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“We were pleasantly surprised by Zulu Nyala.”

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Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
93 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“We were pleasantly surprised by Zulu Nyala.”
Reviewed October 25, 2010

Like everyone else, my husband & I purchased the safari through a non-profit live auction. We read all of the sometimes terrible & mostly negative reviews online & went with low expectations. It turned out we were pleasantly surprised & thought the trip to South Africa was awesome. Our guide was Chris & he made the trip -- his passion for his job made the safaris so exciting. We saw all of the animals on the property, including the leopard who was just visiting. It also helps if you like your group because you spend every dinner, every on-property safari & every side trip with them. We had a fun & adventurous group and I think everyone liked everyone else in the group.

The Game Lodge is about 3 hours from Durban. Our ride was waiting for us when our flight landed and the ride was smooth. I recommend flying into RIchard's Bay because it's a long trip already -- adding a 3-hour drive to it is painful. We stayed in room 12 which was poolside. We requested poolside & I highly recommend doing the same. The room isn't exactly spacious but it works. The bed is 2 full sized beds pushed together which was annoying but I understand why they do it that way. We DID have mosquitoes ALL over our room & bathroom. It had a thatched roof so that is how they got in. Definitely apply bug spray to your skin before bed! I came home with 10-15 mosquito bites & my husband had 30+ the first night because he didn't apply bugspray. Water is brown-ish -- don't drink it. Food at the buffet is mediocre but we didn't travel to Zulu Nyala for the cuisine. Neither of us got sick from the water (didn't drink it though), ice or food. Beer & wine are cheap & pretty good. They cost the same as a soda or a bottle of water (about $2 each).

The service staff was OK. Some were friendly & helpful, others were slow & nonresponsive. We called the front desk for a wake up call probably 4 or 5 times and 2 times we never received it. So, don't rely on them. & our alarm clock didn't work either. Neither did the second one they gave us....

As for side trips, our group went to the HUP national park. It is a 45 minute ride away & it makes for a long day. They have lions there but we never saw them. It was nice but go for the half day. We also went to St. Lucia for the whale watching excursion but due to high winds & chop, it was cancelled. So instead the group did the St. Lucia Boat Cruise to see hippos & crocs. IT WAS TERRIBLE! Skip it & save your $$. We saw some hippos but none out of the water & 4 crocs & a handful of birds (which don't interest me). Very boring. We tried to get into Phinda (safari lodge next to Zulu Nyala) but they were apparently full so they weren't allowing outside visitors. Phinda has lions & I heard it is awesome. We were very bummed that we didn't see any lions our whole trip.

If your headed to Zulu Nyala, go in with low expections & I think you will have a great time.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
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2 Thank ctaylor0159
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Asheville, North Carolina
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 11, 2010

Spent 6 days at the Zulu Nyala game lodge in August and it really was a dream. Our guide, Kyle was fantastic. He was relentless in tracking the game park's animals, and really knowledgeable. We arrived late afternoon and our first night we were able to do a game drive. We saw a cheetah family, rhinos, and leopard.... on our first night! Our game drives were thrilling. Each day surpassed the last. On one of our last days we were able to do a walking safari, where we walked to where the cheetah mom and her four babies were feeding an dplaying. It was one of the all-time best experiences of my life. Our night drives were also exquisite, under the South African skies.
We saw so many animals and birds, rhinos, water buffalo, leopards, cheetah, zebra, nyala, giraffes, elephants, monkey birds, cranes, cape glossy starlings, crocs....... We took some side trips as well, one to Phinda, where we saw lions, so close, extraordinary! And to St. Lucia, where we saw lots of hippos, eagles, ibis, crocs.... We also took a small plane sightseeing tour to St. Lucia, as well as an afternoon side trip to a cheetah preserve. The entire trip exceeded my expectations in a big way, much of it was thanks to the skills of our funny (smartass :) ) guide Kyle. Your group spends so much time with your guide, so that person probably impacts your time at the Game Lodge the most.
The lodge was very nice, and the rooms and beds were quite comfortable. The food, buffet-style was very good. If there is the chance to see a performance of the local zulu dancers, by all means take it they are great! (I do agree that one downside is the expensive and sketchy internet at the lodge.)
For weeks after we returned I was in a happy haze of being among the animals at Zulu Nyala. I would highly recommend Zulu Nyala. Loved it.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank halgal2121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2010

I travelled to Zulu Nyala in Sept 2010 with my parents (ages 62, 64) and a friend of mine (age 34). Here's the down & dirty:
- Mostly Americans with age ranges tending to be a bit older. At the Game Lodge, mostly retirees (60+). At the Safari Tents & Heritage Lodge (colocated), age tended to be a bit younger (average 45? with range from 35 - 65). Most people got the trip via a nonprofit silent auction.
- Safari guides are a mixed group - some younger, some more experienced. Our guide was fairly young (Scalla, 22) but nevertheless a great guide in terms of personality & temperment, but not necessarily super-experienced given his age.
- Not a luxury safari: jeeps are a bit old, bouncy (tough on my bad back), and no happy hour in the middle of the afternoon drive.
- Safaris go twice daily for about 3 hrs apiece. Seeing the animals was AWESOME. AMAZING.
- Zulu Nyala has Big 4, but no lions.
- DEFINITELY do an excusion to Phinda next-door where you can see lions
- We stayed for 3 days at the Game Lodge and then 3 days at the Safari Tents. Here's my feedback: The Game Lodge is in a better location (top of mountain, nice views, nicer pool) but the staff there is pretty poor (not great service quality), the water is turned off part of the day (and it's sometimes COLD!), and the sewage system must not be great because some of the bathrooms are a little smelly. Those rooms do have AC. If you do stay there, ask for a room near the pool (room quality varied - nicest rooms are the ones around the pool, and I think they put the people who overpayed for the safaris there so you might not get it even if you ask for it). We LOVED the safari tents (the safari tents are co-located with the Heritage Safari Lodge) - the tents themselves are GREAT - nice space, much better quality, much more of a romatic "African" experience, no weird smells, located on the plain with animals around but not technically in the reserve, but they're not air conditioned (obviously) and therefore should be avoided in the hot months. The staff/service at the Heritage site were a LOT better than at the Game Lodge.
- Food in all places is OK - you're not going to get sick, but it's not a 4 star experience. It's all buffet (always 2 proteins, 1 kind of potato, some cooked vegetables, etc.) - all perfectly fine but nothing remarkable.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank LynBaran
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
206 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
Reviewed October 1, 2010

The lodge itself is beautiful surrounded by SA natural beauty. Unfortunately we were ignored by the staff most of the time. The showers did not function in two of the rooms and we were told by the management there was nothing they could do. Our tour guide was assigned to two different groups and we were told there was no one to take us out on a safari. We had booked our trip 6 months in advance so it wasn't as though we just sprung a surprise visit on them.

  • Stayed November 2009, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank TravellingHK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Herndon, Virginia
Level Contributor
20 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed September 5, 2010

Like nearly all guests at Zulu Nyala, we purchased the photosafari as part of an auction. We'd read mixed reviews, but were optimistic. Our visit exceeded expectations. The Game Lodge, the swankier of the two hotel-type facilities at the game reserve, was stunning. Perched high upon a hilltop, it has commanding views, and the animals wander through the grounds, particularly in the early evenings. We had room 52, which appears to have been one of the largest rooms, though our neighboring rooms 51 and 53 seems to be more plushly furnished. We had a 10 year-old with us, and the room could easily have accommodated 3 king sized beds with room to spare, so her twin sized bed (a regular bed, not a fold-out cot) was not cramping the room.

Our game guide, James Tembe, was outstanding, well-informed, and worked hard to make sure everyone got good views of the game. James did a good job of getting everyone lined up for the side trips they wanted, sometimes shuffling the group around, rather than forcing everyone to take the same trips. He was also quite helpful to the one family in our group who wanted to make side trips on their own. As many others have commented, the game drives at Zulu Nyala are probably good for about 2 days total, after which time you will probably want to take some of the side trips to get a better taste of the complete region.

If you are choosing between the Game Lodge and Heritage Hotel, I strongly recommend the game lodge. We stayed at both. The food selection and dining area at the Game Lodge were both superior to the Heritage Hotel. The rooms are definitely a bit more luxurious at the Game Lodge as well.

During our early August stay, the 3 of us received ONE mosquito bite, so the late winter is definitely a low bug season. We had ants in the room, but the staff do equip all rooms with bug spray.

Animals tend to give birth in the early winter, and we saw a lot of 2 month-old baby animals on our game drives. Winter does mean colder weather, and the open game vehicles can be rather chilly if you are taking side trips in them and get into the early morning or evening hours. The vehicles are equipped with heavy woolen blankets, which helped a great deal.

One downside--the internet connectivity was down during most of our stay, and quite expensive. They charge by the minute and it works out to something insane like $40 an hour. So bring your internet equipped cell phone! Internet connectivity is expensive throughout South Africa, and the location is remote, so we did expect some connectivity challenges.

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank pkg12200
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liitleton, CO
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed August 23, 2010

My son and myself just spend 6 days at the ZULU NAYALA GAME LODGE.
It really was a dream come thru for me, since I always wanted to see South Africa and it's wild life.
The food in both Lodges was excellent and so was the entire Staff. Every one was always very friendly and helpful and the rooms and premises were nice and clean.
Our Ranger/Tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about the african wild life and we saw all of the big 5 within one week.
It was a surprising and lifetime experience for my son and myself all the way.
Sincerely:
H.R. Dudik

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Redbaron68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bend, Oregon
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2010

If you are reading this it is probably because you have purchased a safari at a charity auction. We did, and so did everyone else at the resort. Our experience at Zulu Nyala was decidedly mixed; with the negative outweighing the positive. On the positive side, the ranger staff was great-- friendly and full of knowledge. The ranger always made sure that everyone had a good view and that photographers had gotten that "one last shot." The game viewing was also good, not great.

Now the negative. First, with the exception of the rangers, the staff appear miserable. Every time we would walk into the dining room or reception an awkward hush would pass over the room. Managers would hover and glare at staff and sometimes be overtly hostile to them. It made for several uncomfortable situations.

Second, Zulu Nyala aggressively nickles and dimes its guests. There are a variety of "side trips" offered by the resort. These trips are pitched to your entire group and the group is told that the price per person depends on how many people sign up for a particular trip. We were told, "If you want to take a certain trip, try to talk other members of the group into going as well, so it will be cheaper." Of note, the trips are not a fixed price, divided by the number of guests. Rather, the price per guest decreases, but only slightly if multiple guests sign up. Not surprisingly, the math works out in Zulu Nyala's favor. Also, the trips are VERY expensive, even if all members of the group agree to go.

Third, if you happen to leave the dining area without signing for a drink (or in our case a $2.00 bottle of water) someone from the staff will come to your room (day or night) and pound on your door until you open and sign for it.

Fourth, the food is hit and miss, mostly miss. It is buffet style, which is fine, but the quality is about what one would expect at an American college dorm. The same can be said for the quality of the rooms. They're not awful, but not what you'd expect from a "[whatever they're billing it at now] Star Safari Resort."

All in all, if you want to make a charitable contribution to a worthy cause and get a mediocre safari experience as a bonus, Zulu Nyala will fit the bill. But, if you're looking for a first rate experience, book a safari elsewhere and write your preferred charity a check.

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank GriffinBend_Oregon
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 #6 of 33 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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