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“Not all that great, to be honest”

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Hluhluwe Umfolozi Hilltop Camp
Reviewed January 11, 2012

I hate to break with the overwhelmingly positive reviews of this place, but I'm afraid I was a little disappointed. Yes, the view from the top is lovely but (a) the whole place has a slightly impersonal government-run feel to the place (partly but not wholly a function of its size); (b) it seems that much of the game has headed to the sister park in the south; and (c) I don't think its all that good value once three meals a day, park charges game drives at 300 rand pp are added to the bill (even the guided walks, which I recommend, are 250 rand pp). The park itself is stunning, and there really are stacks of rhino, but we preferred our time in Ithala and Tembe. And if you are heading to this neck of the woods I'd give some thought to staying in the Umpholozi (sp?) lodge rather than here if the movement of game southwards is something other than seasonal.

  • Stayed: January 2012
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2  Thank H_Alst0n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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149 - 155 of 220 reviews

Reviewed January 3, 2012

Booked into the Mtwazi Lodge as there were a group of us not quite knowing what to expect. Imagine our surprize when we drove past all the rondavels & bungalows to find our lodge was this huge residence at the end of a private road, complete with its own garden, additional cottage and live-in cook! Morning & afternoon visitors of monkey & buck were a welcome treat as we sat outside on the outdoor patio enjoying our coffee & drinks. Laying out watching the stars at night, swimming in the nearby pool & going on the early morning game drives made our holiday complete

Room Tip: For a larger group I would recommend the Mtwazi Lodge
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank Mandy153
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2011

We stayed at the main lodge at Hluhluwe - that came with a cook/ housekeeper. What a pleasure it was to have someone else cook our meals exactly as we wanted them! Monkeys were a bit of a pest as they are in Zululand! Don't leave your windows open or they will steal your dried fruit as they did to us!
Lovely colonial lifestyle, a must for every visitor to South Africa!

The game viewing is spectacular,
We can highly recommend the early morning game drives.
its also nice having a swimming pool to cool off on the sweltering days!

  • Stayed: October 2011
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1  Thank TravellingJilly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2011

We stayed at Hilltop in late November, the equivalent of late May in the northern hemisphere. A couple of days - just a couple - were rainy, and it got very cold. Like most visitors, we saw four of the Big Five there - all but the leopard - plus a lot of other animals. Because someone forgot to close - or perhaps just lock - a balcony door, Vervet monkeys invaded one of our chalets and raided the kitchen. Despite the initial shock and inconvenience, watching them turned out to be more fun than, well, a barrel of monkeys.

We saw a lot more animals driving around the area on our own than on the guided game drives, perhaps because we had more freedom to drive into the southern part of the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserve, and for as long as we wanted. I recommend buying a guidebook-with-map at the H-U gate and taking one guided game drive to get your bearings. This is not to say the human guides were not knowledgeable or entertaining. They were; we just did not encounter as many animals on those three-hour drives. One risk of going on your own is the possibility of having to get out of your car to change a flat tire, as happened to us, but nothing attacked us.

We found the accommodations adequate and, at approximately $150 per bedroom per night in a self-catered two-bedroom chalet, less expensive than many other options. The food at the restaurant was good.

The merchandise at the "curio shop," as at the craft centers inside the reserve, was pretty, and less expensive than in larger stores in, say, Cape Town. This is a good place to find Zulu objects and literature you won't find in other provinces. As many others have pointed out, if you plan to do your own cooking, buy food before you get to the reserve, as not much is sold here.

Most of the staff was quite friendly, but they seem to be bound by tight rules. Whatever the reason, they couldn't solve our problems, e.g., there was no way we could cancel our prepaid game drives, even days in advance. ("You can cancel them, but you still have to pay for them," was one polite reply.)

Budget for the daily "conservation fee" that gets added to your bill, and about which you are nicely but constantly bugged until you pay up. It was 110 rands per person per day when we were there.

All in all, we had a great, exciting time at Hilltop and would definitely go back.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank DreamGypsy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2011

On a cold and rainy october day we arrived half an hour before "official" check-in time and although the resort was far from being full, we could not check-in and were totally ignored. No welcome drink or anything else.
The room was big. Hot water worked, just don't look at the color of the water. View? We had only fog.
The game drive was spectaculor and we spent 45 minutes observing 3-month old lion cubs playing at dusk.
On arriving back to the lodge at 8pm after the game drive, a lot of things were already missing in the diner buffet.
Good choice for breakfast.

  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank chouboule
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 2, 2011

Four friends and I stayed in a two bedroom chalet while at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. It was clean and comfortable and had a beautiful view out the back deck. After driving there from Joburg, we were ready for a glass of wine on the back deck of our chalet. Low and behold, two cape buffalo mozied by while we sipped on our wine. And as dusk fell, a lone elephant walked 10 feet away from us. Amazing! We had reservations at the lodge for dinner, but it was such fun on our deck watching the animals that we called and canceled then fixed dinner ourselves.

We went on an early morning game drive and were rewarded with a huge herd of elephant blocking the road. The matriarch was NOT going to let our vehicle by until she was ready. Pretty fun. We saw white and black rhino (the black rhino charged our car!), cape buffalo, zebra, giraffe, monkeys, hyaenas, warthogs, elephant, impala, and many more. This park is FULL of wildlife!

Be careful to keep your windows closed when you go out during the day: the monkeys come in and eat your food (or worse). We lost 3 loaves of bread. Ha! Luckily, the housekeepers cleaned up any other mess they made.

Room Tip: The round huts looked pretty cute. We had a chalet and it had a wonderful private deck. I would de...
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  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Marsha E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2011

Visited with friends for a couple of nights. Restaurant of very good standard with a specatular view on the Zululand hills. Reccomend the impala. Great breakfast buffet too. Lodges are very comfortable and spacious, careful of the monkeys that are very cheeky. Lovely pool even though the water was freezing !!!
Game in the area was good and had a beautiful encounter with an adult elephant bull, unfortunately no lions !!!

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled with family
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Thank Danny M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hluhluwe Umfolozi Hilltop Camp

Address: Hluhluwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Number of rooms: 347
Also Known As:
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Hilltop Camp Hotel Hluhluwe Game Reserve

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