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“wonderful family safari experience”
Review of Dulini River Lodge

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Dulini River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Highland Park, Illinois, United States
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“wonderful family safari experience”
Reviewed October 10, 2013

My husband and three kids and I had the pleasure of staying at this property last December. I cannot say enough about the fabulous safari experience! We saw so many animals and had a great all around stay. The rooms were beautiful and the service was great. Steve, our guide, was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable and really wanted us to have great game drives. The morning we left my daughter and son had a close up visit on their deck from a leopard! It was a very exciting end to a phenomenal trip.

Room Tip: All of the rooms are great. We had three so I know!
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Joan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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289 reviews from our community

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English first
Hartford, Connecticut
Level 6 Contributor
77 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed September 25, 2013

My wife and I started our first ever African safari adventure at the Exeter River Lodge. The location is fabulous. Our room (# 7) was at the end of the line. Rooms were clean and in excellent condition. The bed was very comfortable.

Our guide Mac was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor, too! We saw a multitude of animals and were fortunate to see wild dogs and their pups during our stay. My wife and I loved it at Exter River Lodge and hope to come back again someday.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Gordon R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buckinghamshire, England
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed September 23, 2013

We came to Exeter River having been recommended by our travel company, as a perfect location to end our two week holiday with spectacular scenery, and an excellent opportunity to experience close encounters with wildlife, and in particular, Leopards. I had planned this to be our final stop, and hopefully a suitable location to spend our 30th Anniversary - We were not disappointed!

The greeting on arrival was warm and genuine and as we were taken down for a welcome drink in the main lounge/Dining lodge, the scenery was instantly impressive - the layout of the grounds and then the central lodge itself were beautifully laid out, and the view over the river and beyond gave a spectacular setting - As we would soon discover, this location had been well chosen, as we would often be sitting either here, or on our own lodge sun-deck, observing families of Elephant, a Giraffe, Antelope, Baboons, Warthog etc. down by the river or grazing in the surrounding grassland.
We met our personal butler who we immediately felt comfortable with and was to become one of our most memorable contacts on the whole trip - Difference is a truly lovely man who managed to make our stay even more special due to his care and attention and genuine love for his work - He is well named, as he really did make a big difference to the quality of our visit. All of the staff, without exception, were helpful and friendly and would do everything possible to answer our questions or look after our requests.

After we had enjoyed a refreshing drink, and then got settled into our beautiful lodge - a really spacious layout of lounge, bedroom and bathroom, and a sun-deck with a plunge pool looking directly onto the river and surrounding grounds (number 6 - recommended!) - we went for our first game drive, at around 4.00pm. By then it had cooled a little and was a comfortable temperature to sit in the open jeep. Our guide and tracker for the first 2 trips was William and Prince - both great guys and experts at what they do. I had hoped that we might spot 1 or 2 Leopard at some stage during our 4 night stay, probably through binoculars and possibly just for a precious few minutes. In the event, a call came in that Leopard had been spotted on a trail, and we followed the directions to arrive just as a mother and cub were walking down the track to a spot in the bush where the mother had hidden an Impala killed earlier. What Jane and I had not expected was that the animals here have become so habituated to the jeep that are used, that they ignore them and carry on with natural behaviour - even though we were only about 20-30 feet away. We spent an incredible 20-30 minutes watching the mother and cub interact while the cub tried to learn how to eat fresh meat. The policy at Exeter River is that no more than 2 vehicles can ever attend any wildlife viewing, and this means that the animals are never stressed, and that all participants are able to have great views of the action.

We saw various other wildlife on that first trip, and William and Prince even found me a small Puff-Adder as we were driving back to the lodge (not on everyone's list to see, admittedly!).

From the afternoon trip on day two, our guide and tracker changed to Mac and Colbert and once again, the professionalism was evident from the start - all of the guides and trackers are truly passionate about their vocation and show huge enthusiasm about the wildlife, the plants and the environment. Mac and Colbert have worked together for many years and their banter and sense of humour made our trips with them even more enjoyable. I could write pages about each trip we took, but suffice to say that we enjoyed the most incredible wildlife viewing experiences we have had over many years of trips to the Americas, Asia, and a previous trip to Africa.

In particular, as well as seeing Leopard, I had dreamt of seeing African Painted Dogs, but knowing how rare they are, didn't want to get my hopes too high. What I didn't know until we had arrived, was that a pack of dogs had chosen Exeter River land to build their den on, and so I felt as if we had won the lottery, since we were able to visit the den site and watch Wild Painted dog puppies playing, and then interacting with the adults as they returned from a hunt with food. We also saw Lion (including cubs), Elephant (including 2 bulls disputing dominance in a noisy fashion!), White Rhino, Giraffe (including a mother and calf), zebra, too many antelope to count, Cape Buffalo, Warthogs (on Jane's 'must see' list!), many beautiful birds, and various other wildlife.

I have to mention one other stand-out moment for us - I had not really mentioned our anniversary, preferring to keep it as a quiet, private experience, but felt moved late on the day itself, to mention to mac that he and Colbert had just given us the best, most memorable Anniversary that we could remember (we had seen our best views of the dogs, plus another Leopard, and many other great sightings that morning and afternoon). What we didn't realise was that Mac must have contacted the lodge from his radio and informed them of our celebration. When we got back to the Lodge, our evening guard, Jabu (who walks you to your own lodge with a torch in case of any un-expected animal encounters), told Jane that he thought a monkey had got in to our room and made a mess. I was thinking 'How did that happen', and 'what damage would their be, and how would we get the monkey outside again'.
When we walked in to our lodge, a candle lit table had been laid, with wine and a lovely message asking us to contact the chef who would come down and take our order (after Jane had taken a bubble bath which had already been made ready for her). It was the perfect end to a perfect day (Thanks Mac and all who made it happen!).

By the way, when you look around the reception area/shop on arrival, you'll see some incredibly life-like pencil drawings of big cats found on Exeter River Lodge land - it turns out this is another of Mac's talents - If you need a memento of your stay, these are hard to beat!
If you are planning a trip to see big game and other wildlife in South Africa, and want to combine it with a warm, friendly and luxurious location, it will be very difficult to find a better lodge than this. we intend to return for another visit in the next couple of years - Can't wait!

Room Tip: All of the lodges facing the river would be a great choice I think - we had number 6 which gave us g...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Sharkman16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint Julian's, Malta
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed September 4, 2013

My wife and I spent 5 glorious nights at The Exeter River Lodge and I must say that all our expectations were by far exceeded!! From the minute we checked in, until the last few moments of our stay, all the staff especially our butler Return and ranger Greg, cared for all our needs to make sure our stay was a memorable one. The lodging is of the highest standard, luxuriously finished throughout and extremely comfortable. Our room had it’s our own plunge pool on the terrace, overlooking the great vast outdoors. Return made sure we had sufficient ice waiting for us in our room upon our return from the afternoon drive for a GT at sundown, followed by an exquisite dinner. Greg went to great lengths to ensuring we saw as much wild life as possible, which we did, sometimes getting very close to the feeding lions…a wonderful experience!! Every day we were treated to a different surprise by all the staff, be it traditional African singing and dancing, fresh smoothies, etc. Definitely one of the nicest places I've ever stayed in, highly recommendable and will definitely return in the not too distant future!!!

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Jonice08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bowral, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
583 reviews
111 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 257 helpful votes
Reviewed September 3, 2013 via mobile

All the other recent reviews cover everything. This place is so special. The location, the rooms, the food, the game drives and the staff are 5 stars. There is not one thing that could have made our stay better (other than one more night). The best thing about Exeter is that it has given us a real desire to return to Africa and to see and learn more about this incredible place. The hardest thing will be returning and not staying here at Exeter again - so we will definitely fit it into our next trip. A huge thank you to the management and staff for the experience. We feel like you have given us a very special gift.

Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank Joanne P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cork, Ireland
Level 6 Contributor
308 reviews
89 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 128 helpful votes
Reviewed September 1, 2013 via mobile

We spent the last 4 nights of our South African honeymoon at this stunning lodge. What a way to finish a trip! The rooms are huge with a great deck and plunge pool overlooking the river. Our guide Mac and tracker Colbert were fantastic. We saw so many animals at such close range. Our experiences on each drive kept exceeding the previous one. Our butler Christopher was so full of energy and passion about his job. The outstanding feature that stood out about this lodge is how much every single staff member loves their job. They are so enthusiastic about the animals, the experience and the guests. I cannot recommend this lodge highly enough

  • Stayed August 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank BNM79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stuart, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
103 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 454 helpful votes
Reviewed August 27, 2013

We finished our three week trip with four nights at Exeter River. We had superb experiences in Knysna and Capetown and came with high expectations. As numerous other travellers have noted the staff, setting, and ambience are superb! Christopher and the dining staff provided unending surprises that continually pleased. We had Mack and Colbert on "loan" from Leadwood a sister and Beyond property for our ranger/tracker. Turns out Mack is far more experienced than William and Stephen the regulars. Pure luck we got Mack but pure heaven. Seemed we were always first to anything interesting and Mack would vector in other rangers. Our first drive had us seeing four of the big five and a lion kill. The next morning we saw a couple of rhinos to complete the big five as well as seeing two leopards mating. Over the next couple of days Mack and Colbert went out of their way to find us almost every possible animal. We saw four different male lions plus three lionesses and their eight cubs. The lionesses and cubs we followed as they played by the sand river and frolicked with their mothers before they crossed.

Mack spotted "painted wolves" aka wild dogs and we saw the end result of a impala being chased down. The ensuing feeding frenzy was very raw but part of life there.

Three takeaways: 1) Sabin Sands reputation for great game viewing is well deserved. 2) All the reviews about the rooms and service are spot on. 3) the other guests at Exeteer while we were there all expressed satisfaction but were somewhat wistful that Mack had gotten far more to experience for us. If you get a chance to request him he's worth it.

One last thing I hadn't seen mentioned... They have excellent laundry service included. If we weren't ate the end of a trip I would have gone with three days of clothes and had each days clothes cleaned. No need for more

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
4 Thank wmccfp
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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