and sleep out nights.. The later consist of dinning out and spending the night in a bed on the top of a tree while gazing at the stars and listening to all the noises that nature has to offer! A truly different experience. If you like nature, you will love it.
I left Garonga with a head full of beautiful sceneries and memories... I will remember it all my life.

Room Tip: There are only 6 lodges and all of them have a unique view so I don't think one is better than t...
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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
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 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.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, October 27, 2013
It was a pleasure having you here to stay and so chuffed you enjoyed your honeymoon with us.
Thanks very much for the very positive feedback.
The staff are a great team and these feedbacks are a great morale booster for them.
Best Wishes
Bernie
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canada
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 19, 2013

Oh, Garonga. My husband and I read all Tripadvisor reviews and decided to visit this luxury, award winning camp that has tons of awesome reviews from the visitors. It was our first safari and because from some of the reviews we were not sure if gaming is the best at Garonga, we decided to stay also in Sabi Sands – in Ulusaba Safari Lodge (you can read our review). We stayed at Garonga for two nights from Sept 1, were able to attend two games and we agree with most of the positive reviews below, but…there are few things we didn’t realize or chose not to consider before deciding on Garonga. In this review we want to point those things. In our opinion Garonga is a great CAMP – for those that like camping. But then there is a group of people, like us, that don’t like camping and here we want to make it clear that regardless of the ‘luxury tents’, Garonga is a camp. To get there, we drove on a narrow road full of stones that were hiding the bottom of our rented Honda Civic and we were afraid of the safety of our car and the tires. Please rent an SUV if you can. On the arrival, we talked to a girl who was totally un-interested in us, just talking about her leave as soon as she will be done with us. We were so hungry when we arrived, but there was no food available for us, for approximately next two hours when the dinner was served, even though we asked for a snack. When we arrived to our tent (#1), it felt depressing, dark, and it was so cold, with few bugs inside. And at that point we didn’t know that it would get even MUCH colder at night (take really warm clothing). Nothing wrong that Garonga did – it is a CAMP, in African spring season – that’s why it was cold and there were few bugs. They provide heated blankets (thank you so much for that), but they don’t help the fact that you breathe very cold air, that is moving inside the tent and in the whole camp you have nowhere to go and get warmer. We would pay extra for heather, if they would offer it. Tent was otherwise clean and bed comfortable. During the day, the tent felt nicer - it was warm and very relaxing, with a nice view at the water hole, where we could see an elephant and some other animals. Food was OK; homemade style food – something eatable, something not. I personally didn’t like Truckers breakfast despite great reviews I read – it had the worst scrambled eggs ever. I liked avocado-egg-red beets salad for lunch they packed for our picnic on the tree – that is a really cool thing Garonga does, if you book it. Be careful if you choose a small Champaign for the picnic; they might forget to tell you that they will bill you extra for it at the end. I didn’t like how they try hard all the time to promote and sell you wines that are not included in the price. Games – very honestly, we found it so so. I know Bernie won’t like this, but it is our honest opinion. It takes lots of driving and time to find some animals. On one game ride, which is about 3 hours, we saw probably 2-3 different animals, other than ‘impala type of animals’ that are everywhere anyway. Sometimes we kept coming back to the same animals we saw previously on the game ride, probably because we didn’t find anything else. We found the two games we attended more on a boring side. But, we have to mention that despite that statement, we saw a leopard mom and 2 cubs – 2x, two rhinos, 2x giraffes, 2x hippos and a hyena. Bernie was very helpful when it came to our flight check in and everyone from his staff was very nice and hard working. We felt pretty obviously that this place has a very tight budget and provides a bare minimum of the “all inclusive” place. For example, there is a rule that you must write to the book every single drink – alcoholic or not – that you take from the fridge or bar and mark how much you had and your room number. Really, Bernie? The price for a person per night is pretty expensive compare to other vacation options we all have and we are not convinced that this service and games were worth the money we paid. In this review, we just want to make it clear to everyone that Garonga is a CAMP. It may be truly camp with luxury tents….if you like camping style vacation. If you don't like camping, you might not see the value of staying here. Maybe some issues we had would be resolved by staying at Little Garonga (like cold), but for that price, there are much better safari places - in our opinion. Anyway, we wish Garonga all the best, many more awards and many better reviews than this one. We truly thank you for your hospitality, Bernie.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, September 20, 2013
Thank-You very much for your response and feedback. I am sorry you did not enjoy your experience at Garonga. The Luxury tented rooms are not for everyone and, as you say, Little Garonga would have probably been more suitable. Bugs in the Bush occurs I'm afraid. The entrance road has to be driven slowly but is manageable with any normal car and does not need a 4 x 4.
Game Viewing - it is a big area and so it is not always available. Feedback by other Guests at the same time was from "very Good to Excellent".
I ask Guests to write their drinks down (they are included in the rate) purely for our own stock control. Special wines and the small sparkling wines I do not have a policy of "Hard Selling" and certainly don't try and trick people into buying them; I will of course address this with the Staff anyway.
Truckers Breakfast - a very popular dish; sorry about the scrambled eggs; I will ensure the Chefs are made aware. However I hoped you tried the health menus.
It was a pleasure hosting you here and I hope we may see you back one day at Little Garonga.
best Regards
Bernie
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UK
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2013

We stayed 5 nights at Garonga Safari camp after Rose from Africa Rose Travel recommended this lodge. We had a great time there as we managed to see all the animals we wanted. We even managed to see a couple of cheetahs. The lodge was beautiful as was the reserve. Thanks to all the staff who made our stay memorable.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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BERNARDO S, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this review, September 18, 2013
Thanks indeed for your feedback. It was a pleasure to have you here and experience the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve.
best Wishes
Bernie
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Cape Town Central, South Africa
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2013

We stayed at Garonga for 2 nights and loved every second of our visit. Bernie and his team are absolutely wonderful and made the trip unforgettable. The main lodge area and tents are luxurious. Our ranger and tracker were excellent. We loved the picnic in the tree and the bush bath. We will definitely make a plan to get to this magical place again.

  • 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
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, September 18, 2013
Thanks indeed,
Great to see you back, and a pleasure having you here to stay.
Hope to see you again sometime when you manage to escape from the Glorious Cape.
All the best
Bernie
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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 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 ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
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*
Number of rooms: 9
Also Known As:
Garonga Safari Camp Hotel Makalali Private Game Reserve
Garonga Safari Camp South Africa/Makalali Private Game Reserve

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