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“Great Safari Experience”

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Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 2, 2013

It seems that the majority of people at the lodge had purchased their safari at this lodge through a charitable event in the US. That's how we came to be there as well. We thought we'd be among people from all around the world, but we quickly accepted that this was a mostly American experience of a wonderful country. Our accommodations were very good and the grounds of the lodge were outstanding. Dining was very, very good. But we save our highest accolades for the guides (rangers) who led our twice daily excursions. These are very dedicated people who have a real command of the fauna and flora of the land. They kept us entranced the whole week we were there. All in all, we had a great experience and we would recommend this place to anyone.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Boulder-USA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 1, 2013

This is only the review of the drive to Zulu Nyala. I would give it 0 starts, but I do not want to reflect it on the Zulu Nyala Game Lodge rating.

The drive let us experience the beautiful countryside. We drove through Pretoria on N4, N11 and then N2. We drove through Gauteng, Mpumulanga and KwazuluNatal Provinces.

The car rental from Dollar was easy even though they were out of the GPS and we had to rent it from another location at the airport.

The entire drive on the left side of the road and in the rain took about 7 hours and it was full of "danger" signs. As soon as we got on N4 we saw following signs: high hi-jacking area, stray animals, no fences, people crossing. It was definitely quite the experience seeing people lined up on the side of the road hitchhiking and waiting for taxis...after seeing the high hi-jacking area signs.

The landscape went from flat, hilly, mountainous, coal mining, lumber producing to beautiful Kwazu-Natal where the road shoulders were paved and the truck drivers seemed nicer. They actually moved to the side of the road so the cars could pass them. Of perhaps we just became better at driving the South African way.

There were two construction areas, where only one lane was open. The wait varied from 15-45 min. During that time, locals approached our car selling us produce and local craft items.

During our drive we only passed one oasis area where we fueled up and got food. After that we had to stop at local towns because we didn't know when we would see another petrol station. Everyone at the gas stations was friendly. There are parking attendants (a person with a yellow vest) who would "watch" your car. We tipped them when we back to our car. There are KFCs in every town in passed. We have not seen one McDonalds

We read other reviews of the drive from JNB and heard nothing bad against it. I just wanted to post the review with the details. If you choose to drive, please note the highways starts off with a 4 lane road that turns into two lane road full of danger signs and no shoulder. There are aggressive coal truck drivers which seem so much bigger than the ones in US. And they have no problems passing and creating a third lane in the middle of the two lane road.

Most of N11 was under construction where there was a big drop off on each side with trucks passing and driving other cars off the road. It was a stressful 7 hr drive.

On the way back, we took another route and it felt "safer".

In KwazuluNatal, having a car gave us freedom other travelers did not have. We were able to take side strips to St Lucia, Cheetah Conservatory, Lion Park, Hluhluwe National Park and all were great trips. Perhaps during our next trip, we'll fly to Durban/Richard's Bay and rent a car so we only have 1.5-3 hr drive instead of seven. Or we pay to get picked up.

Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
12  Thank bmd1277
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 27, 2012

We stayed at the Heritage hotel in early December for two nights. It's a wonderful location; in retrospect I wish we had stayed in the tents as they have a great view (they look like cabins, not really tents at all).
Food at the hotel was OK. The waiters and cooks were very nice,and tried to be helpful, but they could have had more options for vegans. I found some of the vegetables were so smothered in oil that they were inedible.
We only did one game drive, as the second one we booked was cancelled due to rain, so we did not see much game which was a disappointment.
My only real complaint was the young man at reception at the hotel when we checked in was not helpful at all. We were never assigned a game ranger, and when I tried to find out about tours I had read about on line (such as going to see the lions at Phinda, or the elephants, or the cheetahs), I just got a shrug from the young man at reception who said there were no such things! Luckily I was able to find out about some of the tours available by speaking to fellow guests, but my advice for new arrivals is to speak to a ranger as soon as possible after arriving. Do not rely on reception to give you any useful information at all; it was like getting blood from a stone.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Maureen92
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 18, 2012

We loved Zulu Nyala. We spent 3 days in the tents and the balance at the Game Lodge, then booked two extra days because we liked the place so much.
Tents - If you are a romantic and want to get a feel for Africa, you will enjoy a tent stay. They are spacious and comfortable with a beautiful bath. Canvas sides let in the night sounds. Wild zebra and nyala graze on your doorstep. The adjoining Safari Lodge is comfortable and has a British Colonial feel - like you just returned from a safari with Denys Finch Hatton. The tents and Safari Lodge are not inside the game park, so you can feel comfortable wandering about.
Game Lodge - Located inside the reserve and perched high on a hill with an exceptional view. The view from the pool is incomparable - nyala, warthog with babies stroll by. The Game Lodge is definitely fancier and a little more formal than the tent stay.
The food is great both places. The breakfasts are incredible - you can pretend you are of any nationality on the planet and find exactly what you want. Lunch is typically from the menu - a limited but diverse selection. Dinner offers a large buffet - copious fresh fruits and salads and several familiar meat offerings, vegetable dished, curries, but don't miss the oportunity to try the game. Kudu is delicious. Also plenty of desserts and excellent cheeses.
The staff at ZN are a joy - very friendly and helpful. Our half-dozen Zulu phrases were greeted with warm smiles, enthusiastic responses and a diplomatic "You speak Zulu!"
The two daily game drives were wonderful. Literally. I took an inexpensive digital camera, and my photos look like I did a stint with National Geographic. Elephant, rhino, cheetah (with babies), cape buffalo, zebra, giraffe, and antelope - all up close and personal. (You won't find lion at ZN, but you can see them at the adjacent park (Phinda).
Everyone brags about their ranger, but Jacques was exceptional. We prided ourselves in a pretty good knowledge of flora and fauna, but we couldn't stump Jacques. He always had the answers, plus great anecdotes and fresh perspectives on the animals interacting with their habitat. He was perceptive enough to gauge our interests on the drives and recommend the perfect excursions outside the park. Some we loved - the elephant encounter, cheetah experience, reptiles (Yes!), Phinda, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and the village/school visit.
We visited at the end of November, beginning of December and it was humid but not too hot. Cool enough to need a jacket for the morning drives. The park is green then, but sometimes muddy. We took a malaria preventative and used repellant, and had no problems.
South African drivers are very aggressive. It was worth the added expense for us to arrange transport to and from ZN from Richards Bay.
Zulu Nyala is a great value. If you plan to bid on the trip at a charity auction, be prepared to outbid my relatives!

Room Tip: A front tent (we had #4) and a room by the pool at the Game lodge.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank Kathryn E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 12, 2012

Could not have been happier with our stay there! Staff were very attentive (my wife, girlfriend at the time) is Celiac so we had to be careful with what she ate. Staff did their utmost to make the menu work for us. Kyle was our guide during virtually all the game drives we went on and he is definitely very knowledgable about everything in the area. Ask for him if you can. We were able to see all of the big 6 except lions (none there since...a game farm needs at least 25,000 acres to accomodate the predation done by 1 lion). Would very much like to go back again. We stayed in room #11, which was a really great room. Equal or better to staying at the Westin Kaanapali in Maui (where we were just last week). Hats off to the management at Zulu Nyala...Also, bought a pink sapphire gemstone ring from Mr. Shaw while we where there. What a class act this lodge is!
/s/
Tom & Yvonne Stephens

Room Tip: Ask for room #11. :-)
  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Jestom1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 29, 2012

We enjoyed the Game Lodge immensely, from our newly remodeled, modern room with a huge bathroom and air conditioning, to the gorgeous views and close access around the corner from the pool. We also used the spa for facials, which was very nice (and affordable). You won't believe the incredible, expansive view from the terrace off the main dining room.

Room Tip: The newest and nicest rooms are Room 51-53, right next to the pool. We were in the rooms right next...
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank PtownTMW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 17, 2012

I thought I knew what to expect from having read the reviews, but in every way our experience at Zulu Nyala Game Lodge exceeded even our high expectations. From the ambiance of the lodge itself, to the quality of food; from the scenic setting to the quality of the game drives - all were fantastic. The staff was wonderful, especially the staff in the restaurant - friendly, fun, helpful and simply a joy to be around. Big, genuine smiles greeted us every morning and evening and we always felt everyone was happy to see us. However, for us the true highlight of our time at Zulu Nyala was our game drive guide, William, who made every drive an adventure and a learning experience - he was amazing. His knowledge of the bush and the animals, his instincts, his sense of humor and his big, deep from the belly laugh, made the game drives not only exciting and educational, but joyful as well. Because of William, we had some very special encounters with the elephants and cheetahs that reside in the reserve, and had a most thrilling evening pursuing an elusive leopard who had wandered into the reserve. Some of us did catch a glimpse and even a photo, but it was the chase itself that I will always remember. If you go, be sure to ask to go on a walking safari if William is your guide - believe me, you will not regret it! We did this the morning we left and after a week of great, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, this one topped the list. Our six days in Zulu Nyala in KwaZulu Natal was a wonderful beginning to our South African holiday and I am so grateful we had the opportunity to get to know the people and the animals of this very special region of South Africa.

Some basic info: We rented a car (from Avis) in Richard's Bay and drove to Zulu Nyala - it was an easy drive and took a bit over an hour. We used the car to drive to St. Lucia (a must trip if you want to see Hippos!) and driving ourselves there was easy, as was booking the sightseeing cruise of the wetlands. We drove from Zulu Nyala to Durban to catch a flight to Port Elizabeth. The drive was a bit over 3 hours but not difficult - just stay on the N2! Even though we had the car for the week and only used it to and from the lodge, and for one side-trip, I do believe it was much cheaper than booking transfers through the lodge and paying for excursions. How comfortable one is with driving on the "wrong" side of the road is of course an individual determination, but for my husband, it was not a problem - I chose to remain a passenger! :-)

We did one other excursion, and that was to Umfolozi, and we decided to do it with our guide, but others self-drove and said it was not difficult to do. Our experience at Umfolozi was a bit disappointing - it was a long drive starting very, very early in the morning, and we did not see much more than what we saw at Zulu Nyala. Of course, that was just our experience on that particular day. We did not go to Phinda, which is right next door; others did and said it was great. We did the free diamond viewing and I could have skipped that and would say do not bother unless you want to buy some jewelry that is supposedly at wholesale prices, but is nevertheless still expensive.

People had varying experiences with their room. We had a large room, mosquito free. Others were not so fortunate. There seemed to be one room where mosquitoes were an issue. In general, while we were there in mid-October, mosquitoes were not a problem. We took malaria pills as they had been recommended, but I doubt they were necessary - I think I had maybe two bites all week! Our room had a large bathroom and plenty of hot water. The bed was very comfortable - we slept very well. Laundry service was available and it was efficient, not expensive, and great to have! There is a nice curio shop with a varied selection of handcrafted items and clothing.

There was a great breakfast and dinner buffet every day, and lunch was from a limited-choice menu. The food was well prepared, varied, and delicious. The wines were very good and extremely reasonably priced. As mentioned, the service was wonderful.

Zulu Nyala is not large in comparison to the big game reserves of South Africa, so the animal population is limited - you will not see a herd of elephants (they have 3, which we did get to see extremely up-close!) or a pride of lions (there aren’t any). However, we liked the intimacy of the reserve and felt we were able to see all the animals up close and personal, in a way that certainly is not possible in the big national parks. There were six of us in our game drive vehicle, and for the most part, we never saw anyone else out in the bush while on our drives. The drives were exciting with wonderful moments of quiet as we sat and watched the animals in their natural environment. We saw lots of antelopes, zebras, giraffes, Cape buffalo, rhino, monkeys, birds, all 3 cheetahs, and of course, for one fleeting moment, the elusive leopard.

If you “won” this Zulu Nyala photo safari at a charity auction, rest assured you not only gave a gift to a cause in which you believe, but you have given yourself the gift of an amazing life’s experience that you will treasure forever. Have fun!!

Room Tip: Rooms vary in size and location. If size matters, there a limited number of larger rooms that you c...
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank angelika711
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

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 #2 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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