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“All that was expected and lots more!”

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Toro Yaka Bush Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 17, 2014

There is no point repeating all that has been said in the reviews. This place is perfectly run, and Nicole's meals are to die for. Try and get in to the pool, with a view of the animals. Try and get Steve to talk to you about elephants and walk with him in the bush. CJ and big Michael have a fantastic sense of humour and take you for the most wonderful game drives. Make sure you have a sunset drink by the Oliphant River. And fit in a traditional BBQ. Well done Toro Yaka. You surpass all standards.

Stayed: February 2014, traveled with friends
1  Thank Jayant B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 16, 2014

The reviews on this site are correct. My hubby and I stayed at Toro Yaka Lodge for 4d/3n during Dec 2013. We went on a few different early morning & evening safaris and had a blast. The history lessons received about the wildlife were grand...it was like we were in school. I am so happy that we had the GoPro and camera, b/c we were able to capture video footage and pictures of all of the different animals viewed. The facilities where we stayed were top notch. I loved the food. Props to Deborah and the staff for speaking to us about the cultural things of South Africa. The intimate settings during lunch and dinner were very lovely. Something new everyday. I absolutely loved the food. (I think that I was totally spoiled.) The only downside were the directions that Google gave to the Lodge. Do NOT follow their directions. Also, DO NOT travel at night to get there. Leave early so that you can see. Otherwise, a must stay. A totally economical and affordable experience. Don't take my word for it....see for yourself! Thank you Nicole for the very pleasant stay. :)

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Diamond Lady R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2014

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Toro Yaka in January 2013. The owners were very friendly, as were the staff, and life at the hotel is organized a bit like in the old times, with guests truly being guests. The hotel is very small, so everyone sits together for meals, and the owners entertain as the hosts. This gives the hotel a very cozy atmosphere, but at the same time there is still as much privacy as one wants. Truly unique experience, although perhaps this is the standard for other small reserve lodges. In any case, we loved it, and the couple of jeep safaris that we took were amazing. I guess that luck also played its part, but we saw lots of animals including a couple of lions real close when they were eating a giraffe. We also wanted to go on a foot safari with the owner (a licensed, very experienced guide) but the weather did not cooperate.

Summing up, beautiful property which looks quite new but has an old-time atmosphere to it which makes it very cozy, and which is located in a great area in the Greater Kruger (Balule).

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank MarkamBey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 4, 2014

We have been in Toroyaka for the 6 time for 8 nights because it is so very good to stay with them.
Every day is special with the bush walks, de game drives and the delicious food and the hospitality from all the staff.
For us it is also a dream to be at Toroyaka. it is peaceful and so beautiful.
Nicole gives very nice massages and we can recommend this.
They deserve a big compliment for the way Nicole, Steve and the rest off the staff take care of the guests. Go on we wood say and we come back xxx

Room Tip: every room is excellent
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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Thank oompies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 17, 2014

Toro Yaka is “living the dream.” Upon arrival, we were welcomed with warm hospitality which continued throughout our stay. Steve, Nicole, and their staff provided A+ service, with attention to detail. Steve’s passion and knowledge of the bush was obvious with every conversation, whether on a game drive or sitting at the dinner table. Nicole was extremely helpful with every detail around the lodge, and we looked forward to her cooking – she has such a flair! The game drives were so much fun – we eagerly climbed aboard with Steve or CJ, and Ridwell, to see what the bush would provide for us, and we were never disappointed. Each drive was amazing. Toro Yaka provides an intimate, comfortable, yet elegant setting. We felt as if we were staying with friends, including their “ambassador,” Ngwedi, their sweet dog. We initially expected this trip to be a one-time experience, but now we are hooked, and we can’t wait to return to Toro Yaka!

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with family
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3  Thank skipador
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 17, 2014

My friend and I stayed at Toro Yaka at the end of our trip to South Africa. Our stay exceeded all of the reviews and photos we saw before we arrived. When we arrived we were greeted by Nicole, one of the owners, and her staff. We would soon learn that we would be greeted after each safari drive. These little touches are what really makes Toro Yaka a special place. With only 5 rooms the attention to detail is evident all around the lodge and at each meal.

I have to preface this with the fact that I am a foodie, so I need to highlight the amazing meals. Nicole is an amazing chef who planned out great menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and dinner we ate as a group with our safari guide, CJ, and Nicole's husband, Steve, while lunch we ate at our own table. It was a great balance in getting to know everyone, but also having some alone time at meals. Breakfast consisted of many choices from a cold bar, as well as a cooked to order portion of the meal. There were either waffles or flaky croissants each morning which were delicious! We always had a lovely cheese spread and a fruit cup with lunch and then a delicious and light main course. Dinner followed our evening safari and consisted of many delicious South African dishes. The meals were definitely one of our favorite parts of our stay. Nicole also will cook everything around dietary restrictions, as well as any general dislikes.

But of course we came to see some animals! We went on all the drives during our stay and saw a ton of giraffes and elephants. We were also lucky enough to see a lioness eat a baby giraffe as well as another lioness and her cubs. These were definite highlights! CJ was our guide on the drives and was incredibly knowledgeable on the reserve and the animals. He also provided some great humor and stories on his time in the bush and South Africa in general. After our last evening safari ride we came back to see an elephant by the pool and were able to watch in for a while in the dark. This was really special. Following dinner we saw an elephant in front of Steve and Nicole's house, which was also awesome. I am not sure how many 24 year old American girls stay at Toro Yaka, but we definitely took advantage of staying up with CJ, Steve, and/or Nicole after dinner. This was definitely our favorite time because we got to relax and exchange more stories. It really felt like a family at Toro Yaka and that is what made our stay so memorable. We have so many memories and great stories from our time at Toro Yaka. I also have to say that I learned so much from Steve about the animals, poaching, and so many other aspects of the bush and South Africa. It was truly wonderful to get to know everyone on a personal level. I will definitely be recommending Toro Yaka to anyone I know going to South Africa and hope to return in the future!

Room Tip: The whole lodge is very small so nothing is too small. But there are three rooms by the pool that ar...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled with friends
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Thank Emily L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2014

Today we arrived back from South Africa, both with heavy hearts. The country really touched us and had a fantastic 2 weeks travelling from Cape Town, along the Garden Route and then headed to Balule and Toro Yaka. After leaving the Garden Route we were already raving about South Africa but staying at Toro Yaka completely blew us away.
I'm some what of a sceptic and had read the rave reviews about the place and wondered whether it would live up to expectation... it completely exceeded it.
I am not even sure if my words will do it justice but thank you, Nicole, Steve, CJ, Ridwell, Percy, Deborah, Mike et al. I think it is fair to say that what makes this place is the passion that they all clearly share.
Steve- is a legend. His knowledge of not only the animals but also the birds, the fauna, geology etc is incredible. And his passion is infectious. We went on a bush walk with him and CJ on our very last safari which included tracking an elephant... such an incredible experience. Thank you.
Nicole- her attention to detail, her helpfulness, her incredibly yummy food and her nothingistoomuchhassle attitude ensures faultless service and experience for everyone. If that is not enough, she is also an incredible massage therapist. I thought I was relaxed when I arrived as we were at the end of the holiday, and then I had a massage... and slept like a baby all afternoon!!
CJ- Another legend! CJ along with Ridwell as our tracker got us to see some incredible sights and provided us with wonderful insight and knowledge... not to mention all his stories! A genuinely lovely guy, great with all guests including my mischievous husband!! ;)
Toro Yaka is a very special place. Nicole and Steve have managed to create a little piece of luxury whilst staying true to the African Bush and maintaining a personal service... that's got to be the hardest thing to achieve and they exceed it.
We're already plotting our next trip- can't say fairer than that, other than thank you from us both. And see you soon!!

  • Stayed: January 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Helenciña D
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: $315 - $1,002 (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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