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Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge
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Reviewed December 3, 2012

We stayed in the main lodge, which was very spacious but I may be tempted to upgrade to one of the other lodges (Ukhozi or River Lodge) if I went back as I think they were a bit more modern. However we were right next to the restaurant so we didn't have far to walk.

This is all about the safaris and over the 2 days we were there we went on 3. We loved it and enjoyed the company of the others in our group. We went out with another 2 couples and we had at least 1 ranger in the jeep, so it was a small group. We saw all the animals we wanted to - very close up, and we loved stopping for a coffee and muffin in the morning, or a sundowner in the evening. During the gaps in the afternoon, there was not much to do, but we were happy to chill out and I also had a massage whilst I was there which was great.

2 or 3 nights here is perfect. You can probably see most of the animals over 2 days although we missed out on the rhinos. The elephants were just fantastic as were the lions.

Be aware that when you get to Port Elizabeth it is still another 1.5 hours drive from there, so allow plenty time to get there. Our ranger Louis was fantastic and he looked after us well. So glad we have a video and lots of photos to remember this. Great end to our holiday!

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank hol2be
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bronwen d, Manager at Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 5, 2012

Thank you so much for posting your review of your stay at our Main Lodge chalets.

We are so pleased that you had a super wildlife experience and really sorry that you missed the rhino, especially our incredible white rhino, Thandi. I'm sure you know that she managed to survive a brutal poaching incident in March this year when her horns were hacked off and she was left for dead. We have passed on your comments to Louis and he was very pleased that you enjoyed your time with him.

Thank you for the useful comments about travel time too.

We hope that you will come back and stay at either River or Ukhozi lodge next time.

Kind regards,
Bronwen and the Kariega team

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Reviewed November 30, 2012

We stayed three nights at the River Lodge. After a warm welcome we were brought to our room (chalet '10) with a golf cart. It was aprox 400meters away from the main building. The golf cart was ours to use the whole stay. (we preferred to walk back after dinner, its a nice stroll and perfectly safe)
The rooms itself needed a renovation. Chips of paint missing on the wall, the shower and washing basins looked a little overused.
We had a big vent at the ceiling so I switched it on and was covered in dead moths and dust. That was not the standard of a five star game lodge (the price was).
Back at the main building for lunch we were introduced to our ranger, Candice. What a nice Lady.
Our first game grive was just 3 of us and Candice, so she had enough time to tell us a lot about the animals we saw. Lions, Rhino and Elephant at the first drive were extremely luck.
What we missed a litle bit were informations about the plants also.
The food was delicious, breakfast and dinner extraorinary, lunch were mainly snacks, but also very good.
Compare to other game lodges we stayed I found the service a little laxly. I.e when coming to the main building during the day, there was not allways staff at the public areas.
Overall nothing to dramatic, but in allmost all points just one below 5.

Room Tip: If you don't mind walking or driving up to the main building #10 is an excellent choice
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Ducky0606
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bronwen d, Manager at Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 3, 2012

Thank you very much for your feedback about your stay with us at River Lodge.

We have passed on your comments to our maintenance team who will attend to these issues. We have also passed on your feedback about service to our lodge manager. Thank you for letting us know.

We are very pleased that you enjoyed your game experiences with Candice as well as the food. We've asked Candice to include information about plants in her trips too!

Thanks again for your review and we hope you have lots of great memories of your stay with us.

Kind regards,
Bronwen and the Kariega team

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Reviewed November 22, 2012

From the moment we arrived at the entrance gate to River Lodge, we knew we were in for something truly special. Whilst being driven by our ranger Candice, we were escorted down to the lodge by a swooping flock of cackling Crowned Hornbill, occasionally being greeted by the gentle and inquisitive faces of giraffe. Ahhh, our Africa!

On arrival at reception, the exquisite service by the friendly staff began. We literally didn't lift a finger for the next 3 days, having our every need catered to. After relaxing for the first of many delectable meals, accompanied by a leisurely glass of wine, we went on our first game drive through this amazingly beautiful reserve. This is not the dry grasslands of the Highveld, but the lush green East Cape valley bushveld and scrub, overlooking massive plains and rivers, surrounded by rolling hills of thicket. Pristine and beautiful, this is where game and birdlife truly thrives. Our knowledgeable and engaging ranger Candice took us to areas in the reserve where we not only saw prolific herds of plains game......warthog, antelope, zebra, giraffe, and literally hundreds of species of birds, but we also had the incredible and emotionally moving experience of observing 2 adult Rhino and their calf peacefully grazing. After a magnificent sunset, accompanied by a refreshing drink and biltong, we spent some time alongside a herd of elephant at least 30 strong. We were informed by Candice that the reason we were able to enjoy them at such close quarters is due to the fact that the matriarch (a HUGE lady) is by nature very relaxed and her herd take their cue from her. Needless to say, there were some very nervous, but absolutely entranced international guests enjoying this wonderful encounter.

On arrival back at the lodge, relaxing on the deck overlooking a lazy bend of the tranquil Bushmans River, we soaked in the luxury and pleasure of just being here and the anticipation of the next 3 days. It was to set the tone of our stay.

After an exquisite dinner of Springbok fillet with red wine jus, handsomely accompanied by manager Clive's attentive service and plenty of excellent local wines, we sank into the biggest bed we've ever slept in, eagerly anticipating what the new day would bring.

The rest of our stay continued to surpass expectation, with a river cruise, a swim at the beautiful beach of Kenton-on-Sea, a trip to Main Lodge and Ukhozi (Kariega's other 2 stunning lodges) a traditional Boma evening and a personal viewing of the next chapter of these visionary owners - a top-end luxury tented camp overlooking sweeping plains and rolling green hills for 360 degrees. Now THAT we cannot wait for!!!

A special mention goes to Clive, Candice, Nosakhe, Samantha and the rest of the team, thank you for making this birthday experience absoultely unforgettable.

And so we bade a very sad farewell to the Kariega family. Until next time, take care, sala kakuhle!

Kenny and Andi
Hout Bay, Cape Town

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Andi M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bronwen d, Manager at Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded December 3, 2012

We are so pleased that you enjoyed a special birthday celebration with us at Kariega's River Lodge. Thank you for sharing your review and experience.

We've passed on your thanks to Clive, Candice, Nosakhe, Samantha and the rest of the team.

We really appreciate your feedback and hope to see you at Kariega again soon.

Bronwen and the Kariega team

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Reviewed October 30, 2012

If you have not been on safari before then Kariega is not a bad place to start. We stayed at the River Lodge which we imagined to be the best of the two options the other being the Main Lodge.
The reserve is split in two with a main road segregating the halves. The River side holds the more
predatory animals and we saw lion, elephant rhino and hippo on each of the game drives on the river side of the reserve. Giraffe, zebra and many other grazing species were on the safe side. The game drives themselves were excellent as were the guides and you get really close to the animals themselves super for great pictures.The river cruise should not be missed all the way to Kenton and it's fabulous beach.If you are expecting 5 star accommodation and food you could be disappointed if like my wife and I the game viewing is the reason you came then expect to be delighted.

Room Tip: Pick the River Lodge with your bungalow away from the main building you get your own golf buggie for travelling to and from the main building which is fun.
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank CapricornEssex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bronwen d, Manager at Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded November 2, 2012

Thank you for posting your review on your stay at River Lodge and experience at Kariega Game Reserve. We are so pleased that you particularly enjoyed the wildlife, the experience with your guide and our fabulous local beach at Kenton-on-Sea. We consider ourselves very fortunate to offer guests a malaria free wildlife experience on our 9000 ha reserve. To give you an idea of the size of this area it is about the same size as the Borough of Croydon in London. We never advertise ourselves as anything different and never compare our reserve with the vast game parks in other locations. We do focus on offering guests the best possible experience in our part of the world!

Please note that although River Lodge has been assessed as 5 star by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, we have always tried to position it as “relaxed” 5 star which is reflected in the rate (up to 50% and more below the fancier 5 star establishments). We agree that this can cause confusion and accordingly we have recently made the decision to grade River Lodge as 4 star superior from January 2013. The lodge and experience will not change but this will be a more reflective grading.

Thank you for taking the time to post your feedback.

Kind regards,
Bronwen and the Kariega team

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Reviewed October 19, 2012

My husband and I spent 3 nights here in September 2012. I have stayed at Safari lodges before which were 5 star and as much as this was rated 5 star I would question this. I had asked for the honeymoon suite with it being our honeymoon to be told that the Villas near to the reception were classed as honeymoon suite. Our room was the nearest to reception and was not exactly quiet. The room was nice but, certainly needed some work undertaking. A lick of paint and new bathroom fitments would not of gone a miss, some what tierd looking. The position of the lodge overlooking the river was beautiful, and it had a small outdoor pool area which was OK, but, again needed some TLC. There was rusty sun beds and the decking was all cracked and in need of repair. This was an all inclusive game lodge although we did feel the food was OK there was not a lot of it. The breakfast was good, and there was a good choice, although the lunch time was a cold buffet was the same each day and not much of it. On one of the days we decided to stay at the lodge and asked for tea and if there was any cake or biscuits to go with it, we were given a small selection for 6 of us but, to be told there was no more as they had run out.. The game drives were at 6am & 3pm each day and were wonderful, mind you certainly did not have time to waste in-between activities and at meal times everyone had to sit together. So whilst the staff did their r best to assist you if you wanted some of your own space then this was not the place to go. We enjoyed some aspects but, certainly in need of some work to make it a 5 star. Also as this was my husbands first experience of a safari I would say in some aspects he was dissapointed.

Room Tip: I only saw the room we stayed in so difficult to advise. The rooms furthest away from reception I was told were larger and more peaceful
  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Wendy503975
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bronwen d, Manager at Kariega Game Reserve - River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded October 26, 2012

Hi Wendy,

Thank you for posting your review about your stay at River Lodge and we are very sorry that this did not live up to your expectations. We have noted your comments about the maintenance and have asked our maintenance team to deal with the items. We have also noted your comments about the food and fed this back to the chef and his team at the lodge so that they can make appropriate changes.

It is interesting to note that decor, general appearance and setting is often about personal preferences. River Lodge’s style and feel is loved by most of our guests but we certainly appreciate your views.

We also wanted to clarify the 5 star issue. The way the grading system works is that there are a range of establishments that fall into the 5 star rating. Although River Lodge has been assessed as 5 star by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, we have always tried to position it as “relaxed” 5 star which is reflected in the rate (up to 50% and more below the fancier 5 star establishments). We agree that this can cause confusion and accordingly we have recently made the decision to grade River Lodge as 4 star superior from January 2013. The lodge and experience will not change but this will be a more reflective grading. It will be interesting to hear from you whether this would have changed your experience and views?

Thank you again for taking the time to give your feedback.

Kind regards,
Bronwen and the Kariega team

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