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“Great Lodge for the area”

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Buffelsdrift Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 21, 2010

We had an incredible experience at Bufflesdrift.
I found the web-site on line and booked without hesitation. I had never been to a "proper" game park as many of the others have referenced in their reviews. So in retrospect if you're looking for that "Wild" experience you may want to look elsewhere. For me it was perfect.
I too was concerned when we merely turned off the main road into a driveway and within minutes were at the lodge. But despite the close proximity to the road you really have no inkling that you're that near to civilization.
Upon approaching the gate the guard took my name and guided me onto the main lodge where we were met at our automobile by a porter who took out luggage and stowed it in our tent. We were escorted by golf cart to the lodge where we were greeted by reception and a cool beverage. We didn't stand at a check-in counter with bags in tow
in a noisy lobby, we were seated at a table in the lounge with a receptionist with all of our paperwork bound in a smart leather folder. From the moment we arrived we were called by our Sir names.
Afterwords we were once again escorted back to our tents by golf cart, which incidentally is available at your disposal throughout your stay, and if you have the further-est out tent and to much wine at dinner you may need it!
Spotting game in "not" like shooting fish in a barrel. I think you kind of have to go into it with that mentality. Sure it's disappointing when you don't see everything you'd like to see but that the luck of the draw. The rangers were very knowledgeable and possessed a wide variety of experience between them.
The tents were incredible!!! The outdoor shower was the best! It may seem daunting at first especially if you're staying on the waters edge but they are very private. Still if you're a bit shy you may find it intimidating.
Note...to conserve electricity the Air-Con is turned off at around 2:00AM and turned back on around sunrise. Be sure you close the tent flaps and cool it down properly although I never experienced any discomfort during the day or night and it was around 100 degrees during our stay. They tell you this upon arrival.
The food was great the first night, we caught the tail end of the weekend so the Chef was obviously on duty. Being a Chef myself I know this because we are often scheduled off during slow days which was obviously the following Monday evening.
Overall I thought it was a great experience for a weekend getaway or a first time game watching experience.
The ranger explained to us that the reason that there were no predators was because that they would simply eat every other animal in the compound. It's a vast piece of land that they have there. It's certainly "not" a Zoo or animal park.
If you're in the area I highly recommend it.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank southernchef67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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670 - 676 of 911 reviews

Reviewed August 13, 2010

We knew that Buffelsdrift wasn't the Kruger, so weren't expecting a completely "wild" experience, but we were bowled over by the place.
Once you leave the main road and drive along with a distant view of a quarry (we were a bit worried at this point!) you soon go over the hill and enter a completely different world, where your eye is always drawn to the dam/lake and the surrounding countryside. The main lodge has a nice restaurant and bar and the accommodation is in some very luxurious tents. The tents have air-conditioning (!) which turns out to be a boon for cold winter nights or very hot summer days. Don't expect a plasma TV, as there isn't one, but instead you'll have beautiful views, including clear night skies, to enjoy. The nights are a bit noisy - not because of thoughtless guests, but because of the birds and other animals that arrive around the water at night!
The food is good and the staff are very friendly and helpful. The game drivers all had a good level of knowledge and were very patient and helpful - even with little ones who only seem to the know the one word "why"!!
If you stay for two or more nights, they will take you to Cango Caves, the Wildlife Ranch or an Ostrich farm - and we were very pleasantly surprised to find that transport and entrance fees were all covered for us by Buffelsdrift, as was lunch on our middle day, making this a really good value place too.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank TomSaintsRL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 9, 2010

This was the first game reserve that my husband and I had ever been to and we both really enjoyed it. We had an evening safari at 5pm and our guide was Steven. He was so informative and we managed to see rhinos, hippos, wilderbeast, lots of different types of antelope, zebra, giraffe, mongoose and meerkats. The tent was also lovely and the food in the restaurant was really good too. In the morning we had breakfast qhich was lovely and the another safari, this time with Arrie who was also really informative. After the morning safari we paid extra (not much at all) to feed the elephants which i would definitely recommend, we sat on the them, fed them and they hugged us with their trunks and my husband even had an arm wrestle with one of them! We really enjoyed Buffelsdrift and would definitely recommend it!

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank stephfletcher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2010

We stayed at Bufflesdrift for one night and did the overnight package (with two game drives). The luxury waterfront tent we stayed in was lovely - with a great view on to the lake. We didn't see any hippos from our tent though - possibly because it was very hot when we visited and the lake had nearly dried up. The food at Bufflesdrift is sub-standard - I expected better given how much we were paying. The game drive itself was great , however bear in mind that you will not see the big 5 and there are other game reserves out there that are larger and better (there were only two rhinos in the reserve and we spent nearly all of one drive trying to find them).

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank mm_27London
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 3, 2010

Buffelsdrift is a great game lodge if you don't want to leave the Western Cape and also don't want to take malaria profilax. It is only 4 hours from Cape Town. We stayed for 2 nights in the luxury tents, and they are really luxury with good beds, very nice bathroom with an outside shower. The accommodation is really in the middle of the park so the animals come close to the rooms. Breakfast was very good. Dinner was also good, but they ran out of half of the menu so there was limited choice. The guides were very knowledgable and helpful and friendly.

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank bennyontherocks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 20, 2010

We booked a 2 night package at Buffelsdrift and enjoyed our stay.
Temps were up to 43 degrees celsius which made our stay quite hot. Only a suggestion for the Buffelsdrift staff to make a stay even more African: have African music in your restaurant instead of songs from U2 and other bands. Enjoying a lovely view over the lake and mountains will even be better creating an extra atmosphere with your local music. Also a mosquito net would keep insects away from the bed.

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank GO4Rotterdam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 19, 2010

I've been to numerous game parks in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and Kenya, from luxury to primitive and guided to self-drive. The reality is that this is a glorified zoo. That wouldn't be such a bad thing if it wasn't so obvious. Additionally, it's set up as a cash cow, more than anything else. There were a few positives, for sure, but on the whole, I'd go somewhere else... for sure.

The problems:

Firstly, when we arrived, we realized it was *on* the main road. You just don't feel like you're in a nature reserve when you turn right 5 minutes out of a city, and you're at reception. This initial impression turned out to be true. We could see the edges of the park often from different parts of the game drives and even watch cars fly by on the roads. Also the guide kept referring to it as a "farm". I realize it's not an official reserve, but at least use the word "park" so we don't feel like we're watching tame fenced in animals.

Secondly, as we pull in we see cheesy color photo signs advertising their restaurant, their conference facilities, their "Karoo wedding chapel", etc., etc. It was a sales pitch before we've even arrived. Then we pulled into the parking lot and spotted a huge tour bus. Ug. Sure enough there were 50+ tourists on tour all staying "with us" in what we'd hoped would be a quite bush camp. At night the restaurant was packed with this group, but they also were loud at night and oblivious to the fact that there were other people there. Our friends were awoken at 5 in the morning by one of this group standing on their porch yelling and throwing rocks at the birds trying to get them to fly, we presume. Since you're sleeping in a tent, you hear everything. We heard them all again, the next morning as they left as a group (boisterous and oblivious). This just isn't the right feeling for a game park.

Now, if you've got a fence and a small space, have some animals. There are no cats at all (or if there are, they're in a cage somewhere. But, I'm pretty sure they don't have any). Not the end of the world as cats are illusive and often boring to watch during the day anyway. Next, the elephants are tame and trained. You can ride them and touch them, which is great at a zoo, but a joke at a game park. Of course, it's better that they've been rescued than put down somewhere, but again... not a real bush experience. There are 2 rhino, which is cool, and several giraffe, which is great. But, you'll find that in most places. The antelope were scarce on our visit, but it was a relatively cold day and the guide explained that they were hiding from the wind. I think I buy that, so won't deduct much for that. My biggest disappointment, however, was that they didn't live up to their namesake. No buffalo! It was the whole reason I picked them this time. I never thought to ask, given the name and the logo, but should have. Turns out that they buffalo (4 or 5 of them, I think) are in the "farm", but too far away to get to during a game drive. Seriously? Are you kidding me? So, in total, I felt a bit like we were at a zoo with very few animals. Oh, there were hippo in the lake (artificial dam, actually), but they stay submerged all day and you have to be very lucky to catch them when they emerge just after dark and walk down to the field next to the worker's houses to graze for the night. Let's face it, seeing any of these animals is a special thing, and I could watch giraffe all day, but you're just not getting good value for money in terms of the experience or the game. For folks that have never done anything like this before, they may not realize it.

Then we went to dinner. It was painfully slow (maybe because of the huge tour group that proceeded us). The food was varied. At best it was sorta good. At worst it was almost inedible. There's no real chef there. Much of the food is clearly frozen, pre-packaged, etc. If you're careful, you can tip toe around this and at least fill up. But, don't expect anything special, and you may actually get something borderline terrible.

The final problem was the price. I don't know what others are paying, but we paid $250 US per person per night. So, $500/tent. This included one game drive, buffet breakfast and the unpleasant dinner. It did not include the mini-bar drinks or drinks at dinner. So, we were set back another $150 or so between the 4 of us. So, for 4 people, $1150/night. I know SA game parks are getting very expensive, but you're way better off elsewhere.

The positives:

We had the last two tents away from the lodge right on the dam. Unfortunately, the dam was half-empty, so we weren't over the water as we were promised, but they were wonderful tents with a fantastic bath tub overlooking said dam. You definitely get a great room with a great bed and a nice deck. Frankly, given the state of the restaurant and the lack of game, I'd almost suggest staying in your tent and going into town (5 minutes away) for food, and then when you return home, go to a zoo. Later merge all the pictures carefully into a single album and you could improve your memories of the place.

Another positive was the guide on our evening game drive. He was very knowledgeable, on plants as well as animals (which was great since there were more of the former to discuss). If it wasn't for him being smart, good, kind, funny, etc., we would have complained. But, we almost felt badly for him, driving us around knowing that the 2 rhino and the several giraffe were the only things to find... especially since he knew exactly where they were.

The pool looked pretty nice, although it was too cold to use when we were there. Normally in the summer (US winter), it would be plenty warm enough. We just had odd weather. So, I'll list this tentatively as a plus.

In the end, though, I'd say avoid, avoid, avoid.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with friends
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5  Thank ContinentCrosser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

Address: Cango Caves Road | P.O.Box 268, Oudtshoorn 6620, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Oudtshoorn
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 50 Specialty Lodging in Oudtshoorn
Price Range: $173 - $333 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Buffelsdrift Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 29
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is a sprawling game farm situated in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains in the Cango Valley, Oudtshoorn. Only 5 hours drive from Cape Town and less than an hour's drive from George Airport. This game farm is located 6.5 Km outside of Oudtshoorn, en-route to the Cango Caves. Pristine bushveld, lush vegetation and a 5 hectare dam provide a haven for twenty-two game species and more than 217 bird species. In May 2004 this beautiful Nature Reserve became part of the 6th South African World Heritage Sites offering a wealth of endemic plant species. It is our aim to bring the highest quality of service to our guests and to this end we try to anticipate their every need.Buffelsdrift Game Lodge offers 9 waterfront, 16 luxury and 4 family tents each one with en-suite bathroom and private outdoor shower, air-conditioning, mini-bar, digital safe, tea / coffee making facilities and a game viewing deck. We can accommodate a total of 66 guests in our 29 tents either with twin or king size beds. A lookout lounge is situated next to the reception with a large round stone fireplace in the middle, overlooking our dam with the Swartberg Mountain Range in the distance. A charming wedding chapel is situated on the edge of a natural water hole with a wide wooden deck as entrance. The deck is an extension to the A la carte restaurant which creates a beautiful space for wedding guests to take their seats and witness the couple exchanging their wedding vows. Conferencing at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is quite unique. Our fully equipped conference hall is situated right next to the dam, and also extends onto the deck connecting to the restaurant. Activities offered are Bush Safaris (game drive), Meerkat Safaris, Elephant Excursions and Star Gazing. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Buffelsdrift Game Hotel Oudtshoorn

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