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“a special place to be”

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Toro Yaka Bush Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 14, 2012

We have been now 4 times at Toro Yaka Bush Lodge and next year we go back again.
It is a very nice place with Nicole ,Steve and de dog Nwgedi . You get delicieus food, a very nice room, special game drives with a lot off nice stories about the animals and bush, It is peaceful to stay at the pool and to see a lot of animals coming to the water pole. The staff is very friendly and everyone does there very best to make it unique. When you have been there one's , you come back .

  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank oompies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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235 - 241 of 356 reviews

Reviewed July 13, 2012

Toro Yaka is a true paradise. The location is unbeatable - right in the bush. As there are only a handful of rooms, it's very quiet and peaceful, too. The rooms are lovely with a great style. Upon arrival, we had a little present on our bed - very personal!! Nicole and her staff is very welcoming and super friendly. The food is out of this world, simply great! Our ranger JB was extremely knowledgeable, too and we had the most fantastic game drives. We loved every minute of our stay and were very sad to leave. We will definitely return when in South Africa again! Thank you, Nicole & staff for making our stay so special!

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Janine824
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2012

Prior to booking Toro Yaka, I read all the reviews in Tripadvisor and the words "wonderful", "amazing" and "spectacular" were used in describing this lodge. After our stay I will also use those words in my description. The hosts Nicole and Steve and staff did everything they could to make our 4 day stay the most memorable experience we had in South Africa. The food was wonderful from the exquisite breakfasts to the fine dining around the camp fires. The morning and afternoon game drives were informative and always productive viewing rinos, elephants, hippos, giraffes and many other amazing animals. The game often surrounded our vehicle as they ignored us and went on about their business.
The rooms were very nice. The beds were comfortable and the bathrooms spacious. Even a private wood deck to sit quietly and read. Each night the bed was turned down the the mosquito net closed. We never had a bite!
I researched lots of game lodges in the Kruger area and many looked nice, but I am so happy I booked Toro Yaka. It was perfect stay in every respect.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Richard1919
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2012

Very rarely do people find their true calling in life; Nicole and Steve have found their calling running Toro Yaka, and you will benefit by staying with them. All the superlatives you’ve read in the other reviews are spot-on, but I’ll highlight some.

Food - every single meal we ate was fantastic. My wife is a vegetarian, and Nicole kindly catered to her needs. We have been fortunate to eat at great restaurants around the world, and the food at Toro Yaka could hold its own anywhere.

Game drives - a true bush experience. You can tour Kruger National Park in a vehicle and generally see the animals at a distance, or go with Steve or his ranger and get a personal experience. We were fortunate enough to see lions mating less than 15 feet from our Land Rover, and also had an intimate experience with a herd of elephants who surrounded our jeep and dined for about 45 minutes. (We also saw loads of other animals, but these were the highlights.) I would suggest going to Kruger for one day just to experience it, but we came out valuing our bush drives at Toro Yaka much higher. Nicole is happy to help arrange a day trip to Kruger or any other nearby experience you may want to take part in while staying at Toro Yaka.

Massage - you will come out feeling refreshed and pampered. Nicole will knead your muscles as deeply as you request, or provide a nice, relaxing experience. And the prices are extremely reasonable.

Overall value - very high. We were greeted by name, and everything about our stay was first-rate. We enjoyed the intimate size of the lodge, as it really made us feel at home. You could easily spend three times as much at another lodge and miss out on such personalized attention and added benefits. Don’t hesitate; book your stay at Toro Yaka without a second thought.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank dongerneedsfood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 25, 2012

We found Toro Yaka by trip advisor and it was a great found. Very nice hotel if just six amazing rooms and an excellent staff. The rooms are spacious, with a nice bathroom, inside and outside shower and an excellent bed. The food was delicious. Spectacular breakfast with hot and cold option (best musli I’ve ever had), light and fresh lunch and a tasty dinner. Nicole (the lodge’s owner) makes an excellent job making everyone have a great stay. The staff was very friendly and the game drives were awesome and well executed. We saw lots of animals (good views of lions, buffalos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, impalas and lots more) and had an amazing time. The lodge offers wi-fi internet, but it is charged by person and not by room. Definitely an excellent value for money. It’s an excellent lodge that offers a personal stay, with great game drives and an affordable price. Would come back and indicate to friends and family.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Flavia B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2012

Nicole and Steve made our first safari experience unforgettable. The lodge itself is warm and welcoming, reflecting the personalities of its owners. We availed ourselves of everything the place had to offer, from massage to a bush walk and daily game drives. Steve was an amazing guide, sharing his breathtaking depth of knowledge on flora and fauna as well as his passion for conservation and love of the land. Nicole is a fantastic chef and serves a variety of homemade goodies at every meal. She is also a talented massage therapist and offers massage in a room that looks out onto the bush, making the experience organic as well as spiritual. The staff was superb and we felt well cared for. Steve helped us arrange drives outside Balule and his recommendations were perfectly on the mark. When we left, we felt like we were saying goodbye to old friends.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank naturelover19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 16, 2012

As a fairly seasoned safari goer, I have avoided Balule Reserve having had a bad experience at a poorly run lodge, as well as very few game sightings in 2004, but I decided to give it another try during my recent return home to South Africa. Toro Yaka’s reputation looked like it may change my mind.

The reserve is beautiful and Toro Yaka certainly has some stunning land to traverse and explore. As there aren't many lodges in this area and therefore few vehicles out on drive, you will experience Steve’s skills and the adrenaline rush of tracking, as well as the disappointment of not finding your quarry (i.e. not 'tracking by radio' which is often the case in reserves with numerous lodges traversing the same area). Thus, if you are looking to tick off your list of Big 5 during a short stay, you may be disappointed. That said, during my 3 day stay I was more than delighted with two separate sightings of a big herd of buffalo, 7 lion with very full bellies, a rhino up close and very personal, as well as warthogs, zebra, impala, wildebeest, waterbuck, giraffe, numerous birds and glorious sunsets over the Drakensburg mountains. In particular, I treasure the times spent by the Olifants river just listening to the world around us, the impromptu walks during drive and the very real joy of being a part of the bush, tracking, smelling, listening, observing, just being.

Steve’s enthusiasm, passion and strong opinions are interesting, if somewhat blunt and provoking at times - he says it as he sees it. Nicole is a warm and lovely lady who has created a comfortable environment in which to relax and feel at home.

I left with mixed feelings, but overall I believe that Nicole and Steve and their team work incredibly hard and Toro Yaka is a peaceful and beautiful haven for the weary soul looking for stylish and comfortable rooms, lovely guest areas, tranquility, delicious and copious amounts of food and an interesting and enjoyable bush break at a reasonable rate.

My impression of Balule Reserve dramatically improved thanks to them.

Room Tip: Corner suites have their own private deck area (4 in all out of 6 rooms)
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled solo
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9  Thank UKIngwe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

Address: Sable Road, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Balule Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Balule Nature Reserve
Price Range: $227 - $927 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Owner/Manager team Steve & Nicole Baillie would like to invite you to visit Toro Yaka Bush Lodge. This special lodge is nestled in the heart of the Balule Nature Reserve, a 38 000 hectare conservancy, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park area. ToroYaka means “My Dream” in Northern Sotho, one of South Africa’s local languages, and the creation of Toro Yaka Bush Lodge has fulfilled the dreams of Steve and Nicole, by establishing a haven of peace and tranquility from which to share their passion for nature. The lodge has been designed in a modern elegant style, with a relaxed atmosphere, allowing guests to sit back, relax and feel at home. The six en-suite double rooms ensure tranquility and comfort at all times. Steve has spent more than a decade sharing his knowledge and love for the bush with clients from all over the world at luxury game lodges throughout South Africa. Nicole is a qualified holistic massage therapist and takes care of all the tiny details. Together with the Toro Yaka Staff, they will ensure your stay to be a memorable one. Balule is home to a large variety of plants and animals. From the smallest spider to the largest elephant, from the tiniest flower to a 1000 year old Leadwood tree, owls at night and eagles by day, every aspect of the ecosystem is explored. The Olifants River, which flows year round through the Balule, is home to hippos and crocodiles, and the whole area is one of scenic splendor, with the northern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range being visible from many points. Together with all of this, Toro Yaka Bush Lodge offers you good home cooked food, friendly service, warm South African Hospitality and loads of enthusiasm. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Toro Yaka Bush Lodge South Africa/Balule Nature Reserve

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