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“There's a Giraffe at the bottom of the garden!”
Review of Carnarvon Dale

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Carnarvon Dale
Stratford upon Avon
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“There's a Giraffe at the bottom of the garden!”
Reviewed September 17, 2011

We were originally booked into the the Quartermain Camp but as the river had "come down" the camp was unreachable and we were seamlessly transfered to the loving care and attention offered by Roger and his wife at Carnarvon Dale. This was in July 2011 and we were lucky enough to be the only guests at their unspoilt traditional home where we were made to feel like old friends whilst being waited on hand and foot! Our rooms were very comfortable and we enjoyed sitting on the veranda soaking up the view extending from the bottom of the garden.
Meals were superb - plentiful and very good homely quality - and were shared with either Roger or the Rangers giving us much interesting insight into life in South Africa. Roger is also an expert on Rugby and was able to fill us in on some of the clubs our son was playing against on Rugby Tour.
The Game Drives and walk were excellent and we benefited from the rangers expert knowledge. We not only saw 4 of the Big 5, but so much else to paint a complete picture of South African wild life.
We would certainly come back again

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Phil_Caroline
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Oldham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 3, 2011

We arrived at Carnarvon Dale after leaving the Artemis cruise ship in Port Elizabeth. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly by Tammi, one of the rangers employed by Roger,our host. The accomodation is excellent and we were lucky to have the bottom lodge to ourselves. Soon it was time to embark on the first of our 4 game drives on Amakalah and Shamwari reserves. We saw four of the big 5 and desperately searched for the lions but the were well hidden somewhere in the bush. We were dined and wined to perfection. This is a great value experience. If we had taken a similar cruise excursion it would have cost four times the price we paid.
Don't hesitate, book the Carnarvon Dale experience - you wont regret it

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Ruffyhead
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed February 10, 2011

We stayed 2 nights at Carnarvon Dale which is a family owned game lodge. Roger welcomed us and showed us to our room - this is a two bedroomed lodge refurbed and formerly occupied by his grandmother. We were fortunate that there were no other guests there and we had our choice of rooms and a charming living room all to ourselves. It is very colonial in style, very clean and comfortable. There is a pool within a few yards of our lodge so you could cool off between game drives. Our evening meal was shared with Roger at his home and we had very interesting chats with him. Breakfast was cereal, juice, toast and full English cooked to order together with coffee. Our second evening we went down to Quatermain's camp to have our meal with the Scandinavian family who were with us on our game drives. That was great sitting around a fire with a drink in hand and then tucking into good South African fare. The game drives, morning and afternoon, were fantastic and it included a drive into Shamwari. Whilst in Amakhala we saw white rhino, zebra, elephant, giraffe, loads of different deer and best of all a cheetah with her five cubs. What a delight to watch them playing! A pride of lions - male, 2 females and a couple of young adults was the best sighting in Shamwari. All in all very good value with fantastic grame drives.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank YvonneM69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hartlepool, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed November 21, 2010

We loved our 3 day visit to Carnarvon Dale and the whole experience is one that we will always remember. Each game drive seemed to improve on the previous one as we got to know the two excellent rangers better.Their vast knowledge of animals, birds and plants,trees etc made the game drives more enoyable. The highlight was the moment when we were driving down this little dirt track and we came across, by chance, a lioness and her 4 cubs relaxing in the shrub, it is something we will never forget !
Each drive was different as we covered the wide areas within the game reserve. We also had the opportunity to undertake a game drive on the nearby Shamwari Game reserve as well as a bush walk on the final morning which we found very interesting. It wasn't just about the animals either, as we found the birdlife fascinating and colourful, The highlight of the bird kingdom being when we saw a fish eagle.
Also at the end of the evening safari we always looked forward to the 'sundowners' when the ranger would take us up to a plateau to enjoy the spectacular sunsets and views with a glass of wine/beer and some nibbles.

The accomodation, whilst not luxurious, was clean and comfortable with an old style colonial feel to it. We also enjoyed the fact that there was no TV to spoil the tranquility of our stay there. It was especially enjoyable relaxing in the garden between the game drives. However an improvement could be made to the bathroom which, it is fair to say was basic.

All meals were cooked by Roger's wife with lunch being brought across to our accomodation. Breakfast and evening meals were served in their family home (just across the garden) where Roger dined with us. The meals were all home cooked and delicious however it would have been an advantage if there had been fruit and biscuits available in our lodge to nibble on as there are obviouslyno shops nearby where you can buy snacks.

We found Roger to be very interesting company at mealtimes. He is very knowledgable about all aspects of South African history and politics and was very happy to share his views with us . By the end of our stay, as we got to know Roger better , we appreciated these conversations as much as the lovely meals.

All in all a superb experience and not to be missed. Also to fully appreciate the visit we would recommend that you stay a minimum of 2 nights !!!!!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank AnneTony191
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
florida
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed August 15, 2010

My family of four (husband, wife, daughter-14, son-10) recently spent two nights at Carnarvon Dale.

Let me start by saying that there are many options for private game reserves in the Eastern Cape near Port Elizabeth. These options fit many budgets.

I would not recommend Carnarvon Dale if you have budgeted more than $500 per person per night for your private game experience. You can have a much more upscale stay in this price range.

Our stay at Carnarvon Dale cost under $200 per person per night. We could not find any cheaper accommodation anywhere on a private reserve in this area. Remember this includes accommodations, meals, snacks, wine, and 6+ hours of guided game drives per day.

We also spent two nights at Addo, the nearby national park, where we also saw a wide variety of wildlife, but not to the same degree as the private reserve. The national park accommodation is cheaper than a private reserve, but if you were to purchase two guided game drives a day at the national park for the entire family, I believe the cost would exceed that of Carnarvon Dale. Meals are extra at the national park as well.

Carnarvon Dale is a three star property. The accommodation in an old farmhouse is charming, but needs to be updated. It is quite spacious for a family of four. We visited in winter and had no issues with heat or hot water. Roger, the owner, is always available to handle any requests, including laundry arrangements, if needed.

The meals that Roger serves are homemade and nutritious. This is not five star cuisine. However, after eating at restaurants for our entire trip, it was a welcome change to enjoy this kind of food. Roger is more than happy to address specific dietary needs or requests and adjust the menu accordingly.

The guided game drives are excellent. We saw all of the animals we came to see with the exception of leopard, and our guide was very educational and fun to be with. The Amakhala property is well stocked with game. One extra we did not anticipate was the opportunity to take a game drive onto the adjacent Shamwari property. Shamwari is even more concentrated with game, and our guide was familiar with the roads there, and was able to spot game that we had not seen at Amakhala. Overall, the combined experience of the two reserves was five star in quality.

To summarize, if you wish to combine five star guided game drives with acceptable accommodation in the Eastern Cape on a limited budget, then Carnarvon Dale is your choice.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank nardo25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Forfar, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
111 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 102 helpful votes
Reviewed December 9, 2009

We stayed in 3 consequtive game reserves, this being the 2nd one. Unlike Schotia, which was set up with traditional style African huts with all the mod cons or unlike Kariega which is a bit too large scale and a bit impersonal, Carnarvon is completely different. The accomodation is a settler farmhouse, with original features such as lovely original wood floors, etc, but it definitely needs a refurb, especially the bathrooms and also needs to get proper heating put in. The bathroom was quite dire, I'm afraid, especially the shower. When we got there, I had a freezing cold shower, despite Roger saying he had turned on the water heater. So, I'm not sure how long I would have had to wait for the water to warm up, but that was a disappointment. Then the room, it had a small panel heater, which didn't heat the room at all. It was colder inside the house than outside during the day, which is fine in the summer, but not when you get back from an evening game drive at dark when it is cold and you get into your room to find it hasn't heated up at all. Also, there was a calor gas fire in the lounge, but no gas cannister in it, so we couldn't really take advantage of sitting in the lovely lounge. There was an electric blanket on the bed, but it was one of those that only have a couple of settings, so you can't leave it on all night. It reminded me of the electric blankets we used to have when I was a student in England back in the 80s.

The other disappointment was the food, especially the lunches. We stayed 2 nights and the first day we got lunch pretty late - 2pm and it was okay - a baked pasta dish with salad. With the game drive at 3pm, it didn't give us much time to digest. On the 2nd day it was even worse. It was only the 2 of us (another couple left after 1 night) and we didn't get lunch until 2:30 and then it was only a sort of ploughmans with bread (which to be fair was freshly baked) grated cheese and jam and that was it - very weird, not enough for a lunch and again served so late - not good when you've got to get into a landrover for a bumpy game drive 2 minutes later. Breakfasts were again, okay, fine but nothing memorable, and not cooked to order (served from a hostess trolly) - your basic full English. Dinners were home cooked and, again fine, but nothing special and no choice, although I'm sure they would have cooked according to any food allergies or specific requests if asked.

Roger, the owner, is a very talkative person, and he had dinner with us the 2nd night, which by the end of the meal, was a bit taxing - he likes to cover a LOT of different topics and is knowledgeable about them all.

Now onto the good bit - by far these were the BEST game drives we had of the 3. Mirca (or "meercat" as I called him) was absolutely brilliant! He was really knowledgeable about all the animals and bird life and had a few books to refer to in the landrover and to show us a closer up photo of, eg, a bird we saw flying far above us. He took his time driving and stopped for awhile at each sighting to give us a chance to see how the animals behaved naturally, instead of flying around and crashing in the bush like at Kariega. We got the chance a few times to get out of the landrover, once on a clifftop to see a whole herd of elephants moving along a trail below (that was within the 1st 15 minutes of the 1st drive). And the best moment was when my husband had said he wanted to see a cheetah (because Meercat asked us all at the start which/any animals we'd particularly like to see). Meercat radioed the other rangers asking them to be on the lookout and when one spotted the cheetah, we went to find it. However it had walked over a ridge/cliff by the time we got there. Undaunted, Meercat looked at my husband, who had last spotted the cheetah, asking him where he saw it go, and then said, "do you think the landrover can handle it?" and proceeded to drive over the ridge/cliff!!! No one could believe it and it was bloody scary, but exillerating and did we see the cheetah, oh yes we did! We stayed for a good while until the light was starting to go and again undaunted, he proceeded to reverse up the clilff, which was even more scary than when he went down it. When we got to the top to the road we got a standing ovation from another ranger and his passengers, and when asked if we had a great time, but husband said "yes, but I need to change my underware now." The other great event was on the 2nd day, when it was just the 2 of us. After having to drive a fairly long detour to avoid a couple of elephants who had taken over the road, Meercat headed down a different road, went around the corner and bam! we nearly ran into the bum of a rather big bull male elephant, who raised his trunk and gave us a telling, but Meercat didn't waste any time and slammed into reverse to get the heck out of there or he would have charged us. Afterwards, he was lnervously aughing at the close call and cos both of us had banged up against the bars on the landrover when he braked and reversed. You could tell he wasn't faking tho, if he didn't get away, the elephant would have charged us. We also got to see a giraffe which had recently died and actually got out of the landrover and walked right up to it. Not a pretty sight, but a unique one - we were the only guests allowed to do this and were there just as the reserve staff got there to investigate cause of death. We also saw a caracal and her cub in broad daylight, which from all accounts is a very, very rare thing. Again, because Meercat spotted monkeys calling alarm from a tree, and knew something was up, otherwise we would have missed seeing her.

All in all, absolutely fantastic game drives with Meercat, too bad about the poor accomodation and mediocre food. It's difficult to answer the "would you recommend" question as we would recommend Meercat to anyone and everyone, but not the accomodation, but since he works there, you'd have to stay there to have him as your ranger.

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank BridgetC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tellitlikeitwas
Level Contributor
25 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed February 21, 2009

We stayed for one night and loved it. The property is easy to find, being on the N2, just 60km outside Port Elizabeth, towards Grahamstown. We had a comfortable bed in a pretty, spacious room, with an ok shower. We also had the use of a nice living room, with teamaking facilities and a mini bar. We arrived in the heat of the afternoon, so we cooled off in the small pool. Carnarvon Dale sits just outside Amakhala reserve, so we were able to wander the extensive grounds, down to the Bushman's River, with one of host Roger's dogs - and to inspect the lion-proof fencing!. Later, Mirco, our guide, took us for an afternoon/evening game drive - just the two of us that day, so we felt really spoilt! Mirco was knowledgeable and affable, and we saw elephants, giraffes, rhinos, many types of antelope and monkeys during an extensive tour. We ate a snack tea (provided) while watching the elephants graze nearby. Heaven! Dinner was taken with Mirco and Roger, in the main house's dining room. It was more like a very pleasant dinner party than owner and paying guests. After a comfortable night, we were up very early next morning for our second game drive (all included in the price) to see lions and other early morning game, before eating an excellent breakfast with our hostess, Marion, and taking our (reluctant) leave.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Tellitlikeitwas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Carnarvon Dale

Property: Carnarvon Dale
Address: Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Amakhala Game Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Amakhala Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 2
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