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“Weekend to remember”
Review of umSisi House

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umSisi House
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 27, 2013

A beautiful weekend at umSisi House come rain, sunshine and a black out, no obstacle was too much to make for a truly memorable South African weekend. Our hosts Paddy and Amanda settled us into our luxury home and with a mix of clean modern lines, African arts, furniture and divine food prepared with love inside it is easy to recommend this home from home experience; add to this the location of umSisi which sits on a hillside of a lush valley with views of Legogote (Lion Mountain) and just up the road is Kruger National Park, close enough for a dawn safari should you choose. Our weekend was just the tip of the iceberg in getting to know South Africa and we will not hesitate to return with our daughter, to swim in the pool, explore the gardens and the vegetable garden, pick cape gooseberries, climb Lion Mountain, go on safari in the National Park, and mostly hear more fascinating stories of Africa from our hosts as the sun goes down by candlelight.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with family
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Thank FVMM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
amandabond007, Owner at umSisi House, responded to this reviewResponded December 30, 2013

Your visit was too short but you live close enough to visit us at least twice a year! We so enjoyed meeting you and hope that next time you will return with your parents as we discussed. Happy New Year! Kind regards Amanda and Paddy

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95 - 101 of 180 reviews

Reviewed December 1, 2013

umSiSi house offers a small group/family a wonderful opportunity to enjoy all that is South Africa hospitality. The house is beautifully positioned for day-long viewing of the wonders of the Kruger area and also the setting sun. As well, the lovely house is very well-maintained and delightfully arranged for conversation among guests and engagement with the owners, Paddy and Amanda. Paddy brings a special expertise to the breakfast and dinner experiences. He is truly a talented chef from beginning of a meal to its end, always offering thoughtfully chosen wine pairings with dinner.

I have twice visited umSiSi house with 3 generations of my family. Together the house and small cottage offer a very special way of sharing an outside the park South African experience. I highly recommend the experience to travelers invested in a carefully planned environment that assures comfort, engagement and learning! Together the hosts will ensure a most successful visit.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
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Thank max f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
amandabond007, Owner at umSisi House, responded to this reviewResponded December 16, 2013

The fact that you have visited us from the STATES twice this year says it all! What a wonderful endorsement you have given us. Thank you. We hope that we are able to welcome you back to umSisi House on numerous occasions over the next few years. Kind regards Amanda

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Reviewed November 29, 2013

If you’re looking for a truly authentic Out-of-Africa-style luxury safari minus the hefty price tag, you can’t get better than the slice of African heaven that is umSisi House.

Nestled on a hillside watched over by the sacred Lion Mountain of Legogote, there are few spots this beautiful on the fringes of the Kruger National Park.

Yes, you can pay more for a more chichi (aka contrived) experience as provided by some better-known game reserves within the park - where guests are flown in and out without their feet ever really touching African soil. But if a lovingly crafted mix of homespun charms, high-class comfort and authentic 21st century colonial Africa sounds more your thing, umSisi House will deliver above and beyond.

The British owners have managed to capture Africa’s heart and stitch its soul into the very fabric of the place. Personal touches abound, alongside high-end creature comforts that create the kind of ‘At Home in Africa’ that a discerning traveller could spend years trying to find.

The lodge’s owners and managers, Amanda and Paddy, are charming hosts who possess the rather uncanny ability to know exactly when to appear and disappear. If you’re lucky enough to get to know them, you’ll probably want to sit up and chat the night away in their company (and we did) - not least because of their warmth and hospitality. But, having travelled around more than 75,000km of Africa in the last twenty years, their deep and passionate knowledge of their magical country, and the continent beyond, gives rise to unrivalled conversation.

Quite apart from their conversation, you can rest assured that at the very least you’ll fall in love with this duo for their exceptional skills in the kitchen. Let’s just say that if Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson partnered up and set up a guesthouse in Africa, they’d have a hard time competing with umSisi House. The menu planning begins before you arrive, when you’ll receive a long list of meal options to choose from. They cater to every taste and dietary restriction - you can pick and choose from a selection that would leave Anthony Bordain spoilt for choice.

Early evenings are best spent lounging on the colonial-style wrap-around veranda, aperitif in hand, sampling some of White River’s finest local biltong. My elephant sightings aside, watching the lingering rays of a setting African sun dance upon the dome of Lion Mountain made for some of the finest memories of our trip. Decked out with animal skins and elegant local art, this is the perfect spot from which to contemplate the vast continent stretched out before you. It’s a view that’s probably not changed in centuries.

The same however, can’t be said of umSisi House, which has clearly undergone a facelift worthy of a sizeable spread in Conde Nast Traveller. Kitted out with all the high-end boutique hotel accoutrements you could wish for in the wilderness - wireless, iPod docks, HD TV, rainwater showers, oversized tubs - it’s the ultimate oasis to come home to and swap sighting stories after a day getting dusty in the Kruger.

Day safaris, which are arranged by your hosts, leave at dawn. If like me, you’ve never been on safari before, you’ll come back a different person. There aren’t words to explain the feeling of stepping into Attenborough’s shoes for a day or the profundity of seeing your fellow mammals up close in the wild. I daren’t even imagine how many digital camera slideshows Amanda and Paddy have had to sit through on their guests’ return, but you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll want to show them yours.

Room Tip: All the rooms are wonderful - the cottage is great for those looking for an extra level of privacy.
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Antonia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
amandabond007, Owner at umSisi House, responded to this reviewResponded December 16, 2013

What a wonderful review! Thank you. It was a pleasure to introduce you to this beautiful part of Mpumalanga and we we hope that your enthusiasm for the Kruger means that you will be back time and time again. Kind regards Amanda

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Reviewed November 17, 2013

We enjoyed our stay at umSisi House so much that we recommended that my brother, who was planning a trip to Southern African with his family for the first time, stay there too. Whether you are looking for truly luxe accommodations from which to visit Kruger National Park, a base for exploring the attractions of Mphumalanga, or a place simply to unwind after your flight from overseas before embarking on other excursions, umSisi is an outstanding option.

As relatively frequent visitors to southern Africa, we had stopped by umSisi house in the past to scout it out, but this was our first stay. My wife and I, our ten-year old daughter and thirteen year-old son, plus my parents (in their 60s and 70s), stayed for three days. Each day was completely different (see details below). But what made the stay so special were the accommodations themselves and the tremendous hosts, Amanda and Paddy. umSisi House, while built from the bones of an old farm house, is completely modern, both in amenities and in style. Rooms are extremely comfortable, with high-quality mattresses, fabulous sheets, duvets and decorative pillows, as well as beautiful wood furniture. The en suite bathrooms are first class, with huge bathtubs and spacious showers, and lots of sunlight. The house is loaded with gorgeous African art (not your standard pieces, but a carefully chosen mix from around Africa, accumulated over more than a decade of exploring, and tastefully displayed in the house’s many open spaces) as well as dozens a fantastic photographs taken by Amanda in her travels around the world. The house is incredibly inviting and comfortable and, had we been traveling without children, we would have spent even more time relaxing and soaking in the stunning vistas from the verandah.

Amanda and Paddy, the house’s owners and hosts, have a great knack for making you feel welcome and comfortable without overwhelming you or intruding. They genuinely want you to have an outstanding visit, so they do their best to learn your preferences, can arrange all kinds of activities, and will share well-informed suggestions (they never steered us wrong). They also help with little details to make your life easier. For example, one day, I discovered that I had left my sunglasses at a shop in Hazyview. While we enjoyed ourselves the next day, Amanda called the shop, tracked down my glasses and arranged for the shop to hold them until we were able to return. A small touch, but one that is totally consistent with the level of attention to detail and customer service that Amanda and Paddy provide. By the time we left, we fully understood why many visitors to umSisi House become friends with Paddy and Amanda and visit again and again.

On top of the great service, Amada and Paddy ensure that you are truly well fed—not just with a full belly, but full of delicious, gourmet food cooked to order by Paddy. umSisi House has an immense list of meal options from which you choose in advance of your arrival. Based on your selections, Paddy will shop for the necessary ingredients (if in season and available) and then cook your meals at whatever hour you agree. Each of our meals was outstanding—and it was a blast to chat with Paddy as he prepared the meals and served as bartender. (Breakfasts are top-notch, too, and Paddy and Amanda can provide breakfast-to-go if you’re headed in to Kruger at sun-up.) Paddy also is a wine lover and has put together an impressive cellar with price points ranging from truly modest on up. So, if you are a wine enthusiast (or just enjoy a good bottle of wine), you are highly likely to be pleased with the options. For beers and soft drinks, there is an “honor” bar—you just help yourself and note it in a record book, and Amanda totals up the bill when you leave.

In short, we truly enjoyed our visit to umSisi House and look forward to returning.

For details of our main activities while staying at umSisi House, here is a not-quite-brief description: On our first day, we arrived mid-afternoon after driving down from Joburg. We spent the afternoon lounging on the verandah drinking in the gorgeous view of the valley and mountains behind it, which lie between umSisi and Kruger National Park (a short drive away). The kids enjoyed walking on the trails near the house and playing with the two resident dogs. The peaceful gardens, soothing dove calls, and warm hospitality were just what we needed after the drive (and lingering jet lag). My son and I even managed an excellent run along the dirt road that passes by umSisi House and twists through the valley.

On our second day, Amanda had arranged for us to partake in an ”Elephant Encounter,” which was far more informative and hands-on than expected. Even if you think you know all about elephants, the Encounter is worth a visit—not only do the rangers share detailed information about elephant physiology, eating habits, social structure, etc., but they also bust some common myths about elephants. In addition, the ability to interact with the elephants is much more than a simple pat and photo. You are not forced to interact, but you have the chance to feel various parts of the elephant (body, ear, foot, tongue) and you can walk with—or even ride—the elephants. Certainly, it’s a worthwhile stop for anyone who would like to know how such a large creature can walk so quietly, how many sets of teeth elephants have (and what happens when they run out), or what it’s like to walk with an elephant, holding its trunk. After the encounter, we popped into Kruger for the rest of the day, since Phobeni Gate was just a short distance away. About three hours later, we exited the park near umSisi House (via Numbi gate). While we drove ourselves in Kruger, umSisi House can arrange for a top-notch guide with open Land Rover to take you in and maximize your chance of seeing whatever’s on your wish list.

On our third day, we visited the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, which historically has focused breeding cheetahs for reintroduction into the wild, but which has expanded to other endangered animals, such as wild dogs, in recent years. The tour is led by knowledgeable (and if you’re lucky, funny) guides who share a tremendous amount of information about the animals, how the center has been successful protecting them, and the challenges that still lie ahead. After the tour and a tasty lunch at the Centre, we headed back into Kruger for another afternoon’s game viewing. That’s what makes the region—and staying at umSisi—so great: everything is close enough that you can do plenty without over-exerting yourself—an essential consideration if you are traveling with children.

The next morning, it was time to leave. It was a very early start (we wanted to have a full day in Kruger before driving to Swaziland), but Paddy and Amanda were still there to send us off with boxed breakfast and hugs all round. We’ll be back.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank brightline1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
amandabond007, Owner at umSisi House, responded to this reviewResponded November 22, 2013

Thank you for this wonderful review. We love the length and the detail. You have provided a wealth of information that will allow potential guests to truly understand exactly what it is we offer! Thank you again! Kind regards Amanda

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Reviewed November 16, 2013

Thank you once again guys for the lovely stay at UmSisi house,i can not begin to describe how elated i am to be part of the special guests that have stayed here,this place is like a small heaven where one can relax peaceful.I must say I have found a new home where i can always be safe and happy. Paddy and Amanda where so amazing they availed themselves 24 hours a day and came every morning to check on us,this was a truly pleasant stay. On my birthday Paddy had prepared scrumptious banana pancakes as a good breakfast to start my day and this was one of the best days of my life. And not to forget my lovely friends Esther,Saxon and Bella theses 3 friends of mine had kept me so entertained in a way that i couldnt think of anything but them,they made my stay exciting i know when i am with them i can never be bored i truly miss them and i cant imagine the place with out them,they truly have a good effect on the cottage.And thanks for the fruit basket and post cards I am certainly sure that i am coming back again to my new home. I MISS YOU GUYS!!!

Room Tip: The cottage has a lovely view and is the best place to be,make sure you wake up early in the morning...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank bonginkosi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
amandabond007, Owner at umSisi House, responded to this reviewResponded November 22, 2013

We are so pleased that you decided to spend your birthday with us at umSisi Cottage. The photo cards, fruit bowl and home-made banana pancakes were our pleasure. They really are good, aren't they?! We really enjoyed meeting you and hope to welcome you back in the not too distant future. Kind regards Amanda and Paddy

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Reviewed November 14, 2013

I don't think that I could sum umSisi up in words... but I'll try! I visited it on my own, travelling with work, and all I kept thinking was that I would like to come back with my family. Amanda and Paddy encourage you to feel completely at home and it is hard not to! Wide open spaces with delightfully comfy furnishings, huge showers, delicious food cooked by Paddy, splendid G&Ts made by both ;), a wonderful sound-system if you enjoy your music... It's all there. I can't recommend it enough.

Room Tip: All rooms are gorgeous.
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  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled on business
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Thank Kirsty T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
amandabond007, Owner at umSisi House, responded to this reviewResponded November 22, 2013

Thank you for your feedback. We enjoyed hosting you on your great expedition through South Africa. What an amazing job you have! Please stay in touch and we hope to welcome you back to umSisi House with your family sometime soon! Kind regards Amanda

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Reviewed November 11, 2013

Oh my goodness!! Where does one even begin?

Our stay at the UmSisi Cottage was marvellous from the time we checked in. We were welcomed by Saxon at the gate and the hospitable arms of Amanda. Having driven all the way from Orlando East in Soweto, my friend and I arrived still feeling like we can do another 398KM – That’s how thrilled we were to be at UmSisi House + Cottage.

The entire property at UmSisi was gorgeous and shall I add in “very green”. It was as if we just checked in at a place where summer and a dash of spring was their “all year season”. The view of the pool, pine trees and the very healthy green grass was pure paradise. Amanda, Paddy, Saxon and not forgetting Bella welcomed us to their warm home, made certain that we were at ease and assured us that we were going to enjoy our stay… and Boy, did we have a great time.

Staying in their cottage was most pleasing. All necessary things needed to make our stay pleasant were already there – the fruit hamper and photo cards that comes with their compliments were mostly appreciated. Every detail in the cottage was of elegance and it made us feel at home while we were away from home – beautiful pictures on the walls need I add. We also met Roselina – a very sweet soul and handed over us to the loving hands of Esther. She has a big heart and very caring too – thanks you Esther for making our beds and helping us with a few household tasks (Luxuries that my friend and I would have loved to take home with).

Amanda & Paddy were most thoughtful and sincere. Thank you kindly for the stories you shared with us, the history behind your success, stories about the neighbourhood and stories which we will treasure in our hearts. It is really a place to be at – very quiet, very intimate, a place to relax and connect to nature. Thank you Amanda for the Sms’es checking up on us and making sure we’re enjoying ourselves. Saxon also made certain that we were most pleased and he also assured us that he is “tightening security”.

My friend and I made lots of memories - It was a pleasure staying at UmSisi Cottage and you can rest assured that we will be returning with a much bigger clientele – we hoping this year still.

Room Tip: Rooms are stunning - Every detail in the cottage is of elegance.
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  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Thulani_McCrab
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
amandabond007, Owner at umSisi House, responded to this reviewResponded November 22, 2013

Thank you for your long and detailed review. The information you provide will certainly encourage potential guests looking for exclusive self-catering accommodation to contact us. We really appreciate the effort that you have gone to. We are also thrilled to hear that you will be back soon and look forward to receiving your booking form! Kind regards Amanda, Paddy, Bella and Saxon

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Additional Information about umSisi House

Address: Peebles Road | Farm D2, White River 1240, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Mpumalanga > White River
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 20 Specialty Lodging in White River
Price Range: $73 - $1,175 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — umSisi House 5*
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set in 60 hectares of pristine bush, umSisi House is strategically located between the town of White River and the Numbi Gate entrance to the southern Kruger Park (20 minutes away). We offer a personal service that only a very small, privately owned and managed, five-star, luxury country house villa and gourmet getaway can provide. umSisi House is the perfect destination for groups of friends and family wishing to visit South Africa’s Kruger Lowveld region, the Panorama Route and enjoy the many adventure activities available in the immediate area. The house only caters for private groups on either (a) a dinner, bed and breakfast basis,(b) a full board (all inclusive) basis or a self-catering basis (maximum 6 guests). A booking service for local activities (including bespoke Kruger safaris in open game-viewers) is also provided. All meals are planned with guests in advance to ensure that the dining experience is a daily highlight. TGCSA 5-Star Country House. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
UmSisi House White River, South Africa - Mpumalanga

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