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“Excellent”

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Simbambili Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
San Francisco
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Excellent”
Reviewed October 15, 2007

This is an excellent game lodge. Great animal sightings. Great guides (Dean and Mumps). Great food thanks to Mathews. Great room with a plunge pool.

This lodge can rival any of the more expensive ones in and around Kruger.

  • Stayed October 2007
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1 Thank colosipm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed October 6, 2007

We spent 4 nights at Simbambili as part of our honeymoon. I grew up in South Africa and spent many a week in game reserves as a child. On a whole Simbambili as an experience is lovely.

Rooms
We stayed in Room 8 which was lovely - furthest from the main area. The suite had a separate kitchen and bathroom unit and an open plan living area and bedroom. The unique points about the units were:
The bed – was enormous and had the “out of Africa” feel about it with mosquito nets descending from the ceiling.
The bathroom – a stunning bath which wouldn’t look out of place in a magazine, the shower was outside which was a great novelty factor. A decking area extends the length of the unit encompassing sound loungers, a plunge pool and a table and chairs. A covered area extends to the side of the decking area which covers a lovely day bed which is a great place to have an afternoon nap after a hard morning game viewing!! The rooms were cleaned daily to a very high standard. There is also a turn down service, which included one our first night a beautifully decorated bed welcoming us to Simbambili and candles set out around the bathroom leading us to a bath and a bottle of champagne! Both were a lovely touch!

Meals
We had dinner in the outdoor boma on one evening during our stay. This was great fun – outdoor eating in Africa – exactly what you expert when on this sort of holiday! It also allows interaction between the guests, and gives all an idea of more typical South African fare. The quality of the food that night outshone the rest of our stay! The meals otherwise are forgettable.

Game Viewing
We saw the big 5 every day! With knowledgeable game drivers and a great tracker (Dr) it was a great way to spend the hours in an open top vehicle under the clear African skies! We saw large herds of elephant, lions, and a large number of individual sightings of leopard! Some sightings are unlikely to be surpassed – seeing a leopard play/fight with a snake and seeing another leopard eating an impala in a tree with two hyenas circling below! These animals were close enough to touch and in some instances I did wish that I was in a closed vehicle! We were driving to a sighting of lions when to the side of the vehicle I saw a “stick” travelling along next to the vehicle a foot away from where we were sitting before sitting disappearing. Mark (game driver) saw this too and braked sharply to point out the black mamba! One of the South Africa’s most deadly snakes! We saw it reappear climbing up the nearest tree – was an incredible thing to see an approx. 2.5 meter snake!!

So you are thinking of going there and want an idea of the worst aspects -

Waiter staff
Could do with taking a few lessons from the game rangers/front office staff/trackers and make an effort to give good service! Rather than looking so terribly bored and unimpressed! Especially when the booklets in the rooms indicate a recommended tip of something outrageous for the waiter staff!

Limited area
Simbambili is a private lodge and the vehicles have agreements with 2/3 other lodges to drive across each others their land. So your viewing is limited to what’s in the area on those days! But unless you are prepared to self dive though Kruger or pay more and go to one of the lodges with more land (Londolozi) you will not find an lodge which does not have this issue!

Overall
We are fussy people and we do not give praise where it is not deserved! Simbambili is a great place to go to as a couple. It is very relaxing, beautiful and the game rangers, trackers, front desk staff and manger can not be more accommodating!

PS Get your travel agent to book you a flight either straight there or to Hoedspruit. The drive from KMIA is 3 hours and horribly dull.

  • Liked — Outdoor decking area
  • Disliked — n/a
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Check in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank SY2000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed September 7, 2007

We travelled all over southern Africa on our honeymoon - 4 days of which were spent at the Simbambili game lodge. This was our first safari ever and what can I say? It was PERFECT. Even if I tried to find something that could have been better I couldn't. We had high expectations and this exceeded those.

I'll start with the lodge itself. Beautiful surroundings and amazing houses. There are 8 rooms and they are gorgeous and large. They have an outside shower, huge private deck and private small pool. The main lodge is cozy and has a great view of a large waterwhole where all kinds of wildlife can be seen. They don't let you walk to your room alone at night since there are no fences and quite often there will be animals (elephants, lions, etc) roaming around the grounds.

The staff was incredible, Our ranger Dean and Tracker Mamps were absolutely unbelievable. Friendly, knowledgeable and more! These guys rocked!

The food at Simbambili was delicious. Not a single item was average. EVERYTHING was splendid. Especially the Kudu!

The game drives were spectacular. 3-4 hours each morning and 3-4 hours in the evenings. On our first evening drive we followed 7 hunting lionesses and witnessed them kill a fully grown buffalo! All just feet from our jeep. We saw the big 5 in our first 12 hours and had several incredible leopard sightings. Amazing game in this area!

I could not recommend this place more. If you are going to do a safari in South Africa, go to Simbambili! You will love it!

  • Stayed August 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank nichrose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stamford
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 17, 2007

We have just returned to the UK from our honeymoon in South Africa where we stayed at Simbambili Game Lodge in the Sabi Sands private game reserve. Put simply, it is incredible! We have travelled to many countries and stayed in some great (and not so great!) places but Simbambili really took pole position for us. These are the things we loved:

1 - The location is superb for a Safari experience to remember. Sabi Sands has the second highest density of Leopard in the world and an encounter is highly likely on pretty much every game drive. If you've never seen a leopard up close (2' away) or love these magnificent animals, Sabi Sands cannot be beaten.

2 - The lodge is a luxurious oasis on the Manyaleti River (in winter it is a sandy river wadi) with the most unbelievably friendly and inviting staff you could imagine - unintrusive, exceptionally knowledgable and focused entirely on making your stay one to remember. True professionals. Chris and 'Lucks', you never failed to amaze us on every game drive.

3 - The food doesn't fail to impress, with a great choice of traditional African bush fare as well as other delights you'd expect to find in a 5* city hotel.

These are just the main things we loved; of course, the other little things make it a perfect place to go for either a honeymoon, special occasion or if you have the Safari 'bug' - we definitely do and have vowed to return.

  • Liked — Huge and very very comfortable
  • Disliked — Nothing, it was perfect
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank MoxandSarah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
manchester
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed June 16, 2007

We booked our trip through go2africa and would absolutely recommend them. We also stayed at Rocktail Bay and Phinda Forest Lodge during this trip.

Simbambili cost 2700 rand pppn inclusive of meals and game drives/lodge activities, alcohol and soft drinks separate, a mini bar was provided.

We were met by Mark, one of the managers at Simbambili and some of the air strips resident Warthogs! Our first sightings! On arrival at the lodge we were given some lovely scented face cloths and a much appreciated cold drink as it was very hot, then signed the indemnity forms.

Rooms
Our suite/bungalow, number 8, was the furthest from the main area, just a few minutes walk. The suite was huge! It was mainly open plan and had a living area with sofas and a separate kitchen as well as a huge bed, desk, wardrobe and a big bathroom with bath, vanity table, double sink and separate toilet. There were toiletries provided (great conditioner, a rarity!) and a hairdryer. Outside there was a plunge pool (too cold for me, not DH) and a shaded day bed, an outdoor shower, a couple of sun loungers and a table with chairs. The rooms were cleaned daily with a turn down service. All in all, we couldn’t have wanted anymore, I danced around with my camera insisting on taking pictures before we messed everything up! We then cracked open a Castle each, toasted our good fortune and headed to high tea.

Food
Breakfast was around 9/9.30 am. There were plenty of fruits, cereals, pastries, cheeses, cold meats and probably more that I have missed plus cooked food. High tea was at 3pm and presented in a buffet with hot and cold savoury food plus fruit and a desert. This was my favourite meal, Matthews always had some delicious pie or curry or something to tempt me to have seconds (bad idea only an hour before a bumpy game drive, though I never learned!). Dinner was a sit down affair at about 8.30pm, there were 2 choices of starter and main and 1 desert with the additional option of ice-cream, fruit or cheese platter. Matthews the chef and his team are truly gifted, the food was wonderful, I was never hungry or tempted to snack between meals.

Ranger and Tracker
We were introduced to our ranger, Charle and our tracker De Beer (like the diamonds, though of no relation I assumed!). Charle would prove to be an amazingly knowledgeable chap who was very entertaining and enthusiastic. I was really impressed by his attention to detail, i.e., ensuring that the vehicle was in the best position for photography and he was aware of the lighting much more than us (as I’m sure our photos testify!) and would reposition accordingly. His camera looked like a rocket launcher! De Beer also did a great job, for example, spotting a boomslang (sp?) snake in a tree at night as we were driving, I couldn’t see it at first even when the light was on and people were pointing saying there!

Game drive set up
The vehicle was able to seat 10 people (3 on each bench) and 1 next to the ranger. There were 6 people on our first game drive, this was the norm (the most being 8 for 1 game drive and the least being 4) so we were comfortable most of the time. The ranger communicated with other vehicles via a headset so we did not hear constant chatter. On the chilly morning game drives we were provided with a hot water bottle as well as blankets, much appreciated! Morning game drives commenced between 6am and 6.30am (depending on how quickly people wanted to get out) and lasted until 9/9.30am and afternoon game drives began at about 4pm or a bit earlier and lasted until about 7pm. If there was action happening or we saw something of interest on our way back we did stay out later, I never felt we rushed back because of the time. We stopped for morning coffee and snack and sundowners part way through the drives.

GAME DRIVES
Our companions were generally considerate, easy to ‘drive with’ people, the only exception was a lady who insisted on giving a voice to the animals i.e. saying “I’m hungry mom” when a leopard cub was with its mother and kill and so on. Anyway, a small annoyance and one I eventually managed to tune out. This was our first safari and I much preferred not to talk much to our companions, or indeed my own companion until we stopped for sundowners etc. I’m not anti-social (honest) but loved to hear the sounds of the animals and birds around me and also when action did occur, the lack of a commentary added to the excitement. That said, I did appreciate the vast knowledge our ranger had to share and enjoyed our companions company at sundowners and later at dinner.

I think there’s a saying that you never forget your first, well, I don’t think I’ll ever forget our first game drive, our first seeing these beautiful animals in the wild. We were lucky (so I thought) to see the ‘big 5’ on our first drive, though we saw them on most subsequent drives, I got the feeling that this was more the norm? To see a lion or leopard or elephant just metres away is absolutely amazing. What was so fascinating to me was that they seamed to completely ignore this huge vehicle that was so close.

During our game drives we had the pleasure of seeing lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, white rhino, giraffe (a personal favourite), jackal, warthogs, boomslang snake, hippos, impala (the moneybacks as our ranger referred to them, the reason being is that a customer will get their money back if they don’t see one!). Also in camp, we saw the resident vervet monkeys, birds dipping into our plunge pool, elephants in the bush from our patio and a puff adder which I very nearly stood on the day after the wedding whilst walking to high tea, luckily for me I looked down before my next step.

HIGHLIGHTS
On one game drive we carefully followed a pride of lions who looked to be on the hunt, it was thrilling watching how their body would change as they got closer to their prey and how they seamed to fan out a bit, I had big expectations of this encounter, however, after a not unconsiderable amount of time the impala in question lived to see another day as one lion flopped to the ground and the rest followed suit. Action over, but hey, I guess that’s (wild)life for you!

Another lion encounter which was exhilarating was when we followed 2 male lions chasing a female lion. They of course left us for dust, and De Beers earned his bread by being bashed about on the front of the vehicle as we dashed through the bush after them. We caught up with one of the males and the female lying exhausted beside a tree, the other male was nearby. The male lying was making noises and as the other male approached the female was apprehensive and got up. The males approached her and this feisty lady fought them off, bottom away from them at all times. The roaring was deafening! She really did mean business and launched herself at one of the males teeth bared. Another female lion came on the scene and things seemed to calm down, the first female wandered a little away as this new distraction for the males got their attention. We watched the lions for a little longer, then returned an hour later than usual for breakfast

Another encounter worth reporting was a cheeky white rhino. We arrived at the watering hole where we got married and stopped to observe a rhino in a mud pool, there was a buffalo near by. The rhino got up from his mud bath and walked slowly over to the buffalo, who appeared somewhat affronted by this huge beast encroaching on his space. The buffalo, a bit miffed, walked away. The rhino, obviously not happy with his newly-won patch of grass, again got up and walked towards the buffalo who had just settled himself down under a tree. The buffalo was unsettled again and stood, at which point the rhino hurried up a bit and all of a sudden started chasing the buffalo around the water hole. It was quite comical and unreal to watch. A lap later and the buffalo was seriously peeved and stopped and confronted the cheeky rhino by running into it, just a warning as no damage was done and the rhino didn’t react aggressively. I think both were a bit tired after the excitement and the buffalo was ‘allowed’ to join his bachelor friends. The rhino on the other hand regained his breath and started a ‘jog’ right toward our vehicle. I was a little nervous at this point, these animals are much bigger than they look on TV! Thankfully, his intention was not us but a tree stump right next to the car which aided him in cleaning his horn. As Charle said many a time, “animal interaction, superb!”

We saw a few different leopards whilst at Simbambili with their kill. On one occasion we followed a mother and her male cub, they seemed to be leading us on a wild goose chase as they were not hunting but going round in a big circle. Our ranger thought the mother had already made a kill but had wanted the cub to find it (part of teaching hunting skills), he was right. After quite a time and with no luck on the cubs part, the mother took the lead and led the son to the kill in a direction we had already been. It was hidden at the base of a tree. En-route the cub killed a small puff adder – not wise according to Charle, but he escaped unscathed.

We had a great time at Simbambili, the game viewing was magnificent and the lodge was perfect.

  • Liked — The room was amazing, spacious, luxurious, the view over the bush.
  • Disliked — n/a
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank bethany1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed February 24, 2007

This was our second trip to Africa in 12 months. The first time I used an agent that I felt was more after the money than listening to our wants and desires. So when our new agent booked us in Simbambili Game Lodge she assured me that it would meet our expectations as she had personally visited the lodge.

Simbambili Game Lodge exceeded our expectations. Mark the General Manager and his entire staff were incredible. From the moment we arrived to the second we left we were well taken care of. Thomas made sure we were well feed. Charl, our Ranger, had years of experience and was superb and quite funny. We saw the Super 6, Big 5 plus wild dogs many times. I can't even begin to count all the other animals we saw. Often we would see the Big 5 on the same game drive. Almost every game drive we saw leopards.

Simbambili has a watering hole about 200 yards from the dinning area. During the day large herds of elephants would come to drink and cool off. We would also see kudo, impala, water buck and more. At night we would see lions and hyenas and other animals at the watering hole as they had it illuminated.

One of many things we enjoyed was the amount of free time between breakfast and lunch. This gave a relaxed feeling and allowed for long naps outside on our day bed that was positioned perfectly for animal viewing. We also had our own private plunge pool on the deck.

I would suggest spending the extra money to fly into the game lodge's airstrip and avoid the three hour drive from the main Kruger Park airstrip, can't recall the name. I understand it is only about $50 more to do so.

We have traveled all over the world and I am one not to repeat going back to the same place as I feel there is a lot to discover in this world. I can honestly say I would go back to Simbambili Game Lodge without hesitation or reservation. It is outstanding!

If you wonder why Simbambili gets all 5 Stars, go see for yourself. I read the reviews before going and now I too am giving thumbs-up and 5 Stars.

Thank you to Mark and his excellent staff for making our trip a memory that will last forever.

Stayed February 2007
Helpful?
9 Thank denveradventurrer7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
106 reviews
68 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 169 helpful votes
Reviewed October 8, 2006

My husband and I just returned from our honeymoon at the Simbambili game lodge. It's an amazing place, and highly recommended. The standard of the accomodation was very high (each of the six chalets has its own private pool, and a wonderful bathroom that overlooks the watering hole), and the food magnificent. Children are not allowed here. You'll go on two 3-hr game drives each day while here, accompanied by a tracker and a ranger. Simbambili is famous for its leopards - and we saw many. We also saw lion, rhino, buffalo, elephant, zebra, giraffe, baboons, impala, and a flurry of birds. After we returned from one of our game drives, the management had laid out candles, champagne, and run a bath for us: so romantic. I would recommend flying into the airstrip beside the lodge (we used Nelair) rather than driving. Be aware that alcohol (incl that consumed on your game drives) is not included in the rate.

  • Liked — Amazing views, private pool
  • Tips/Secrets — use Nelair to fly to adjacent airstrip
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank cgr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Simbambili Game Lodge

Property: Simbambili Game Lodge
Address: Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park 1363, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Simbambili Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Simbambili Game Lodge is a highly individualised destination for the discerning traveller located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Set in magnificent trees along the meandering Manyeleti River, with views over an extensive savannah grassland, that teems with wildlife visiting an ever popular water hole. Sophisticated yet simple, each suite has spectacular views whether from the unique en-suite bathrooms, outside salas or individual private plunge pools. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the extraordinary and unique wildlife of Africa, whether it is your choice to linger at a close encounter with lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo or to be amazed by the extensive array of birds and insects, or simply relax in the Sanctuary Spa. Your ranger and tracker team will astound you with their ability to track big five game, either on foot or from an open safari vehicle. The amazing safari experience is complimented by elegant cuisine, a selection of fine wines andthe warmth of true African hospitality. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Simbambili Game Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Hotel Simbambili Game
Simbambili Game Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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