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“Perfectly Pongola” 4 of 5 stars
Review of White Elephant Safari Lodge

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White Elephant Safari Lodge
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   P. O. Box 792, Pongola 3170, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
San Francisco, California
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Perfectly Pongola”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 13, 2011

What a fantastic experience in a beautiful place! The permanent tents were very well appointed, while the service was attentive, and nicely relaxed and comfortable. The perfect compliment to the stunning landscape and view was the kind, engaging and accommodating staff members, who made our stay feel incredibly personal. We arrived very late the first night, and found dinner waiting for us on our personal stoop, after the manager personally introduced himself. Other activities were arranged on site and geared toward our interests. I wish we could have stayed for several more days!

  • Stayed November 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.
WhiteElephantPongola, Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, August 16, 2012
Dear Valued White Elephant Guest

Thank you very much for the really nice review, we strive at White Elephant to rub our passion for the nature surrounding us off onto our guests. We loved having you at White Elephant and hope to see you again in the future!

Warmest White Elephant regards
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45 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 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 (7)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Northampton, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2011

Finishing off a week in Zululand we stayed at the White Elephant Safari
Lodge. All over Africa the term colonial used but not too many lodges have
such a true colonial feel as here. The old restored farmhouse with its large
verandas has been beautifully restored. The furniture within, photographs
and paintings create a real atmosphere of times gone by. Breakfast is
plentiful and don't each too much from the cold selection as there will be
something more traditional to follow! High tea is served with sandwiches &
cakes prior to the afternoons activities. Dinner saw more fantastic food
served over 4 courses! What I really enjoyed here was that its not only game
drives that are on offer. There are game cruises to. I hadn't realised just
ho much water is within the reserve. On our evening cruise on the Pongola
River we saw crocodiles, two of which were well over 4 metres in length.
Several pods of hippos and loan bull hippos were also enjoying the water.
The river banks had game everywhere grazing and drinking. Waterbuck, impala,
reed buck & warthogs to name but some. The bird-life was as good as anywhere
I have previously been. Fish eagles, spoon bills, egrets, jacanas, marabou
storks, darters and several sorts of kingfisher are some of the birds on
show.
From my tent I could see the vast amount of water set to a back drop of
mountains. I could even hear hippos as darkness fell. The tent was pure
luxury. The bed draped in pure white linen was given pillows in shades of
red & orange to add a splash of warmth on a cool night. The mosquito net set
the room off perfectly. The adjoining bathroom looked amazing especially
after dark, lit by lanterns & candles.

  • Stayed July 2011, 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 24, 2011
Dear Mark

Thank you very much for your review of White Elephant. It was a real pleasure to have you ate the lodge. We sincerly hope to see you come back to the lodge one day!

Warm regards
The White Elephant Team
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Atlanta, Georgia
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2011

We booked the honeymoon package and enjoyed the best service of our three month visit to Africa. We were greeted by a bucket of champagne in the room and a clawfoot tub with a bubble bath drawn. The food is top notch at every meal ( we enjoyed some meals in the lodge and some by candlelight in our tent). We visited White Elephant while researching an upcoming travel book ( Tango in Tahiti) and we'd highly recommend White Elephant for outstanding service, well appointed stylish tents, and an intimate, romantic feel.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 24, 2011
Dear Seth and Whitney

Thank you very much for your review of White Elephant. It was a real pleasure having you at the Lodge. We sincerly hope to see you return to the lodge one day.

Kind regards
The White Elephant Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamburg, Germany
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2011

The White Elephant Lodge can only be described as ones personal African Paradise. From being personally greeted with a drink after navigating the track to the lodge to getting a free carwash before leaving the service is immaculate and very personal. It is located within the Pongola Game Reserve and a reservation/booking is necessary to enter the Reserve.

We stayed there in May 2011 for (sadly) just one night on our way from Sodwana Bay back to Jo'burg and enjoyed every single minute. Our "Tent" was very luxurious with a double bed with moskito netting, writing desk, lounge chairs with fridge in front of the tent, bathroom with two washbasins, a free standing bathtub, and as a special feature and additional free standing shower outside. We felt like being in a five-star Safari camp. The Lodge has 8 of these tents and all a very nicely spread out so that each tent is in its own secluded area.

The main building is a very nicely preserved farm building complete with hunting trophies, memorabilia, and small library and with its open rooms and the veranda an ideal spot to lounge in between game drives or other activities. Depending on the weather the melas are served either in the big dining room or out on the veranda. The Pool is currently under renovation (it should be finished by now) and next to it is a additional wooded deck with lounge chairs and in the evening a small fire is lit there.

All meals are freshly prepared and beginning with the Breakfast one is tempted to stuff oneself with too much of the treats on offer. It definitely is a notch above the normal B&B offerings and they are more than happy to accommodate special wishes.
In the afternoon High Tea is served complete with a selection of teas, scones, pastries, and sandwiches - in most places this would be a full dinner buffet.
Dinner is a set meal with 5 courses and we were treated to fresh Kudu - simply outstanding and one of the best meals we had in SA on our entire trip.

To watch the wildlife they offer a range of guided drives and walks (no self driving allowed) around the Reserve and also highly recommended boat trips on the Pongolapoort Dam with their own boat. All trips are with a private Guide and can be pretty freely scheduled. Where else can one watch the sunset on a boat, with a family of Hippos coming by, Eagles soaring overhead, and a freshly made Gin Tonic in Hand? Just by driving to and from the Gate we saw Rhino, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Monkeys, and dozens of colorful birds.

Did we have a complaint? Yes, now we are spoiled... ;-)

Additional Info:
Give them a call before you make a booking - normally very attractive discounts are available that makes a stay there a very affordable treat.
It is a 6-8 hr. drive to/from Jo'burg depending on the traffic. A good 300km of the N2 is currently under construction and stoppages of up to 30 min. can occur on single lane stretches.
At the entrance gate the guards sell very good and homemade Biltong (similar to Beef Jerky) made out of Kudu or Impala (which has been legally shot in the Park).
If this is your first place where you stay on a trip around SA be prepared to be disappointed with other places...

Room Tip: Call them direct and ask for specials/discounts!
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 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.
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 24, 2011
Thank you very much for your excellent review of White Elephant. We loved having you at the lodge and hope next time your stay will be longer than one night!

Until then, warm regards
The White Elephant Team
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Frankfurt, Germany
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2011

We stayed for three nights at the White Elephant and had a perfect time! The Lodge has a wonderful location and is in very good shape. The best part, however, was the service! Everybody - including and especially the two managers Terry and Peter - created an incredible atmosphere. We stayed in several high quality lodges in South Africa, but none of them had such a warm and welcoming service.

We will never forget the safari trips with our ranger Freedom, who is also not only very knowledgeable but helpful and charming, too. We learned a lot about the wildlife, both about the big (especially the black rhinos were thrilling!) and the small animals.

Thanks again to all the staff of White Elephant for the great time we had with you!

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 24, 2011
Dear Mr. Bremer

Thank you very much for your excellent review of White Elephant. We really enjoyed having you at the lodge. We hope to see you again soon.

Warm regards
The White Elphant Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cork, Ireland
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 18, 2011

My Husband and I spent 3 days this past December at White safari Lodge, it was fantastic. The variety of wildlife to see is amazing - no lions to take all the focus which was great. The bird life is unreal. Watching the elephant, buffalo and rhino was unforgetable and our guides Freedom & Moses were brilliant. The welcome by Terry, Peter and all the staff is world class. The tents are gorgeous, its fantastic to wake in the morning to the sound of the bush around you. The food and wine were tops served in a beautiful setting by really friendly staff. We really enjoyed our stay here and highly recommend it to anyone especially couples looking for a romantic break.

  • Stayed December 2010, 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.
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 24, 2011
Dear Valued White Elephant Guest

Thank you very much for your review of White Elephant. We really enjoyed having you at the lodge and hope that you will return soon.

Until then, warm regards
The White Elephant Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cornwall
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2010

Just off the main road that travels up the east coast of Kwa Zulu white Elephant bush camp is one of the best I have experienced in my many trips to the area. As soon as you drive through the gate you start spotting game and in front of you the vie across the lake to the Ghost Mountains is superb.

The camp itself is a superb destination for a large family or friends group, loads of guest chalets that are well appointed and a great central kitchen and dining area with pool and for those missing the rest of the world a TV room.

Great for evenings round the fire and meals round a giant table in a thatched dining area, Though watch out if you leave food on the kitchen tops as the monkeys are quick to come in and taste test your dinner!

We were looked after by Adrian who was only 5 minutes away on his motorbike whenever you needed him. He took us on a fishing trip/sunset cruise where we saw hippos and crocodiles and also for a bush walk that was memorable.

He also arranged a trip to the reserves abattoir where we purchased impala, warthog and kudu, superb meat at great prices.

We visited the Ubombo children's care village which was a moving experience and led to us starting a charity in our business to support Dawn Irons in her great work supporting orphaned children. We urge you to visit and support her great work.

This is a great venue and I'm sure we will return for another family trip, its understated, great value and is supported by great staff.

All our thanks for a great trip.

The Malcolms

Stayed November 2010, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 24, 2011
Dear Valued White Elephant Guest

Thank you very much for your review of White Elephant. I was a real pleasure having you at Bush Camp. We hope to see you return to Bush Camp again soon.

Until then, warm regards
The White Elephant Team
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 White Elephant Safari Lodge

Address: P. O. Box 792, Pongola 3170, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand > Pongola
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Pongola
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — White Elephant Safari Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
White Elephant is the only lodge in South Africa to offer Kariba-like, water based safari activities (motorized and canoeing) as well as the traditional land based activities. This sets us apart from other safari destinations. We are passionate about conservation and offer a superb Black Rhino tracking experience (with an excellent chance of viewing Black Rhino on foot), as well as fascinating Elephant research activities. We also offer the conventional activities such as game drives, educational bush walks and incredible boat cruises on Lake Jozini. These varied activities as well as the chance of catching tiger fish and superb bird watching possibilities, make us a truly unique South African Safari experience. White Elephant is the perfect romantic retreat for newly weds and anniversary celebrations. White Elephant Safari Lodge (TGCSA 5 star) captures the history and romance of a bygone era. The deep verandah, sweeping views and tranquil setting provide the venue for a unique African experience. Eight luxurious safari tents, each with romantic ball and claw bath, outdoor canvas shower and private verandah provide an evocative safari in the Pongola Game Reserve Wilderness. ... more   less 
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