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“An Amazing Experience” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Dulini River Lodge

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Dulini River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“An Amazing Experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 11, 2013

Most of the reviews here capture the fact this is a truly phenomenal experience.

The rooms are amazingly comfortable, the food is great, the staff are amazing, the guides and rangers are consummate professionals, plus lovely people too.... everything added up.

Once we fell into the routine of life at a lodge like this it became very hard to leave - although it was nice not to have the temptation of all that amazing food around you at all times.

The all inclusive price also meant that we never had any qualms having a sneaky couple of glasses of white in the afternoon - or a quick drink before a game drive (evening drives that is!), but a minor quibble was with the wine - the white's were very good, but the red wine a little less so.

And of course the game drives were off the charts.... we actually got a little sick of seeing leopards from a couple of metres away! Plus the guided walks Andrew took us on were extraordinary.... its amazing being out in that environment on foot when you have to start using all your senses....

We were swung towards &Beyond by what appeared to be a very good philosophy around sustainability and community engagement and everything we saw at the lodge backed up the fact they do a great job on this front. We were really impressed they way staff members were super engaged in customer service and were given a huge amount of responsibility and decision making ability. Well done &Beyond.

And hearing the stories from our guide Andrew about the selection and training process for &Beyond guides/rangers they would seem to take that very seriously too - proof was in the pudding as far as their knowledge, sensitivity to the animals and the way they seemed a lot less flustered and aggressive than some of the other vehicles we saw in the area who were very intrusive.

Overall I can't recommend Exeter River Lodge or &Beyond more highly.

Room Tip: We stayed in a couple of rooms and preferred those on the right of the main lodge (Rooms 1-4)
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  • Stayed May 2013, 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?
3 Thank WillSarah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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285 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
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (79)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
29 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 18, 2013

Before starting my search on TA for accommodation I checked with some of our South African friends to get their recommendations. Although several different lodges were mentioned, nearly all of them were part of “& Beyond”. A little more research and I soon realized that the philosophies espoused by & Beyond were ones that we wanted to support (caring for the local community by building schools and numerous other donations, as well as various environmental conservation efforts on the game reserves and within the resort).

Our eventual choice of Kirkman’s Kamp and Exeter River Lodge (differences between the two discussed below) was based in large part on proximity to the airport (and each other)—but after a great experience all around at these two properties we would happily stay at any of the & Beyond lodges. Once you’ve stayed there you can appreciate the name for this collection of resorts—they truly go above and beyond ☺ with little unexpected touches during your stay. For example, one morning we let our kids sleep through the morning game drive. On our way back to the lodge we unexpectedly stopped for breakfast in the bush. Unbeknownst to us, the staff arranged to have our children brought to the breakfast spot before we arrived. It was clear from our children’s stories that the staff were genuinely excited about this surprise treat (and it was lovely that the kids didn’t have to miss out on our breakfast outing just because they slept through the game drive). Another night we came back to a bath filled with rose petals and a chilled bottle of bubbly. You get the idea. Which leads me to another thing that really impressed me at both resorts. It’s an all-inclusive resort in which they are not trying to cut corners. It seemed we were being fed every time we turned around, and for those who drink, alcohol is always available (in your room, at coffee/tea breaks during the game drives, etc).

In the end I’ve written one review for Exeter River Lodge and Kirkman’s Kamp because they were both excellent, offering the same level of service. Below I provide the differences between the two from our experience, as well as the benefit for us in switching lodges half way through our stay.

Kirkman’s Kamp: more family friendly, but no pool; rooms weren’t as large and decadent as Exeter, but it’s also not as expensive—but the rooms are not what makes Kirkman’s special, and we actually spent minimal time in our room; general atmosphere at Kirkman’s was more fun (based on our experience while there). For example, there’s a game drive board in which people tally their animal sightings from the days drives. More points are allocated for animal sightings that are rare. So after the evening game drive guests gather around the game board and regale each other with tales from their drives.

Exeter: private cabins, as opposed to rooms, so you have a lot of space—the accommodation at Exeter is definitely fancier and the food was a little better—but you’re also paying more for your stay at Exeter; there is a pool near the main lodge, but every cabin also has its own plunge pool (the plunge pool is very cold though so we didn’t do anything more than dip our feet into it); the most significant difference in my mind is the wildlife viewing when you’re in the resort. Exeter is situated next to a river and thus there are more animals within viewing distance of your room and the main lodge.

In the end, I’m really glad we stayed at two different lodges as we were able to experience the best of both worlds. The resorts are only an hour apart from each other (and the transfer between lodges is through the reserve, so it provides an opportunity for more wildlife viewing). Despite the short distance between the lodges, the animals (or concentration of animals) you’ll see will differ. Because going on safari required a huge amount of travel for us, splitting our time between the two resorts meant we could maximize our animal viewing. If we lived closer, I’d probably opt to stay at one resort (presuming we could go on safari more frequently), so this recommendation isn’t intended to apply to everyone.

In sum, we loved our stay at Kirkman’s Kamp and Exexter River Lodge. The staff were warm and genuinely cared about making our stay memorable. Sabi Sands (the private game reserve where Kirkman’s and Exeter are located) have rules in place for the welfare of the animals, so we felt good about our impact on the environment.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank BandC1294
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Edinburg, Virginia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 13, 2013

We spent 4 nights in the amazing lodge…. Really beautiful huge rooms, plunge pool and good size to fully enjoy the beauty of nature… we cannot fault the managers and rangers, except that the rooms could need a little bit of an upgrade… but we had a great time, saw the Big 5 and absolutely loved the small touches that totally makes this place unique!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Andrew L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
107 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 20, 2013 via mobile

Stayed here with 2 friends in March for 4 nights - perfect duration, as we had time to relax and also enjoy the amazing safari. We were greeted each time we returned to the lodge by a member of staff with a welcome cool towel! Rooms were spectacular - each one is a separate hut, tastefully furnished with comfortable bedding, safe, full bathroom plus private outdoor deck overlooking the river . Also, each suite has its own plunge pool and outdoor shower, which was sheer luxury. There is also a larger pool available for swimming.The decor is casual chic, which we loved, as felt it fit right in with the environment but if you want glitz and gilt, this is not the place for you. Laundry is included plus all meals, deliciously cooked and presented by Devlin and his .....too much food but impossible to resist!. We were assigned our own "butler" , Christopher, who took care of all our needs during our stay - he was a real delight. Steve and Jack were our safari team, taking us out in the jeep twice daily. We had lots of fun and saw amazing game - they were intrepid trackers and never gave up, if there was an interesting sighting to be found! Elisha, Malabo and the entire Exeter team were unbelievably kind, warm and made our stay truly memorable. Thank you all .

  • Stayed March 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank 455kate
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jupiter, Florida
Level Contributor
169 reviews
71 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 102 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 18, 2013 via mobile

This was our first safari and we both had a fantastic time. 4 nights seemed to be the perfect length to do 8 drives and get the Big 5 covered off more than adequately.
As we left we were struck by the organisation, the quality of the staff, their friendliness and efficiency, and the food (we started to miss lunch on purpose as there was too much grazing).
I'm not sure what we would recommend for improvements......it really was that good. The small personal touches kept coming. The personalized service was unassuming but very effective. Our guide, Craig, was masterful at managing different expectations by day, from a wide variety of strong minded client characters....he deserves a gold medal just for doing that.
Our sincere thanks to Craig, Leisha, Difference and team for making our safari so memorable.

Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Beacon94
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
46 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 17, 2013

Exeter River gets high marks in all areas. Game rides were great (big 5 were easy to see many times plus so much more!) as was our guide (William). Service was spot on and we loved the personal touches. Greeting us after every game drive with cold towels, providing water for us to bring on the game drives as well as water in the cooler etc. Ronny took very good care of us, noted little things (like my love of Coke Light and kept our mini fridge well stocked) and took care of them without being asked. Ronny was always on top of my food allergies and they were handled with discretion. The food was delicious and had great variety. The house wine was drinkable... had there been a greater selection and better bottle storage, we would have been happy to purchase some fine South African wine as we love a choice bottle of red wine The room (#7) was beautiful and private! Perfect for a get away with my husband. My only regret is that we did not stay longer. Any guests seeking privacy, beautiful lodging, top notch service/ food and great game viewing I would highly recc &Beyond Exeter River Lodge.

Room Tip: There are only 8 rooms. We stayed in room 7 and were very happy. It was large, had great views of...
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2013, 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
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank blessedandgrateful
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 17, 2013

We've been there twice. The staff is awesome - friendly and accommodating. They arranged a couple of surprises for the two of us: a romantic in-room dinner (flower petals on the floor, the whole 9 yards) and a bush walk + bush breakfast, both without being asked. Really lovely.

The game viewing is excellent - you won't see as many elephants as you'd see in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, but you'll see a lot of them. The only thing we didn't see were cheetahs, but Sabi Sands isn't really known for cheetah. Lot's of rhino, lots. Leopards? Yep. Lions? Yep - a lot, and close.

The combination of the great game viewing and the awesome staff makes this a very special place.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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?
2 Thank RST1955
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

Property: 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 #22 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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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