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“Beautiful and saw the big 5 ... over and over :o)”

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Makalali Private Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 31, 2013

Beautiful villas..... beautiful, unbelieavble service, unforgettable breakfast with the hippos, elephants at our bedroom window, amazing game drives, beautiful private romantic dinner and candle lit bath, respect for the animals.... wonderful, wonderful holiday and sooooo glad for no internet - forced us to relax

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Beej79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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115 - 121 of 334 reviews

Reviewed December 17, 2012

I had been wanting to experience a private game park since I was a travel agent in my early 20's. It took 25 years to get there but I was not disappointed! After arriving from NZ and spending some time in SA, we flew from Jo'burg to Hoidspruit Airport and were met and transferred with another couple to the lodge in a van. That van was not as comfy as our transfer back to the airport - in the managers 4 wheel drive car - but gave us time to meet the other couple who were staying at the same camp as us. Check in was quick and we were transferred to our camp in one of the safari vehicles. Our room was private and gorgeous! On the first morning we were woken at 5.20am with a troop of monkeys and baboons leaping over the roof, onto the balcony and into the enormous tree in front of our room near the river. Because there is a huge window at the foot of the bed it was like there was nothing but the mosquito net between us and nature - it was a sight I will never forget - a great way to wake up! The game drives were at 6am each day and again in the evening - and as per other comments, Shadrack and Isaac were awesome and went to great lengths to ensure we got right up close to the animals. We had been to the national park at Sun City and this is quite a different experience - when you can leave the road and go 'cross country' to get to the wildlife. The animals here looked far healthier than those at Sun City as well. The vehicle is really comfy, blankets and coats were supplied when required. We were there in mid October and there were lots of babies around including a ONE DAY OLD baby elephant! Again a most memorable sight seeing the mum and aunties gently prodding the wee thing to help it get up and walk through the river bed. Not all of us saw the big five as the leopard was a little hard to find - but I was very lucky to be one of the few that got to see a leopard within a few meters of our room - from the neighbour's viewing deck one afternoon!! A rare sight and so lucky. My husband was very disappointed as he was sleeping - you know what they say - you snooze you loose! Another awesome sight was when the entire herd of elephants (40 odd) decided to pay us a visit at the camp. They crossed through the river and were foraging within meters of our rooms and dining area. There is a huge swing bridge near the camp and we all headed for that to take photos.
The food was great, the staff so accommodating. The dining is communal so not really set up for the romantic dinner for two or anything! It would have been nice to have the opportunity to have one night where we could sit together as a couple and not at the long table with everyone else - some who didn't speak English - but I am sure they would have accommodated had we asked.
Our room was just lovely - a real fire near the bed which would be great in the winter, an outdoor shower - so private but able to still view the wildlife - claw foot bath with candles etc - and the bed with the full tent like mosquito net looked just beautiful when we returned to our room the first night to see the bed turned down and the net let down with romantic lighting on.
We didn't take malaria medication as not a real worry at that time of the year.
There was a little pool which was lovely on one of the really hot days, but we found that the weather was quite changeable in the four days we were there.
Awesome experience and definitely something to add to your bucket list!

Room Tip: There are only 6 rooms per camp - all of them similar with private viewing decks and secluded from e...
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Tracey T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 2, 2012

Saw big five. Even if we hadn't the fun was in the search. Shadrack and Issac were the best! They would go off road and mow down trees to make sure that we got as close to the animals as possible. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, always delicious! We do not eat meat so they made sure to serve us fish at all meals though the side dishes were amazing so we could of gotten by without the fish. EVERYONE was so nice to us. Our room was secluded and romantic. We saw an elephant from our balcony. I would rate this vacation a 10. We had so much fun!

Room Tip: All the camps are different. We were in camp 1, room 103. It was perfect.
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank AnitaS353
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2012

After we have visited Makalali about 2 years ago already and found it a very nice lodge with good gameviewing opportunities we decided to return in spring this year. And to be honest this was one of the best decisions ever. The lodge is a private game reserve near Kruger and it takes some time to get there. We flew into Kruger Int. Airport and from there it took us about 4-5 hours drive to the lodge. Driving there is easy except for the last kilometers close to the reserve entry as it is a unpaved road and especially after rain it must be difficult to drive there. From the reserve entry to the reception bungalow it still takes about 45minutes but with all the beautiful nature and the animales around you the time is just flying. We arrived at the reception and to our big surprise we were not accomodated in the three main camps along the riverside next to reception. The staff took us in a range rover and we continued driving until we arrived at Phiva camp. The camp is situated all alone near a small river full of hippos and is the most tranquil place we had seen in Africa so far. We were greated very warm and where surprised as we were the only guest expected for that day. So we had the game drive, dinner and breakfast all on our own which was very special and made us feel at home in the camp very quickly. The rooms of the camp are looking the same as in the other three camps. So the guest are accomodated in separate bungalows with own terrace, a nice small lookout place where in the afternoon is a good place to relax, an outside shower, bathtube and of course toilet. The camp consists out of 6 bungalows. 3 of them next to the river and 3 in the bush. From our point of view we would always recommend to request to be accomodate in the ones on the river as the view is amazing. As the whole camp is not fenced guests are requested to not walk alone after dark. And this is just so true. We have elephants visiting the camp quite regularly during our 4 day stay and had the chance to watch them from our own terrace quite close to the bungalows (about 3-5meters away). Game viewing is also very good. We have been staying 3 nights and have been seeing the big five and lots of different other animals. The scenery of the reserve is also very nice with thick bush and some open pans. As mentioned earlier the staff is very friendly and food was excellent during the whole stay (it is either menue served in the dining room or barbeque in the booma and both was very good!). We would always recommend Makalali to others and are already planing to return.

Room Tip: Ask to be accomodated in a river view bungalow. The other ones are nice as well but the view from th...
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Oliver K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2012

Been to Makalali on two occasions now. it is a wonderful and very relaxing place to visit. Accommodation is fantastic, staff are wonderful and the game drives are to be remembered forever, especially when sipping a drink and watching the sun go down in the wild. They are very good with children too. Food is super. Must say the lunches were not as good the second time around but all in all a fabulouse and wonderful place to visit. Wish I was there now!

Room Tip: All the rooms are great but they do not offer a fitness center or room service.
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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3  Thank ashley_labuschagne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 24, 2012

I thouroughly enjoyed my time here. The rooms were full of character and the beds supremely comfortable. The service levels were good and the staff cheerful and discreet. The game drives were the best I have ever experienced, with Shadrack and Isaac both knowledgeable and keen to make the experience as entertaining as possible. We saw all three species of large cat (Cheetah, Lion and Leopard) in one day, which was wonderful. The vehicle was also comfortable and well equipped for all types of weather. Despite a little room for improvement in the cuisine, the whole experience was spellbinding.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Philip B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 2, 2012

We stayed in Makalali second half of September 2012. This was our 3rd visit in a private game reserve, but the first time here. Makalali was definitely the best of the three !
It is a 260 km² property and therefor it takes a while (after you entered the gate) to reach the central reception, but with dry weather the road is not an issue, not even without 4x4.
The check-in was fast, friendly and efficient and we were picked up by our rancher at the reception to bring us to our camp and bungalow.
The welcome by the camp manager was also very warm.
Food was very good with lunch even exceptional - light but delicious.
During our 3 nights we had diner in the boma/lapa twice and once in the central camp bungalow. The athmospere was good, as was the food.
Drives were very special, not because there is a lot of wild in the reserve (at the contrary) but what you see is very worthwhile and our driver and tracker made serious efforts to show us the big five. They - also literally - went the extra mile to track the lions, cheetas, leopard,...
During our 3-day stay we did manage to see the big five plus hyena and cheetah (and more). It is the first time in our 5 stays in South-Africa that we were able to spot a leopard.
Also how the game drives are made is an experience on its own. Leaving the gravel roads to drive through bushes and find one of the big five is a thrill. On top, when some of the other guides tracked rare animals and our drive was contacted by radio, he rally-ed on the gravel roads to get there asap. This too was for us a great experience : a bush-rally.
I could continue for a while, but it would stop most people from reading a too long evaluation.
In short : we had a very worthwhile and extremely enjoyable stay in Makalali. We can strongly recommend this lodge.
P.S. In some sites it is stated that only camp 4 has airco, but this is not true. All bungalows in all camps eem to have heating and airco

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Frans_1Aalst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Makalali Private Game Lodge

Address: PO Box 809, Hoedspruit 1380, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Hoedspruit
Amenities:
Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #20 of 103 Specialty Lodging in Hoedspruit
Price Range: $407 - $651 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Makalali Private Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Makalali Private Game Lodge is a 4 star graded luxury safari lodge situated on a 26000 hectre private game reserve in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The lodge consists of 3 camps with 6 rooms per camp. Nestled on the banks of a river one can often view animals in and around the camps. Makalali Private Game Lodge offers game drive twice a day to guests which is included in the rate of accommodation. The reserve is home to the big 5 as well as cheetah and wild dog and a number of other plains game and mammals. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded on the property. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Makalali Private Game Hotel Hoedspruit

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