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“Safety and Security Concerns” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Sondela Nature Reserve Accommodation

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Sondela Nature Reserve Accommodation
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Tweefontein Farm | Warmbaths, Bela Bela 0480, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Bela Bela
Johannesburg, South Africa
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Safety and Security Concerns”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

We have visited Sondela many times and we have always been a bit concerned about their security arrangements.
During our last visit (we stay in Makhato, the free standing homes) we specifically asked not to have cleaning services during our 2 day vistit, and this was confirmed by email. On the Saturday morning while we were at the pool, someone deactivated the alarm system, unlocked the house and "cleaned" it. On our return in the afternoon we were surprised, but assumed it was an honest mistake. Having 2 little boys, we were so busy that we did not think of it again until the Sunday morning when we left and I could not find my iPad. In our rush, I trusted that it must have fallen deeper into my duffle bag and that I would find it when I unpacked carefully at home. I know for a fact - and have 4 witnesses to that effect that - that we never took the iPad out of the bag the entire weekend. All 4 of us checked the house carefully before we left to make sure nothing was left behind.
Back at home we discovered that the iPad was gone and we phoned Sondela immediately - they responded that they would investigate. On the Monday morning we were advised that cleaning services "found" the iPad after we left.
The iPad was returned to us: (1) with zero battery power left (NB - the iPad was 100% charged for the weekend and was NEVER used by us); and (2) with the SIM card removed and swopped by another card which, according to the cellular network, has been blocked a while ago.

All of this detail was communicated to Sondela, who simply maintained that "cleaning services found it after we left". They failed to respond to any of our questions or concerns and never returned any calls. Our main question namely why someone gained unauthorised entry into our house / what security measures are in places surrounding Makhato house keys etc, were all left unanswered.
I guess Sondela will only start to take this seriously when someone is attacked or killed in the Mkahato homes, as staff obviously has unregulated free access to keys and alarm remotes.
Mostly as a result of Sondela's lack of response and interest in the incident, we (and our family and friends) will never visit again.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 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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47 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (11)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Johannesburg, South Africa
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

Sondela was recommended to us by a friend and we spent 5 nights there during December 2012. Make sure you take insect repellent because there are plenty of mosquitos. We stayed in Makhato 69 which was a comfortable self-catering unit.

Good aspects of the resort/accommodation:

- The resort is an awesome place to visit if you have small kids as they are extremely well catered for from an entertainment point of view.
- The accommodation is comfortable.
- Nice braai area outside the unit.
- Buck and warthog come right up to the unit and the buck can actually be feed.

Bad aspects of the resort/accommodation:

- The resort charges for everything!!! Nothing is complimentary. The accommodation doesn't include basics such salt, pepper, tea or coffee; you're required to bring your own. If you don't they will charge you R11 for a small bag of teabags or coffee. If you use the wood at your accommodation please note a large bag of wood is charged at R52 and a small bag at R15 it is an additional cost and isn't included in your accommodation cost. The shop is an absolute rip off, they make up everything 100% - 200% on top of normal supermarket prices, so make sure you buy everything in Bela Bela before you enter the resort.
- Ensure you take your own pool towels!!! The chalet doesn't include pool towels and it was near impossible to get towels from the pool bar (There were always out of towels as they were being washed?). Additionally they charge you a rental for the towels?
- The unit we stayed in had a problem with the en suite toilet (Clearly a plumbing/septic tank problem), when maintenance came to sort out the problem I was told it has been like that for months. It was so unpleasant we had to sleep in one of the other rooms and couldn't make use of the main bedroom.
- The restaurant menu was disappointing and for a resort that aims to entertain kids so much it was disappointing not to have more kiddies options on the menu.

Overall our short stay was fine but definitely nothing to write home about.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
Glasgow
Top Contributor
115 reviews 115 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2012

We have been here eight times in ten years on our trips from the UK to South Africa. We have had a variety of chalets and a variety of parties, from grandparents and babies in cots to (almost) teenage kids and just us. Sondela has never failed to impress us with its very laid back bushveld atmosphere and it's own unhurried style.

All of this and it is only 150km from Jo'Burg meaning that you can always do the trip in under 2 hours, even at rush hour.

Tips from seasoned visitors - stay in Makhato chalets and book online. Most are recently built and are very clean and well equipped in true bush style.

Enjoy the activities. They are very cheap and well managed. Go for the bush walks and cycles, they are very safe and you can get really close to so much wildlife (that won't kill you!)

Chill out. Slow down and relax. This is probably the best place in the world to recharge your batteries.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Hague
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2012

We stayed at Sondela for three days with our small kids. True, we were upgraded from a chalet to a large lodge due to a big fire that destroyed the chalets recently. This meant that we had a super luxurious place with all the trimmings, but we had the added bonus of a lot of animals for the kids to see between the charred trees eating the fresh new grass. The bucks that come up to your place and eat from your hand are a great treat for the kids (albeit a nuisance at times).

The farmyard is great. A hot pool for the ladies and babies, a big pool for the rest. You can feed the goats and the calves. Milk a cows. And do visit the animal sanctuary. Our kids enjoyed it no end. Beware of the shop. It's a bit expensive. You might want to stock up outside in BelaBela. It's only 10 minutes by car.

  • Stayed October 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.
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2012

We frequent Sondela, mainly over weekends and holidays. This is a spectacular resort for a family and even a couple for a getaway. The children can cycle anywhere, you can do game viewing and enjoy a visit from the Nyalas at your chalet or house. Much to do in terms of swimming, walking, mountain bike cycling, quad riding and good food! Good value for money and friendly staff.

Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Centurion, South Africa
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2012

We rented a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom chalet At the Sondela Nature Reserve for our family ( couple with a toddler and a nanny). The Chalet was private and secluded from other chalets but still walking distance from well maintained entertainment areas with lapa, swimming pool and play ground for my toddler.

Daily housekeeping service - Excellent and very friendly.
Some maintenance needed in the bathrooms, but overall good condition.

We enjoyed the wild life(buck) that were roaming amongst the chalets and there was also food provided to feed them, which my child loved to do.

I personally found the beauty salon atmosphere a little clinical and cold. But the treatments were of expectable standard and the staff friendly.

The main buffet restaurant was very informal and the service and food was not of a high standard, however they did accommodate my child with things to keep her busy which I appreciated. Due to the limited availability of dining options at the resort there might be room for improvement.

On the game drive we experienced the guide to be rushed and not giving much attention to the fact that we are Photographers and would like to spend some time enjoying the scenery. It was also not informative - I have been on several drives where the guide explains things and shares some knowledge, but not on this trip. We did not get much value out of the game drive.

Adventure drive with the Quad bikes were a lot of fun, staff was friendly.We had some difficulty finding the location of the adventure area on the resort and several staff member's either did not know where it was or misdirected us -there might be some improvement on the orientation of the staff - we do understand that there is also students working at the resorts.

Overall we enjoyed our vacation and it was suitable for family and children of all ages.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2012

In May 2011 we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and spent it with some family at the Sondela Nature Reserve. What a wonderful experience. From the moment you enter, you are greeted by a warm reception. Guests are treated to wine and pancakes on entry. The mongoose families are so curious and scurry around whilst to take in the fresh air. The chalets have everything including creature comforts. Nyala buck visit the chalets regularly for treats. This is a wonderful experience for young and old. They love Nyala Treats that you can but from the hotel reception. They eat apples too ;-). The game drive is a must do. Kids get to milk cows and carry lambs and kids. The staff are friendly and I arranged for a suprise cake to be delivered to the chalet whilst we were on the game drive. We arrived at the chalet and my huband was delightfully surprised. Don't forget at night there are bushbabies in the trees (which we missed). There are lots of activities to keep the entire family entertained. Take a telescope with as the night skies offer the best astronomical views. On leaving the resort, your car will be washed as it gets very dusty. There are lots of restaurants in the town of Bela Bela. In addition you can visit the natural hot springs nearby.

Room Tip: Ask for a 6 sleeper as the facilities are great.
See more room tips
  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 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
    • 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.
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Additional Information about Sondela Nature Reserve Accommodation

Address: Tweefontein Farm | Warmbaths, Bela Bela 0480, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Bela Bela
Amenities:
Casino and Gambling Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Bela Bela
Number of rooms: 11
Also Known As:
Sondela Nature Reserve Hotel Gauteng

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