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“Simply the best - highlight of our African honeymoon...”

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Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp
Reviewed November 1, 2008

We stayed here midway through our honeymoon, which began in Zambia. Having never been on safari before we didn't exactly know what to expect, but I have never been anywhere that had the level of service or touches found at Vuyatela. The staff were without exception superb - courteous, professional and fun to be around. The small number of guests means there is what is best described as a family atmosphere, while remaining professional. I think this is a difficult thing to achieve, and of great credit to the staff.

Now on to the game... like previous reviewers, we also saw the Big 5 within 24 hours. On the second game drive, we were witness to 2 male lions with a Buffalo kill - which they proceeded to consume over the next 3 days. We also saw a breeding herd of elephants numbering 15, incuding several young of only a few months. The nature of our finding these was simply amazing. It was on an evening drive and the night had completely closed in - suddenly we saw a couple of elephants in the headlights. As the spotlight was swung left and right, the couple expanded into a large herd, which we tracked to a watering hole. It was something we will never forget. However, we soon heard over the radio that a pride of lions had been spotted, and raced through the night to see them - spotting Jackal and a bachelor crush of rhino on the way! The lion pride was amazing. Apparently, they are relatively infrequent visitors, and to see a family group at such close quarters was incredible. We returned to camp that night exhillerated by what we saw.

When we arrived at dinner that night, we found that we had a table set on our own, including a bottle of bubbles, in honour of our honeymoon celebrations. This was superb and finished a perfect day.

Of the 7 game drives we were on, we always saw something new or interesting on each drive. We even saw one of the Small 5 - Leopard Tortoise! We were fortunate to see two different leopard three times - one of the animals was snoozing in a tree. The beauty of the animal when watching just feet away, really comes through.

Nicholas and Amos were our ranger and tracker, and they were superb. Their knowledge was encyclopaedic, and their company fun. I believe all the guides are local from the nearby villages - this helps to understand the lives of the people in context with the lives of the animals. To this end a village visit can be organised, and shows the great work Djuma is doing for the local population.

The accomodation is like nothing we have stayed in. Designed and built along traditional lines, using local techniques and materials, they make you feel like part of the landscape. The outdoor shower is fantastic - I would shower every morning before the game drive just to wake up! Each lodge is air conditioned and very comfortable. The plunge pool is very useful in the mid-day heat. To listen to lions roaring in the night is something I will never forget...

Lastly, don't forget to try the Amarula or the Marula Jam! The food is out of this world - incorporating lots of local produce and recipes as well as more familiar dishes. The soups were outstanding - don't miss these - a fresh soup was available every lunch and dinner which were very different, but delicious! My wife was until recently a vegetarian, and still is a bit fussy about what she eats, so opted to go vegetarian at Vuyatela. The staff accomodated her wonderfully - she even felt guilty about eating any meat dishes since the staff made such an effort with her veggie food!

We can't wait to go back one day, and haven't really stopped talking about it since! It made our stay in Mauritius in a top hotel pale in comparison.

Paul and Sally Stanger

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank stang78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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100 - 106 of 118 reviews

Reviewed October 19, 2008

Can't speak highly enough of the place. We spent 4 nights there at the start of our honeymoon and we both absolutely loved it. The game is excellent and we saw the big 5 in the first 24 hours. The trackers really wanted to ensure we saw everything we wanted to and went in search of a hippo on our last night drive. The food is surprisingly excellent considering it is in the middle of nowhere. The cakes and pastries were particularly good. The lodges are very private and aren't overlooked. The standard of the accomadation was also excellent with big spacious rooms, outside showers and a plunge pool. The staff were fantastic, genuniely friendly and made a real effort to make the start of our honeymoon special. On the last night we were dropped off at our hut and they had laid on a speacial private chamapagne dinner on our patio. Interestingly they had a couple visting from a south african professional body who were were examining the standards of the trackers and they said the standard of the game and the accomadation was one of the best in the Sabi Sands and Kruger area. We would both also highly recommend.
Anna and Rob - London

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Anna28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 2, 2008

This was undoubtedly the highlight of our honeymoon.

We loved how Vuyatela brought together elements from the local villages and incorporated it into the luxury accommodations.

We arrived and were greeted by Jimmy, the manager, who quickly escorted us to our suite so we would be able to make the 4:30 game drive. After a monkey stole a piece of my cake, we were off.
We had our jeep to ourselves, being the honeymoon couple, and Amos and Nichulas were our private trackers and ranger -- at least for the next two drives.

The people working there are so friendly. I had numerous conversations with guides, mangers and wait staff, all so nice and willing to share their experiences.

The food was tops. The lamb stew has to stand out as the best meal. Both lunch and dinner are buffet with two mains, veggies, starch, salad and dessert. The afternoon snack of cake or cookies and tea/coffee makes sure you don't get hungry on the afternoon drive. Even if you do, there's a break in the middle where you have drinks and some hot or cold food (dried fruit and nuts, kabobs, chicken).

The huts are decorated with local art and have air conditioning. We often saw animals in the waterhole, zebras, giraffes.

On our last night, we had our own private, candlelit dinner in the den area of the lodge. When we returned to our room, there was a trail of tea candles leading to a bubble bath and champagne.

On our game drives, we saw the Big 5, went off road to track down some elephants, and even saw a pride of lions eating a kill. You would believe how close you can get to the animals. Nichulas was very knowledgeable about the animals and the environement and answered all our questions.

We would totally recommended the place to everyone.

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank dsess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 24, 2008

My family and I stayed for three (3) nights at Vuyatela, and had a terrific time.

The staff was excellent, the food delicious, and the twice daily game drives were truly exciting. We were able to view all the "Big Five" animals - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and hippo numerous times during the game drives as well as many other animals.

The rooms are very spacious and housekeeping does an excellent job. There are two computers available for internet service which is a major plus to keep in touch with family and friends. The drive to the Lodge is mostly on dirt roads, so it is wise to rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle, or have the Lodge pick you up outside of Kruger National Park (there is an extra fee for this service). I had a flat tire after the drive to the Lodge, and the staff took care of repairing the tire for our drive back out at no cost.

If you are looking for an excellent safari experience at a reasonable price, I would highly recommend the Vuyatela Lodge.

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank Simmrouter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 19, 2008

I felt compelled to write this review having just read the review dated 14/1/08 about the missing jewellery.
Although I can empathise with the unfortunate circumstances and of course the sentimentality involved, I experienced a totally different scenario regarding my own jewellery.

Again in a rush to leave the lodge in the early hours of the morning,
I unfortunatley left my expensive jewellery behind in the safe. When I discovered what had happened in Johannesburg, I found the staff at Vuyatela most helpful. Charmaine, in particular, was most efficient in arranging the transfer and safe return of my jewellery back to the United Kingdom.

I cannot recommend this lodge highly enough. The game drives were brilliant and Charles and Amos were very knowledgeable. The staff were friendly and accommodating. I had a massage in the Rubbing Post which was a lovely form of relaxtion during the day.

We went on the tour of the village which was heart rending but enjoyable. The accommodation, although quirky, was luxurious. I would highly recommend the outdoor shower - god knows who or what is watching you!

Don't hesitate- just go!

  • Stayed: November 2007, traveled with friends
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Thank SHOBIE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 14, 2008

My husband and I spent the last 4 days of our honeymoon at Djuma and had a great time there. The game drives were wonderful, the food was great and the accommodation and service, though not equivalent to a 5 star hotel in a major city, adequately met our needs. However an unfortunate incident involving the disapperance of a necklace valued at over £2k and given to me by my parents as a wedding gift left me very upset and soured my memories of Djuma. The necklace was kept in a safe operated by lock and key while at Djuma. On our last day we packed in a frantic hurry after being told at 9.30 am that our flight was to leave at 10.30 am and not 3pm as per our itinerary. Once packed, our bags were collected from our room and we were rushed to the airstrip. On unpacking at home after the journey I opened the box which had contained the necklace and found it to be empty. Suffice to say given that the bag it was in was carried hand luggage on the return flights I formed a stong suspicion that the neckace was stolen at Djuma. To my surprise my call to the lodge reporting the incident was met with indifference. I asked if they had any experiences of theft at the lodge before to which the reply was "not really". They offered to check my room and call me back but didn't bother. No one said I'm sorry your wedding gift (worn only once) is gone or showed the slightest sign of caring what had happened. I made contact with management to ask them to confirm in writing that I had reported the loss for the purposes of claiming on my insurance and to my amazment they refused to co-operate. I called to try to reason with them and explained that the note could include their view on what had happened and required no admssion of liability. Why would they want to prevent me from claiming on my own insurance? They refused to even discuss it with me and were rude and dismissive on the phone. I felt angry and upset to be treated that way after spending a small fortune there. Fortunately my insurers were sympathetic and paid out anyway - but it only up to the amount of cover for valuables which was one third of the value of my beautiful necklace. Needless to say I would not recommend it but If you go to Djuma don't bring any valuables or expect any client service from management if you have an issue after they've got your hard earned cash in their pockets.

Stayed: August 2007
8  Thank Kelly54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2007

My husband and I stayed at Vuyatela Lodge during part of our honeymoon in December 2007. We had the most fantastic time there and will treasure the memories forever.

The staff were just so friendly and were always around to help.

The lodge itself is beautiful. The individual 'huts' overlooking the bush are what I would term 'luxurious basic'. The outdoor shower is amazing, as is the plunge pool on the deck.

The food is fantastic and there is just so much of it! I don't think I've ever eaten so well.

The game viewing is prolific. We saw countless elephants, zebra, leopards, cheetahs, lions, hippos, rhinos, giraffes and buffalo during our 3 days at the lodge. The guides were very friendly and extremely knowledgeable.

I would recommend this place as a safari destination in a second.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Casper07
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

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: $120 - $170 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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