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“Luxurious 'safari lite' experience. Highly recommend!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Etali Safari Lodge

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Etali Safari Lodge
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Madikwe Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa   |  
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Hotel amenities
Special Rate
May & June Special R3450
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Luxurious 'safari lite' experience. Highly recommend!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2012

We had an excellent time at Etali! Four of us stayed there for 4 days in early February. Moses (manager), as well our guides, Laz and Doc, provided excellent service and were our friends in short time. Their knowledge of Madikwe and the wildlife, as well as their interest in providing us with an excellent experience is something we will never forget. It was also great to meet the owner, Koos, who had fascinating perspectives about the park and region. Overall, our stay was perfect for what we were looking for: a ‘safari-lite’ trip for a few days before heading to Botswana for work. The accommodations and food were excellent. We especially enjoyed BBQ night.

If I had to give one piece of criticism, it would be that the gym area could use upgrading. I’m sure I’m not in the majority of guests, but I did exercise while staying at Etali and was somewhat limited by the available equipment.

Weather in Feb was beautiful. We had one cold early morning, but there are plenty of blankets in the trucks. Don't worry about dress too much; unless you do game hikes you can pretty much wear anything.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 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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152 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (47)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
unitied kingdom
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2012

We stayed for one night at the end of January at very short notice.
Friendly and clean with knowledagable guide.

Nothing more to say really other than if you are considering it then do it.

Room Tip: Try to get one og the rooms on the right of the deck where the waterhole view is best
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  • Stayed January 2012, 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
    • 4 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.
cesena
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2012

Our first experience in safari: two families overall 6 persons (4 adults and 2 kids 16 years old). We have been surprised by wild bush and location of Etali : the lodhe was completely hidden in the wild nature. We spent three beautiful days; food was great : always tasteful and ready when we left for safari and when we came back . Selection of wine is almost unbelievable! We start drinking at first dinner and we never stop. Rooms are large and very confortable, clean with and amazing view over the bush.
Staff is well trained, kind and ready to any of our request. Just in front of the lodge there is a water puddle to let drink animals : during the morning, while we were relaxing in swimmingpool, an elephant come silently and start drinking under our eyes just 50 meter away!
Two rangers, Ross and Rudy, organize the daily safari trip : they perfectly know their job and they are ready to explain you every animal secret. We have seen 4 of 5 big (we miss leopard). Susan and her husband are friendly and they keep you like at home.

You can't choose a better location !
Antonella and Luca

  • Stayed January 2012, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
melbourne
Top Contributor
150 reviews 150 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 19, 2011

i cant say enough about etali its easily the most beautiful and intimate hotel i have stayed in. we drove 4 and a half hours from joburg and were greeted warmly . nothing was too much for the staff who were more than happy to cater to our every whim. the scenery is magical, the game drives amazing and filled with knowledge and facts about the game, food amazing and the accomadation devine. do yourself a favour GO THERE. as for me i cant wait to return!!!!!

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg
Top Contributor
111 reviews 111 reviews
56 hotel reviews
Reviews in 60 cities Reviews in 60 cities
79 helpful votes 79 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2011

We visited Etali twice and both times we had a wonderful time. The suites are spacious and private. We enjoy sharing a bottle of wine while relaxing in the outdoor whirlpool. The game drives always exceed our expectations. The ranger is accompanied by a tracker who assists him with the spotting of animals. The wild dogs are always a highlight and we had some wonderful buffalo and elephant sightings. On our last visit a rhinoceros and her calf which was born on the same day lingered at the the waterhole in front of the lodge for hours. We love the boma dinners and the chef makes a beautiful panna cotta.

Room Tip: All the rooms are private. Room 8 is a good choice.
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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scarborough
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2011

We visited Etali for 3 nights in October. This was our first safari experience but will not be our last. This is such a wonderful place to stay from the luxury accomodation, the friendly helpful staff, the exquisite food and last but by no means least the amazing drives!!!
If you are reading these reviews to help you decide whether to book - don't hesitate just book.

Thank you Koos and Susan for such a wonderful experience.

  • Stayed October 2011, 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.
Lincoln, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2011

We are a party of seven who between us, have been fortunate enough to travel the world quite extensively. As such this review is based on what we all thought of our stay at Etali.

We booked Etali for our wedding venue. Both my husband and I had been to Madikwe game reserve before and having fell in love with the reserve, knew that this was where we wanted our ceremony. Choosing the lodge for our wedding was the difficult part! After much research and a fantastic rep (through Rhino Africa) who helped us get down to a shortlist, Etali seemed the perfect choice and we weren't disappointed.

Planning any wedding can be stressful and If I'm totally honest the most stressful part of our wedding was the "no planning" aspect of it. I felt that I should have been doing something and yet everything was taken care of already.

Connie was our single point of contact at Etali and kept in contact with us via email in the early days and then by telephone as our trip drew closer. She was amazing and offered personal advise to us when we really weren't sure about any of the choices available.

The only thing that wasn't arranged prior to our arrival was the ceremony location itself. This was because we wanted to get married in the game reserve, which meant that we got to choose this when we arrived. This was an amazing experience in itself which, I will mention later.

From the moment that we arrived at Etali, we were "blown away." It truly is the most amazing place that any of us have ever been too. We were greeted by the most wonderful staff who throughout our stay couldn't do enough for us no matter what. We were then greeted by a herd of elephants who were taking an afternoon drink at the lodge's waterhole whilst we sat enjoying our welcome drink.

We were then shown to our individual lodges where we found our luggage already waiting. I can't remember the last time that I have ever jumped up and down with excitement but found myself doing just this when I saw what was going to be home for the next 5 days. The rooms are stunning. The decked area outside the rooms are breath taking and we all spent a lot of time over those next 5 days enjoying the delights of the visiting animals to the waterhole that greeted us it seemed each time we stepped out onto our private decked areas. Personally, I can't think of anything more amazing than sitting in a hot tub viewing endless animals visiting a waterhole.

After a freshen up and a dip in the hot tub we went out on our game drive. Wow......
Our ranger Obe and our tracker Lazerus were fantastic. Their knowledge and experience was second to none. Having been on a lot of game drives previously I can think of only a few others that have been as good. Being a party of seven we were on our own game vehicle which had the benefits of us being able to go out looking for particular animals. Obe and Lazerus' knowledge never ceased to amaze us and between them we were fortunate enough to have some amazing viewings.

Returning to the lodge after each game drive was wonderful. The warm air that hits you as you drive up to the lodge is just the first welcome that you are greeted with. The staff are waiting with a big smile and another drink and after a quick freshen up you the get to sample the wonderful food that the lodge has to offer.A few of our guests have dietary requirements but once again nothing was too much trouble for the staff who went out of their way to ensure everyone was lokked after.

Obe and Lazerus took us out the following day to choose our wedding location. Unfortunately our first choice had recent lion activity so a very quick decision was made that we should probably look for an alternative. Lazerus grew up on a farm in Madikwe so his knowledge of the reserve helped us choose a very beautiful location for our ceremony.

I must mention that senior management continually ensured that we had everything that we needed and continually checked in with us to ensure that we had no further requests for the wedding. I would like to extend a big thank you to Moses who ran around making sure everything went just so on the big day and for also driving me to the venue having ensured the venue was prepared beautifully.

On the day of the wedding we got up for our game drive as normal. When we arrived back at the lodge a beautiful wedding itinerary had been drawn up and left in everyone's room. After enjoying another fantastic breakfast the wedding party began their preparations. As there were four women in our wedding party we paid for a hairdresser to attend the lodge to assist us. The hairdresser was fantastic (arranged via the lodge) and totally unfazed by having just three hours to do everyone’s hair.

After meeting the magistrate and his wife my husband and our family were taken to the wedding location in our now decorated game vehicle whilst my best friend and I were driven to the outskirts of the location by Moses in a closed vehicle. This ensured that no one saw us prior to the ceremony and my ivory dress was still ivory for the ceremony at least.

We decided not to have a photographer for the wedding due to both the cost and not wanting set/staged photographs. We did invest in a good camera for the holiday and once again Obe and Lazerus took charge and became our wedding photographers. The Magistrate and his wife were brilliant and became a very welcome addition to our wedding party too. The ceremony was perfect. It was both beautiful and personal. Not known to us at the time was that the magistrate and his wife had recently completed a photography course so we were fortunate enough to be presented with a disc of photographs from them the following morning, which we cannot thank them enough for. Obe was fantastic with the camera too and we ended up with some pretty amazing photographs.

The ceremony location was prepared beautifully. It was 40 mins away from the lodge and yet it had seating and cover from the sun for the guests, tables laden with food and champagne and a beautiful gazebo wrapped in ribbon and chiffon. The flowers were beautiful and included flowers at the lodge,flowers at the ceremony location, a bouquet for me, buttonholes for the men and individual wrist corsages’ for the women too. (We chose proteas as the main flowers as we wanted to keep it natural to where were were). It is difficult to describe how stunning this was and as such I have attached some photographs.

After the ceremony we all got on the game vehicle and drove to a waterhole for sunset. We had permission to use this water hole exclusively and had some amazing photographs taken just before the elephants joined us there. We then went on our evening game drive before returning to the lodge.

The Etali choir greeted us at the lodge and it was stunning. From the moment the vehicle drew up outside the lodge the singing and dancing of the choir (the Etali staff) overwhelmed us. It was beautiful, heartfelt and very emotional.

The wedding dinner was an amazing seven courses and the only down side was not having enough room to fit it all in. We were then presented with a beautiful wedding cake that the chef had personally made and decorated for us. It truly was beautiful.

The following day I managed to fit in the complimentary massage, facial and body wrap that is part of the wedding package that I should have had the day of the wedding but decided to have the following day instead. The spa facilities once again were beautiful and I can only say that that it was a perfect way to totally relax and unwind. It really is worth a visit.

The remainder of our stay went by far to quickly and our only regret is that we didn't stay at Etali longer than we did.

If you're looking for a once in a lifetime experience then go here. I'm torn between wanting to keep it a secret and wanting the world to know how amazing this place is.

Etali. Thank you. We'll be seeing you next year for our anniversary.

  • Stayed September 2011, 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.
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Additional Information about Etali Safari Lodge

Address: Madikwe Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 23 Specialty Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Etali Safari Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 10
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Etali Safari Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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