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All reviews day bed plunge pool our honeymoon sabi sands water hole three nights amazing experience safari experience wild dogs every meal different locations every aspect hour drive huge bed every evening romantic dinner lounge chairs
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Reviewed October 29, 2010

There may be a better place to see wild animals, sleep in luxury, and eat outstanding and interesting food, but I do not know where. The lodge and bungalows have gone through major renovation in the last 3 or 4 years and are absolutely stunning. Your "room" is an elegant bungalow in modern bush style, has an enormous and extremely comfortable bed, big beautifully designed bathroom with shower looking out over the savanna and a huge deck with large day bed and private plunge pool. Baboons and little monkeys swing through the trees in front of your bungalow and sometimes on your roof; water buffalo, nyala, impala, and sometimes larger animals wander around the watering hole in front of the lodge and sometimes through the lodge, and because there are only 8 bungalows (16 guests maximum) you really feel the quiet and privacy of the reserve and the reality that these are wild animals that you are viewing.

From the moment we arrived -- greeted with cool moist towels and cold fruit drinks -- we felt pampered. The delicious meals were made to order and elegantly served. A polite "wake-up" knock on the door at 5:30 am was offered (and gratefully accepted). We were escorted to our rooms after dark each night (lest a stray animal endanger us). All of the staff were unfailingly helpful and cheery.

The animal viewing was nothing less than spectacular. As a Sabi Sands lodge, Simbambili has the advantage of having no fences to separate it from the huge adjacent Kruger National Park. So all of the animals can move freely between Kruger and the Sabi Sands. Furthermore, there are reciprocity agreements among the various Sabi Sands lodges that permit each to travel over the terrain of the others. As a result, the viewing area is huge and the viewing opportunities nearly unlimited.

The Simbambili touring schedule is well-conceived. The day begins just before dawn with a quick cup of coffee, juice, and a biscuit, then it's off to watch the sun rise over the African bush in a Land Rover with guide, tracker, and anywhere from 2 to 8 guests. After 1.5 to 2 hours you stop for a coffee and biscuit break, then continue with the safari for another hour. Around 9, you head back to the lodge for a delicious breakfast. Bush walks are a late morning option that we declined, preferring to nap to get ready for lunch (more yummy food) and the afternoon tour which begins at about 3:30 or 4 and lasts until sunset or occasionally an hour past. (Naturally, there is a break in the afternoon trip as well, with "sundowners" served from a tray that miraculously appears at the front of the Land Rover.) The hours just after sunrise and just before sunset are best for animal viewing, as most animals -- as well as sensible humans! -- nap during the midday. The evening meal was highlighted by varying locations -- once in the dining room, once on the veranda, one a "braai" out in the bush. Every one was elegant and delightful.

It is hard to convey how much our guide, Grant, and our tracker, Mumps, added to our tours. Grant is an incredible guide. As a trained zoologist (undergraduate and graduate degrees), he was a font of information about animal ethology. Even more importantly, he was able to convey this information in a compelling and articulate way. I'll never forget his account of the hardships of the life cycle of the lion -- the "king" of the jungle. And Mumps's ability to locate the animals was nothing short of amazing.

Simbambili is expensive, no doubt about it. But the three days we spent there were far richer and more memorable than the six days we spent at a lesser lodge in KwaZulu Natal -- at about the same total cost. One small indication of this is that the number of photographs I took at Simbambili -- many of them priceless -- was about double the number I took in twice as many days at the other lodge. If you travel this far to view the wild animals of South Africa, it would be foolish to settle for anything less.

Date of stay: September 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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Thank Eleanor H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2010

My wife and I arrived at The Simbambili Game Lodge after four cold nights in Kruger Park. What a welcome relief to have warmer weather! Karen, the flaming-redhaired
manager, and her assistant Anton met us at the entrance with cool towels and a soothing drink. Once going over the procedures/schedule of the lodge, she took us to our beautifully appointed bungalow complete with outdoor plunge pool and view of the
watering hole and river bed (which was unfortunately dry). The accommodation was perfect, large rooms, giant soft bed, plenty of storage space, huge bathtub, lots of lighting. Wonderful, gourmet meals are served throughout the day and they will go out of their way to make sure you are content when dining. "Pretty" was our waitress and house
cleaner, she was absolutely charming.
Our expert guide/tracker team was Lazarus and Service--these two guys were great as well as warm, friendly, and funny--we loved our daily morning and evening safaris with them. We saw many animals including the "Big 5" (elephant, rhino, african buffalo, lion, and leopard) our first day. There is an abundance of wildlife in the Sabi Sands area including wild dogs, which unfortunately we did not see during our 5 day stay. We also went off the road quite often to track and view the animals, something we could not do at our previous lodge in Kruger Park. We loved our time at Simbambili and hope to return someday. Just a terrific experience all around!

Date of stay: October 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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Thank LBK32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2010

In contrast to a tented camp, Simbambili is a luxury hotel in the midst of an amazingly beautiful game reserve. The appoitnments are as advertised and the proximity of game viewing is superb. Be sure to stay at a private game reserve - it's worth it to go off road in search of animals.

The rooms are well taken care of and the outdoor spaces well maintained. Dining is top notch. It's a little odd that they bother to keep track of basic liquor and soft drink sales.

Date of stay: September 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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Thank PHXJeremy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2010

My partner and i booked last minute to go to Simbambili. We live in JHB, South Africa and often decide last minute to go away, we were so lucky they had space for us! We have been to many top game lodges and truly Simbambili is absolutely Top Class!!!! The staff were so friendly, helpful and so accommodating. The cuisine was exceptional... we were there for three nights and had a different dining experience every night from boma to river bed, the breakfast and lunches were ample and appeal to any pallet. Now... the animals we saw... 5 different leopard on separate occasions, elephant, hyena, rhino, 3 huge male lions, a pride of 6 female lions etc etc... so close up that we could literally lean over and touch them if we wanted! My partner and i recently gotnengaged and on our last evening they ran a bubble bath for us, with champagne and candles and rose petals everywhere!!! Truly a REMARKABLE experience and i will definitely return!!!!!! I highly recommend Simbambili for a relaxing and out of this world safari holiday...

Date of stay: August 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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Thank jacquiandmark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 1, 2010

This lodge is wonderful, the view each morning, afternoon and evening of the watering hole revealed a new animal. The room was superb, can't think of anything I would add. The game drives were fantastic, we saw all the Big 5 in the first 2 days. We even saw a leopard with a fresh kill. The prides of lion were truly amazing. I never really thought you could get so close to these fantastic creatures, who seem to totally ignore the big green land rovers driving right next to them. A truly magical experience.
The food here is first rate, you could almost say gourmet, only that you get so much, you might add a few pounds! But the variety of food, including game and local dishes was great. And for those not so adventuresome there were always alternatives. The wine list was great and the gin and tonic poured just right.
This place provides the romance of the African bush, with the luxury of a 5 star resort.
A true vacation of a life-time, I've never been any where else where I have had such personal attention......I felt like a Queen!

Date of stay: April 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
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Thank JEZofXenia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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