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“dream vacation”

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Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Golden, Colorado
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“dream vacation”
Reviewed October 15, 2012

if you go--request Manie as your ranger. he's excellent and made the trip. we loved the accomodations and the scenery. being an active colorado couple, we got bored easlity as you are not supposed to run on the reserve (they do have 4/5 of the big 5) and so there were times in which we had nothing to do, no workout room, and we're not the relaxing type of vacationers. however, we did have an excellent trip and enjoyed every minute of it. if you're looking for lions though, do take some extra cash and do a day trip from the reserve as there are no lions there. we rented our own car and drove from richard's bay. it was an easy drive and one i'd recommend to other people.

Room Tip: we only stayed in the lodge and had a great experience. i would say if you can get a room facing th...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank andi b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Johnson City, Tennessee
Level 6 Contributor
284 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 127 helpful votes
Reviewed October 13, 2012

We won this experience at a charity auction like most of the others and loved it. We went to five different game preserves during our four week trip to South Africa and Botswana - Zulu Nyala, Phinda, Hluhluwe Umfolozi, Elephant Plains, and Chobe. Although Chobe was our favorite game experience, Zulu Nyala was our best overall experience. While Zulu Nyala is a relatively small game preserve, they have a good diversity of animals - we saw everything but lions and leopards there. It is actually harder to see a lot of animals at the larger game preserves (with the exception of Chobe) because the animals can be anywhere and the guides can't always locate them. What we loved about Zulu Nyala was being able to get close to so many different wild animals every day in their natural habitat. We saw rhinos, hippos, elephants, warthogs, cheetas, wildebeasts, zebras, giraffes, nyalas, verbit monkeys, impalas, and lots more. Our guide, Amon, was the very best we experienced at any of the game parks. Amon was extremely knowledgeable about every animal and bird we saw or heard, and he loved sharing his knowledge with us. We highly recommend taking the excursion to the village and the school but don't bring much candy for the kids, bring them pencils and pens and paper and elementary age children's books - that's what they want and need the most. Try to hand them out in class instead of giving them to the Principal, if you can - that way you get the joy of seeing the children light up with happiness to receive anything. The Grandma loved getting rice and beans and packaged milk and marshmellows. Stop at the village store and talk to the people, buy something made by hand there, the prices are very low and the people need so much! Be sure to take the boat ride in St Lucia if you have the time. We rented a car for four of us making it less expensive to get to Zulu Nyala and St Lucia. The game lodge is very nice and the staff extremely helpful, Marcus was great. Upgrade your room to one of the fantastic new suites, it is well worth it - we didn't do this and regreted it although the regular rooms are nice and more than adequate. We went to Africa in September when it was no longer cold but the trees had not bloomed out yet which makes it easier to see the animals. There were a few mosquitos but not too many here. The food was very good with a nice variety including some local game along with typical American food, and the dining room staff were all fantastic.

Room Tip: Upgrade your room to one of the new suites, it is worth the extra cost and you will be very pleased...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Adventurers8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California, United States
Level 6 Contributor
101 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 93 helpful votes
Reviewed October 10, 2012

It's understandable that some folks aren't enamored of ZN, but my guess is they are seeking greater luxury and are easily bored. Hey, you're in South Africa -- it's impressive that they have some of the luxuries they do especially given the intense poverty that surrounds you. Almost everyone coming here is a supporter of non profits; you'd think there'd be a little more cultural understanding. While many of the game lodge rooms might be a tad shabby by 21st century western standards, they are nonetheless impressive given their location perched on a stunning mountaintop in the midst of some of South Africa's most beautiful terrain. Yes, the food is buffet; yes the water is off from 2 to 5pm; yes they charge for beverages and for any excursion other than the game drives -- have you looked at the rates at Phinda? Egad, give some of that extra cash to the locals or to charity for ***sake. We actually went on a Phinda tour and were happy to have seen the lions (asleep though they might have been). It was also lovely to experience the smooth sand tracks and newer vehicles of Phinda. BUT, we saw more action at Zulu Nyala in an hour than in 5 hours at Phinda -- there's a price you pay for all that extra land -- the animals have figured out where to hide! And if a king feather bed is what's really important to you on Safari, try an urban safari at the four seasons. Again, remember where you are and try and take in the local scene. We stayed at Heritage also and are glad we experienced both properties. If you can get a room by the pool, bully for you. Our guess is that they save them for retail guests or those who paid the most at auction. Want some fun? Ask the other what they paid -- but be prepared to hear the answers and not be upset! All in all, a lovely place. We had Peace (and his monkey, Boy) - and we were thrilled to have him, but our guess is that all of the drivers are great folks and highly competent, plus they share information to make sure everyone gets to see the most. Sure we would now like to go see the great migration, but we saw lots of giraffe and elephant babies, closeup rhinos and even a cheetah eating it's kill. A wonderful first safari -- well done, Zulu Nyala! Oh, PERFECT weather end of September/early October. Not a drop of rain, not too hot. We took a day off and self-toured the iSimangalios wetlands at St. Lucia -- we highly recommend 2-3 days there either mid-Zulu or post. We drove from Joburg and enjoyed seeing the terrain/villages along the way.

Room Tip: the rooms by the pool are larger and newer -- the ones you see in the brochures. the rest are like...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank Mark B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
97 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 115 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2012

My wife and I purchased a trip to Zulu Nyala from a charity auction like most everyone we met there. We chose to fly into Richards Bay, and the drive was about 1:20 to the lodge - not a big deal. We traveled in July (South Africa's winter), and the weather was similar to a Midwest fall - cool in the mornings/evenings and upper 60's to lower 70's during the warmest part of the day. The safaris occur early morning and late afternoon so remember to dress in layers. We did not have any problems with mosquitoes or other bugs, and our mosquito repellent didn't get much use (although we were taking a malaria prophylactic). Although we purchased a 7 day package, we decided to transfer to the Phinda Lodge mid-week after doing substantial research. It was a move that, in retrospect, was one of the smartest things we did during our 17 day stay in South Africa (we traveled to Capetown after the safaris). We decided to add Phinda after we discovered the limited size of Zulu Nyala which its web site advertises as a 4500 acre reserve. Phinda's web site advertises a 56,800 acre reserve. The size of Zulu Nyala became evident when we stopped for tea on the first day during the afternoon safari, and our guide pulled out a laundry list of things to do and see off-site. Our guide made several comparisons to Phinda, so I don't feel like I'm being unfair in doing the same in this review. Having stayed a both, I am comfortable that I am being objective and helpful to future travelers. We did take a day trip to the St Lucia Estuary and the Indian Ocean. It was a nice trip, and I would recommend it. At Zulu Nayala, we stayed at the Safari Lodge which was nice, but nothing spectacular. The rooms were small, but comfortable. My wife was troubled with an obvious stain on the bed spread as we walked into our room following our arrival. The food was good and always hot, although everything was buffet style. We were careful to drink only bottled water, and eat well-cooked foods, and neither my wife or I had any stomach issues. The staff was wonderful and always eager to help. They do have wireless internet in the dining area, but it's pretty slow. Our guide was very friendly and informative. We saw cheetahs, white rhinos, giraffes, impalas, nyalas, buffalo, hippos, wildebeest and zebras. Couldn't find the elephants or leopards. There are no lions at Zulu Nyala. They recommend you go to Phinda for lions (where we saw many - including cubs). One important distinction is that the guides at Zulu Nyala do not drive in the bush. Almost all the viewing is done from the trails. The explanation was that the tires aren't rated for off-road travel. After a few days at Phinda, it became apparent that being able to go off-road is key to seeing the wildlife. Although we had 2 flat tires out of 6 days at Phinda from off-road travel, we saw substantially more wildlife. The tires were changed quickly, and we lost little or no safari time. On one off-road occasion at Phinda, we sat with a pride of 10 lions about 150 yards off-road for nearly an hour. One would never have seen that from the trail. Also important, there is one guide assigned at Zulu-Nyala, compared to a tracker/guide combo at Phinda. The trackers are amazing at what they do, and definitely necessary to find the off-road animals. Since you are on a "photo safari," make sure you bring a good camera and a back-up body. You will be shooting early morning and late afternoon, so your camera should have high ISO capability. For lens selection, I found that 300 mm on a full frame digital SLR was not enough. I regularly used tele-converters to get closer. Dust was not a huge problem, so I was able to remove, add or switch out TC's as necessary in the field. Next time back, I will have a 200-400 zoom for the flexibility (and a 70-200 on a 2nd body). Last thought - don't worry about the 18 pound limit per carry-on with South African Air. My 2 carry-ons consisted of around 60 pounds of camera gear, and they were not weighed once despite 6 separate South Africa Air flights. We had a wonderful time in South Africa, and extremely glad we expanded our travels to include Phinda and Capetown.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Scott805
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level 5 Contributor
65 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 253 helpful votes
Reviewed October 2, 2012

Where to begin. Like most, a charity auction. We were dubious that Zulu Nyala would meet our expectations, but we were very very pleased. We stayed 3 nights at the Game Lodge, then moved to the Tented Safari Camp for our final three nights. The Game Lodge is actually about 20 minutes off the "main road" (if you can call a gravel road the "main road", so we were glad we stayed there the first three nights. All the safari drives start from the Game Lodge, so if you're staying at the Heritage Safari Lodge or adjacent Tented Camp, you're picked up first and taken to the Game Lodge, which adds to the length of your day. Our room at the Game Lodge was gigantic, with a fabulous bathroom and wonderful views across the countryside. The buffet meals were generous and delicious, with enough variety to please anyone. We enjoyed late afternoon drinks on the terrace outside the dining room and even ate outside one night, as the early spring day was quite warm. Our guides were great and we were amazed at how close we could get to the animals. The treat was seeing the mama cheetah and her three young cubs close up so many times. Like others, we opted for the Phinda half day tour to get a chance to see lions, and boy did we see lions. Well worth it to see that larger, more luxe property, though we were happy we were staying at the less fancy Zulu Nyala. During our 3 nights at the Tented Safari Camp, we drove on our own to St. Lucia, and were glad we were closer to the main N-2 Highway so we didn't spend so much of our time getting to the destination. Some people commented about mosquitos at Zulu Nyala, and we had a few in our bedroom because we opened the windows for fresh air. But by closing the windows and turning on the quiet, efficient ac, we solved the problem easily. Sitting on the terrace and our porch we had no problem with mosquitos, oddly enough, but then we were there at the very end of the dry season. Our only "complaint" was the curio shop was full of touristy trinkets, without any maps or interesting books. We found better gifts to take home at Ilala Weavers about 10 km down the road from the Tented Safari Camp, and got a great map/guide to animals in St. Lucia's tourism information center. In all, we'd highly recommend Zulu Nyala to everyone.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
7 Thank berwind
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Parker, Colorado, USA
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed September 28, 2012

Five of us arrived Sept. 15, in the pouring rain ,which lasted for a couple of days. At this time, the lower roads in the preserve were closed, so the safaris were done on the upper roads. It was still great, we saw so many animals with our guide, Philoman, who was our ranger for the week. He was very knowledgeable and a great guide. The side excursions are extra, but I recommend them, especially Phinda..where the lions are. We turned a corner, and 9 lions were there to greet us !
It was a postcard setting and just fabulous. We were able to take so many close up photos. Also did Umfolzi Natl Park, again animals everywhere. When the lower roads opened at Zulu Nyala, Philoman took us everywhere..again, no shortage of animal viewing..even a mother Cheetah nursing her cubs. We stayed at the Game Lodge only and had a poolside room. I recommend that, as the views are spectacular. We even had elephants that came up one night around the lodge ! The food was good, 3 buffets, and a great variety. The staff was always friendly and so helpful. Our room was very nice, only had a couple of mosquitos one night. One thing missing is a place to exercise, as you really can't go out for a long walk. So, Sipho, maybe some water aerobics or aqua zumba in the pool ? :). A DVD will be coming to you soon !! Thanks again for the trip of a lifetime !
Pat and Scott ( Cathy, Russ, and crazy Tom)

Room Tip: Poolside rooms are the best
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
6 Thank wintersetranch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, IL
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed September 24, 2012

There is a big difference between the lodge and the tents (rooms are very similar, service and quality is a lot difference) - especially with the food and service. Bring bug spray and spray your beds before you sleep. We also had problems with ants. Guests are mostly American's (some demanding) and about 99% purchased their package via a charity auction. Plan to spend a lot of extra money on excursions (we did not rent a car and wished we had). Phinda excursion was great (you cannot do this on your own) and the guides there are fantastic. Hluhlwe, St. Lucia, etc can be done on your own for a fraction of the cost. Our guide was ok - we did most of the animal spotting for him. Bernie is a fantastic guide - although not ours, she took the time to explain a lot to us. They DON'T treat their employees very well so please be nice to them. Bring books to read, etc. There is not much to do between safaris.

Room Tip: While at the tents, ask for a room where the Zebra's are close. In the lodge, ask for a room by...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank apkala
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Zulu Nyala Game Lodge

Property: Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Address: Msinene Rd, Hluhluwe 3960, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand > Hluhluwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 32 Specialty Lodging in Hluhluwe
Hotel Class:4 star — Zulu Nyala Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 52
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An entrancing experience in a unique wilderness area. Zulu Nyala Private Game Reserve provides a unique bush experience in the heart of one of South Africa’s most diverse conservation regions. Nestled between the wilderness reserves of Mkuze, Hluhluwe and St Lucia, this lush stretch of paradise is home to a wide variety of game, from the majestic elephant to rhino, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, the shy and beautiful Nyala buck that is endemic to the region and the secretive leopard. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Zulu Nyala Game Hotel Hluhluwe

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