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“Slightly disappointed” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Etali Safari Lodge

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Etali Safari Lodge
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5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Madikwe Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa   |  
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Johannesburg
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Slightly disappointed”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2013

My wife and stayed at Etali for 3 nights in mid january after 3 nights at another lodge in Madikwe.

The visit had highs and some disappointments.

First the highs, the game ranger, Obi, and the tracker, Ronnie, were magnificent and managed to track a pride of lions in the bush that had not been spotted for a week by any of the local rangers. They were friendly, knowledgable and made the stay for us very special, 5 stars. On the day we left the heavens opened and they drove with us to the main Madikwe road to be sure we didn't get stuck on the way out, thanks.

The food is very good and compliments to the chef, every meal was top class. because of the rain we could not enjoy the boma but instead had a braai on the main balcony but which was very good.

Rooms are of a very good size and the splash pool was a welcome relief on the hot days, clean and just the right temperature.

Disappointments would be the general ambiance of the main lodge area and the rooms which despite being large and spacious just seem to lack the level of comfort that one expects in lodge of this type. I know this is a personal view and others may differ but compared to the previous lodge we came from it seemed cold and uninviting and the main lodge was not somewhere one would wish to linger too long and relax. I guess we expected a bit more luxury...

In summary, great rangers made the holiday but the general lodge ambiance would not bring me back.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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114 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (40)
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Frankfurt
Top Contributor
149 reviews 149 reviews
44 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2013

what a place for ones first safari!! We barely arrived and were informed that if we had the energy we could go on our first safari in 30 minutes! We jumped at the chance. What a great introduction to South Africa. The owner and his wife make you feel at home, the food is great. But if you think that you are going to rest, think again! Though you can if yo want to, but why go on a safari if you wan to rest! First one is at 5:30, get back at 9:30 for breakfast, rest have lunch and at 16:30 ypu are back on the trail until getting back just in time for dinner!!

  • Stayed December 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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Johannesburg, South Africa
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2013

We surprised some UK friends by arriving a day early at Etali to share their last day of their 3 day safari. The Lodge were all in on it & kept the surprise wonderfully! Luckily our friends were pleased to see us!
The Lodge is luxury, beautifully & thoughtfully laid out & spaced. You really do feel you are there on your own when you are in your room. Food was lovely, great to have some wines & drinks included (makes the bill at the end very palatable!). The drive were very good & Obi the ranger was so knowledgeable & respectful of the animals. I really enjoyed his enthusiasm & regard for these amazing creatures.
The game was good - but you have to remember that it is a lottery. Turn left you might see something, turn right, you might not. The whole experience was wonderful & we would certainly head back there as soon as we can! Thanks Sue & Everyone for a super stay & for guarding the secret so well!

Room Tip: Rooms 5 & 6 overlook the watering hole. All are lovely!
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
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Gaborone
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2013

We stayed at Etali for 3 days over the New Year’s holidays and it is obvious the kind and thoughtful owners Koos and Susan make sure it is a well-run lodge. The staff are efficient and helpful. We arrived in the heat of the midday sun and were impressed to find that the air-conditioning in our room had been put on in anticipation of our arrival. The rooms are so spacious they are more like big chalets but the large aircon unit cooled the whole place down very efficiently. The rooms are solidly built - no creaking wooden floor boards, and thoughtfully designed so that couples can have privacy from each other while their digestive systems are working. Between bedroom and bog there is a big bathroom and TWO doors. No stinting in the ablution block here!

Sliding doors open on to a large decked veranda with sun loungers and a temperature-controlled whirlpool all overlooking the valley and animals. So you can be together with your spouse/partner in the room but not necessarily joined at the hip. All the thatching at Etali looks new, well maintained and clean and no little bits of straw were wafting down on the crisp bed linen. For bookworms like there is a bonus – in each room is a large angle poised reading light to use if the bedside lamp is not sufficient.

Our guide on the game drives, Doctor, whose knowledge of the animals, insects, birds and vegetation is impressive. He was interesting, never boring and didn’t over load us. The covered vehicles have comfortable seats with individual back rests so that there is less wobbling about of one’s spine. The game viewing is spectacular, as other reviewers have already mentioned. After 30 years game-viewing I saw my first brown hyena. For five minutes we had a clear, daylight, sighting of this handsome, normally nocturnal, beast. In the same place we saw the much-less-handsome spotted hyena and up on a kopje behind them a lioness and her cubs.

The combination of the Spa and the bush is wonderful. I enjoyed a pedicure and a deep, de-knotting muscle massage to make sure I didn’t end up looking like a loping hyena.

All the meals were delicious with plenty of fresh salads and vegetables as well as prime cuts of perfectly cooked meat. For New Year’s Eve dinner we had the added pleasure of listening to the consummate musician Brendan Ross playing his saxophone or the keyboard and singing, his clear voice enthralling us under the stars with the water-hole on one side, the fire on the other and a bottle of champagne in front of us!

Early morning on New Year’s Day there were wild dog relaxing under our veranda. Welcome 2013!

Book and go if you possibly can.

Room Tip: All the rooms/units are well separated from each other and completely private so if you have any wal...
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  • Stayed January 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.
Istanbul, Turkey
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

Very relaxed and clean boutique safari lodge that has spacious rooms and a terrace with stunning forest view,it is a safe place where you dont have to lock the rooms which makes you feel home. We had a very nice bbq night with very good food in the bush, with african songs quite nicely performed by the warm etali staff. Our rangers were very friendly and polite and well knowledged, we had excellent times in game drives with beautiful sceneries, and we saw lovely animals,
İf you want yo visit this place i strongly reccomend you to stay at least for two nights , we had an amazing beautiful experience,and we were very satisfied with the lodge,
Actually we had a 4 day trip in madikwee, we spent our first two days in another lodge, so we had the oppotunity to compare , and i can strongly reccomend etali safari lodge for its safety, polite staff , and cleanliness, nice foods, and nice rooms.
The only problem i had in madikwee was with the food, if you cannot eat everything and not likely to try new tastes like ostrich meat or springbok carpaccio staff will help you for sure. İn general breakfast, lunch and bbq dinner was so nice.
We had a very romantic, relaxing, lovely and unforgettable safari , thanks to all welcoming and family friendly etali staff,(mr. Moses, ms. Angie,cooks,and rangers)

Room Tip: We were very satisfied with the room, there were only 8 rooms in the hotel , so i think most of them...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2012

Best vacation ever. Etali is this fantastic Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Reserve. Small, elegant and simply the best service we've ever had anywhere. The rooms are beautiful, comfortable and air conditioned. They are large with either a king size bed or twin beds, double sinks, indoor outdoor showers, a large tub and beautiful leather chairs and a fireplace. The lodge is lovely. Relaxed, friendly and informal. Safari's twice a day in 10 seat open air land cruisers. Our fantastic guide was Ross and our spotter was Jerry. Our group (2 families ) was 7 and we stayed with Ross and Jerry all week. The food is great, breakfast after the first safari, lunch at 1, tea at 4 and dinner after the 5:30 safari. The spa is a gem , tucked away with excellent service. A small gym next to the spa provides everything needed for a great week . The owners, Susan and Koos love to engage their guests and the staff is incredibly attentive. I wasn't sure what I expected on my first trip to South Africa, but this was even better then I imagined. We saw the big 5 the first two days, got caught in a major thunder and lightening rain storm (Etali provides warm ponchos and blankets for all), saw elephants, cheetah's, leopards, rhino's, wild dogs, Zebra's, Lions etc. we had our 16 year old son with us and he loved it. Enough activity to keep busy when you want to be busy, but not too much that you can't relax. We're telling all our friends to head to Etali! One last note, you can drive to Etali from Joberg, but we chose to charter a 30 min flight. Worked perfectly (Ross and Jerry picked us up at the Madikwe Air strip) and wasn't cost prohibitive when divided by 7.

Room Tip: All the rooms are beautiful and have their own pools.
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  • Stayed December 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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Stockholm, Sweden
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2012

I strongly agree with the recent reviews posted by gaving, balkissa d and KathrynandTerry; THIS WAS THE BEST EVER!!!
I had planned our trip to South Africa for 1 and a half year. This year, both my wife and I turned 50 and we wanted to celebrate it in great fashion, together with our children. We visited Cape Town, Hermanus and Stellenbosch before ending up at Etali. We had some fantastic experiences which will stay with us through our whole life, but, with respect to those experiences, Etali topped them all!!
I made all the arrangements with Conny, Eva and Susan(co-owner) from back home and arrived to Johannesburg excited and full of expectations. We were picked up by Lucas from Ingelosi Tours (http://ingelositours.co.za/) at JNB airport to take us in a comfortable, air-conditioned(it was 30+ C outside!) mini bus as we decided on not to drive ourselves(not used to left-hand traffic and only driving occassionally at home). It turned out to be a wise decision as Lucas turned out to be a fantastic driver, with a great sense of humor, which made the long trip(5 hrs) almost fly away! One thing to consider as an alternative to driving is flying into Madikwe with a chartered or scheduled flight(http://madikwecharters.com/). There are also two airports, Lanseria and Sun City, which would shorten the drive.
When we arrived to Etali, we were met by Moses, who, as the above reviewers mentioned, did absolutely EVERYTHING to make us feel at home during our 3 night stay. And as we did!!
The lodge consists of eight different luxury bungalows and a main building with reception, spa(named "Best Safari Spa 2012" in South Africa!), open-air gym, restaurant, bar, sitting room, an infinity pool, and a big veranda overlooking the "boma" (the outdoor fireplace with tables) and the watering hole.
Besides the beauty and world class standard of our family bungalow, the first thing that struck us was the friendliness and hospitality of Moses and his colleagues!! We were unbelievably lucky to be the ONLY GUESTS on the first night, which meant that all the staff's attention was directed towards us, this made us feel like Kings!! This feeling went on even when other guests arrived....:)!
The food was excellent throughout our stay and the first evening dinner was made very special, when we were presented with a home made chocolate cake for our 50th birthday!!! But that was not all; we were extremely fortunate in seeing a herd of elephants, a jackal, a hyena, a BLACK rhino AND a leopard at the watering hole on the FIRST night!! We had hardly any time to finish our delicious dinner...:)!
The next morning we went for our first ever game drive with Docter(the ranger) and Samuel(the tracer). Those guys are awesome!! They make a fanatastic example of team work, based on mutual respect and always the best interest of their guests as their passionate mission!!! We teamed up with them for all the drives(5 in total) and they felt like good old friends!! They showed us their skills in tracing and their knowledge of the bush and the animals over and over again, no questions were unanswered! On one occassion, Samuel spotted a leopard laying(!) on a cliff which was surrounded by other cliffs(for us others, including Docter with binoculars, impossible to see!!) from a distance of about 500 meters!! After that, I nicked-named him "The Hawk-eye"...:)! So it was then less surprising that he also spotted nocturnal animals during the only night drive we had(we were forced to cancel the second night drive due to bad weather) from his flashlight as only reference....!
We managed to see 4 of the Big 5, the only one eluding us was the buffalo. Docter and Samuel did ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, we went on a cruisade to find them, but they hid in the bush, we could even smell them and see fresh spilling from them. Yet another reason to return to catch a glimpse of them in the future:)!! THANK YOU DOCTER AND SAMUEL FOR TRIYNG SO EXTREMELY HARD FOR US!!
Koos and Susan are the owners of Etali and we were fortunate to meet Koos several times, unfortunately we missed out on Susan. Such a wonderful, caring and charming person! He loves the bush and the animals, furthermore he is genuinely interested in his guests, always taking time to sit down and talk AND listen to you!! He is proud of Etali, and rightly so!! He runs a fantastic establishment with hand picked staff who love their jobs and guests and deliver world class quality in every aspect!! We do recommend Etali to everyone who appreciate world class quality in every aspect and the intimacy and tranquillity of the lodge! We would happily return to Etali, if we get the chance!! Thank you everyone at Etali for the best travel experience of our lives!!

Room Tip: Simply the best!
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  • Stayed November 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.
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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 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 #12 of 23 Specialty Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Hotel Class:5 star — Etali Safari Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 10
Also Known As:
Etali Safari Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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