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“Wonderful introduction to the African bush”

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Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 13, 2013

I spent 4 nights at Shepherd's Tree. The food was excellent, service was spectacular and the game drives were excellent (although chilly!). The facilities are well-designed, and the view from the outdoor showers is spectacular. There were many thoughtful touches to the service. I was travelling on my own and enjoyed the option of group meals after the game drives. The lodge is one of the smaller ones in the park, and wasn't busy at this time of year. The spa is wonderful. Highly recommended as a place for relaxation and to see and learn about African wildlife.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled solo
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2  Thank catmiddleton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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442 - 448 of 592 reviews

Reviewed June 5, 2013

the people working there were excellent, despite some language barriers--if you ask for liquor list say spirits. lol. my silly American words weren't always getting across. but the staff was kind and worked with us, the game drivers were excellent...we had taryn (something like that) she was so knowledgeable so it made the drive more than "oh look a zebra". there was problems with draining in the shower...which is outdoors so if you go in winter plan on showering in the middle of the day (hot during the day COLD when the sun is down). they had a limited menu but it changed every day....I think it might be contributed to the fact that they are in the middle of nowhere...also with the power blinking. which wasn't a problem bc I was only in my room to sleep. theres a small water hole behind the property and the elephants come right up to it. which was amazing and made up for any inconveniences. I would go back if I found myself in south Africa again. oh one major thing was that drinks weren't included in the "all inclusive" part (nor were tips)...including water. if you want to live on the edge get tap water (I got bottled bc I have the travelers sensitive stomach).

Room Tip: didn't have room service or a fitness center. all the rooms face the same way. they go up a hill...
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  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with family
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Thank hmbmarohl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 2, 2013

Just returned from a disappointing visit to this lodge.

On the positive side:
It is in a beautiful location.
The staff are very willing and have a great attitude, but need training.

The Irritations:
The toilet without individual light switch so if you need to go during the night you either go in the dark or switch on the bathroom light which then lights up the whole room disturbing the other person.
No bath mats provided.
Shower not draining. Flooded the bathroom.
Bath plug not engaging.
Reading lamp which switched itself on briefly to cause a flashing effect every 15 seconds or so. Eventually dismantled the lamp to stop this happening.
The fan switch caused the bedside lamp to flash when turning the knob to adjust fan strength. (I am not making this up).
Power failure and generator which switched on and off constantly through the night. Every time this happened the room was filled with a multitude of strident beeping sounds and lights. Got very little sleep during the second night of our visit. This happened in all three rooms that our guests were accommodated in.
Left a hat and sunglasses on the game viewing vehicle - they disappeared.
Game vehicle was not cleaned between game drives. Filthy coffee cup and various empty drink cans were there in the pocket behind the seats for the duration of our stay. Cups and equipment used on game drives for sunrise/sunset snacks and drinks were not clean. Remnants of previous drinks were still in the cups. Bag used to store cups etc was filthy. We elected not to have anything.
Room not made up when we got back from breakfast. Still not made up by 3:30 that afternoon in spite of a phone call to reception at 10:30.
Milk was not replaced, so could not make tea/coffee.
Menu selection poor.
Nicely presented food. Mostly very bland. Small portions. Had to ask for a second portion of lamb stew after being served a portion that had 4 tiny pieces of lamb.
Bland pork served with large edge of unrendered fat. Most unappetizing.
Rooms located a long way for main buildings. Longs waits for golf carts to transfer 60 guests back and forth. Most inefficient.
Overall something just not right. Felt that the absolute minimum was provided. Not a 5 star experience in spite of the beautiful location. Has such potential, but mostly unrealized.

Stayed: May 2013, traveled on business
2  Thank Debra H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 27, 2013

Our stay here was entirely too short -- just one night and we missed the evening game drive due to a blown tire, but we were able to find the property (pretty good signage to direct us in), and were warmly welcomed upon arrival. Dining was quite nice, but in the interest of time we missed breakfast... they did, however, send us off with a packed box breakfast -- most appreciated!

Our room was beautiful with an attention to detail and complete amenities. Sorry that we didn't have time to really get to know the property and staff better -- it seems like a nice place!

Note: I'm in the travel industry but am committed to honest reviews of all properties, whether they like it or not!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank AdventureGirrl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 23, 2013

Visited here for 3 days with my wife and 2 daughters. It was our first experience of a game lodge and we had chosen Shepherd's Tree carefully after many hours reading Tripadvisor. We were not disappointed. Everything was perfect. We were welcomed by the staff on arrival and told not to rush, even though we were keeping our afternoon game drive late. We chose a family lodge close to the main lodge, the furthest lodges are a good 5-10 minute walk from the main reception. The rooms were incredible with stunning comfort and facilities. You could easily spend all day there relaxing and chilling out, but you can't because you have so many wonderful meals to eat and game drives to experience. The food and restaurant service is amazing and the staff all addressed our daughters by name, from the first time they met. The staff are genuinely enthusiastic to ensure you have a terrific holiday and are keen to hear about your game drive each day. Our guide, Peter, was just a great guy and so tolerant of our constant questioning. By having the same guide each day, he remembers what you have seen on the previous day, so he will try to focus on something different each time you are out. the animals just incredibly special to witness. During our visit the wifi and internet was down and the pool was out of order for the entire visit - normally this would be enough to spoil the holiday and Shepherd's Tree should get them fixed, but everything else was such a great experience that it more than compensated for those inconveniences. It's only a 2 hour drive from Jo'berg airport. Everyone should do this at least once in their lifetime and Shepherd's Tree is the perfect location to do it!

Room Tip: Higher numbered rooms are further away from the main reception and lodge.
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank JDE260767
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 6, 2013

This was my first trip to South Africa and my schoolmate and I couldn't leave without experiencing a game drive. Shepherd's Tree was perfect - we went back for a second stay before the end of our trip! It's reasonably close to Jo'Burg and was just right for a weekend getaway. The lodge is gorgeous and small enough that the service feels so personalized. The rooms are so luxurious and the views and atmosphere were much more than we expected. Peter and JP, our game drivers, were both extremely knowledgeable and great at sighting things we would have missed, and each game drive took us to a different area of the park so there was a variety of landscapes and plenty of animal sightings. The value was very worth it for the room, food, game drives and service (all included!) I can't wait to visit again with my family in tow!!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Jenna M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 24, 2013

First timers in South Africa, stuck for work in Johannesburg, looking for a week-end escape, The Shepherd's Tree was the perfect choice; I loved the luxurious lodges with the amazing large bed and large bathrooms and the outside showers and of course the drives through the wild! we had a great ranger and we saw amazing landscapes and captured so many pics with the usual suspects: elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos and rhinos! after each ride we would be waited by staff at the lodge with cherry and hot cocoa and a great fire in the fireplace; the staff is very accommodating, very responsive, very helpful; the internet is rather a problem but then again, please don't even consider connecting when in such an amazing place; the view from the lodge is absolutely unbelievable; all in all, whenever in Joburg not to be missed!

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Alexandriciul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge

Address: Pilanesberg Game Reserve | Sun City, Pilanesberg National Park 316, South Africa
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Pilanesberg National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 14 Specialty Lodging in Pilanesberg National Park
Price Range: $648 - $1,904 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Skirting the northern slopes of an amphitheatre within the Pilanesberg Game Reserve lies Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge, the lodge enjoys unrestricted vistas of the wilderness area of this big 5 wildlife sanctuary. Sweeping patios and sun decks adjoin the generous guest entertainment areas and rim-flow swimming pool. A gourmet restaurant, open entertainment decks, cigar lounge and gift gallery are amongst some of the facilities that discerning guests will find during their African safari. The lodge also includes a conference facility and Amani Spa. Attention to detail extends beyond the pleasure of your hosts, and is perhaps only rivaled by the contemporary cuisine, freshly prepared by dedicated chefs. Shepherd’s Tree features 13 double and 4 executive suites accommodating a maximum of 60 guests. Absolute privacy is ensures through the linear positioning of the suites along an elevated contour line, and providing panoramic vistas of the reserve. Each chalet features full en-suite bathrooms, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar and safe. Whilst some of our guests will find proximity to the Sun City complex appealing, most of our guests are at Shepherd’s Tree for the thrill and excitement of big game viewing from the comfort of our custom built game viewers. Qualified and experienced guides are tasked with the pleasure of interpreting the sights and sounds of this vast wildlife sanctuary. The reserve is home to the big 5 and cheetah, wild dogs and hippo. Guests are encouraged to join their guide and host on 2 daily safaris, designed around optimal game activity periods, these occur in the early morning and in the late afternoon and evening, the afternoon safari is punctuated by a sundowner stop before continuing into the night with the use of a powerful spotlight. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Shepherd`s Tree Game Hotel Pilanesberg National Park

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