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“Djuma: the Magic of the Sabi Sands”

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Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
69 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 139 helpful votes
“Djuma: the Magic of the Sabi Sands”
Reviewed October 17, 2011

Had an amazing time at Djuma Vuyatela, some extremely rude Polish guests notwithstanding (to these two, Nie plotek na oczach ludzi. Jest rude, i głupi.).

These tourists were continuously going on about how they had seen ‘far more animals in the Masai Mara’, and speaking with great authority, although they have probably only been to Africa a half dozen times. I have lived in various African countries for a combined period of almost 30 years and have been on HUNDREDS of Safaris in settings from Savannah to Bushveld to Desert to Delta etc, and I feel I should explain something…

The Sabi Sands is attached to the world famous Kruger National Park. The former is the best place on Earth to view “the Big 5” at close range, and the latter is by far the most Mammal-diverse African reserve. To quantify this, whilst the Masai Mara (which is amazing! I am not disparaging it) has slightly less than 100 species of mammals, Kruger has 149 counted thus far. Where the wonderful Masai Mara and Serengeti are without parallel, is in the sheer number of animals they have – particularly during the migration. 95% of this number, however, is made up of a very few species – Wildebeest, Zebra and Thompson’s Gazelle notably. In terms of biomass, this is one of the two greatest migrations on Earth (the other being South Africa’s sardine run) and it is amazing.

Personally though, I am more impressed by diversity than biomass, as it speaks of a more pristine habitat. I would not trade the 5 leopards and 20 lions we saw in our two days at Djuma for 50 000 wildebeest and 20 000 zebra (we saw wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, elephant, buffalo, rhino and all usual suspects in addition of course).

For diversity, and pristine habitat, the Sabi Sands and Kruger are immaculately preserved. Regions of Kruger, and all of the Sabi Sands, have never been used for any form of agricultural or economic activity. The bushveld habitat they support, never influenced by cattle over-grazing, is as it has been for countless millennia, and it is an extraordinary privilege to be able to participate in it. Both nights while we had dinner at Djuma, we watched leopards from the deck. An amazing opportunity, and something I’ve never experienced anywhere else in Africa.

I would say the following. For complex environment and diversity of animals, the Kruger National Park. For opportunities to view the big 5, Sabi Sands is without any peer. For sheer bio-mass, the Masai-Mara Serengeti (though it has less diversity). For unique habitat, the Okavango Delta (though it has fewer animals). For waterhole experience, Etosha in Namibia.

Facilities at Djuma are excellent. The drivers are knowledgeable and passionate about the bush, and the accommodation luxurious. I loved both the huge bath and outside shower, and the small plunge pool overlooking a dry river bed was a great place to unwind. The separate lounge was great to enjoy afternoon tea and coffee, and I thought the ‘modern-township-type-art’ was incredibly clever, contemporary and yet tasteful for the bush.

Personally I would have liked a slightly larger wine selection, but that’s only as someone who has now settled in Cape Town! Food was tasty and ample, and the staff serving and preparing it were both friendly and professional.

I am confident people visiting will have an amazing time.

Room Tip: Rooms 1 and 2 best.
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
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4 Thank Alexander T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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113 reviews from our community

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English first
Cape Town
Level Contributor
23 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed October 16, 2011

This lodge is located in the world-renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The area is well known for being the best place in the world to view leopards in their natural environment. We were only at Vuyatela for 2 nights and in that time we enjoyed 5 separate leopard sightings. I had a video camera with me and managed to capture more than 50 minutes of leopard footage. Needless to say we also had excellent sightings of lion, buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros. We were so satisfied with our game viewing experiences that we decided to opt out of our last game drive.

The accommodation at Vuyatela is some of the best available in the Sabi Sands. Vuyatela also offers some of the best 'lodge based' game viewing in the world. We saw dozens of different wild animals from the comfort of the lodge including a leopard and a genet.

The food at the lodge was of a high standard, though perhaps not as sophisticated as the food we've had at some of the more traditional Sabi Sand lodges.

The staff at Vuyatela were all incredibly friendly, helpful, welcoming and informative. A helpful tip: if you would prefer dining alone, instead of at a communal table, simply ask the lodge manager to organise this for you. The lodge normally seats guests at one or two large tables but when we enquired we were told that this could be changed on request.

Room Tip: Room 1 is best.
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
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3 Thank Craig W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed October 15, 2011

Having been my 3rd trip to Galago, I was again completely astounded by the game that our guides were able to show us - we had seen the big 5 within 3 hours on our first game drive!
The quality of the service was also outstanding - great food and ambiance!

A very memorable tript definitelyto be repeated!

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
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1 Thank Kamari d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Parker, Colorado
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 11, 2011

Vuyatela Lodge surpassed my expectations on all fronts. Our group had the entire run of the lodge (all 8 cabins) and we were pampered with gourmet meals, luxury accommodations, spa treatments and of course unbelievable game encounters. We arrived in the afternoon and by dinner time had seen 4 of the big 5. We completed our big 5 within 24 hours. Being on a private reserve, there were only a few other parties at the viewing sites, and that made it more intimate. The staff, guides and trackers were top notch. This is the only way to safari!

Room Tip: Lodge cabin #8 is a bit far from the main lodge. But be brave! The extra privacy is worth it.
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
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2 Thank Thomas G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
339 reviews
96 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 150 helpful votes
Reviewed October 8, 2011

We had the opportunity of staying here for a couple days the staff were fantastic the food some of the best, after being in a tented camp I must admit it wasn't us, we wanted the a more rustic afican experience but this place is an excellent alternative, the drives were great although there were hardly any animals not like the few days before in Kruger at Hamiltons tented camp,. There are alot of camps in Africa and we wanted to see a lot of animals I'm not sure that we'd go back to the Sabi Sands area.
One thing though, the tipping list in the rooms seemed a bit daunting!!

Room Tip: Room one or room two
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank Chillimudcrab
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chennai (Madras), India
Level Contributor
108 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2011

This was a fantastic place to stay. It was my first time in South Africa, and I can't wait to go back. We stayed at two lodges, and after staying at Vuyatela, the other lodge was disappointing to say the least.
The food was amazing. There was always something delicious to enjoy at every meal. With only safaris to go on, the food can make you put on a lot of weight. They offered either private tables for each of us, or when we met another family that we really liked, we sat together to talk about the incredible sighting that we had on each trip. The staff was attentive and made sure we had everything we wanted (even special requests). The laundry service was great, and we had everything returned the same day.
The best part of the trip for us were the animals. We saw the Big 5 within our second day and saw that more than once on our stay of 4 nights! Not a single game drive left us disappointed. There was always something new and exciting to see. When we wanted to see something, the guide almost always managed to find it. Before we left any animals, our guide made sure everyone was happy with what we had seen. Overall, we were more than happy with our decision to choose Vuyatela. Thanks everyone at Vuyatela for a truly memorable trip

Room Tip: Suite 1 has by far the best view of the water hole at Vuyatela
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank dilipjc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Africa
Level Contributor
15 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed September 26, 2011

Truly amazing location - total privacy - yummy food - fabulous staff - game viewing the best - be warned if you go to Vuyatela you could just fall in love with Africa at her best! I am already saving for our next visit - you need a minimum of 3 nights here - its awesome!

Room Tip: all the rooms are private and have an awesome location!
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank TheKraffts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp

Property: Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp
Address: Djuma Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve > Djuma Game Reserve
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Djuma Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 5
Also Known As:
Vuyatela Hotel Djuma Game Reserve
Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp South Africa/Djuma Game Reserve

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