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“Luxury in the wild”

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Elephant Plains Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 21, 2013

What a surprise this was after driving for miles in the bush. The staff went out of their way to ensure our stay was memorable, and it certainly was. Our tracker and guide were professional, personable and accommodating. We saw everything we'd hoped to see and much more. Our suite was top rate, as was the food. I'd recommend Elephant Plains Game Lodge to even the pickiest guest.

Room Tip: We were in a luxury suite where we could watch the wildlife from our deck.
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  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank carriemontana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 23, 2013

Hi Carrie, thank you very much for your kind feedback! I am delighted to read that you enjoyed your stay with us. Thank you for saying that you would recommend us to even the pickiest guest -what a nice compliment! Please do visit again one day. We would love to welcome you back! Kind regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed September 18, 2013

For our third visit to the Kruger area myself and two adult grandsons chose Elephant fields in the Sabi Sands area. What an excellent choice.
The main reason for going on safari is of course to see game, perhaps especially the big five. Now I'm not nieve enough to think that by going to a private reserve these sightings are guaranteed, but I do think that sightings are directly proportionate to the input of the ranger and his tracker and at Elephant Plains we had the very best of both in Devon and Clement. We saw the big five every day together with many other species of animal reptile and bird, several on the endangered list. Many times the sightings where by active tracking, plus there was constant contact with other rangers and information was efficiently pooled.
On the accommodation front although we were in the basic rondavels, they were spotless and in good order. ALL the staff were especially pleasant and helpful. A special thanks must go to Eve the spa masseuse who solved a long running back problem for me.
Breakfasts and lunches were excellent fare and although the dinners served in an open air Boma
were very good it has to be said that the menus offered little choice. however such a criticism is perhaps a little churlish considering the otherwise superb treatment received on all fronts.
We shall return

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank MerlinCheshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 19, 2013

Thank you very much for your kind feedback. I'm glad to read that you enjoyed your stay here. It sounds like you had some amazing sightings. Thank you also for the complimets on our staff. I will tell Eve that your back is a lot better now. Please do visit us again one day! Kind regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed September 16, 2013

I travel extensively for work, and have become pretty picky about what I like and don't like when it comes to lodges and hotels. From now on, every place I stay will have to live up to the experience I had at Elephant Plains and, believe me, that's not going to be an easy task; These people have gotten the whole customer care thing down to an art.

Here's the schedule; at 5:00 there comes a gentle tapping on the door telling you that it's time to wake up for the morning game drive. Hot coffee (Best. Coffee. Ever.), tea, and rusks are waiting in the dining room. In the jeep, hot water bottles and fluffy blankets are placed on each seat so that you will not become chilled in the early morning air (nice!). Leaving the lodge, you watch the sun coming up over the lowveld (and you will not even believe how stunning the African sunrises and sunsets are!) and listen to the sounds of the bush waking up. And then the fun part starts. Animals galore. Scenery galore. Birds galore.

After the morning drive, you head back to the lodge where they are waiting for you with warm scented towels to wipe the dust away from your hands and face, and a delicious hot breakfast (more coffee! yay!). When you've had your breakfast, you can either go on an hour long guided bush walk or just sit on your private deck (if you've got a suite, otherwise you sit on the communal deck) and watch animals come and go from the watering hole (on one afternoon, there were numerous babboons, a small herd of impalas, a group of warthogs, and a breeding herd of elephants all at the hole at the same time. It was like watching the Lion King, only without the irritating Whoopi Goldberg hyena). Lunch is served on the deck and you've got a couple of hours to rest before the afternoon game drive, which begins at 4, ends at 7, and is followed by more scented towels, a refreshing glass of sherry, cocktails, and an excellent dinner. When you return to your room, the bed is turned down, the mosquito netting is drawn, the lamps are lit, and lying on your bed is a slip of paper showing you tomorrow's forecast. At night, you lie there in the comfy soft bed listening to lions roaring in the darkness. Tomorrow, you get up and do it all over again.

Derrick, our tracker (who has Man of Steel x-ray vision which allows him to execute amazing feats like spotting a bush baby in a tree. In the dark. As we were driving down a hill. At 40 mph. Did I mention that this was in the dark?) led us to two white rhinos who were grazing in a dry riverbed. It's amazing. You just sit there silently, with the quiet sounds of insects buzzing and birds flying through the air above you, looking at these giant peaceful animals which are backlit by the slanting sun. It's like being in a cathedral, only way better.

The animal sightings are incredible. A family from Johannesburg was part of the group in our jeep and they said that they had seen more in one three hour drive at EP than they had seen in 12 years of visits to Kruger. We were all deeply impressed. Our ranger and guide showed us rhinos, hyenas and their pups (cute pups, ugly parents. who knew?), multiple leopards (two of them in a tree with their kill, one of them without a kill and sitting less than 10 feet away from us, and one with a kill who started on the ground then ended up in a tree defending his kill from two hyenas who were trying to steal it from him) numerous elephants (including one very large female who just marched right up and stood less than 5 feet away from me), hippos (including two males who were fighting over possession of a watering hole), lions (4 females and one male sunning themselves, and one male with a wildebeest kill), more boks than I can possibly count (steenbok, duiker, waterbok, four hundred and seventy three gazillion impala, bushbok, nyala, and the stunning and stately kudu), warthogs, wildebeest, giraffes, baboons, vervet monkeys, and to top it all off, we sat in a jeep in the middle of a moving herd of over 800 Cape Buffalo.

As mentioned earlier, the service is top notch. The staff seems to read your mind and they take care of details that haven't even occurred to you yet. They remember your name, they remember which room you are staying in, they remember how you like your coffee, they are there to help you carry your luggage. If you are running out of clean clothes, they will even do your laundry for you at an amazing $12 USD per (very large!) bundle. As someone who sees an awful lot of hotel staffs each month, I offer my sincere congratulations to the lodge management on putting together such an outstanding team.

If you decide to visit the lodge, do yourself a favor and request Morne' as your guide. This guy was absolutely born to do this job and he impressed the living daylights out of everyone in our jeep. One evening, after mentioning to Morne' that we don't see many stars where we live due to light pollution, he drove us out to the middle of the nearby airstrip, turned off the lights, and showed us the stars. Apart from the faces of my children, I have never seen such a beautiful sight. Armed with a super strong laser light, he showed us the swirling arms of the Milky Way and pointed out the strange-to-us great constellations of the Southern Hemisphere. What an amazing gift he gave to us that evening.

Deeply professional, he managed to get us thisclose to the animals we wanted to see, but we never, ever felt as if we were in any danger. He is truly knowledgable about the animals he works with and the land he works in, and was able to impart his knowledge in a way that was always enjoyable and never dull or preachy. I am a teacher and, as such, can easily recognize excellence in fellow teachers. This man is hands-down the best teacher I have ever met. Elephant Plains Management, if you're reading this, Morne' is an invaluable asset to your lodge. Next time I visit you, and I will visit you again, I want to be in his jeep for more adventures. Especially if he agrees to drive like Steve McQueen again. Because that was so totally excellent and I still have perma-grin from that drive.

Room Tip: Luxury suites rock. You get a private deck which looks out on the watering hole. I am totally in fav...
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  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank KimmyBee71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 17, 2013

Hi Kimmy, thank you so much for your glowing feedback on our lodge. I am delighted to read that you had such a good time and that you found our attention to detail, as well as our staff, to be great! We value each and every member of staff at EP and realise the important role they play in making sure that our guests feel at home and want to return after leaving. I will pass your compliments to everyone. Be sure to request Morné when you make your next booking so that your adventure can continue... We would love to welcome you back to the lodge one day. In the meantime, keep well. Kind regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed September 10, 2013

My friend and I stayed here for three nights and the experience will last a lifetime. We had the room, 6 game drives and 3 meals per day included and the value was great. We saw The Big 5 and lots more. Our Ranger Dawie and Tracker Tuli were very friendly and knowledgable. They took really good care of us each day. All of the staff were extremely pleasant and treated us very well. Please go see Walter in the bar, he has a smile wider than you have ever seen! Would recommend this place to anyone interested in a great safari experience.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank jvjetsetter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 12, 2013

Hi Jennifer, thank you for your kind feedback and for calling us an experience that would last a lifetime. Thanks also for recommending us to anyone interested in a great safari experience. Please do visit us again one day! Kind regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed September 9, 2013 via mobile

You can tell a place has exceptional management when all the details are completely ironed out. I have absolutely no complaints.

The entire staff, from game rangers to wait staff, were very professional and hospitable. What sets them apart is that they pay attention and can predict what you want next. E.g. The bartender, Walter, knows your drink preference and has it ready for you. The game ranger remembers which animals you want to see and makes and effort to make that a priority.

The simple stuff like removing any element of uncertainty is great. Eliminates displeasure caused by human needs not being met. For example, great that you are assigned to the same vehicle and ranger for the duration of your stay. Not only do you not have to worry about getting a seat for the game drive, it's also an enhanced experience when you've built that relationship, which important when the ranger is responsible for your safety.

I learned so much on this trip. Our ranger, Devon, was very knowledgeable and proactively shared facts. I've been on safari where the only info you get is if you ask the right question.

The meals were very good in comparison to your typical resort/hotel food.

The rooms are amazing. Spotless and classy, updated safari decor. We were upgraded to the honeymoon suite which has its own private pool. Love the stained concrete floors, rimless shower, and the bathtub.

The spa was also reasonable priced and our clinician, Eve, is as sweet as pie.

And of course, we saw the Big 5 in TWO days. That's got to be some sort of record.

Definitely recommend this place and would come back!

  • Stayed: September 2013
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3  Thank Kristine H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 12, 2013

Hi Kristine, thank you for your kind and detailed feedback. It seems like you really enjoyed your stay with us. Thank you also for pointing out our attention to detail and for complimenting the exceptional management of the lodge. I do hope that you return one day. Kind regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed September 7, 2013

We came here for my 40th birthday and had the most wonderful time. As soon as we arrived in our room we saw a herd of elephants outside our balcony.We saw the big 5 and it was the best experience we have done. They are only allowed to have 2 cars near the animals at any one time so you don't feel like you are disturbing the animals. Our guide Louis was amazing and amusing and the sundowners made it even more perfect. The food in the lodge was wonderful and we ate outside ever evening roasting marshmallows and getting to know everyone. We were a bit worried as it is one of our most expensive holidays that the guests would be a bit snobby but that wasn't the case at all. The lodge is stunning as are the rooms. I can't recommend this safari lodge enough. A trip of a lifetime

Room Tip: We stayed in a luxury suite (the wild dog suite)not a rondavel and adored it. A four poster bed and...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Zurich1972
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 12, 2013

Thank you very much for the kind feedback. I am glad that you enjoyed your 40th birthday with us! Thank you for calling the game drives the best experience you have done, the food wonderful and to sum it up, a trip of a lifetime. Please do visit us again one day! Kind regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed September 6, 2013

Based on our experience, If you are driving to Sabi Sands it is wise to factor in some extra time because once you leave the tarmac road your progress will be slowed by the state of the gravel roads (approx 25 kms).When you get to the gate you will need to keep your permit and get it stamped by the lodge when you leave in order to exit.

On arrival we found the staff to be welcoming and eager to please. Our thatched rondavel was very comfortable with a good sized bathroom, a safe, tea & coffee making facilities and a fridge. There was a small area to sit outside overlooking the landscaped garden. The more expensive chalets have decks which overlook the waterhole and the bush beyond, as do the communal facilities. These include a large decked area with pool (full of leaves at the time of our visit but too cold to use in any case) and a shaded area to sit out and enjoy the view.On a couple of occasions we watched a large herd of elephants come to drink in the middle of the day. We later learnt from the web cam which is positioned at the waterhole in front of the lodge that shortly after leaving for our morning game drive the leopard we had set off to track had been to quench her thirst and we had just missed her!! There is also a small pool with a view at the other end of the property. Beside the deck is a large dining room, and there are a few tables where you can eat outside. Lunches are self-service. Dinner, a buffet or a pre-ordered plated meal on alternate nights, is served in the boma with patio heaters providing some extra warmth in the winter. My son enjoyed toasting marshmallows in the bonfire at the end of the meal. We found the food to be very good (there is a talented pastry chef in the kitchen) and especially enjoyed the lunches. In addition there is a curio shop and a tastefully decorated lounge and bar with leather sofas and comfy cushions. Drinks (not included in the tariff) are added to the bill. The system for totting up the drinks worked well. All of the staff were very friendly and approachable.

With regard to the game drives we experienced some great sightings; the first one just happened to be a leopard, which was going to be hard to top. Our ranger Louis and tracker Fan were efficient and informative and Louis had a good sense of humour. During our three night stay we saw all the Big Five and way more. Apart from the leopards, highlights were a rare sighting of a wild cat and a pride of lions gorging on a buffalo kill. One morning we had had a quiet drive and one of the guests rather cheekily asked why we had got up so early. Then we happened upon a group of hyenas who had just killed an adult male buffalo and he had to eat humble pie! We followed the hyenas to the waterhole where we watched them cool off after the exertion of the hunt.That is the thrill of the safari- you never know what you are going to see, if you are going to see it and when!!
On the walking safari, Louis showed us how to identify animals by their dung and their tracks and also explained the medicinal and other properties of some of the trees. Note that you have to be 16 years or over to participate in these walks although there is an alternative activity for younger guests . One of the things they are very hot on is the safety briefings. I would highly recommend these walks in the bush. Also, there is an opportunity (at extra cost) to visit the local village and school. I am not sure people are aware of this because we found out by chance. Unfortunately we were not able to go as a minimum of 4 participants is required and we were only 2.

Before I came to Elephant Plains I had always been to 5 star lodges in the Sabi Sands. At a five star lodge you get more personal attention (i.e a butler), even more luxurious accommodation and a more intimate experience (I have posted a review of Dulini lodge - probably the pinnacle of 5 star safari establishments- where we stayed later on in our holiday). Bear in mind though, that the game viewing will not be substantially different so you are paying an awful lot more for the attention to detail and all the refinements. Of course if money is no object this doesn't matter and choosing 5 star or 4 star is a personal choice, but I think that, for what it offers, Elephant Plains represents very good value in the safari market.

Room Tip: Pay extra for a room with a view of the waterhole.
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Ladylumpa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 12, 2013

Thank you very much for your kind, detailed feedback. I am glad that you enjoyed your stay with us. In your review you point out that our staff is always friendly and approachable, this is something we pride ourselves in. You also mentioned the safety briefings which is very important to us as this is a priority at all times. You comment that we are a good value for money option in the safari industry and this is our main goal - to make the safari experience one that would stand out, at a reasonable price. We would love to welcome you back to the lodge one day. Please do return! Kind regards, Marlet Swart

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Additional Information about Elephant Plains Game Lodge

Address: Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range: $511 - $860 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Elephant Plains Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Elephant Plains Game Lodge is situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. This owner-run lodge caters for the discerning traveller, with a variety of accommodation options including 5 Rondavels, 6 Luxury Suites and a Honeymoon Suite. Activities include two daily game drives and a bush walk. The lodge also offers a spa, gym, conference facility / TV room, games room, small library and two swimming pools. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Elephant Plains Game Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Elephant Plains Game Nelspruit
Elephant Plains Game Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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