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Reviewed July 11, 2013

Arathusa was our second stop on a two week trip to southern Africa, in June 2013. We flew into MQP and were driven the 3 hour route, in the dark, to the lodge. We were warmly greeted at the front desk and given a wet towel and a drink to refresh, and then taken on a brief tour of the property. I tried to listen to the girl taking us around, but I was really distracted by the grunting/laughing noise echoing in the dark! The sound was coming from the hippos in the watering hole, which the property sits on.

We found our room to be beautiful, comfortable and well cared for. The entire property was this way. It has a very homey, welcoming vibe to it, and since you spend a lot of time with the guides and other guests, you feel very comfortable sharing the common spaces with your new friends. I loved being able to share the incredible game experiences with the other guests,and then talk about them at meals. It's almost like summer camp when you were a kid, but viewing lions replaces archery, and the accommodations are much better! The watering hole attracts many visitors, such as elephants, which are very entertaining to watch from the pool.

The game drives are incredibly exciting. Even writing this, I felt a wave of excitement thinking about getting into the jeep in the early morning and going out into the bush. So fun! We saw the Big 5 on our first drive and the other drives were equally successful. Our ranger, Armond, and our tracker, Chris, made a great team. They were so knowledgable about the animals and environment, and enthusiastically answered all of our questions. They have a profound respect for the animals which, I think, sets a great tone during the viewings. You sit within feet of a leopard, and feel humbled, with a sense of gratitude that the leopard is allowing you to catch a glimpse of its life. My favorite parts were when Armond would take us right in among the animals, such as the herd of elephants or buffalo that were eating all around us. It truly feels like you are part of he herd for some time, not behind the bars like at the zoo. Awesome!

I would recommend Arathusa Lodge to anyone! Incredible animals and people, food and service, truly a special place.

Room tip: We stayed in a regular room, and enjoyed the proximity to the lodge. The deluxe rooms are farther away from "the action" and require a guide to walk you to and from your room
Date of stay: June 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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2  Thank MarriednReady2Travel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 10, 2013

The experience went beyond anything I had imagined. The game viewing was magical. Our ranger Robin got us right in amongst the animals. We saw all of the big 5 and so much more in our time. Some of the photos I got were so good friends think they were downloaded from the net. The food was delicious, the staff attentive and the accommodations beautiful. The only down side was an antiquated safe system that allowed the cleaning people to steal a significant amount of cash from a friend. But the resort did make things right which saved our vacation. Thank you again to Robin and Rufus for the experience of a life time!

Room tip: The "luxury rooms" were farther away, making it unsafe to walk among the rooms at night. The regular rooms were very nice and much more handy to the social areas.
Date of stay: June 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
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1  Thank traveldoc_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 28, 2013

Amazing three days with five game drives, superb cuisine from Malcolm and wonderful setting.. We watched fourteen elephants drinking and swimming from our chalet in the waterhole. We saw a pride of seven lions pass either side of our vehicle, elephants , giraffes, hippos and the most exciting event. The leopard with her kill up the tree and next day Tandy , another leopard stalking and making her kill only to be taken from her by a male leopard. but then , having feasted on the stolen impala, a rustle heard and a male hyena rushed in to steal it from him. Incredible, the rangers coordinate and know where the animals are and headed. Unique experience, thankyou

Date of stay: June 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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Thank Chris H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 28, 2013

From the outset I have to say that we were disappointed with Arathusa. It may have been because it was at the end of a trip that had so many highlights and therefore our expectations were too higher than the Arathusa could meet.

We stayed for 2 nights from 13 June following a 3 week trip that had taken in Victoria Falls, 4 nights in a camp in Botswana, 3 nights on a houseboat on the Chobe plus 10 days travelling around South Africa.

I always try to be positive with accommodation and there is much to be positive about Arathusa

It is in a great location around the lagoon - with resident hippos - looking across to a large expanse of grass plus woods behind. The lack of fences means that the game really comes to you - as it did the day before we arrived when hyenas carried off a leopard's kill from outside one of the rooms.

The lodges are huge with big bedrooms and bathrooms with adequate storage. They overlook the lagoon and I feel are much better located that the more exclusive ones hidden in the bush and which require a guide at night.

Being situated within a concession means greater flexibility for off-road daytime pursuits and for night drives. The wildlife is plentiful especially leopards which we hadn't seen in such numbers before and we were able to get really up close to the animals. The guides and trackers were very professional and found game in the most unexpected places.

In addition to the game drives the Lodge offers different dining locations within the camp as well as breakfast in the bush

The camp is well appointed with a small pool and deck overlooking the lagoon - a well stocked bar surrounded by comfortable chairs.

With all this going for it why were we disappointed???

When we arrived we were given room 8 which had a somewhat disappointing view of the dining area - so given that the Lodge was not full we asked to be moved to another room with a better view - we were offered and accepted room 9 that had a clear view of the lagoon and the hippo island - just had to be made up - no problems we said - popped open a Castle and waited - 30 minutes later we were in and unpacked - then the issues started - no key could be found initially -
the door lock was faulty and the catch fell into a locked position as soon as it was closed whether you were inside or out plus the door had a habit of sticking. The manager's response was that these problems were as a consequence of us changing rooms - fine ok .

We had lunch - 2.00 pm in the afternoon - which appears odd - that was the main course followed at 3.00 pm with pudding before the game drive - because of the rush from game drive to dinner then bed then early start we didn't find out until 11.00 the next day that they hadn't turned the hot water on !!!! - at this point our rosy glow of the lodge began to go downhill.

Therefore looking closer the rooms appear to be tired, the shower door didn't fit and flooded the bathroom and the plug didn't fit the basin

In addition, the food was never hot and I must confess I left a lot of food - the culinary highlights for me were the soup and the 2 sweet flans produced for afternoon tea which is a clear indictment. For me the food was never better than average and at times poor especially the wilderbeest kebabs which presented the culinary nadir

In addition there was no encouragement to linger after evening meals with a rush to get you off to bed so no sitting around the campfire exchanging travellers tales

The game drives concentrated on ticking off the big 5 - rather than embracing all the biodiversity - perhaps that is what the customers want - a rather limited approach compared to our experiences elsewhere on the trip.

The game drives were in the Toyota land cruiser - 9/10 seats - there were 2/3 vehicles used - ours because of the timing of guest arrivals had 8/9 people in it which I felt was unacceptable whilst the other vehicles had 4 in them for at least 2 game drives. When I asked to transfer I was put off by the argument that a new guide wouldn't know what we had seen. I feel the lack of space reduced the flexibility for game viewing a less crowded vehicle offers

When we went to settle up we were told that our bar bill had been taken care of by the manager who was standing behind the receptionist. This refund was said to be for the problems with the door. However he told my wife that he was aware of the issues on the game drive and our reason to want to change vehicles for which he did nothing.

Others I know will rave about Arathusa but from our experiences this is not the case.

Date of stay: June 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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3  Thank PeteD60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Michelle D, Public Relations Manager at Arathusa Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded June 30, 2013

We deeply regret that you did not enjoy your experience at Arathusa. We received this feedback from your agent earlier this week, and have already communicated our intention to re-imburse you for your stay.

Each of your points communicated were taken seriously by our operational team, and, where necessary, measures are in place to improve (eg the fixed door, and internal room routine maintenance).

We really do wish that we could please absolutely every person who graces our door, but such is life that we sometimes don't get it right, and sometimes clients' preferences our simply not in our favour.

Please do let us know should you need any further information or feedback, or wish to discuss any aspect of the very detailed feedback posted.

Yours sincerely,

Arathusa Safari Lodge

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 27, 2013

Had a marvellous 3 nights stay here which included 6 Game drives (3 early morning and 3 late afternoon ) Managed to see an awful lot in this time with the big five spotted very early on in the stay. Accommodation was comfortable and spacious. Staff were very friendly and attentive at all times ! Our Ranger Armand and Tracker Chris were very friendly and informative and we had some very productive drives producing hundreds of photo's many of them close ups !
Sometimes the food was not always to our taste but this did not mar the overall experience !
Everyone we met were thoroughly enjoying themselves and this created a brilliant atmosphere and made for a very memorable stay !
Highly recommended

Date of stay: June 2013
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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Thank RichG65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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