Just got back from my first safari. Went with 3 friends and stayed 2 nights at Ngala Tented and 2 nights at Exeter Dulini.
While our group would wholeheartedly recommend Ngala Tented, we had mixed feelings about our experience at Dulini. Here´s a rundown of what we loved and what we were disappointed by.
*Lovely camp with large, luxurious bungalows. While we preferred the charm of the more rustic tented accomodations at Ngala Tented, it´s easy to see why many -- couples in particular -- would gravitate toward the spacious bungalows at Dulini. I´d guess you have more than double the amount of personal space at Dulini than at Ngala. Dulini´s bungalows each included a large sitting room with a fully stocked bar/minifridge, a nice-sized bedroom, a beautiful bathroom with indoor/outdoor shower + tub, and a large private game viewing deck with a private plunge pool.
*The food was some of the best of our trip. While the menu at Dulini seemed quite similar to Ngala, the chef at Dulini turned good dishes into gourmet ones. We especially enjoyed the meats & marmalades as well as the homemade ginger beer.
*The staff & service here was impeccable. Jessica, the hostess, was very personable & welcoming. And Octavia, our butler, surprised me one night by having a candlelit bubblebath setup once I returned back to the room after dinner.
*On the whole, the game drives at Dulini were far less fun than at Ngala. [Exception: On our first night at Dulini, we saw a cheetah kill a young buck -- hard to beat that!] Couple reasons we preferred the game drives at Ngala to Dulini:
(1) Ngala Tented seemed to be situated much closer to the animals than Dulini. At Dulini, we were almost always a 20min+ drive from any action. And there was less general game in between Big 5 sightings (ex: fewer impala, zebras) to keep things interesting during our driving time.
(2) Ngala has its own land and only 2 camps use it (Ngala Lodge & Ngala Tented) so there seem to be far fewer vehicles on the road. Dulini is part of the landshare agreement in the western part of Sabi Sands, so lots of lodges traverse over the same game area, leading to lengthy queues & lots of vehicles on the road. Looking at our photos now, we´re doing lots of cropping to try to get other vehicles out of the shot.
(3) At Ngala, our rangers tracked the animals themselves. At Dulini, the rangers locate animals via radio. So whereas our ranger at Ngala would be out of the car following lions tracks on foot, our ranger at Dulini would be on the radio trying to get us in the queue. [Note: We had great rangers & trackers at both camps. Things just worked differently with so many vehicles on the road in Sabi Sands.]
(4) Due to higher road density in Sabi Sands, we didn´t offroad nearly as much as we did at Ngala, which was disappointing for our group. Could definitely see this being a plus for other travelers though, especially those who prefer a smoother ride.
While we still had a great experience at Dulini, I think this lodge is a much better fit for couples than groups of friends. And better for those looking to relax in style than those seeking a bit of adventure in the wilderness.
- 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
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- Also Known As:
- &Beyond Dulini Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
- And Beyond Dulini Lodge
- Dulini Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve