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Dulini Lodge
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Reviewed December 9, 2013

I am a terrible TA fan who avidly uses this site to plan trips but never takes the time to go back and write my own review. Well that changes today, because staying at Dulini was so unbelievably amazing, it just felt wrong not to share my experience with other potential visitors. If you are trying to decide where to stay in Sabi Sands, the way my husband and I did, you are looking through a lot of very highly rated lodges and the decision seems hard. However, after staying at Dulini for 4 nights in November, we are 110% sure we made the right choice. What everyone says in all the reviews is absolutely true - Dulini provides the perfect trifecta of fun adventures, impeccable service and luxurious accommodations. Due to the small size of the lodge (only 12 rooms) the personalized service is unmatched. For example, our very kind and observant butler, Reply, did not miss a thing. He got to know which kind of water and cocktail we prefer at which time of day and had it ready and waiting for us at the perfect time. One night he set up a romantic bubble bath, champagne and dinner in our room, on the perfect evening that we were feeling a bit more tired than others. The piece that was most notable about the service, like the accommodations, was that while being luxurious and clearly with careful attention to guests' desires, nothing was over the top or intrusive. The best word I could use to describe Dulini is tasteful. Comfortable, luxurious, and everything in classic good taste.

This review would not be complete without a "quick" word about the outstanding game drives and people that made them unforgettable. First, we had the most wonderful time getting to know Dulini's owner Ian, who greeted us after every drive and ate almost every meal with us. To me, a safari isn't just about seeing the animals (which trust me, we saw a LOT) it is also about learning the culture of the area and its people. Ian shared with us so many stories about his life and the history of the land, I can't imagine that many of the lodge owners take the time to get to know their guests personally and share stories over wine and dinner the way Ian did. It truly added to the whole experience in a way I would never have imagined.

Last, I have to mention our true game finding heroes: Fred the awesome ranger and Martin the tracker. Watching the way these guys worked together to track down a small leopard in a huge land mass was truly a work of art. In just 4 days we saw: tons of leopards eating and hiding prey up in trees, a male coalition of lions, two prides of lioness and their adorable playful cubs, a one week old baby elephant learning to walk, lions stalking a herd of cape buffalo, tons of white rhinos and even the very rare (sadly almost extinct) black rhino, and the unbelievably rare experience of seeing leopards mate! All of this along with TONS of magestic zebras, giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, antelopes, exotic birds, and even super interesting reptiles and bugs! Fred made everything fun. He is a wealth of fascinating knowledge about animals and their behaviors. I literally sat behind him almost every drive and asked him an average of 10 questions per sighting, each of which he took the time to thoughtfully answer. It is clear how much Fred cares about the land, the animals, but also his guests -- and the conflicting needs of them all is probably difficult to manage at times, however he takes it all in stride and makes everything appear easy. He never rushed us back and if we were enjoying a sighting we would stay. I heard stories from guests about rangers at other lodges being on strict orders to keep drives under a certain amount of time, for gas and profit, etc. Not at Dulini, it was all about the guests and if we happened to come across a cool sighting (like the night a herd of buffalo started walking straight towards a pride of lions!) they would never have made us leave.

My husband and I are so grateful to Dulini for giving us the most special and unforgettable experience for our honeymoon. We have already decided to go back and are counting down the days until we can return to celebrate our three year anniversary there.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank AStuppy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 30, 2013

Sadly, this is our final day at dulini safari lodge. What an incredible stay it has been. The luxury, service, and attention to detail are exceptional but what I think really makes this lodge stand out is the quality of the staff. So warm and welcoming without any pretentiousness. To top it off the game drives are awesome with only 6ppl per jeep and fantastic drivers and trackers. Not only did they find the big 5 for us pretty much on our first day but their fun loving nature and sense of humour made the whole experience even more enjoyable. If you have the opportunity to stay at a safari lodge, I recommend dulini!

Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
1  Thank rossnsue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 28, 2013

We decided to try three different lodges in three different reserves this fall and Dulini shone above the rest in most categories and certainly in the most important- the game drives.
The owners, management, trackers, guides and staff all made us feel valued all of the time. I have already told a dozen friends this is the place to go to for a safari.

Room Tip: room 2 may have elephants coming to drink in your pool so if that is something that excites you request it.
  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Rivs63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 24, 2013

Spent a portion of our honeymoon at Dulini at it far surpassed any expectations we had, despite having read all the reviews. Truly the lap of luxury! What I was most impressed with was the attention to detail that the staff had. We were addressed by name from the moment we arrived (and not in the formal Mr./Mrs.) and made to feel part of the family. Since there are only 12 guests maximum at the lodge at any given time, they can really pamper you! Yes, it is a little on the expensive side, but the value for your money is DEFINITELY there.

Outside of the lodge, the game viewing is superb also. We saw all the animals we wanted to see and saw some really incredible things in addition. Our ranger Patrick was excellent and very knowledgable about the bush. He also remembered very well what animals we HADN'T seen and tried to find those.

All in all, our first visit to Sabi Sand was made very memorable by Ian and staff at Dulini. We can't wait to go back. Just one word of warning- watch out for the cute monkeys on the lodge grounds- they won't think twice about swiping your food! :)

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Pfbarker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2013

My husband and I stayed here for 4 nights at the start of a holiday in S Africa to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and it could not have been a better introduction to the country. The owners have clearly gone to great lengths to make the place feel part of the Game Reserve, so wild animals (including baboons who will ransack a room if given half a chance) do wander through the grounds all the time. In the evenings the guests had to be escorted to and from their suites in case there were dangerous animals lurking. Our suite was beautiful with a huge bed covered by an elegant mosquito net, and a bathroom with a bath tub in the middle of the floor, positioned so that you could look out at passing animals as you soaked.

The staff were brilliant. Our ranger Fred was a fund of knowledge on every creature we came across, and also had many witty anecdotes and stories to tell us. He had so much energy and enthusiasm for his work, which rubbed off on us as we set out on safari each day at 6 am. He and his tracker Martin were phenomenal at finding all the animals we wanted to see, including the "Big Five" and others such as the elusive wild dogs. I was initially quite shocked at how close we were able to get in our Land Rover to the animals in their natural habitat, without any barriers between us and them; we were often literally just a few feet from leopards and elephants, and even lion cubs devouring a kill; but I never felt unsafe.

As other reviewers have commented, being in a Land Rover with just 6 passengers (2 people in each row) is a great advantage. We never felt crowded or unable to get a good view. We were very impressed by Fred's expertise in driving off road in search of animals. And he sometimes topped off the experience by serving us with hot chocolate (on the morning safaris) or cocktails (on the evening safaris). This was certainly luxury safari travel.

One of the highlights was on the evening when a dozen of the kitchen staff walked in to dinner with a cake to celebrate the birthday of a fellow guest. After the usual singing of "Happy Birthday" they gave us a rendition of various African Gospel songs complete with harmonies and drums. It was just brilliant, and I wish we could have heard more from them.

The lodge only takes up to about 12 guests at a time, so we didn't feel as if we were on a production line of tourists. And the owner, Ian, was a good host, joining us all for dinner at the communal table and talking knowledgeably about African wildlife.

Room Tip: Probably all the rooms have private balconies overlooking the dry riverbed, which the wild animals sometimes wander down. Our room was very quiet - the only thing making a noise at night was the insects (crickets?) or frogs outside chirruping.
  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Ann L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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