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“Fantastic stay, wonderful family” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Tydon Safari Camp

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Tydon Safari Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
“Fantastic stay, wonderful family”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 23, 2012

I did not pick Tydon Safari camp as I was part of a small group from Gerits Travel (BTW amazing travel agent) but I wanted to do a review as we had a fantastic stay there. The tents are very comfortable with all the amenities. Despite the rain, our game drives were great and we saw all the big five (and much more). Gavin and Vangie were fantastic hosts, The food is traditional african and we had a wonderful brai one night. I definitely recommend.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Raph B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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327 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Oxford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 20, 2012

This is a real safari! We stayed in luxury tents, all with complete ensuite and aircon - definitely not slumming it.

The family were so lovely, and for the time we were there, we felt part of it.
The safari was so fantastic despite our luck with the weather. The guides made it the best experience. Right on the door step of sabi sands reserve and 20mins from kruger. Perfect location without paying through the nose.
Excellent food and wonderful atmosphere.

Very generous food portions, and drinks!
Highly recommended

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Louise S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
50 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 18, 2012

I haven't taken any pictures this time because it was exactly as I had expected it to be seeing the photos that are here.

+ 15 rhinos and "a day in the life of a leopard" : it was amazing to see so many rhinos up-close. We saw a leopard hunting at night, then a kill up on the tree next morning and leopard walking to it with a female following him, some mating behind the bush, leopard eating the kill on the tree, dragging it down, walking to a different tree with it and putting it up on the tree. And we saw all this from a few feet..!!!! an experience we will never forget.
+ I had 15 emails with Gavin before we went and he quickly responded to all of them.
+ "home for a few days"
+ a family friendly setting
+ managed by the owners
+ Lime: knowledgable guide, wakes you up, drives you in the park, hosts you for breakfast, lunch and dinner, remembered that we need hot milk with tea/coffee and made sure we have that
+ Donavan : good tracker. he used to spot animals very well.
+ Gavin and Vangie are great hosts and are very personable. We felt that we could relate to the camp and the effort involved in running it.
+ south african food : 4 of us are vegetarians and we liked the food a lot. (there was meat for non-vegetarians in our group)
+ sundowners with drinks and snacks in the park :-)
+ dinners around fire with everybody (though it was a great opportunity to hang out with others, my family didn't quite catch the accent and we couldn't really have our own conversation)
+ well appointed tents, tents had A/C.
+ good value for money
+ access to both kruger and sabi
+ we saw 3 of the big 5 (rhino, elephant and buffalo) even before we went into the camp (through the fence)
+ great birding (since everybody was mainly interested in cats, we didnt always get to stop, but as soon as we had 2 more people interested in birding, we started stopping for birds more frequently)
+ All the kitchen staff was good. Suzi, one of the kitchen staff, was helpful.

- no special staff for serving food/drinks : it felt a little awkward to ask Lime (for example) to get us something at dinner, knowing that he is up and working since very early in the morning.
- less animals overall : we have done safari in Mara before and we used to see so many elephants, lions, impalas, tommy guzzles, warthogs, etc. continuously. Sabi sands is a different terrain, was much dense and we saw fewer animals overall. not the fault of the camp.
- no lions, no cheetahs, no wild dogs : luck of the draw.
- the last game drive was in heavy rains, the ponchos provided couldn't handle it and we were drenched completely.
- had eggs cooked to order only once, had scrambled eggs the other times. they probably would have made some to order if i had asked.

To set the expectations right, here are some facts:
This is not a luxury lodge, this is a small owner operated camp. They don't have a butler or a team of dedicated waiters. The food is not fancy, but homemade and tasty. They don't have many guides and many vehicles going in different parts of the park, which means you might not be able to change plans at the last moment. They might have 12 people in the vehicle at one time. They have a small, but clean pool. Like most other camps in the area, they have access only to a part of sabi (lower part of sabi, which is supposed to be a good area).

We would definitely go back and recommend it to our friends.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank SuparnaPune
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 12, 2012

We picked Tydon Safari Camp based on trip advisor reviews, and it was the first time we were disappointed. We have stayed at 3 different places on our trip to Kruger, and Tydon was by far the worst. Good thing was that Tydon was the first out of the 3, so our stay at the other two was so much more enjoyable.
Regarding safari drives, Lime and Debbie were excellent, very knowledgeable guides, and we had great time with them. We had a misfortune of having to go for two drives with Jackie, who was not very professional and did not seem to know much about animals or South Africa. Both drives were completely focused around a single person in the group taking thousands of pictures for a photo competition, and the entire time was spent looking for perfect picture angles. We were more interested in observing animals, and we got none of that. When we asked Gavin after the first drive to switch and go with a different group, we were told ‘No’.
We have done many guided trips in US and Canada, but we never had a trip focus around one person’s goals. Everyone is usually asked what they are most interested in at the very beginning, and then the group does a little of everything to accommodate everyone.
We had great safari drives with optional afternoon activities at both other lodges, which were all absolutely amazing.
Tydon had no afternoon activities, so if you don’t self-drive, you will be stuck in the camp all afternoon with nothing to do. We were lucky that we self-drove, so we could do our own thing. The swimming pool there is the size of a medium hot tub with only two lounge chairs next to it. The camp has around 6-8 tents, and if they are all full, there is not enough room in the swimming pool or around it to accommodate everyone. Our tent got incredibly hot in the afternoon with A/C unable to keep up.
Both my husband and I thought food was pretty mediocre. While I usually enjoy fancy food, I am not particularly picky, and my husband is not picky at all. But even he could not eat lunches that were served. Stale buns and cheap supermarket ham is not something I would eat for lunch. Breakfasts were eatable, but not really tasty either. They always included bacon and eggs, and once there was a bowl of baked canned beans in tomato sauce served for breakfast. Dinners were good. Also, dinners are served around the fireplace for all guests together, and on several occasions guides served the food and left. The food we were served at the other two lodges was absolutely amazing with several courses for breakfast, lunch, dinner, which were completely different every day.
Tydon does take you to Sabi Sands and to Kruger for game drives. While Sabi Sands was excellent, taking a guided drive to Kruger was not worth it. We saw way more animals and had way better time when we drove ourselves. I am not sure if it was just our bad luck with the guide who took us to Kruger.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Angelina t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gavintgf, Owner at Tydon Safari Camp, responded to this review, December 15, 2012
Hi Lina

Firstly i would like to thank you for taking the time to review us on trip advisor, it is always good to hear from the clients positive and negative as this is the only way to improve. I am glad that the rest of your trip in South Africa was good and the other places were more your type of lodging.


I would like to respond to a few of your disapointments:

Firstly you only spent a short time on game drives with us and it is always hard to please everyone in such a short time. Jackie is a very good field guide and spent the last few months with us before going back ovesees to her famillly. Yes she was not a guide for the rest of South Africa but we would gladly of answered any of your questions about South Africa. You were a difficult client to please and i think under the pressure she did her best.

The day that you were schedualed on Kruger Park drives you informed me around lunch time that you would prefer Sabi Sand and would prefer to go into Sabi Sand that night instead of Kruger Park. I did not say no i did accommodate you however there was an extra charge as you gate fees had already been paid at Kruger for the day. You decided against the Sabi game drive as you did not want to pay the extra charge.

Most of our guests enjoy the little free time available during the day to relax as every morning is early up and nights are late.

Our air conditions are the largest that we can put inside the tents and according to other guests are more than sufficent. I did tell you to try and climatise sitting outside under the big trees in the fresh breeze but you did prefer the tent. Unfortunatly it is a tent and not a brick wall which does make a differance.

We have only 6 tents at the lodge and the pool has never really been too small as most guests use it to cool down and enjot a drink. We do have to look after our water thus we could not build a large pool for you to swimm around in. We are unfortunatly under the hot African sun and cannot controll the temperature of the water, even our oceans are warm.

Due to the fact that we are in the bush we do try hard to have fresh food and buns but it does happen that you have to have buns from the previous day, but i will work on this and the ham that we are supplied by the butcher. This ham is the ham that is supplied to other lodges as well.

You did forget to mention all the other parts of the breakfast, but will try to make other hot dishes in the future.

Once again i am sorry that everything was not that you expect glad that you did enjoy the two Sabi Sand Safaris and if you had booked more drives with us maybe you could have had a better picture and thought different.

Regards

Gavin van der Merwe

Owner
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, England, United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 11, 2012

I returned from South Africa 2 days and one of the first thing I wanted to do was to get on here and praise Gavin and the team at Tydon Safaris. My girlfriend and I have travelled a lot, and our safari experience was only a (far too) brief part of our SA trip, but this was one of the more memorable holidays we have had - so much so it prompted me to write about it on here, something I have never done before.

All of the other reviews set it all out - great accomodation, great food, great viewings and wonderfully nice people. A safari is something I have always dreamed of doing and this definitely lived up to my expectations and more - I would definitely recommend the combination of Kruger and Sabi Sands drives, both offer so much.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank DanMaroske
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mayo
Level Contributor
32 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 3, 2012

If you're too rushed to read on, the take home point is this: You'll be hard pressed to find a better value, more authentic and memorable safari experience than Tydon, no matter how much cash you spend.

Tydon is run by a man called Gavin, who has an infectious passion for life in the bush! The camp is just outside the gate to the Sabi Sand game reserve, and a short drive to Kruger gate. One of the draws for us was the collection and transport provided from the airport in Jo'burg included in the package. The tents were fantastic - comfortable and spacious and as insect-tight as you could ask for, with a lovely bathroom unit, hot shower and a/c. The food was authentic south african. The guides were experienced pros, often local, great fun and know their stuff!

We really enjoyed the structure of the days: up at 5am for a morning safari drive, back at 9:30ish for a solid breakfast, and rest for the late morning/early afternoon to digest, read, sleep, and relax, followed by a small lunch and then an afternoon safari drive. On getting back Gavin's team would have a bonfire set by which we would enjoy our dinner, some drinks and a good chinwag. We were lucky to be in Kruger/Sabi sands in spring, when food and prey and in plentiful supply. Over the 5 days/4 nights we got in the big five, as well as lots of other memorable encounters.

All that said its hard to sell the experience we had well enough. Our advice would be to stay for longer than a day or two, as the longer you're there the more you'll see. Gavin often points out that a safari is not a holiday. And he's 100% correct. It's much, much better than that!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Daithi85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Gatos, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 30, 2012

Exceeded in every area. The accommodations were terrific for all the reasons mentioned in previous reviews, spacious, well-maintained, comfortable, beautiful, good food, no need for bottled water. No one mentioned the pool, which was great as we went in November and needed the cool-off in the afternoon. November was a great time to go even though there was a threat of rain. All the animals had their young. Elephants, lion cubs, cougars, antelopes, monkeys, baboons, birds, elephants, hyenas - all of them. We didn't see leopard cubs, but they were probably there too. Yes, the guides were great. Very knowledgeable, friendly, fun, good drivers too! Gavin was particularly keen on giving people a personal and South African experience experience. At that he definitely succeeded. He was a terrific host. There to greet you at breakfast and offer you that beer or glass of wine at dinner, regaling us with stories and his great sense of humor. It was so nice to have only 6 tents and a total of 12 people. Dinners around the fire were lively and fun. It was great to have the experience of both Kruger, where you have to stay on the road in a vehicle with a top and sides, and Sabi Sands where you are in an open vehicle and can go off road to get a bit closer to the animals. The night drives included a sunset stop in Sabi with snacks and your favorite beverage. We did a great bush walk, where we got acquainted with smaller inhabitants of the bush and some of the plants and trees. I am a photographer and left with enough wonderful pictures to keep me busy for a long time. An overall great experience! Want to bring my son and grandchildren - soon!

Room Tip: All the tents are positioned so there is good space between. The only noise at night are the animal...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Susan D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tydon Safari Camp

Property: Tydon Safari Camp
Address: Shaws Gate, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestling in the shade of indigenous trees, this visual oasis of inspirational elements combines to culminate in this magnificent Tented Safari Camp. Intimate and comfortable, yet simplistic combined with excellent service, the Camp creates a traditional African Safari feel to your journey, and you can be forgiven for thinking you were transported back in time to an unspoilt and unexplored Africa. Sharing its borders with the world renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve which forms part of the Greater Kruger region due to having unfenced borders with the Kruger Park, Tydon Safari Camp offers guests a unique opportunity of staying in permanent semi luxury tented rooms and experiencing wildlife game drives and bush walks in the Sabi Sand as well as the Kruger National Park. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tydon Safari Camp South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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