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“Wonderful Atmosphere” 5 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
Cape Town Central, South Africa
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“Wonderful Atmosphere”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2012

I recently spent 5 nights at the White Elephant Bush Camp. The Bush Camp can take 16 people in total with 6 two bed chalelts and a family chalets. The Bush Camp is not to be confused with teh White Elephant Lodge. It was simply brilliant and we loved every moment of it! We love the bushveld, the game walk and the boat cruise in particular was a highlight. Richard was our guide was very informative and took great care of us. We booked out the whole camp for our family and had a great time. Pongola Game Reserve is unique and I loved every moment of it, The Bushcamp was self-catering which was perfect for us. Can highly recommend it!

  • Stayed July 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
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, and always feel proud when we can offer a memorable experience that our guests will never forget. We hope to see you again in the future!

Warmest White Elephant regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2012 via mobile

I recently spent 2 nights at The White Elephant Safari Lodge. The lodge is a luxury colonial style farm house. The rooms luxury tented suites. Spectacular! Loads of atmosphere, great food and great service. The bush is amazing, sounds of jackal and hippos at night and franklins and pearl spotted owls in the early morning. Set on a hill above the beautiful Jozini dam within the 31000 ha pongola big 4 nature rerserve, the views and setting idylic. Game drive amazing, vultures a plenty, plains game plentyful. Black Rhino close to the lodge, no leopard but fresh leopard tracks on a morning bush walk. Excellent birdlife on the water cruise safari. Reedbuck, nyala, hippos, warthog and relaxed white rhino. No elephant or buffalo seen but tracks and sign everywhere. To sum it up it is everyones dream of Africa, bush, water, hides, walks, game drives, boat safari, canoe safari. I will be back and highly reccomend it for anyone wanting a special piece of Africa for their safari experience.

  • Stayed June 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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, 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, and always feel proud when we can offer a memorable experience that our guests will never forget. We hope to see you again in the future!

Warmest White Elephant regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
70 helpful votes 70 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2012

I spent two nights at the White Elephant Safari Lodge while on a trip through South Africa. While resident South Africans had warned me that Pongola was a "loss leader" of sorts and not worth a stop, I found both Pongola and While Elephant to be great places for a visit.

What I Liked

I found the setting of White Elephant to be absolutely perfect. Located in the heart of the Pongola reserve, overlooking the large lake, the views from my luxury tent were absolutely sublime. The luxury tent itself was also very cozy, lending a rustic feel but with all the modern comforts and touches of an upscale resort room.

The lodge manager and hostess at the time, Narice, was extremely friendly and accomodating. She made me feel immediately at home and made sure the staff took care of all my needs. While her staff complement was smaller than some of the other larger lodges, service was still at a high level and everything was taken care of in a very prompt and seamless manner.

Game drives were fantastic, and I did get the opportunity to see a very rare black rhino and it's mother running together through the bush. My ranger (sorry I forgot his name) was really very good and quite seasoned. Not only did he provide narrative and facts about the various animals in the reserve, but he also provided environmental and socio-political context regarding the complicated issues of animal protection.

What I Didn't Like (as much)

I visited White Elephant right after completing a two day trip to &Beyond's Phinda camp, so my dislike are really more aptly qualified as "didn't like as much".

I know a previous reviewer noted this, but food on offer was probably not comparable to what I had received at my other lodges. This is not to say the food was bad - the food was quite expertly prepared and very tasty. However, because it is a boutique lodge, there wasn't as much of a variety of food on offer. It was somewhat of a letdown after traveling to Phinda, but I still thought the cooking staff did provide very fine meals.

Game viewing was somewhat hampered by the fact the touring vehicle does not have four-wheel drive. Because it was raining somewhat during my stay, the safari vehicle could not really "off road" without getting stuck in the mud and probably limited the game viewing.

Other tips

At the time, there were four leopards on the reserve and lions had not yet been introduced. Hopefully by the time of my review the lions have been reintroduced and it should make for even more interesting game viewing.

Be aware that while the luxury tents are very comfortable, during the winter they can get very chilly (as canvas can only insulate so much and there isn't any interior heating).

Likewise take advantage of boat trips on Pongola lake for further game viewing. Unfortunately it was too windy for a boat trip during my stay, and I would have loved to have done that.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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, 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 suggest that guests visit us in conjunction with a Reserve like Phinda as we feel that it gives a really good balance of experiences. Our uniqueness lies in the shimmering waters of Lake Jozini on which we do the boat cruises you mentioned. You will have to come back to experience that. We hope to see you again in the future!

Warmest White Elephant regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2012

We stayed at White Elephant Safari lodge for two nights as a halfway stay on our way to our beach holiday, the rooms were stunning and our boat trip on Lake Jozini were a highlight. Unfortunately we were completely let down by the food. From our arrival to find a 'light lunch" of squared sandwiches with only crushed avocado and tomato and lettuce to the dinners which were far from 5star in taste- bread over breakfast which were still doughy, it almost seemed as they where on a strict food budget. I asked for a bit of mayonnaise the night before to add to my dinner which they provided me with, only find that they have ran out completely the morning after on our departure day (this seemed very strange.....).
We were planning on staying another night on our way back, but where glad that we didn't and tried it out first. It would have been to the lodge's advantage if they gave the consumer a feedback form or if they invited some from us. I would not recommend this to friends and hope that lodge management will take this review as a positive in improving the food on offer, 5 star should offer an experience as a whole and attend to each detail and I believe that food plays an important role in this.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 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, May 8, 2012
Dear White Elephant Friend

Thank you very much for your valuable comments, we will certainly take them to heart and use them as a tool to learn from.

Kind regards
White Elephant Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edmonton, Canada
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2012

Just got back from a perfect 2 night stay. Every single thing was thought off and no effort too much for the staff. Not only were they attentive and delivered a great service, but also did it with a smile. Was the best stay I had in a long time and will be sure to return soon.

  • Stayed March 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
    • 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, May 8, 2012
Dear White Elephant Friend

Thank you very much for the comments and review of your stay at White Elephant. We are always grateful for positive feedback. We hope to see you back at White Elephant in the near future.

Kind regards
White Elephant Team
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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
Was this review helpful? Yes
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
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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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