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“A Fresh Face for a True Bush Lodge”
Review of Cheetah Plains

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Cheetah Plains
Certificate of Excellence
Tempe, Arizona
Level Contributor
58 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“A Fresh Face for a True Bush Lodge”
Reviewed February 26, 2014

Cheetah Plains had a previous life as the Djuma Bush lodge. It was good then and it is very good now. The new owners did a lot more than just give it a new name. Everything at the lodge that can be updated, has been. All have A/C, new decor and bedding. And they are spotless. Previous owners had a small 2BR house with a large lounge that is now either a Family unit or perhaps a Honeymoon hideaway. It's a terrific option for families.
The chalets are sprinkled around the grounds, surrounded by beautiful mature vegetation that adds to the natural 'feel' at Cheetah Plains. Truth is, the chalets are so concealed that I couldn't find mine the first time I was headed back to it from the main lodge. Private? I should say so. They do have two types of the rondavel chalets - and rates are slightly higher for the two that have a larger bathroom plus an outdoor shower. I was in one of the 'regular' ones, and it was just fine.
Food service is going always to include some South African dishes. Their cooks do it very well. I had one extraordinary gameviewing experience that I will share. Ephraim, our Guide - along with William, from another of the lodge vehicles - got out on foot and disappeared into the bush, looking for traces of a pride of lions they knew had been through the area. They reappeared in 10 or 15 minutes, and we drove away, headed somewhere.. we knew not where. And then, after driving another 15 minutes to a specific place Ephraim expected the lions would be - there they were. And there was absolutely nothing distinctive about where they had settled down. Just the bush. Ordinary bush. His explanation? Experience. Nothing more complicated to tell us. Just his experience. I like the that part of Sabi Sand for wildlife, I should add. And they have a large area for their game drives that is exclusive to them.

Room Tip: The chalets with the outdoor shower are a very good value. The Family 'house' is one of the...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank bwanadave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WillemCP, General Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, March 9, 2014
Dear Dave

Thank you for your great review! Real pitty we've missed each other whilst you were visiting Cheetah Plains.You'll have to visit us again soon?
I am truly happy that you've managed to capture and experience the essence of what Cheetah Plains is really all about!! I could not put it in any better/other words than what you have experienced whilst re visiting this special little corner of the Sabi Sands.

I will relay your appreciation to Ephriam and the rest of the Cheetah Plains team.

Wild wishes & God Bless
Willem
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Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
26 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed February 22, 2014

We stayed 4 nights here and had a great time. Very clean lodging and excellent grounds which has Animals coming very close to the dinning area. The lodge is protected by a thin electric fence to keep large animals out so is relatively safe and quite child friendly ( they do allow children here ). However we did see a waterbed and some other animals who had got in over the fence so maybe the fence will work only for elephants.

Game drives were good but found the jeeps a bit overcrowded with up top 10 guests joining in one jeep for some drives. If you are seriously into photography this could be an issue for your gear and to get a vantage point. But that said we did manage pretty well without much issues ( thanks to all other guest who were pretty understanding and accommodating - at least most of them!!)

We saw the big five along with some great Leopard sightings. Sabi Sands reputation for Leopards did prove correct.

There is a complex rule on how many vehicles could be around when a sighting is made ( know as a lock ) and this could sometimes be a bit frustration. So be ready for that and understand the rules if you are somebody who is easily frustrated and short tempered as that can ruin your trip. Just be ready to sit back and the guide take you through the drive as you will win some and you will loose some ( talking about sightings ) but end of the day they will get you to see the animals.

We recommend at least 2 nights and ideally 3 nights here.

If you are somebody needing 3 large meals be warned they only serve a late breakfast ( brunch ) and no lunch is included, so stuff yourself or be hungry till dinner time.

Staff - Less friendly than some of the other lodges we have been to in our opinion. But if you ask them for something they will accommodate.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Hemaka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WillemCP, General Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, March 10, 2014
Dear Hemeka

Thank you for your review. Glad you had a great time at Cheetah Plains, and that the Sabi Sands lived up to it's reputation re Leopards!
Being a pvt reserve makes for some spectacular 'un overcrowded' sightings, as with your experience. Only x3 vechiles allowed in a sighting/lock, and that way you get to come very close to the animals, without them feeling intimidated..
We traverse with x2 Game drive vechiles and the Lodge caters for up to 16 - 20 guests. Hence on this occasion the vechile you were on was full for a day or two. Please take note that we offer exclusive Photographic Safari's.
For more on our photographic safaris, please visit the Cheetah Plains website.

As i think you would really enjoy such a Safari :)

Please take note that we DO NOT cater for Children 6 years of age and younger..due to the camp not being fully fenced off, but rather as you'd mention, "one 'electrified' line around the Camp", keeping out Elephant, Buffalo and other Bigger animals.

Hemeka, not sure how you managed to miss out on our daily High Tea half an hour prior to Game drives? :) but we do do a full Continental Brunch once guests arrive back from morning game drives (10am) then High Tea gets served prior to the afternoon drive (15:30 currently)..then whilst on afternoon drive their is some delicious Biltong/ Droewors etc to nibble on whilst you sip on a G&T savouring the African sunset.
On arrival back from the afternoon drives, we have pre-dinner drinks in the Lounge/Bar area and then settle in for an evening under the stars, wheather permitting, for some hearty dinner.So no need to 'stuff yourself', freshly made meals is plentifull :)

Hoping to have you bach here again, in the near future.

Wild wishes
Willem
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Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed February 15, 2014

We visited Cheetah Plains in January after 3 days of self-drive safari in Kruger. We had a bit of a nightmare drive in getting there, this was our fault for not checking directions from Kruger beforehand. Our map showed a gate into Sabi sands next to Paul Kruger gate, however you cannot use this gate and you must drive to Gowrie gate, which is a good 3 hour drive away. This unexpected additional mileage (combined with getting lost en route and stopped by the police!) meant that we arrived very stressed and late for the evening game drive. Luckily the lodge more than made up for our stressful journey, they even arranged for us to join the game drive that had already departed. We had a fantastic couple of nights; our room was beautiful, all the staff were delightful and the meals were delicious.
We stayed 2 nights in total and had 4 game drives on which we saw some incredible up-close wildlife. We hadn't managed to see any leopards or cheetah on our self-drive trip, so I was thrilled that our brilliant guide Ephraim was able to find us 2 leopard brothers and a cheetah! It is a very different experience from self-drive in Kruger, where you are in a closed vehicle on roads to being in an open sided vehicle and being able to go off road to track the animals. I loved the stop on each game drive for coffee and biscuits or a glass of wine and snacks.
If I was being very picky, I would say that afternoon tea was a little disappointing - just a couple of mini quiche bites and a couple of mini cake bites, but maybe this was due to the fact that there was only us and one other couple in the lodge. Also, I had emailed several days prior to our trip to let the lodge know where we were travelling from and so some prior advice on the best route from Kruger would also have been appreciated, as the directions on the website are not that clear.
However, I would not hesitate to recommend this lodge and I hope we will be able to return some day!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Hannah K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WillemCP, General Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, March 8, 2014
Dear Hannah

Thank you for your review! glad that you enjoyed your stay with us.

Although the Kruger Park is a fantastic reserve, nothing much beats the Sabi Sand pvt Game Reserve, and with Cheetah Plains being up in the northern section of the park, we surely are blessed with amazing wildlife, especially with Leopards :)
As with your experience at Cheetah Plains, being accomponied and guided by a professional, knowledgable guide, is the way to go..and Ephriam's knowledge and enthusiasm exceeds any expectations, having 25 years + experience within the reserve.

Due to the ongoing 'slaugher' of our beautiful Rhino's, and the Sabi Sand Reserve being a private reserve and therefore individual privately owned land, some measurements re anti pouching decisions has been put in place to fight the plea...whereby the guests and reserve staff alike, has to enter and exit at the same, nearest to their destination Lodge, gate...our's being Gowrie Gate.Our map on the Cheetah Plains website states that clearly.

Thank you for your recomendation, and indeed it would be great to have you visit us agian!

Ps, love your pictures, especially the 'South African' road block! :)

Wild wishes
Willem
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Pretoria, South Africa
Level Contributor
15 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed February 10, 2014

Sabi Sands had been on our bucket list for some time, mainly due to the frequent and close-up leopard sightings. Although nothing is given in the bush we were not disappointed. 45 minutes into our first game drive we already had two great leopard sightings. At the end of our 3 days we had ticked the Big 5, cheetah plus a multitude of antelopes and other small things. Our ranger Andrew was great, informative, helpful and catered perfectly for everyones needs and interests.

Lodge is beautiful, with a lounge area, couple sundecks and plungepool, and with only 8 rooms/chalets, it will not be too busy even if full. Food was plentiful and delicious without trying to pretend to be more than that. Surely there are more luxurious lodges out there, but besides a big and fancy room they add little more in our experience. Also thanks to Justin for a great chat about the bush in general and to the young couple on honeymoon for not being too disappointed with they company of our group of 7.

Room Tip: The deluxe rooms are slightly bigger and have an outdoor shower which makes it well worth a little e...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank GreatDane110
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Willemdutoitgm, General Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, April 29, 2014
Hi Great Dane :)

Thank you for your lovely review! Glad you all enjoyed your stay with us! Even happier that the Northern Sabi Sands lived up to its reputation regarding quality Leopard etc. sightings. The fact that you got to see Cheetah, whilst at Cheetah Plains...is just awesome! to say the least.

With the abundance of wildlife surrounding our Lodge, and a great relaxation pool area overlooking the waterhole, the amount of time you spend in your chalets, is minimal. Therefore, with comfortable beds and airconditioning provided for the Lowveld summer days, there is really no need for big 'fancy' rooms, as you indicated..

Looking forward to your next visit to Cheetah Plains.

Wild wishes
Willem du Toit
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Stellenbosch, South Africa
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed January 13, 2014

We visited the greater Kruger National Park over December 2013 / January 2014 and visited four lodges. We stayed 4 nights at Cheetah Plains.

Our compliments to the management and particularly to the chef, who went out of his way to satisfy our gluten free dietary requests.

Our experience was, however, somewhat dampened by the cramped rooms, especially the bathroom, which was seriously below standard. The Cheetah Plains facilities, in this regard, were disappointing, to say the least - very small, a single wash basin, no hooks to hang anything and no outside shower.

Our experience was further diminished because, being avid birders, we specifically asked (during the reservation process) to be placed at the perimeter of the camp. Instead, we were placed in the worst position, in the middle of everything, despite having booked more than a year in advance and confirming shortly before our stay.

The lodge is situated in a good game area and we saw lost of game, including the big five and cheetah. The birding was so-so, but could have been better if our guide was more of a birder. Also, we learned the guides work six weeks on and two weeks of - he was at the end of his six weeks working cycle and, unfortunately, this was reflected in his attitude.

The four lodges we visited were all in the same price bracket. Cheetah Plains rank last as number four.

Room Tip: For a little extra, you can book the two "family rooms", which are much better.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank Martin O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WillemCP, General Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, January 21, 2014
Good day Martin

Thank you for your review and compliments given to our Management team and Chefs alike. It was only but a pleasure.
Your complaints regarding the Standard Chalets being 'cramped' and the bathrooms being below standard and no outside shower, comes as a bit of a dissapointed if i may say. You mentioned that you have made your reservation more than a year prior to your visit, which would have given you plenty of time to book one of our Luxury rooms which are both situated on the perimeters of the Lodge, has got big spacious bedrooms, bathrooms and outside showers.

On numerous occasions during your stay, i personally asked you if you happy with your rooms and enjoying yourselves, and you never had a complaint? It also does'nt really matter whether you on the perimeters of the Lodge, or in one of the Chalets in the middle, as the Lodge is set up in such a manner that where ever you situated, you surrounded by trees and lush bush, therefore birdlife is all over the show. There is in actual fact a breeding pair of Barred Owls in one of the trees, right behind the Chalet you stayed in, and the Woodland Kingfishers is in abundance all over the Lodge :)

We don't advertise ourselves as a luxurious Lodge, but rather as a small authentic Bush Lodge, with comfortable airconditioned thatched Chalets, scrumptious fresh cuisine, sincere happy staff and very knowledgeble and experienced guides.
Regarding the dissapointment with your guide, you possibly have got him confused with another guide from a different Lodge you have visited? as our guides work on a 28 days on and 8 days off cycle, and not as you've mentioned six weeks on.

Please bear in mind that your comments on the birding is a very sensitive topic and especially when other guests are on the vechile aswell, the guide has to be carefull and sensitive to all the guests game viewing expectations.
As for anybody, like yourselves, that are keen birders, please take note that we offer specialised Birding and Photographic Safaris.

For more on our Birding safaris, please visit: http://bit.ly/1cZgptt and for Photograhic safaris : http://bit.ly/1kbVV60

Again, thank you for taking the time to write a review, and although you felt dissapointed, feel free to follow us on our Cheetah Plains, Sabi Sand Face Book page, as we on a regular basis post birding tips and advertise dates on our specialised Birding and Photographic Safaris.

Regards
Willem
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St. Gallen, Switzerland
Level Contributor
12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed January 3, 2014

A lovely, small and therefore very personal safari lodge. We, 2 adults and 9 year-old child, spent 3 nights there over Christmas hoping to see a good range of animals while enjoying a more individual experience than we had had at a big lodge in the previous 3 days. All expectations were met and exceeded. Although our son was the only child it was a child-friendly place. Sensible restrictions applied that he couldn't run within the grounds (too tempting a target for any passing predator) and like us all we had to wait to be accompanied to and from our room after dark. Our ranger, Justin, lent him a scorpion torch so he could seek out any hidden scorpions in the trees and other hiding places. They glow under the light of the torch and several ladies sitting around the evening fireside were alarmed to be told a scorpion was asleep in the tree behind them. He loved it. We learnt so much from Justin who was a fount of knowledge and a great guide. We saw everything on our list and often in huge numbers. If there was a downside it was only that the room was a bit too small of 3 - but there was nothing to be done about that and that the dirt tracks that led to the lodge are long and very rough. But again, it's understandable when you want an authentic safari experience. I had a great massage too - unexpected in the bush!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank BritSwiss544
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WillemCP, General Manager at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, January 7, 2014
Good day Greg.

I am glad to hear you safely back home and that you and your family had a really great time with us! Was only a pleasure to entertain your son, and those little scorpion torches makes for a lot of fun and education.
Thank you, Justin sure is a font of information indeed, and loves what he does for a living, hence guests build up life long relationships with our Guides, and always request them on returning trips.
Our standard rooms are designed for x2 guests mainly, and although we can put a 3rd bed in, it can get a bit tight. Unfortunately, as you'd mention, the luxury chalets were all booked over that period, and they lend for some more space. Hopefully we will have the pleasure of seeing you all here again in the near future, and that one of the luxury rooms is available..

Ps, glad that you enjoyed a revitalising massage whilst you were here :)

Wild wishes
Willem du Toit
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Budapest, Hungary
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed November 18, 2013

Cheetah Plains was the last stop of our two-week SA holiday and it was a great choice! It is a real authentic experience in the bush, you feel close to nature, yet very comfortable.
Doctor was our great guide, he is incredible. We loved his style and appreciated his knowledge, after quite a few safaris, we still learnt a lot. One of the afternoon drive started really quiet, when he spotted many vultures on trees. However first we did not see the hooded vulture that is a clear indication that there must have been a kill. Doctor was absolutely mad to figure out if there is anything, so he looked for the hooded vulture, and guess what? he found them! He drove into the bush and we found seven lions eating on an old buffalo bull. It was a unique experience to be part of his tracking and "expedition". I must also mention the great meals we had: beef lasagne, beans for brunch and mouth-watering steaks for dinner, all just perfect! Friendly people, always smile and help. It was just a perfect finish of our SA holiday!

Room Tip: The normal bungalow was a bit small for 3 of us, next time we go for the bigger ones. Nevertheless i...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Zsolt M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
African Secrets M, Team Member at Cheetah Plains, responded to this review, November 21, 2013
Dear Zsolt M,

Thank you very much for visiting Cheetah Plains and for taking the time post a review with such kind words. We hope that you will return to us when you visit South Africa again.

Until next time!
Team Cheetah Plains
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Additional Information about Cheetah Plains

Property: Cheetah Plains
Address: Sabi Sand Game Reserve | Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Mpumalanga, South Africa, Kruger National Park 1383, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #24 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Cheetah Plains is a small, authentic bush camp in the world renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve, with 500 hectares of privately owned land & another 8000 hectares of additional traversing - you can be assured of exceptional game viewing - especially leopard and the rest of the "big 5". Cheetah Plains has only 8 traditionally thatched rooms - set amongst indigenous gardens - creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.We focus on freshly produced meals in wonderful surroundings - complementing the friendly and attentive service from all at Cheetah Plains. We look forward to welcoming you to our special bush home. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Cheetah Plains South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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