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“Outstanding Safari & Total Pampering!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Imbali Safari Lodge

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Imbali Safari Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
St. Petersburg, Florida
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Outstanding Safari & Total Pampering!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

We recently stayed at Imbali Safari Lodge in February 2013. From the moment we arrived, we fell in love with the lodge, the staff, the ambiance, and the elegant and comfortable decor. The game drives were fantastic and the guides were very knowledgeable. On one afternoon game drive, we stopped and the guides actually served us ice cream cones! We met wonderful people and made friends with a couple from England and a couple from Australia. We enjoyed excellent full-spread buffet breakfasts with eggs-to-order and delicious cappuccinos, delicious full lunches, english tea complete with different treats every day (Scones, mini-quiches, pastries, shortbread), and over-the-top served dinners. We enjoyed sharing wine with others at our table and toasting to the big-five animals we'd seen on the day's game drives. This was a honeymoon trip for us, and I pre-arranged red roses and a bottle of wine to surprise my husband. In addition, every night, the staff arranged a romantic surprise in our room for us. They arranged rose-petals on the bed in a heart shape one night. We came back from dinner another night to find a hot bubble-bath with rose petals and a candle-lit bathroom. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and one of the most idealistic settings we could have imagined! Imbali is a "must do", and we cannot wait to bring our kids back with us some day.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Jon_Mel77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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314 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (51)
Date | Rating
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English first
Cape Town, South Africa
Level Contributor
62 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2013

Imbali is a private lodge situated on a concession within the Kruger National Park.

I was a little nervous when I saw the negative reviews as we had chosen to stay here for the last two nights of our 5 day KNP trip hoping for some luxury and pampering. And we were told that the advertised bush walks were no longer available.

However, when we arrived the staff were super friendly and went out of their way to try and make sure you had everything you needed. The rooms are wonderful with huge bathrooms and a separate toilet as well as a tub and shower with great views of the river bed. Plunge pool with chaise chairs on the deck overlooking the river are a great place to laze the afternoons away.

Drives were good considering we went not long after the floods and many roads were closed and bush was thick! Had a brilliant leopard sighting.

You feel like you are deep with in the bush but in actual fact the drive to orpen gate is quite quick.

Would have liked some optional afternoon activities as it can be vary quiet if one is not the nap type.

Room Tip: Request a river bed view - we were in 5 and 6 and both were great. 10 did not look like a good one a...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank PaulaandGuyTravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CSWalker71, Director of Sales at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this review, March 17, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to send us your wonderful review. We sincerely appreciate the feedback and we look forward to welcoming you back to our lodge in the future.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Middleton, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2013

Our trip to Imbali safari lodge in February 2013 exceeded our expectations on all fronts. Pleasant and helpful staff, superb cuisine, amazing guides, and fantastic accommodations. We cannot say too much in praise of this place for a safari.

Thoroughly recommended

Room Tip: All rooms front on to water for animal viewing
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank woolno4816
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CSWalker71, Director of Sales at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this review, March 17, 2013
Thank you for your review. Imbali Safari Lodge Management were delighted to read your excellent feedback on our property. We continually strive to offer our guests unique and outstanding experiences. It is heartwarming to read that our efforts were so well received.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 4, 2013

We stayed for one night in January 2013 and would not recommend this lodge to anyone.

The staff were rude on our arrival, our guide got lost on the evening safari resulting in us arriving back at the lodge at 10.30pm instead of 7.30pm which ruined dinner, and room number 8 where we stayed had banging pipes all night meaning we barely slept.

We were given a one hour check-out extension from 10am to 11am to "compensate" for the inconvenience of returning to the lodge so late the night before (even though our booking letter said check-out was at 11am). As we were not happy with this the General Manager suggested we write and ask for a refund. We did - it was declined. I wish I paid better attention to the previous reviews which pointed out the many problems with this lodge - it has serious problems and is not worth the money it charges.

Room Tip: Avoid this place altogether
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 1 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Sascha1980
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CSWalker71, Director of Sales at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this review, March 17, 2013
We would like to take this opportunity to offer our sincere apologies for your negative experience at our lodge. We must however point out that the transfer which got you lost was not in any way connected to our lodge and had not been booked by ourselves at all. I would suggest you take up this with your transfer company directly. As you experienced the lodge, used the accommodation we were unable to offer a refund due to no fault being accorded to the lodge.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hout Bay, South Africa
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2012

We visited in October 2012.The rooms were large with a massive bed which looked like two king sized beds attached. This was sourrounded by a mosquito net. The bathroom was good and modern.We had a jacccuzi and two comfortable sunbeds with thatch shading overlooking the dry river bed.So far so good.
The lodge experience however was way below par due largely to lack of imagination and management nous. There was no bar --looks as if they decided to put in a curio shop in its place.The deck and pool were nice enough but there was a certain lack of spirit in the place and there was very little opportunity created to meet any of the other guests which for me is part of the bush experience and the reason for many a fun evening and new friends or acquaintances.If you are looking for privacy this is the place for you. The menu was good but the food was mediocre.Nice wine list, fairly priced wines served in large glasses.We were introduced to a, new to us, savignour blanc --Stellenrust, which has now become our preferred white wine for drinking at home.They did however, twice serve me the wrong wine by the glass I guess in an attempt to finish the opend bottles.(the wine was of a comparable quality but it was not what I ordered and this seemed not to concern them unduly as on complaining they willfully brought me a further wine which was different but also not what I ordered) You would be advised to have them open the bottle at your table if you are particular about your wine brand but who needs this?
The game drives were in my opinion overly long at 3 hours and covered only formal roads which would have been more comfortable to travel by car.We drove all the way back to Satara,where we had just come from.(at about 20% of the price)
If this is your first time in Kruger you may enjoy it but for me, I will stick with SANPARKS,more atmosphere,better food (self catered ) and a better bush experience where the formal game drives are at night.and the informal drives are in the comfort of my hired car.

Room Tip: Some rooms have plunge pools.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank foodconsult
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CSWalker71, Director of Sales at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this review, March 17, 2013
Thank You for your valued feedback. We are pleased to note your positive feedback with regards the accommodation standards and the lodge. We agree the lodge is gorgeous. We would like to assure you that we value your feedback and will address your points of concern. It is with such feedback that we are able to constantly improve our experience.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Level Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 16, 2012

Stayed at Imbali for 3 nights in early December. Wonderful setting and staff so friendly and helpful. Our game ranger, Nicholas, was an excellent guide for our morning and evening game drives. Very knowledgeable and an excellent host. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our stay and would well recommend Imbali to others.

We stayed the same time as Pabirds below and can echo his comments, we however drove to Imbali via Paul Kruger gate which took a few hours due to many impromptu game stops (lion, elephant, chameleon, tortoise, giraffe ...). Very easy to get to by car and well sign posted.

Room Tip: I don't think any chalet would be a poor choice. All 12 have private hot tubs and are very priva...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Renphil_3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, PA
Level Contributor
182 reviews
56 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2012

Stayed here with my daughter for 3 nights during the first week of December 2012. A safari employee picked us up in a clean van at Hoedspruit Airport and the roughly 2-hour drive to the lodge essentially became our first safari. The driver was happy to stop along the way to view the many animals en route. He also dropped us at a small Park Concession where we bought some bug spray and a wonderful laminated park map with an animal/bird identification sheet which came in very handy. Prices here were dirt cheap; it was a great place to stock-up.

At the lodge, all meals and multiple English teas are included. Some beverages are extra but the price is nominal. Your paid stay also includes two safari drives per day, one in the early morning, another in the evening which ends after dark, so that some night viewing occurs every evening. This is worth it. We saw a hyena, a bush baby and some chameleons that would not have been possible to view during the day. And of course, we also got the Big 5 in abundance as well as about every other desired animal or bird over the course of the three days. Each safari is different, covering a slightly different route. In our case, the drives seemed to get better and better. A strolling lion one day turned into a pride of 17 the next, followed by lions on the hunt the final afternoon. Sightings are helped by the fact that Imbali is affiliated with two other nearby lodges, Hamilton's and Hoho, and the drivers from all three communicate with each other on sightings.

Our safari driver the entire visit was Nicholas, who's been at this profession for 10-years, loves his work, and has all the enthusiasm and skill you could ask for. My daughter mentioned that loves birds. He made sure she saw around 20-30 different species. Leopards had been very rare in recent weeks, but on our final drive, he got us one---and it was only his expert sighting ability that did the trick. This was our first visit to Africa, but both my daughter and I agreed that these safaris with Nicholas couldn't have been better. Like the lodge, they are initimate, in a small open truck with raised, comfortable seats, and usually only had six passengers total. The trucks were clean and had a good, solid suspension, a plus when people are shifting around the interior during a sighting and you're trying to steady your camera on the truck's padded side rail.

One more point: since Imbali is located inside Kruger proper, the drivers are free to explore a wider area of the park, versus lodges on the nearby game preserves whose drivers may stick more to the preserve. Imbali's drivers can only go off-road on Imbali's designated grounds (in Kruger, all vehicles must remain on designated dirt roads and paths). But we felt the wide reach of the drives was an asset. For example, had we been on a reserve, we would likely not have pursued a pride of 17 lions that was resting out on the "tarred road" 6 or 7 miles from the lodge. It was a rare sighting which lasted a good 45 minutes, as the lions went for a walk down the highway and into the bush. Of course, you never know what you're going to find with any drive, but for us, we were very happy to be inside the Park boundaries.

The lodge food is abundant and generally excellent, as is the service. They give you a morning tea and munchies prior to the early safari (which departs at 5:30am), another tea in the bush (with dried mango and local meats and nuts), a full breakfast, an optional lunch, another tea prior to the evening drive, yet ANOTHER tea with meats near the end of that drive, followed by a full, four-course dinner upon your return. To say they feed you at this place hardly addresses the description. We usually skipped lunch, we were so full. For dinner, the chef whips-up appetizers, a sorbet, main courses (several to choose from each night) and deserts that would look right on the table of any decent center city restaurant. Some local tastes are available like springbock.

Being a small lodge (only about a dozen rooms, I believe), you get to know the staff: Noelle, Winston, Moses and Silence, to name a few. They are all excellent at service and were mainly happy to have a conversation. One weird thing was that when they asked you if you wanted a beverage and you only asked for water, they seemed dissappointed, as if they were sorry they couldn't do more for you. This included the free beverage on the safari drive. But, whatever; they ultimately gave you what you wanted.

The rooms consist of individual cottages arranged in a row along a usually dry river bed to either side of the main lodge building. You get an enormous king+ bed with mosquito netting, a beautiful bathroom with tub and shower that open boldly to the river (hidden from other guests, though), and a deck with chase lounges and a private hot tub. The main lodge has an outdoor eating area, a small pool and chairs in which to lounge and bird watch, and a cushy indoor lounge as well, with a great safari lodge look. The staff does not overwhelm you, but there's always someone around to bring you a beverage or answer a question. Honestly, you spend a lot of the afternoon in your room napping, since the wake-up call is 5am for your early safari, and dinner at the conclusion of the night safari doesn't wrap-up until about 9pm.

You might be a little underwhelmed when you first drive into the lodge because from the front, it doesn't look terribly rich, although the tall grass roofs certainly fit the mood of the African bush. But once within the open-air lobby among the staff and gobbling-up the great food, you know you're in a classy, service-oriented place. There is no wifi, but if you need to check email, there's a computer inside the staff office that they'll gladly let you use. An attendent even brought me a glass of sparkling water while I was back there among the desks and paperwork one day.

One final note: at Imbali, you are truly in the middle of the bush. It's the animal's world, not yours, and while there is fencing, many beasts do find their way onto the grounds. A steenbach (small deer) was right outside out door one morning. And after dark, you get a mandatory escort to your room. This came in handy. At dinner one night, the manager informed us that there was an elephant right outside our room. Three staffers tip-toed us to the back porch away from the potentially dangerous animal and in the back door. It was quite thrilling for us! But if you're not into being THAT close to the wildlife, then a larger, more gated lodge might be a better choice.

Room Tip: We wer in #3 near the main lodge. I believe 1-5 and 6-9 are directly on the river bed. Anything ab...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank pabirds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Imbali Safari Lodge

Property: Imbali Safari Lodge
Address: Imbali Concession | Skukuza, Kruger National Park 1350, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #50 of 160 Specialty Lodging in Kruger National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Imbali Safari Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An exclusive lodge within the world-renowned Kruger National Park, Imbali Safari Lodge continues the safari tradition of a bygone era. Each private suite has exquisite views from the spacious wooden decks and private Jacuzzi overlooking the riverbed and the plains beyond. In the 1900's the African Safari was a journey of great danger and even greater luxury.All twelve private suites have either their own private Jacuzzi or plunge pool, large king size beds and a romantic antique-styled bath en-suite, timber walkways, telephones, mosquito nets and air conditioner.Spa treatments available in the privacy of your room, safaris in 4x4 vehicles, bird watching, guided safari walks by prior arrangement and self drive in the Kruger National Park. No cell phone reception and limited landlines. Children are welcome, but a minimum age of 6 years is applicable for game drives - at the discretion of management. Maximum of 2 children under 12 years of age may share with parents. Children 5 years and younger stay complimentary when sharing with parents.The Lodge is situated in a malaria area. Gate entry fees are applicable and are charged per person per day. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Imbali Safari Hotel Kruger National Park

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