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“Beautiful setting, good fun, great tours”

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Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Beautiful setting, good fun, great tours”
Reviewed January 20, 2014

Really enjoyed our stay at Amphi Backpackers. The whole lodge is really nicely decked out with a great pool area and bar and the room was clean and comfortable. Hot tub in the bar is pretty cool though looked pretty grubby!

Really well located for the Royal Natal National Park - only about 30 mins drive away. The amphitheatre/ Tugela falls tour was absolutely fantastic - guides were interesting and knowledgeable and the walk is totally spectacular.

Only downsides: would agree with other reviews that the meal is maybe a bit over-priced but ours was quite nice and wine and other drinks are well-priced. We also had to wait quite a long time for someone to turn up to check us in when we arrived.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank misshayleylou
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
smokingdragon, Guest Relations Manager at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 19, 2014
Hi there. Thanks for the lovely comments. The jacuzzi is drained and sterilized each morning BUT the water used comes directly from a spring so it has a dark appearance (is very good for the hair and skin though.)

Sorry if we took a while getting to you, it must have been busy because we have three desk and three people involved in check in at any one time. See you again
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Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2014

Excellent Vibe, good party, food 50/50
The Amphitheatre back packers is definitely advisable for a fun visit, we stayed one night had a awesome party into the morning hours. The drinks were well priced and the bar staff friendly. The backpackers overlook the Drakensberg Mountains and the view is excellent. The set menu is on the expensive side and not too great.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Christian V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
smokingdragon, General Manager at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 19, 2014
Hi there wow such fantastic comments. Just to give you some good news about the food! We now have an amazing chef who has worked in 5 star lodges throughout Africa so the menu is completely new and DEEEELICIOUS! Maybe we can tempt you to eat with us again sometime. ;)
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Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2014

The scenery is beautiful, also the backpackers is beautiful, every detail is decorated. It could be the perfect place to stay, but.. The managers, two lady's, are really unfriendly & chaotic. At an certain point, one promised my a discount, because there was a water problem. At the moment I had to pay, I asked for the discount. The ladies started to shout and scream at me, that is was really rude to ask for a discount. In the end they did not listen to what i said and i did not get the discount.
The other problem was the prices. The food is expensive, and not that good. Also the day tours are expensive, although the tour to Lesotho was a beautiful experience.

I would never go back to this place, but I would go back to the Drakensberge!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
4 Thank karin h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
smokingdragon, Manager at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 19, 2014
Hi there. So glad that you enjoyed the decor as there has been such a lot of time, love and effort put into the place.

Also so happy to hear that you appreciated the trip to Lesotho it is one of our favourites. In terms of the price of the trip to Lesotho, for a full day (07h30 till 19h30) cross border permits, food, guides, and of course taking you across those unbelievable roads. It would be impossible to charge less. There is insurance, guide's fees, money to the school project, vehicle upkeep, fuel etc etc to take into account. Saying that R560 is a very average price for a tour that lasts 12 hours.

The issue about the water remains very clearly etched in my memory. Us shouting at you is rather an exaggeration.

What happened was a backpacker in their new 4x4 drove across the lands and into the water pipe feeding the lodge from the stream.... and snapped it (yes we have to pump our own water out here.) This occurred in the middle of the day and the entire process took about 45 minutes to rectify. By the time you had finished your "conversation" with us and walked back to the room your water had been switched on again. I am sorry but that does not warrant a free nights accommodation.

Our food is not anymore expensive than anywhere else in the area - R30 to R40 for a lunch meal? Breakfast from R12 or so???

The good news is that we have a fantastic new dedicated chef who serves up the most delicious and inventive dishes!!! yum yum

I do hope you pop over for a visit sometime.
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Travelers are raving about these Jagersrust hotels

Melbourne, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2014

Scenery is nice, clean backpackers with good communal area's. Unfortunately Staff, especially two women who seemingly run the place are EXTREMELY rude and unprofessional. Always yelling. The rest of the staff don't really seem to care about service/their jobs and are pretty useless. Mouldy toast 2 days running and expensive dinners. Completely ruins the atmosphere of what could be a cool place!

(The bald guy is great, if you need anything, ask him!!)

  • Stayed December 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank traveller861321
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
smokingdragon, Public Relations Manager at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 19, 2014
Hi there, the two women that you speak of have spent 16 years building the place that you seem to enjoy so much. They will be pleased that you find the place "cool."

They don't actually work or live on site so they won't be ruining the atmosphere too often. The staff work hard and potentially you caught them all after an intense staff meeting with the "two women". Staff meetings are set up to ensure that everyone does their job so that you guys have everything you could possibly wish for. You were there around new year where 2000 people had attended the New Years Eve Festival so it would have been HECTIC generally.

There is a new chef so "mouldy toast" has been taken off the menu. Glad you enjoy the bald guy, maybe we will take him off having fun with the guests and move him on to the job of working in the office then the two horrific women can stay away more often?

Happy travelling
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Chichester, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed December 26, 2013 via mobile

My partner and I stayed here in November and the place is full of druggies. Food not amazing and quite expensive. Wouldn't come here again but the rooms are nice. We did do the hike with them and that was good :-)

Stayed November 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
Thank Travelaholic2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
smokingdragon, Guest Relations Manager at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 19, 2014
Fantastic that you enjoyed the rooms, great that you enjoyed the hike. The tours are great indeed. The food has changed completely since November as there is now a fantastic new 5 star chef who has worked in top lodges throughout Africa.

Druggies? No idea about any customers taking drugs. This is very unusual as most people are up at 06h00 in the morning and back late. Tours and activities are encouraged not "drugging." Customers usually come to our place to hike, this is why we have a lot of pensioners and young families staying here. But saying that we cannot be accountable for the behaviour and habits of customers.
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Johannesburg, South Africa
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed December 22, 2013

We stayed here for 3 nights and did two of the tours- Lesotho and Amphitheatre climb.
On arrival we immediately felt uncomfortable as the lady checking us in (she appeared to be in charge) shouted at her staff for bringing here lunch while she was busy.. And shouted at guests for speaking too loud while she was thinking!
The food is nice at times but far too expensive for what you are getting, R125 for a three course "gourmet" meal which was actually not very good. There is nowhere in the area, especially if you don't have your own transport, to go eat instead.
Trips are also very very expensive at R560 per trip! We did better trips throughout S.A for under R200.
We travelled from Capetown to Joburg over three months so have stayed in lots of places, and here is by far the most expensive and no where the nicest.
We would however recommend the Drakensberg area as it is very beautiful.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank 12345678512
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
smokingdragon, Guest Relations Manager at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 19, 2014
If you stayed for three nights and enjoyed the tours you must have fundamentally liked the place. I am sure that the woman in the front would not shout at people for bringing her food and scream because people are talking. The hostel is very popular and thus very busy so the front reception can get quite noisy. A lot of time and effort is spent trying to answer questions that are asked of us all. It can be very difficult to even think when more than one parallel conversation is going on especially when the dialogue is in a multitude of different languages. Apologies if you interpreted the request to allow the receptionist the time to speak to another customer as being rude.

Regarding the food. There is now a brilliant new chef who has completely upgraded the menu and he can barely keep up with the demand for food at the moment so present customers SURELY must be happy with quality and price otherwise they would not be coming back for more.

Regarding the trip. There are many trips available in South Africa some (like bungy jumps, sky-diving or shark cage diving) which cost over R2000 for a few minutes or even seconds of thrill. Then there are trips that cost very little (like hiring a bike or a fishing rod) that might take all day to complete.

Amphitheatre offers many, many different activities. From FREE hikes from the doorstep, to shuttles to the park in the Drakensberg foothills @ R50 a shuttle to full day, high altitude experiences where we charge R560 a person. We have all the offerings, all are very well priced and expertly run and are VERY BUSY because they are good value for money. Just be careful as a customer NOT to compare apples with pears. In other words compare the price of our CHEAP trips with OTHER cheap trips that you have done elsewhere. If you choose something more pricey then compare with MORE PRICEY ACTIVITIES elsewhere. Rather stick to our enjoyable CHEAPER trips. Tours are very carefully priced ensuring that customers get good value as well as a good price BUT ALSO that guide's and equipment are of highest quality. Then there are also the community funds and running costs to take into account. It is all about balance.
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Columbus, Ohio
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed December 14, 2013

Well, what a surprise. These people that work here suck. The place is awesome. You do have to buy everything; wifi, water etc. There is not an easy way in and out without your own transportation, so go grocery shopping beforehand. They are rude and talk down to you. They fought with eachother openly and yelled about the tab system not adding up on someone's bill. They tried to persuade us NOT to do the shuttle into the park, because it was obvious we were the only ones who wanted it and they didn't want to waste the time. After being called indecisive and idiotic, we took the shuttle. The shuttle was supposed to pick us up at 4:30p.m. as assured by staff and driver, 5:30 rolls around and I start to get nervous because the park is closing and I am a girl thinking I may be stuck there overnight because I didn't bring a phone. They eventually did come later. A girl there also had both pairs of her shoes stolen, but they offered no help. A guy, while there, tripped on there stones and practically broke open his face, and they offered no help other than that they don't want to get blood on their towels. The views are great, the bedroom clean. The people awful.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank 574meganm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
smokingdragon, Manager at Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge, responded to this review, February 19, 2014
Great that you acknowledge that the place is awesome, clean and the views are great thanks for that.

Let's start with the comment that you have to buy everything here. Hmmm are we not supposed to charge for things???... the complaint is about buying bottled water and wifi. I have never been somewhere that doesn't charge for bottled drinks??? In rural areas like ours where we do NOT even have PHONE LINES and cell phone reception is terrible, you are lucky to get internet at all. BUT we have actually installed a SATELLITE system which is EXTREMELY expensive BUT VERY FAST. We HAVE to charge for every bit of data going either way. The urban internet cafes in SA charge the same price for use of their MUCH CHEAPER ADSL lines. We charge R10 for 15 minutes.... is that a rip off?

Okay then there was the issue about the shuttle to the park. WHY would we be discouraging anyone to do the shuttle? If we didn't want to offer shutttles then they wouldn't be on offer. What happened on this day is that we practically BEGGED on hands and knees for these customers to tell us what they were doing as they DID NOT have their own car. WE were trying to get them out and about for the cheapest price and they simply DID NOT let us know what they were doing.

The rule is that the shuttles and tours LEAVE AT SET times in order for us to assist as MANY people as possible. Phew we tried and tried and eventually the shuttle had to leave and then as soon as it left out the gate with the driver at the proper time, the customers emerge and tell us that they actually want to go. This meant having to send an extra vehicle and extra driver (at our expense.) Actually we should have stuck to our guns and refused to put on an extra shuttle that day. BUT even though we did, the customer was still not happy....... what can one do? By the way nobody called her idiotic.

Because the shuttle left late we gave the customer an extra 40 minutes for the hike......... BUT she was not happy with that either.

A man grazed his chin outside, this customer rushed in and asked for a towel and when the woman in the front office said "hang on let me go to him with a bandage filled with ice." the client says "don't worry just give me one of your bath towels" so the woman at the front desk says "we have special bandages in our first aid kit and anyway I want to get him ice as well. Don't mess up a new bath towel when I have first aid stuff specifically for FIRST AID!" she is then told that she did not care enough............... just couldn't please this customer no matter what we did.
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Additional Information about Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge

Property: Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge
Address: R74, Jagersrust 3354, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Jagersrust
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Specialty Lodging in Jagersrust
Hotel Class:5 star — Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 34
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The venue is really amazing. The lodge is found on a stunning 300 hectares of land near the foot of the Amphitheatre (Royal Natal National Park) and Cathedral Peak. The Mpande River weaves through the lands. There are buck, small mammals and a fantastic array of wild birds near the 2 dams and a picture postcard view from the lawn, a 360 degree panorama that takes in the entire Northern range from the Amphitheatre all the way to Cathkin Peak. The lodge is a base from which you can explore different sections and all the highlights of the Drakensberg Park each day. Built from stone, thatch and wood, the place is like an artist's sculpture with stained glass, metal and wooden carvings, mosaics and beautiful indigenous rockeries. ... more   less 

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