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“Amazing lodge & great for animal watching”
Review of Dulini Lodge

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Dulini Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 16, 2014

My wife and I have recently returned (March-14) from a four-night visit to Dulini Lodge and had a wonderful time. It was our first experience of a safari and I can't imagine anywhere being better.

The lodge comprises 6 villas each of which is extremely well-positioned and with excellent amenities. There is a large bedroom area, a huge bathroom and the good-sized lounge area. In addition, there is a lovely and large verandah, with plunge pool, overlooking the river, to relax in between game drives. There is a lovely central area, where meals are taken, which also has a large lounge area for relaxing. There is a pleasant pool and relaxation area next to the river.

The food at Dulini was excellent and imaginative throughout our stay. The service during meals was extremely good, with Given and Maurice ensuring that the evening progressed smoothly and that glasses were kept filled! It was really nice to catch up with the other guests each evening to share experiences of the drives during the day.

All of the staff were absolutely charming and the service was both personal and uniformly excellent. The safari drives we had with Patrick and Tyrone were exciting and exhilarating in equal measure and we got to see the Big 5 and more, mostly in very close proximity to the animals. The lay-out of the land rovers (2 per row) meant that everyone had a perfect view. The drives were also very enjoyingly interspersed with hot chocolate (laced with Amarula - very good) in the morning and G & T in the evening.

During our stay, we also had a chance with meet with Ian, Sue and their charming daughters on most days. It is obvious that they are both hugely knowledgeable and passionate about Dulini and the local ecology and it added to the whole experience.

The whole experience will live with us for many years to come and I can't recommend Dulini highly enough. Anybody looking for a perfect South African safari should go to Dulini Lodge.

Room Tip: We had room 5, which was lovely, but I suspect they are all good.
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  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank AlanNewForest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 27, 2014

We visited Dulini with family friends, 3 families totally 11 people, so we took up the entire camp. This camp served our purpose exceptionally well.

This place is outstanding for family groups or small business meetings.

The camp staff is very attentive to your needs and is very quick to learn each individuals tastes, both for food and activities, the staff is exceptionally well trained to customer service.

The guides and trackers are very good as well and are also very quick to understand what each person has an interest in. Each has received formal training and are very professional.

The game drive vehicles are the best, only 6 seats, 3 rows of 2, so no middle seats, an outstanding feature. The game in this area is by far the best we have seen. On one day we saw the big 5, and every day was beyond expectations.

The accommodations are perfect, individual cabins along the river, each with good privacy. They are large enough that you can have some alone time and spend the afternoon relaxing, without feeling cramped. Each unit has a large bathroom, sleeping area and indoor sitting area. Then a large patio with plunge pool, covered deck and open deck to get some sun. Perfect for a few hours without the group.

There are a lot of places to gather as a group, at the pool, in the lounge or in the dining area which is mostly open sides with a high roof and fireplace.

The attentional to detail at Dulini is beyond description, an explanation will not do it justice. The staff knew each of our names within hours, a difficult task when the entire guest Iist arrives at one time. Every request was met quickly and with obvious pleasure to please.

Dulini is managed by the owners and they live on site, i am sure this is one of the differences. Ian and Sue are involved in all operations and have built a wonderful camp which will provide anyone with an amazing experience.

Stayed: February 2014, traveled with friends
2  Thank Brian M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 7, 2014

I can't say enough good things about the Dulini. My friend and I stayed here in late January/early February 2014 and didn't want to leave. From the first meeting of Poppy, who greeted us with warm hot chocolate on the rainy day, to the exciting safari runs with Fred and Martin - every moment was fun and relaxing.

Fred's energy for the bush and the animals is contagious - he ensured we were safe at all times and that we were able to see our favorites. I'd definitely recommend going on the bush walks - it's a great way to experience the busy, and he definitely taught us about the different plant life.

Martin was our tracker and he was awesome. Talk about someone who knows the bush inside and out! We spent a morning tracking hyenas, and we were able to see Martin's skills shine! He loves the animals and is genuinely (and sincerely) excited when we're able to track and find them. He also makes a killer gin and tonic - my morning coffee and afternoon sundowners in the bush were amazing.

So, let's talk about the lodge. The rooms were amazing, my favorite was the plunge pool after the morning safari run. From the plunge pool, I've been able to see elephants, nayalas, and impalas. The beds were comfortable and the mini bar was fully stocked. The room also came with citronella, and they had sunscreen available. Also, the best part - laundry is included in the room rate and the turnaround is QUICK! My travel partner wanted to get a mani/pedi, and Poppy quickly set one up for her at the pool.

Lastly, the food. Both me and my friend have dietary restrictions - and I must tell you, the Dulini was fantastic. I had gluten free options at every meal (including a muffin with each meal), and my travel partner had her choices of veggies and fish. We both were surprised at how many options and how well fed we were.

I would happily recommend Dulini and return - especially with the awesome ranger/tracker combo.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with friends
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1  Thank gte478p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 25, 2014

Dulini is the most serene place on earth. From the first moment when Poppy greets you at the door to the moment we said goodbye to Dynamusi at the Ulusaba airstrip, we were treated like family. The lodge itself is beautiful and very well appointed. The cottages are spacious with a lot of attention to detail. The furnishings are very comfortable and chic. There’s a fully stocked minibar. We had a couple of visits to our deck from an elephant as well as a Kudu.

But the most important aspect of Dulini are the people that work there. Our butler Freddy was extremely accommodating and pleasant. We had the pleasure of being assigned to Dynamusi and Isaac and what a treat these guys are. Not only did we have up-close encounters with the “Magnificent 7” and then some, we had the safari experience with heart and soul. These two gentlemen deserve all the praise that other tripadvisor reviewers have given them because they made this experience an unforgettable one for us.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank AlanK2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 19, 2014

Our experience at Dulini was intimate, enchanting, and transporting. I actually have nominated it as the best vacation I have ever taken.

I found Dulini on TripAdvisor (thank you, reviewers!) as it was rated #1 in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. After viewing the photos of the accommodations and benchmarking the nightly rate against other game lodges, Dulini seemed like absolutely the best option for us. So much so that I was afraid they would be booked out!

Booking is actually quite simple through their reservationist (as you cannot book via the web directly). I reached out to 'enquire' as the site suggested and Kelly at Dulini was wonderfully sweet and responsive as she confirmed availability (hooray!) and sorted out our booking over a few emails. Kelly also went the extra mile and at my request booked the Federal Air charter flights between Johannesburg airport and the Ulusaba airstrip at Sabi Sands. As someone who really prefers to book everything via a form online and usually dislikes working with another human being to schedule things, I found Kelly to be an absolute pleasure. Thanks to her for making the booking process easy on impatient, Internet-reliant folk like me. You'll pay half upfront and then the other half just prior to arrival, both via credit card. You'll also provide details about your dietary preferences and any other needs for your stay.

All ground transfers are taken care of by Dulini. We touched down at Ulusaba air strip via the Federal Air charter flight to find Martin, our tracker, waiting to pick us up in a Land Rover and take us the short 15 minute drive through the bush to Dulini. He welcomed us warmly and then asked us immediately what sorts of animals we were excited to see. Hot off 48 hours of travel to South Africa, all I could muster was 'elephant?' Sure enough right around the bend of the road and only minutes after picking us up, Martin found us an elephant. He steered the Land Rover to the elephant who was grazing on a tree. I hadn't expected the actual safari part of the safari to start so soon, so this was impressive. We stayed a few more minutes to watch peacefully and then Martin whisked us through the bush to Dulini.

At Dulini, we were welcomed cheerily by Ian the owner, his wife, and two children. Then we sat down with Poppy, the ever smiling welcome wagon, to sign into our stay and quickly Reply, the very cordial guest butler, showed us to our villa. From there, our safari experience unfolded marvelously.

(As it would turn out, the owner's family was a real delight to have around. Ian dined almost every dinner with us and told many stories over delicious food and wine. We learned the history of the Sabi Sands, Dulini, and game lodge management him. And we took several game drives with his daughters that gave us a fun glimpse into what life must be like growing up around the bush.)

Dulini has six villas on the property and each is freestanding with a small periphery of lawn and shrubbery for privacy. Our villa was lovely and appeared just as the photos had depicted it. We had a living area, bedroom, and large bathroom with tub, indoor, and outdoor showers. An outdoor deck and private plunge pool flanked the entire back side of the cottage. I was told that sometimes elephants come right up to the cottages to drink out of the pools, but I wasn't lucky enough to see that. Oh well, next time! Decor was understated, discerning safari luxe. Lots of solid wood furniture, beautiful rattan detailing, thick woven carpets, top quality bedding, knitted throws, velvet curtains, marble flooring, local crafts, gauzy mosquito net, welcome snacks, floor to ceiling windows, and modern fixtures and lighting. It's tasteful, not over the top. I had heard from other travelers that some game lodges make unabashed use of exotic animal hides in their room decor, but thankfully Dulini had none of that. It was much more thoughtful, modestly luxurious, and conservation aware. When on safari, your lodging is actually quite important as you spend quite a bit of time there. Because you're in the middle of a natural preserve with wild animals, you simply can't wander off the property and down the road to see sights as you might on any other vacation. Instead, you go on organized game drive outings and then spend the rest of your time eating, sleeping, and being cozy in your room or on your deck. So the loveliness of the Dulini villas was quite welcome.

The daily schedule goes something like this. Get a wake up call before sunrise, throw on safari gear, then meet your fellow guests, ranger, tracker, and staff under the lodge's central canopy. Light breakfast items are consumed at your leisure and then you hop into your assigned Land Rover for your morning game drive. Three or four hours later (and lots of exhilarated oohs and ahhs later), you arrive back at Dulini around 10 or 11am. Breakfast is served with hot items available. Then you retire to your room to shower, nap, etc. You have free time and the opportunity to have a delicious plated lunch in the early afternoon. Then you gather for a quick tea under the lodge canopy and set out for the afternoon game drive. You'll arrive back to Dulini for dinner after dark. Dinner alternates between 'bouma' style song and dance (a real treat) and elegant dinners under the canopy with the staff accommodating for any dietary needs. Dinners overall are lovely and you get to know your fellow guests, the trackers, rangers, and any other special guests like the lodge owner a little bit more every night. Travelers tended to be mostly couples with a few adult groups mixed in. Ages ranged from mid 20s honeymooners to late 60s retirees and because the group is quite small, pretty much any discerning and conscientious traveler fits right in.

As for the service, the lodge staff is exceedingly well mannered, thoughtful, and detailed. They remember names (and use them) and predilections. They have smiles and kindnesses to offer. It's charming, familiar, and elegant.

Now, the game drives! Because Dulini invested in new vehicles recently, they have the best safari vehicles for game drives in this particular traversing area of the Sabi Sands. I know this because I eyeballed every other lodge's vehicle. They are new Land Rovers painted forest green with 'stadium seating' style seats -- three rows of two each. In total, the Land Rover accommodates the ranger, the tracker, and six guests. Most of the other lodges have vehicles that accommodate nine guests in rows of three, which means that the middle person always has an obscured view. Not so with the Dulini Land Rovers. And because Dulini houses 12 guests at a time, the guests are split between just the two vehicles and you get to know your vehicle-mates, ranger, and tracker, quite well. The Land Rovers are also equipped with a fleece-lined waterproof poncho for every guest and one pair of binoculars for every two people. There are also cushioned camera rests for stabilizing long lenses.

'Fred the awesome ranger' and 'Martin the tracker' were the stars of our Dulini experience! Because you spend something like 8 to 10 hours per day with your ranger/tracker pair between the game drives and dinners, your experience is really guided by their energy and personality. Luckily, these two had copious amounts of both. I got the sense from conversations I had here and there with staff and the men themselves that both Fred and Martin are special in their roles.

Fred the awesome ranger was always smiling, always joking, and had incredible enthusiasm for the animals. He spoke glowingly of everything from a large pride of lions to the tiniest of insects. We would be driving along in the dark on our way home to Dulini and he'd stop the car because he had spied a rare lizard in the headlamp that he wanted to show all of us. Cool! He offroaded through the jungle with the Land Rover with incredible care to show us packs of African wild dogs getting ready to find their dinner. And he always, always seemed to know how to find the nearest pride of lions and maneuver our vehicle in for a nice long look. You got the impression that Fred had read up on these things for years as he had always some new information to share about an animal's habitat, migration pattern, family history, or health history. I really give him credit for so much of the magic of our experience. When you're guided by someone who really loves what he does, you enjoy yourself. It's infectious! For anyone who might be wondering about safety (since no one really seems to mention it in the reviews I've found), the thing is that you're quite safe! While the vehicles are open air and animals are quite close, the animals are accustomed to the vehicles. Should anything really unexpected happen, the ranger has a rifle onboard. We encountered no close calls and being in a vehicle with Fred made us feel very safe.

Martin our tracker was also very skilled. He has been doing this work for upward of 20 years and learned it from his family. So he has incredible tracking talent and found us multiple leopards and even a cheetah. He would set off on foot for an hour at a time to locate an animal, so impressive.

Everyone raves about ticking off the Big 5 on their journey, but I didn't really feel that was the aim of the trip at all. But because many people will care, yes we saw all of the Big 5 multiple times as well as other amazing animals: cheetah, zebra, giraffe, African wild dog, hyena, etc. Before booking I had worried about whether this traversing area was too close to 'civilization' to yield good sightings. Not the case at all, and don't worry about it a bit. You're going to the densest, most animal-populated section of Sabi Sands / Kruger so there's no need to worry about whether you'll have amazing sightings. You will!

After four days of game drives and four nights of delicious dinners, I was really sad to leave Dulini. I haven't felt that much of a heartbreak over leaving many other destinations. There was something transporting about the absolute wilderness and the animal sightings and something magical about coming together with a small group of people to share your experience through conversations, meals, and wines. To top if off, I felt like I really learned a lot about this part of the bush and the world from the stories by Ian, Fred, Martin, Patrick, and Dynamos at dinner. If you're looking for a lovely time with kind people in a magical place, look no further than Dulini.

Thanks to Ian, his family, Fred, Martin, Poppy, Reply, Jess the chef, Patrick, Dynamos, Kelly, and everyone else who works to welcome guests to Dulini. It's a favorite memory of mine now.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank Erin P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 15, 2014

My mother and I stayed here in early January. It was magnificent. The food was incredible and the rooms were lovely and clean. Our guide and tracker (Patrick and Tyrone) were knowledgeable and guided us to the most fantastic wildlife. The owners/managers, Ian and Sue, are a delightful family who went out of their way, every day, to make us feel at home. The entire staff was wonderful. I could not recommend Dulini higher. I can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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Thank Dressage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2014

My husband, college-age daughter, and I stayed at Dulini for two nights and at a neighboring lodge for one before that--both were phenomenal! Dulini achieves perfection in every way: each villa is beautiful and very private, every staff member knew each of us by name, the food was the best we have had anywhere--fresh, exquisitely prepared local food, plenty of vegetarian options--and, most importantly, the game drives were unbelievable. The guides and trackers really know how to find the animals--in the two days here, we saw the big five multiple times up close and personal. Perfect spot for a honeymoon. It would have been nice to all stay in one villa (they do not allow more than two people, even though the houses are very large), asa result, the price for the three of us was significantly more than the neighboring lodge (although my daughter loved having her own place.) With only six villas (capacity of 12), you really get a feeling of complete privacy and personal attention. Dulini is a special place. Highly recommended.

Room Tip: They are all the same size and layout--all beautiful.
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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Thank travelluver222
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dulini_Lodge, General Manager at Dulini Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded January 15, 2014

Thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderful review on Dulini. We are delighted that your stay was so memorable.

Dulini is certainly able to accommodate triple rooms. This is done on request and is dependent on how many guests we have booked into the lodge already. As you have mentioned, we are a small lodge and we pride ourselves on the intimate environment this creates for our guests and their game viewing experience. Hence, our policy is to limit game drive capacity to 6 guests per vehicle unless, under special circumstances, a party of 7 or 8 are traveling together and they specifically request more than 6 guests per vehicle.

We are sorry to read that this was your one point of dissatisfaction but we hope this clarification helps in your planning for your next visit!

Thank you again for the lovely review.
Warmest regards
The Dulini family

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Dulini Lodge

Address: | White River, Kruger National Park 1240, South Africa (Formerly &Beyond Dulini)
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 42 Specialty Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range: $108 - $2,284 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Dulini Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Under a leafy canopy of ebony trees, six luxurious stone cottages grace the banks of the Mabrak River. As one of only 12 guests, you feel instantly at home in this quiet retreat, where classic interiors enfold guests in quiet style and elegance. Generous private plunge pools and shady decks look out onto the dry riverbed. Large, welcoming sofas and African sculptures fill the gracious guest areas. Dine under the ancient jackalberry tree where skilled chefs serve delicious meals or steal away for an intimate dinner in the well-stocked wine cellar. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
And Beyond Dulini Lodge
&Beyond Dulini Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Dulini Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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