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“Fantastic Game Reserve with Great Game Drives” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge

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Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   R62 between Montagu & Barrydale | Die Vlakte, Montagu 6720, South Africa   |  
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Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Fantastic Game Reserve with Great Game Drives”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2009

Having booked a stay at Tilney Manor 6 months ago, we arrived at the Gatehouse which is 7 km from the main road. We were told that we would be transferred to the new Dwyka Tented Lodge accommodation which is some 45 km away from the Gatehouse into the Reserve. After protracted telephone calls with the Lodge Manager at Dwyka it transpired that there had been some issues over our accommodation and that we had not been informed prior to leaving the UK that we would not be able to stay at Tilney Manor as we had booked.

Although we would not have chosed the tented accommodation due to personal preference, we had no choice but to accept the change of accommodation and proceeded to Dwyka which consists of the main game lodge, 9 individual tented lodges and a spa lodge. The accommodation lodges are of a very high standard and are located at the foot of a sheer cliff face, thus, sheltered from wind etc, although the short walk from the main lodge was very dark on a night.

We had a 2 night stay at Sanbona during which time we had 4 game drives seeing numerous animals and even walking up to several of them including giraffe, cheetah and white rhino. Our ranger, Jehanne, was excellent and really took the time to make sure that we saw everything. The wildlife reserve is massive (as large as Singapore!!) and it is worth bearing in mind that you are not seeing animals every few minutes and they have to be sought out. For us, this was not a negative aspect.

With regard to the issues in relation to our booking, Mantis have apologised and the staff at Sanbona could not have been more courteous and helpful about the situation.

Highly recommended and we would certainly return to Sanbona.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (82)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
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English first
Kent, UK
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2009

Claire and I stayed in Tilney Manor, although there are two other forms of accomodation available. From the main gate it is a 50min drive through the Little Karoo where you will see undulating mountains and plains, indigenous flora and fauna, rock formations and rock art. You are almost certain to come across Springbok and a small smattering of other wildlife as you make your way towards Tilney Manor, or the other accomodation.

On arrival you can expect an exceptionally professional and friendly welcome from the staff, as well as a hot towel and a welcome drink of your choice. The rooms are exceptionally opulent to say the very least, where the decor draws on the natural colours of the surrounding area, with some very subtle touches of San culture. In the bathroom there is a romantic free standing bath, with sliding doors that lead to sheltered showers outdoor. There is your own private veranda to enjoy a glass of wine and take in the stunning views of the towering Warmwaterberg Mountains.

The food on offer is of a high standard. For both lunch and dinner guests are presented with a set menu to choose from, with 3-4 excellent and mouthwatering choices available per course. There is also a wide variety of very good South African wines available to accompany your evening meal. Before the game drive in the morning guests have the choice of fresh coffee, tea, or local fruit juices, along with a fantastic selection of freshly cooked biscuits and muffins. On return from the morning game drive (and before departing) guest have a chance to take a shower before sitting down to breakfast, where once again there is a wide variety of options.

The gardens that surround the rooms, dining area, swimming pool, and spa area are remarkable, bringing a whole variety of wildlife to the place.

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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London
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2009

Sanbona is HUGE, and there aren't that many animals, which makes them difficult to find -- though some of the big cats are radio tagged with collars to keep track of them for conservation purposes. That can get you into into roughly the right area -- but there's still no guarantee that you'll see them.

However....after two hours looking for a family of cheetahs we saw them on a ridge. Andrew, our superb ranger surprised us by saying..."let's go for a walk"....and we slowly walked towards the group. We eventually got to within 20 feet of them and sat down to watch them. One tried to come closer but Andrew gently shooed it away. It was a great up-close experience.

The reserve also has a family of white lions, which are very photogenic!

Accomodation is superb. Five star. But beware the long bumpy drive even after you've reached the main gate....

  • Liked — Everything is the highest quality.
  • Disliked — The drive to get there!
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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entre rios
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2008

It was my first time in Sambona. I went with my husband to spend there 3 wanderful days during our honeymoon. We stayed at Tilney Manor.
Truth is that the reserve has not many animals, so if you are interested in game viewing, maybe you may think in other place to stay. Althaugh we could only see some antilopes, rhinos and 2 elephants (far distance), other people there had managed to see also lions and the chita. Birds are everywere.

Leaving animals subject for a wile, I must say that baing there was the most beatifull experience ever. The Karoo landscape were Tilney Manor is situated is wanderful and relaxing.
As we were in the lodge out of season, we share only one nigth with other gests, and then stay alone. It was fantastic! We had a really "personal" treatment!. The staff is more than nice. All of them, all time long. They were there to help us every time we needed it, and always smiling!!!!

Public areas are georgeus! Impossible to describe. Very very luxury, but not over-furnished or heavily decorated.
The room was far more than we had expected. It´s extrage, but being there we realized that internet pictures don´t show how beatiful the place is.
The bathroom has a shower and a wanderful freestanding bath.
It also has glass sliding doors, opening up onto a private double outside shower which we were not able to try because of the weather!
Everything in the rooms exudes luxury and refinement.

Food was geat. New tastes and local dishes, very well served.
Can I say more??? FANTASTIC! WANDERFUL! SUPERB!

  • Liked — everythig!
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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USA
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
62 hotel reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
150 helpful votes 150 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2007

We stayed at Sanbona in January 2007. The lodge itself is amazing. The rooms are huge and among the most luxurious i've every stayed. Indoor shower, outdoor shower, bath tub, comfortable bed, a huge deck. Plus the facilities like the pool and spa and immaculate. The lodge is rather amazing.

As for the game, there are few animals. That did not detract from our experience as we saw many of the animals. However, I could imagine the possibility of not seeing any or few animals.

The food they serve varies. Breakfasts are rather good. The lunches and dinner tended to be overcooked which was a shame.

Overall, I had a great time at Sanbona and if your looking for a weekend away, i'd recommend it. But if animals are your goal, maybe think twice.

  • Liked — Quality was top notch
  • Disliked — Food
  • Stayed February 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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Novato, Ca.
1 review
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2006

We stayed at Sanbona in May. We could only afford 1 night as standard rate is $2500ZAR/pp. Unless you are going during high season, I would recommend making a booking at the Tourist Info Center in Cape Town that can get you a significant discount.

First off the Khanni Lodge was beautiful. The staff & guide were warm, friendly and hospitible. The food was chef prepared and wonderful. They offer massages, hot stone treatments, etc. This is set up as a five star resort.

The problem and disappointment that we had was that we could care less about the five star stuff. We were there to experience wildlife - which was pretty scarce. It appears that the reserve was purchased to reintroduce species that once thrived in the area. The tract of land is 54,000 hectacres (read - huge). It was purchased by the same group that owns and runs Shamwari reserve. Some of the animals have been relocated from Shamwari which is 1/3 the size of Sanbona. Sanbona has 6 lions, 6 elephant, 3 hippo, 6 giraffes, a few white rhino, and other assorted antelope. To say that they are a bit dispersed/few and far between is an understatment. Sanbona is more of a wildlife reintrodction experiment and scientist observation post than a wildlife viewing experience. To make up for the lack of wildlife viewing experience, you get to stay in a beautiful room, drink as much as you like, and eat great food. If we would have had more time we would have gone to Addo, or better yet Kruger. Look, we weren't expecting this to be like a zoo where you round a corner and there are the lions. It was just a lot of driving and a pretty weak viewing experience.

  • Stayed April 2006
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge

Address: R62 between Montagu & Barrydale | Die Vlakte, Montagu 6720, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Montagu
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 26 Specialty lodging in Montagu
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge 5*
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Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Hotel

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