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“Amazing!”

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Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Oakland, California, United States
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Amazing!”
Reviewed January 7, 2013

My husband and I recently returned from Zulu Nyala and we had an outstanding trip. Like many others, we won this trip at an auction and visited December 23 to December 29.

Accommodations: We spent the first three nights in the tents and I really enjoyed this experience. While rustic, staying in the tent was delightful and I really felt like I was on safari in the African bush. The animals were right in front of us and we enjoyed hanging out with them.
The tent had a concrete floor and a very nice tiled bathroom and was very clean.

Initially was concerned about the heat since the tent only had a fan and while it was too hot to stay in the tent during the day, at night it cooled off and it we never felt too hot. One day a huge rainstorm hit and the tent got a bit wet inside, but housekeeping came and mopped up the water. It wasn't really a big deal and it added a great adventure to our stay.

After three nights in the tent, we moved to the game lodge and we had a room by the pool- #14. The room was just OK but the view was A-1! It was a bit small, and the bedding was stained which I found annoying, but the bathroom was lovely and the fan and air-conditioning worked well. For some reason, the game lodge had a lot of mosquitoes, both in the room and in the dining room. The fan and air-conditioning kept them from biting me in the room, but at dinner I had to wear spray. I do recommend trying to get a room by the pool because of the spectacular view. I highly suggest staying three nights in both places to get a varying experience. I'm glad we did.

Game drives- Jacques was our ranger and I can’t say enough great things about him. He was a true professional and he had a great understanding of the animals and of plants and flowers. He also knew a ton about birds and about spiders. Our group had a lot of spider fans so Jacques went out of his way to teach us about African spiders. It was a delight to spend time with him and learn from him. I suspect all rangers at Zulu Nyala are great guides.
While some people complain about seeing the same animals day-after-day, I never tired of this. Each day we saw different and new things and being on a small game reserve allowed us to get really close to the animals, especially the cheetahs which we saw almost daily. I was really surprised by just how close to the animals we were able to get. It was so cool!

Food: I thought that the food was really great. It was a bit repetitive, but the selection was very diverse and the lodge tried hard to please everyone. Breakfast was great! On several occasions the chef made me Kingklip because I don’t eat meat and I wanted to try some local fish. It was awesome! The lodge excels at making puddings and desserts, too. I cannot complain about the food. The wine list was reasonably priced and soft drinks were not expensive.

Internet: Previous reviewers have complained about internet prices but I think many individuals got their conversations wrong. Internet is 50. RAND per minute, (not USD) which is very cheap. The internet connection was fast and computers were always available.

Other tips: I read that you can purchase a lot of top-quality safari clothes at Goodwill and at your local thrift store. My husband and I spent a few months scouring thrift stores for safari type clothing and we found a lot of great deals. I highly recommend doing this. It was a lot of fun and kept us engaged for many, many weekends.

Excursions: We went to Hluhluwe Game Reserve one day to see lions. We saw two and loads of elephants.We could not go to Phinda because they were sold-out. We had a car and at first we were going to drive ourselves to Hluhluwe, but I'm glad we didn't. Going with Jacques and our group allowed us to see far more of the park they we would have seen on our own. Our guide was able to anticipate were the animals might be because he knows the park intimately. It was worth the expense to go with the group.

Summary: We loved Zulu Nyala. The safari was just fantastic. The staff was always helpful and caring and I would love to go back. What a fantastic experience!

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
12 Thank Stacey R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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  • French first
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English first
Boulder, Colorado
Level 6 Contributor
270 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 156 helpful votes
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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Helpful?
7 Thank Boulder-USA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Olney, Maryland
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
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
Helpful?
12 Thank bmd1277
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary, Alberta
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
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
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Maureen92
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elgin, Illinois
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
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.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
5 Thank Kathryn E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
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. :-)
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Jestom1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Provincetown, MA
Level 5 Contributor
53 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
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...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank PtownTMW
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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