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“Exeter River Lodge / Dulini - both excellent and different”
Review of Dulini River Lodge

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Dulini River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 6, 2012

We have splitted our holiday between River Lodge and Duline after having seen this thread. We have came across a lot of people who were also in doubt.

There are a lot of similarities and also several differences between the two camps.

There are 6 lodges in Dulini, compared to 8 in River Lodge. In both camps there are two vehicles. In Dulini you will therefore pretty much always have a maximum of 6 people in the vehicle (two per row), while this can be a larger number in River Lodge.

Dulini feels like every lodge itself is located right in the bushes. Niala (impala's) are almost always present in the camp. At night also other animals (apart from elephants) will cross the camp. From the lodges at Dulini you can see a river, which was pretty much dried up at the moment we were there. River Lodge feels more like you are on a platform, overlooking the (big) river. Although animals (including lions etcetera) walk through the camp, you get less of the feeling you are in the middle of the bush. The first day we sas >35 elephants from our lodge, later on we saw a hippo and 2 giraffes.

The atmosphere is also different. In Dulini it is more personnal and warmer, although this is relative and the staff in River Lodge was also great. The difference lies in small things: when we arrived at Dulini we were welcomed by loads of staff, which gives this extra something.

The guides and trackers we had in both camps (Steve and Jack/Isaac and William) were very experienced, service minded and knowledgeable. The butlers we had (Reply/Christopher) were also great and very interested in all our stories (which they must have heard a lot of times).

If you are a birdy, we can certainly advise to arrange a private vehicle with William at River Lodge to get the maximum out or your stay and to prevent any annoyance with non birdy's (the great majority of the people - who come to see the big 5).

The lodge in Dulini was twice the size a the lodge in River Lodge. However, both had a bath, a plunge pool, a sitting area etcetera. The Dulini lodge appeared more 19th century colony era, River Lodge oozed the vibe of a modern lodge trying to replicate that atmosphere.

It is really hard to advise on or the other, and really depends on your preferences. It was very nice to have the opportunity to experience both.

Both lodges are not cheap, but bear in mind that you will get two game drives a day, three great meals (a two course breakfast, three course lunch and three course diner/bush diner/festive diner), open (mini)bar, snacks all the time, with top notch guides and rangers (who had lengthy courses from And Beyond and are selected on both their knowledge and soft skills), by a non-profit company that is very thoughtfull and respectfull about their impact on the wildlife, perfect service, very nice places to stay. Furthermore And Beyond invests a lot of money in housing and schools from local people. The rangers/guides have continously contact with the other rangers/guides in the area to ensure you get to see what you want. We saw the big 5 (white not black rhino though) within 24 hours and saw so much activity.

We booked our trip (including return flight) through Wildlife Africa Safaris (Ernest was our contact) who gave us a good deal, was very patient (despite our indecisiveness and enourmous amount of questions) and gave us so much information on these two lodges. We would definitely recommend him.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Anmabech
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 4, 2012

We have just experienced a 4 night stay at Exeter River Lodge and it exceeded our expectations by some margin. We chose this camp because of the re3ported Leopard sightings and we weren't disappointed as we saw not only a male Leopard but a female with cub. A Series of unfortunate events meant we had several Ranger and Tracker combos but all were fantastic, friendly and knowledgeable. The camp is in a great location on the Sand river and the accomodations, food and the overall ambience made it a truly memorable trip. Special mentions to Return our butler, Sven the Head Chef, and all of our Rangers and Trackers. We would definitely recommend this lodge and hope to use &Beyond properties again in the future.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Ade_Loz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2012

I visited Exeter for 4 nights this past November. The accommodations where extremely large and clean, and offered a private plunge pool (not heated, but still refreshing). The views were excellent from the rooms and from the lodges - we occasionally saw buffalo and elephants roaming.

The staff was excellent and highly accommodating. Food was top notch and won't disappoint.

The drives were outstanding and I have absolutely no complaints. Both the tracker and the driver were professional and extremely experienced.

Room Tip: All rooms face the river bed which is great for animal watching.
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank travel_dc_2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 22, 2012

I will keep this review quick as I think the other reviews here are spot on. The resort is amazing. Private rooms with pools, watching animals from your balcony, great food, etc. Could not ask for more when it comes to the accommodations. Game drives were also amazing. We saw jaguar hunting at night, a pack of lions take down a giraffe, it was truly an incredible experience.

The only negative that I have to say is the staff and service at this lodge was not up to par. We had an incredible tracker but our ranger was a joke. He could barely drive the jeep and had no clue where he was going - kept having to turn around over and over again. Service during meals was also spotty and not consistent.

We did 2 nights here, 2 nights Ngala Tented camp (see review) - and it was the perfect combination as each brought a very different feel... I would highly recommend going to Ngala FIRST and then Exeter river so that you get more "luxury" as you continue your holiday.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank TRCandJJC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 12, 2012

We just got back from a safari in the Sabie Sand Game Reserve.
We stayed at River Lodge for the first 2 nights and then at Leadwood Lodge for the last 2 (see separate review).
We had an amazing experience.

Rooms / Resort : The resort is very located with nice views on the river. The rooms are very private, with a nice deck and a plunge pool. Right in the middle of the bush, at night, you can hear some animals calling.
The rooms are very well decorated. We felt at home.

Food: The food was absolutely delicious. So many variety in the meals. Everything is thought for, it does not only taste good, it also looks very good ! Congrats to the team in the kitchen!

Service: Our buttler Christopher and the rest of the River Lodge family took excellent care of us. We really appreciated the surprise on our first night.

Game Drive: Absolutely amazing! Our rangers Steve and Jack did a great job. Since the animals are used to the cars, we were able to come very close. Being able to go offroads is definitely an advantage in this reserve.

Atmosphere: There was such a nice atmosphere in this lodge. One night, since the weather was a bit cold, they made a woodfire in the 2 fireplaces of the restaurant ... Sipping some brandy while looking at the flames ... Very romantic.

We highly recommend River Lodge.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank MC2A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2012

We stayed at the River Lodge for two nights and nearby Dulini Lodge the previous two nights (see separate review) for our first photo safari experience. Exeter has more of resort feel but the proximity to the river was a plus with a large elephant appearing at afternoon game drive time right on cue. Manager Judy, butler Ezekiel and our driver/guide Steve "Alan" and expert tracker Prince made our stay very pleasant. We found the food to be a bit more imaginative than at Dulini. When our flight back to Nelspruit from the nearby airstrip had to be cancelled due to weather Judy and the &Beyond agent arranged a driver for us and we even had time to do 2 hours of our final morning game drive before being picked up in the bush! We hope to return.

Room Tip: We were in #5 of the eight rooms; not a long walk from reception and great view of low water crossin...
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank KakiTexas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2012

one morning you can see Impalas right across your room.. or one night, elephant outside of the dining area.. Very impressive location in Safari area. Very nicely decorated rooms and dining area. We stayed 3 nights at Beyond Dulini Lodge and 4 th night at this lodge. I would recommend to stay 2 nights in one lodge , 2 nights in another one to experience different locations. It was romantic for us and great experience for our 7 yrs old son.

  • Stayed: October 2012
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1  Thank Efsen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Dulini River Lodge

Address: | Mpumalanga, Kruger National Park 1240, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #24 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range: $6,600 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Dulini River Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In spite of the dry name of the river on which it is located, there is nothing arid about warm and welcoming and Beyond Exeter River Lodge. Perched on the edge of the Sand River, this tranquil lodge is the perfect safari retreat, boasting spacious riverside suites, Big Five game viewing with excellent leopard sightings and the perfect amount of privacy. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Exeter River Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Dulini River Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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