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
- Also Known As:
- Vuyatela Hotel Djuma Game Reserve
- Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp South Africa/Djuma Game Reserve