We have just returned from a visit to Lakeside Lodge as part of a Saga group. The holiday can be split in to two parts, the accommodation/transfers and the game drives/walks.
The drive to the reserve is longer than it says in the brochure, our transfer from Johannesburg airport took 4hrs 15mins, including a 15 min. break, and the last 75 minutes of this was down a very bumpy and dusty dirt track.
The accommodation location is absolutely stunning, right on the shore of a lake created by damming a river, on the far side of the lake is the Entabeni mountain, this provides a fantastic outlook from the lodges. The rooms are quite basic and are just about acceptable, however they are in need of updating, especially the bathrooms, which are looking very dated, and some suffer from cracked and broken tiles. The mattress on the bed was very comfortable, but the plethora of sheets and blankets did move around during the night. As has been noted in previous reviews the temperatures did drop quite dramatically once the sun went down, and the lack of heating in the bathroom and toilet was quite uncomfortable, also there are quite large gaps around the doors and as we had a couple of very windy days, the draughts were quite unpleasant. The standard of the housekeeping was a bit variable and seemed to depend on which maid serviced the room (replacing tea/coffee supplies and changing towels, or not).
The food was also a bit variable; the breakfasts were very nice, with a good selection of hot and cold food, including freshly cooked eggs, pancakes and omelettes. However the lunches and dinners were a bit ‘samey’, in that there was nearly always a stew of some type, a pasta dish and occasionally fish, there was always a sponge pudding, fresh fruit salad and a mousse type dish as well, we did have 2 picnic lunches and 3 al-fresco meals in the bomas which were amazingly presented.
However the main reason for going on this type of holiday is the wildlife and the game walks and drives and on this front we could not fault the holiday, our rangers/guides were Ross and Aniska, and their knowledge, enthusiasm and concern for the animals was beyond reproach, they also made our time with them a lot of fun. We were very lucky in that we saw a really wide range of animals, the only ones of note that we missed were leopards and hyenas. The highlight of the holiday however was seeing 2 cheetah brothers chasing down and killing an impala, an incredible experience. Other notable moments were close encounters with lions, rhinos (white and black), hippos, elephants, giraffe, zebra, ostrich and several species of antelope. A point to note is that the drives take place either early or late, and the temperature does drop dramatically and warm clothing, preferably including gloves and scarves is recommended in the winter months.
Another great pleasure was sitting on one of the decks or the veranda of our room, and looking over the lake, where we saw giraffe, elephants, fish eagles hippos and wildebeest, there were also vervet monkeys, impala and bushbuck wandering around the lodges, it sometimes felt quite unreal seeing these wild animals at relatively close quarters. As other reviews have noted the doors to the rooms do need to be locked as the monkeys are quite capable of opening doors and ransacking the rooms (as one member of our group discovered!)
Would we go back? Definitely, the negatives were more than outweighed by the fantastic experience we had seeing the beautiful animals and the tremendously spectacular and varied scenery.
All the rooms have excellent views of the lake, those in blocks 6 & 7 are perhaps better for wat...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.