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Imbali Safari Lodge
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Reviews (441)
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208 - 213 of 441 reviews
Reviewed April 21, 2014

Me and my husband (30 and young ) stayed at Imbali during April 1-4 for 3 nights. We drove from Joberg in our own car and entered Kruger from Paul Kriger Gate. We dint expect the lodge to be reached through 20 kms of unpaved road. It was a bit scary in the evening time to reach the location on a small hatchback car. So , if you plan to drive around on your own( you should !!) , definitely pick an SUV/Jeep or something taller. The bushes around that area are 5 feet tall :) We loved our guide "Andrew" who was introduced to us during the first day dinner time. He is amazingly knowledgeable and friendly guy. We had 2 early morning game drives where we spotted leopard ( one on action on top of a tree , another catching fish near the river area ) , lioness and cubs( 3 lioness and 8 cubs) , hyena, wild dogs, rhino , elephant herds and all the rest animals. The best part was on one of the evening safari on the drive back, Andrew was smart and patient enough to spot a leopard crossing right in front of the road, 2 wild buffalo's..he stopped right there when he spotted 3 lions nearby. It was amazing to watch the 3 lions attack on the buffalo in pitch dark where we could hear the roar stopped right 5 meters besides the scene. The lions walked right around our vehicle when they re-planned their strategic attack and walked towards the rest 8 cubs which were lying just few meters away from the scene. I guess we felt the luckiest here to get Andrew as our guide :) Our room faced the dry land and we missed the river facing room. It was dry yet calm and peaceful to enjoy the tiny plunge pool at the back. The staff is extremely friendly. There were no mosquitoes during our time of stay, yet the room was serviced 2 times every day during our safari drives, Do not miss THURSDAY, as they had an amazing barbecue (lamb, kudo, chicken)and candle light dinner arrangements for everyone outside :) we were surprised with African music and dance by the chef and staff:) IMBALI made our Kruger visit memorable :) Both stay and safari is an unforgettable experience. If you are looking for great game drives and a comfortable stay with good food, we would highly recommend them. Thanks to the team.

Room Tip: Pick one with river view better than a dry forest :)
  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank RjWrld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LBucceri, Marketing representative at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 21, 2014

Dear RjWrld,

Thank you for your feedback. We are delighted that you had such a fantastic safari experience with us. Andrew is an extraordinary guide, and we will pass your compliments on to him.

We hope to welcome you back to Imbali Safari Lodge soon.

Best regards,
The Imbali team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 15, 2014

Our family of 8 including two girls aged 8 and 12 spent 3 nights at this lodge in South Africa and were blown away by the quality of service and the enthusiasm of the staff. Special kudos to game drive guides John and Andrew, and servers Winston and Baldwin who went out of their way to make our visit memorable. We enjoyed massages from Larado along with her smiling face at the dining room. We saw ALL the "big five" in the first 24 hours at the lodge. When we arrived, John, met us in the driveway exclaiming, "jump in the truck, there is a leopard just outside the gate! I've been waiting for you to arrive to show you and there is also a pride of female lions walking on the road just a mile from here"!!! On THAT particular sunset drive, we also came upon three hyenas eating the remains of a wildebeest. Imbali has just 12 units so is intimate and quiet. All meals and Two game drives per day are included with your stay.

Room Tip: You might want to ask for a "river view" as some baboons and impala come to the river for a drink.
  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled with family
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1  Thank Micki D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LBucceri, Marketing representative at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 16, 2014

Dear Micki D,

Thank you for your positive review. Your feedback has been passed on to the team who are so glad that they made your safari memorable. We are delighted that you had a great holiday with us, and we hope to welcome you and your family back to Imbali soon.

Regards,
The Imbali team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2014

My sister & I visited in Feb 2014. It was just awesome, from the moment we arrived we were welcomed by a great host, Julian. He was so friendly but professional as well. The rooms at Imbali at really great. I loved the fact that we had our own plunge pool. We over looked a dry riverbed, very peaceful. The layout of the room was perfect, lovely bathrooms, beds were so comfy. I give 10 stars to the chef, the food was really good, quite a wide variety of dishes.
Our game ranger really went out of his way to ensure we had a good sightings. We saw the Big 5 on the 1st day we were there. A lot of other lodges I have been to have a "schedule" laid out for there guests during the day. At Imbali you get to really relax and do exactly what you want to do, be it taking a self-drive in the Kruger or just lazing around the pool at your own room. The only thing I can complain about is that we never got to stay longer. I will definitely return to this amazing lodge. I highly recommend it when looking for a lodge to visit in the Kruger.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled with friends
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Thank Lindy L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LBucceri, Marketing representative at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded April 9, 2014

Dear Lindy L,

Thank you for your lovely review. Your kind words are much appreciated and have been shared with the team.

We are delighted that you and your sister had such a wonderful experience with us, and we hope to welcome you back to Imbali Safari Lodge soon.

Regards,
The Imbali Team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2014

I have never written a review before, but have read a lot to help me make my decisions. Now that I have this bad experience, I need to share it with others.
We booked Imbali Lodge for March 7-9 as we were celebrating our 30th anniversary. It took me long and hard to decide as it was not cheap, since they had special, we booked two rooms for a family of four. After we booked it and paid for it, we had never received a confirmation or a welcome letter from them. I e-mailed them and they told me to provide some info to book it, emergency contact and special request etc. After I sent them info, again, nothing came through. I regretted booking with them as I did have many other great choices.
This is my story, after a great time in Cape Town and I totally forgot to reconfirm with Imbali.
On March 6, a day before we head to Imbali, accidentally checked my e-mail and found out Imbali did send me an email. I told myself finally they sent out a welcoming letter, my worries was unwarranted. wrong, Imbali has informed me the road to Imbali has been flooded and their facilities were closed.
They suggested putting us at Mabula Game Lodge or the Ingwenyamal Hotel. I was at the mall
which had free wi-fi and my hi-tech kids checked and claimed both hotels are not even in Kruger.
One is just 2 hours from Johannesburg, the other is in White River. Why should I pay so much if it is these locations? If I have no chance to check, I have to take their words for it.
We do understand anything can happen esp we had traveled far and wide. But this is not an excuse, when crisis occurred, Imbali should step up and tried to help your guests. On the phone,
we were frantic and the other side of the line was laughing and giggling with no apologies.
we had limited cell time and they put you on hold forever. We quickly went to add cell time before
we did anything. I told the lady to check Kapama, thank goodness I remembered. She told me we have to pay 550more in US as it is a luxury room. we went for it as I really did not ruin the family vacation. But I insisted they had it in writing before I paid. They told us we had to fax them in writing before they could confirm. You can imagine we were on the street, it was not easy to fax or email. We paid a tour to the museum and we did not see any museums as we were busy
with these Imbali people.
God helped me and our dream vacation came true at kapama. We had such a great time that we had completely forgot Imbali. Two days later, my son noticed Imbali had double charged our 550 dollar twice. we e-mail them and they told us to check with our bank. Two days ago, they claimed their bank had made a mistake and they would correct it manually if the bank cant fix it. Come on, why would people have to deal with all these hassles on a trip. I read few comments about their double charges, I am going with the mind set of checking the bills carefully. As of today, they have not credited our account and we will dispute with our bank which they asked us not to.
Imbali, people pick your place to celebrate something special, for most, it is their hard-earned money to prepare for this trip. I am glad I have saved my trip by doing something right at last minute.
I told your staff you can laugh but I want to cry as we are in a foreign place stranded.
Most people can go to S Africa only once, as it is a far away place. I know you might have great facilities or staff, sorry, with your lousy services and accounting, I am not convinced this is the right place for vacation. No one want troubles, period.

Stayed: March 2014, traveled with family
11  Thank Alex L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LBucceri, Marketing representative at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded March 26, 2014

Dear Alex L,

Thank you for your review on Tripadvisor.

We are most distressed to hear of your bad experience due to the lodge closure. This is not the experience we wish for our guests. It is never nice to hear that our guests are disappointed. We do take complaints very seriously and make sure that the situation does not happen again. We are investigating this complaint thoroughly at a senior management level, and will put procedures in place to make sure that the problem will not recur. We will be responding to you directly via email once we have clarification on the matter.

Once again, we are very sorry that your experience with us was disappointing.

Regards,
The Imbali Team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 15, 2014 via mobile

Rather 3-4-star... So don't expect to get what you paid for!
If you get a good saving deal at this hotel, fine. However if you have to pay the full exorbitant price therefore having higher expectations, DO NOT GO FOR IT! The hotel has potential but is totally undermanaged.

PROs:
+ Hotel & room facilities: Very nice designed in a colonial style, rooms have a private pool or a jacuzzi
+ Staff: Generally friendly & helpful
+ Safari: was ok, however I would recommend to do tours from Skukuza which are guided by real rangers who have more experience and can provide valuable information on the animals you see

CONs (2 other couples we met made same experiences). Paying a lot of money the following things is not acceptable:

- Cleanness: NOT good, bath tub was not cleaned after the previous guests; Jacuzzi is not cleaned at all and filled with old water! You have to explicitly ask that they change the water
- Food: After amazing wine & dine experiences in CT and Stellenbosch, the game food offered was very disappointing. It was of very low quality (ostrich steak & lamb was tough to eat and full of strings, not possible to cut it) and repetative (it seemed that left overs from previous days were recycled, eg chicken for dinner, next day chicken screwer for lunch, yumi..)
- WIFI IS not working!!!
- Activities: 2x 3h games drives per day, one at 5:30am and one at 4:30pm. Inbetween there is nothing to do (no gym, no other activities offered etc) if you are ok to only relax on your terrace you will be fine, but consider bad weather
-Pool: very small no relax chairs
- Service: Staff seemed to be always totally confused, eg. ask you 3 times if you would like to order a drink; plates were missing after opening up the buffet, etc
- Massage: we paid 60min, but got only 50min (this seems to be the rule rather than the exception as other couples made the same experience)

Stayed: March 2014, traveled as a couple
2  Thank katha m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LBucceri, Marketing representative at Imbali Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded March 26, 2014

Dear Katha M,

Thank you for your review on Tripadvisor. While it is deeply disappointing for us to receive negative feedback, we always appreciate the opportunity to improve our service offering. We have investigated your complaints, and would like to respond as follows:

Room cleanliness is always our top priority. The housekeeping supervisor is certain that all the rooms on that specific day were all up to standard and cleaned appropriately. In order to be environmentally responsible, we cannot change the water in the jacuzzis daily. We are on a strict water usage policy and have to save water where we can. Should the water have looked dirty, it would have been changed. We also know that not all guests use the Jacuzzi, so to replace the water everyday would be environmentally unacceptable and a waste of a precious resource. If a guest requests that the water is changed, we will do so immediately.

Regarding the food complaint, the chef did come to you and he apologised for the tough meat. He offered to replace the meal, but you said that the meal was fine, it was just hard to cut. He offered you a complimentary drink, and the manager on duty also apologised to you for the inconvenience. Please note that we never serve leftover food to our guests. It was simply a coincidence that there was chicken on the menu for dinner and lunch the next day.

The wifi can be temperamental in bad weather due to the remote location of the lodge. We will look into improving this service offering. We have taken note of your comments regarding the waiters and the plates at the buffet, as well as the spa treatments.

We are glad that you liked the rooms and facilities and that the staff were friendly, and we hope we can welcome you back to Imbali Safari Lodge in the near future.

Regards,
The Imbali team

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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