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“five star prices one star food and service” 1 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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Certificate of Excellence 2014
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
“five star prices one star food and service”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2010

Arrived in this 5 star establishment after a 3 hour drive from cape town, really looking forward to this place considering the amount of money we paid per night however we where left with a pretty miserable experience.

1. Whole place just feels neglected, the love has been lost and there is no internal controls.

2. Food is very basic 1 star a cross between prison food ( or what i imagine prison food to be like) and school food. 3 courses with 2 choices including chicken and chips, spinach ravioli which turned out to be buttenut ravioli, beurre blanc spelt ber blanc etc etc etc. 2 other couples where at the place when we arrived and both told us not to expect much from the food as it is "shocking"

3. First night when we arrived in the restaurant we had to go into the kitchen to tell the waiting staff that we where here for dinner, the next morning we arrived for breakfast at 8.30 am and there was no breakfast, the staff told me that they thought we where out at a game drive and they didnt expect us till 9am, we then had to wait (with a 4 year old) for an hour for breakfast

4. I used to work in the food industry and its pretty obvious that this chef is either incompetent or has a very tight food budget, the general consensus from all the guests where the same.

5. The inclusive wine list had a selection of the cheapest wine you can buy, La Motte 44 rand a bottle, diermesdal 50 rand a bottle etc etc

6. The room while very comfortable was tatty, balcony has bird crap all over it, on the outdoor furniture crap everywhere, a birds nest was actually on the doorway and the birds where crapping everywhere. Window ledges had dead flies and insects all over it etc etc.

7.Kids club wasnt looked after, paints not replenished, games not fixed, no game walks, or nature walks with the kids, no instructions for the tv etc

so overall very dissapointed i complained to the assistant manager and simply no recognition of the issues, very sad and would def not recommend to anyone else.

consider that the full price for this place is 7,000 rand per night per couple

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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385 reviews from our community

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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 (105)
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English first
Stirling, Scotland
Top Contributor
107 reviews 107 reviews
56 hotel reviews
Reviews in 65 cities Reviews in 65 cities
80 helpful votes 80 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2010

My wife and I stayed at Tilney Manor for two nights and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We had stayed at sister game reserve, Shamwari, three years ago where we were enthralled by the wildlife. Sanbona has less animals due to the semi-arid nature of the countryside but instead of quantity we had quality. Antelopes of various kinds, elephant, rhinos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and most importantly, the magnificent white lions. Tilney is also intimate, with great accommodation. Brenda proved to be a very knowledgable ranger and even she was surprised when we were surrounded by two male white lions on one side of the vehicle and three cheetahs on the other. It's the unpredictability which makes it exciting. My favourite reserve? Sanbona by a big cat's whisker!

  • Stayed September 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
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simonber123, Manager at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge, responded to this review, October 12, 2010
Dear Lordofthemiles

thank you for taking the time to review Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. I happy to read that you enjoyed your time with us. You are correct Sanbona is a very special place and the passion of my team is what truly makes this a magical reserve
I look forward to welcoming you and your wife back one day

Regards
Simon
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2010

Found Sanbona here on tripadvisor and gave a shot for our last 2 days in South Africa. The place is a 3 hour (easy) drive from Cape Town in the little Karoo. We discarded other, closer alternatives because they sounded too much like a zoo.

The reserve is huge to say the least (same surface as Singapor) so be prapared to long drives on a rocky road to get to the lodging. DO NOT for any reason use your car to get to the lodge, unless you have a real SUV and know how to drive on bumpy non-paved roads. Use the complimentary shuttle instead.

Accomodation: we stayed at Dwyka and I can only say good things. The room was clean and cozy, hall and restaurants mixed perfectly the elegant interior with a "safari" mood. The tented lodges are in this little valley closely facing a wall of rock. Suggestive also the silence and the impressive number of stars you can see at night (no light pollution...).
The welcome at check-in has been flawless and warm, food was overall good, same as the service. I appreciated that they spontaneously proposed to arrange a different menu when they found I had dietary limitations.
Cell phones have no field but wireless internet is available for free (=Skype can be used)

Game Drives: we stayed only one night, so we got 2 game drives. Our ranger, Solomon, proved to be nice, competent and attentive. Animals are there and, collars aside, seem really on their own and moved from one place to another. This means that you have to drive a lot in order to see something. But, that's what we were expecting and augmented the sensation of being into a wild environment (which is not, of course) even if we didn't manage to see all the reserve has to offer.

Like everywhere else in SA, tips are encouraged so make sure to have enough cash to tip the drivers, the ranger and the waiters.

Sanbona takes time, we suggest to stay there for 2 or 3 days in order to see everything. For a day safari, this is not the place. We'll come back for sure when we'll return to Cape Town, and do the night safari with the spotlights!

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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simonber123, Manager at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge, responded to this review, October 12, 2010
Dear FansullaDalodi

Thank you for your review of Sanbona Wildlife reserve I have passed on your postive comments to the team. I look forward to welcoming you back one day so that you can enjoy a night drive.

Regards
Simon
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leeds
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2010

Can't fault this place - it is so worth making the trip here and really easy to get to from Cape Town or anywhere in Western Cape, in fact the drive up along is beautiful but when you arrive - wow!

Rooms were immaculate with free standing baths looking onto bush, outdoor jacuzzi with birds of prey soaring in the sky, enjoying a hot chocolate after an evening game drive, chilled glass of wine served to you in middle of the bush, food and service as good as I have enjoyed anywhere - this is 5 star all the way!

And that's before I even get onto the game drives ... fantastic guide in Andrew, he knew so much and shared it in such an interesting way, we got very close to hippos, majestic white lions, rhinos, giraffe, herd of elephant and always close enough to enjoy without feeling you were invading their space or their journey.

Just book it and enjoy!

  • Stayed October 2009, 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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Hong Kong
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2010

My wife and I visited Sanbona (Dwyka Tented Lodge) over the Easter holiday in 2010. We had initially planned on visting Kruger National Park, however with my wife being 6 months pregant and the threat of Malaria, we decided to visit Cape Town and do our safari at Sanbona instead. This turned out to be an excellent decision. We spent two nights at Dwyka Tented Lodge and did four game drives. From the time we set foot on the amazing Sanbona wildlife reserve from the time we left our experiecne was simply amazing. We are fortunate enough to have stayed in a number of 5 star luxury lodges around teh world, so feel we have a good measuring stick as to what is good and what is not. When you stay in a property of this standard, you expect quality across the board and Sanbona certainly delivered in this respect. What's more, the attention to detail and personalised service really put Sanbona in a calss of its own. I'll give you a few examples. Immediately on arrival, Adrian the F&B Manager recognised my wife was preganant and offered her range of suitable non alcoholic drink selections. Following that, we were placed in a tented unit that was closest to the main part of the lodge, so our walking distance was minimised each day. During all meals (which were excellent) the chef's had no problem accounting for the fact that my wife could not eat certain foods. Our ranger (Solomon) paid special attention and was careful to avoid major bumps on the driving tracks where possible. Simon the Hospitality Manager took the time to speak with all the guests, as did all of the rangers. Our ranger dined with us one night, which was also a nice touch. This level of service is what makes staying at a luxury lodge special. Our game drives were excellent - Solomon was careful to plan drives that would ensure everyone got to see the wildlife (assumiong we could find them) they wanted to. Sometimes the length of drives to track and find the wildlife are longer, but this only adds to the experience and the reality that we were very much in the animals environment and not the other way around. We both had massages at the health spa, which was very well run and needless to say the massages were brilliant. The only piece of constructive feedback I could give was the transportation of luggage from the main lodge to the tented units. I felt this could have been done on a trolley to save bags from getting dusty and scratched on the shingle tracks. Sanbona does the luxury safari experience extremely well. For us, every element either matched or in many cases exceeded our expectations. The icing on the cake for my wife was when she realised she had forgot her sun hat and Sanbona sent it all the way back to Hong Kong for her - now that is great service! Simon and Nikki.

  • Stayed April 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
simonber123, at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge, responded to this review, May 31, 2010
Dear Simon

Thank you for your review of Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, I’m glad to see that you enjoyed your time with us; Glad to read that Nikki’s hat did make it all the way back Hong Kong. Please pass on my congratulations when your little one is born and don’t forget that we still await your return, this time with all your friends
I will pass on your kind words to the rest of the team
I look forward to welcoming you back to Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

Regards
Simon
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Georgetown, TX
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2010

We were there in the first week of May, which begins the Winter season. So the schedules for the game runs are a little different due to the shorter days, and there were probably fewer guests than during high season. We stayed in the wonderful Dwyka Tented Lodge for three nights, where there are nine units. I think that six units were occupied on a couple of nights. Also it was very windy and cool while we were there, so the plunge pool and outdoor shower in our unit went untested! The thick duvets on the bed kept us cosy at night.
I've seen quite a bit of game in various parts of Africa, but this was my first experience in a 'luxury camp'. Maybe it's because I'm older now and appreciate the luxuries a little more, but I loved it! I agree with the reviewer who mentioned that the game is not as prolific as in some other locations. However there is good variety, and we were much closer to the game than I've been before. I could have almost touched the white lions, the white rhino and the giraffe from the open vehicle.
My favorite features were 1) the staff...just couldn't have been nicer, 2) the terrain is incredibly beautiful, much different than the savannahs of East Africa. It's wild and mountainous, which means there is a lot of up and down on some of the tracks through the reserve, and 3) the excellence of our guide, Rudy (and everyone else loved THEIR guide, too).
I agree that the food is satisfactory, but not outstanding. I liked the wild game options at dinner. Why do so many chefs these days try to be so trendy in their cuisine? This place is in the middle of nowhere, so supplies must be quite difficult to obtain. I would have preferred simpler dishes without the 'frou frous' that look pretty but usually aren't nearly as tasty as they look.
We hired someone to drive us to and from Cape Town. As everyone else has mentioned, the roads are challenging unless you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
I would highly recommend Sanbona to everyone. The beautiful country is something you will never forget.

  • Stayed May 2010, 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
    • 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.
simonber123, hospitality manager at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge, responded to this review, May 31, 2010
Dear Hillcountrytraveler

Thank you for your review of Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, I’m glad to see that you enjoyed your time with us; I have passed on your praise to Rudi. I have said it before that it is the beauty of the land that makes Sanbona so special; it truly is a magical place. However none of this would be possible if I did not have the awesome team that I have. To ensure that we deliver the service that we do. I feel it all about one word PASSION. I have taken note of your comments with regard to your comments regarding the food it is an area that we are working on perfecting. I hopefully one day will be able to welcome you back to our magical reserve in the Western Cape

Regards
Simon
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Chester Vt
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 5, 2010

the setting, the tents, the staff, the game drives just unbelievable. The sunsets while on the game drives. Hot water bottles and blankets on the game drives. We saw elephants and zebras fighting over a water hole; baby elephants, the while lions, rock art, giraffe, fighting white rhino. What everyone says about the food is true - there is nothing wrong with it - it just is average with a very limited selection. But there is coffee and pastry pregame drive, huge breakfasts, lovely lunch, water and sundowners on the game drive, cocktails each evening, dinner, more cocktails. We had a lovely demonstration of the night sky and had wonderful companions on our game drives. The tents are arrayed in a sheer walled canyon with an eagle nest overlooking them and are safely enclosed so there is no fear of walking around day or night. It is a HUGE reserve (130,000 acres) - many times larger than the better known Shamwari in the Eastern Cape but owned by the same luxury company - Mantis - and they share animals to increase diversity. They were very focused on returning this area to its original animal habitat and you really felt you were out in the middle of Africa. We would drive by group after group of kudu and spingbok and red hardebeast. We saw mixed herds of dfferent ungulates in the same area including many herd of zebra. What a great time and only a few hours out of CapeTown by car.

  • Stayed March 2010, 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.
simonber123, hospitality manager at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Lodge, responded to this review, April 7, 2010
Dear Vttraveler

Thank you for your positive review on Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. We truly strive to meet and exceed our guest’s expectations. It is a magical place I’m glad you where able to share that magic with us and I hope one day you will return to visit us again

Kind Regards
Simon
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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*
Number of rooms: 27
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Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Hotel

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