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“A magical safari experience!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

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Toro Yaka Bush Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Kent, England
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“A magical safari experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2014 via mobile

We had 3 nights at Toro Yaka and wish we could have stayed longer! The bush lodge is in an incredible private game reserve with spacious luxury rooms that are hard to leave at 6am to go out on a drive! The team headed by owners Steve & Nicole are fantastic hosts and nothing is too much trouble and they genuinely care about your experience with them. The food arranged by Nicole/Mike and others is plentiful and some of the best I have eaten in S Africa. Steve is a great guide with knowledge and passion in equal (and extensive) measures. We spent a full day in the main Kruger park seeing almost every African animal you can think of but enjoyed the close encounter drive/walks with Steve more. Being arm's distance away from a bull elephant is a moment to treasure forever. Really didn't want to leave this beautiful place.

  • Stayed July 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank colonelvern
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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292 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (49)
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English first
Union, New Jersey
Level Contributor
239 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

We arrived at Toro Yaka in early July. From the moment we arrived we were greeted warmly by the owner, Nicole. After a rundown of the place, we were taken to our home for the next 5 days. Couldn't have asked for more. This place was great. Rustic looking, yet extremely comfortable. Don't let looks fool you. The bed was extremely comfortable. Felt like I was sleeping on a cloud. The food is second to none. I like to eat, and this place sure knows what they are doing when it comes to feeding its guests. We had 3 meals a day there and they were all great.

Breakfast: Juices, fresh fruits, yogurts, cereals, granola, toast, eggs made to order, tea and coffee
Lunch: different menu every day, but you begin with a cheese platter =)
Dinner: 3 courses, different menu every day - Phenomenal

Nicole was great when it came to setting up activities for us. My wife wanted to take a hot air balloon ride and it was booked without a hitch with transport to and from the ballooning sight.

The Game Drives:
This was our first trip to Africa - First time going on game drives. We had the time of our lives. Mike our guide and Goodman the spotter were great. We saw so many different animals. And Mike never missed a chance to stop and point out different plants and birds in the area. I enjoyed the educational aspect of the game drives. It's clear that Mike loves being out on the game drives, he has a passion for it.

Steve, Nicole's husband is amazing to talk to about Balule. He has so much experience dealing with animals over so many years, in different areas around Africa. I really enjoyed picking his brain at the bar or at dinner.

Toro Yaka is a special place. The staff and the owners are wonderful. The food is as good or better than what you might find in NY, creative and innovative at times. The property is meticulously kept.

Amazing is an understatement. Book a stay and find out for yourself!

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Fries_with_Ketchup
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2014

We booked a last minute holiday at Toro Yaka as I have always wanted to see big game and the trip didn't disappoint. Toro Yaka offers luxury accommodation in the middle of the bush so you get all the excitement of being in the middle of the action with the luxury. Heaven! I can't recommend highly enough. Everything was pretty much perfect - amazing home cooked food, friendly and helpful staff and Steve's encyclopaedic knowledge of nature. Steve and Nicole are lovely and you get the feeling that they are doing something that they love very much. Their heart is in everything 100%. You won't find a nicer place to relax and view nature. We will definitely go back. Thanks for everything guys!

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Chris S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2014 via mobile

It is hard to put words to this magical lodge! It truly was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives ! My daughter and i always wanted to go on a safari adventure and this surpassed our dreams. To name a few highlights: the welcoming hosts of Nicole and Steve and their entire staff was amazing . Nicole is as sweet as it gets, and her food is out of this world! Each meal (included in package) was better than any five star restaurant. Fantastic and full wine list, too. The accommodations were gorgeous- heavenly beds and big fluffy beds and SUPER clean! Everywhere you look there are cute touches! Then there was the morning and evening safaris with Steve- we couldnt have asked for a better, more competent guide! We saw all the animals up close and personal and he is super knowlegable about each animal from the elephant down to the smallest of creatures . He can whistle and call hundreds of birds within seconds, really cool. Thank you thank you and we cant wait to come back!

Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
Helpful?
2 Thank Lisa S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Whitewater, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2014

As this was an exciting trip, I like everyone else on here wondered if I would be disappointed because of the hype and an almost perfect score. We flew into Nelspruit and rented a car. We booked Nelspruit on accident as Hoedspruit would've been closer, but it was an easy 3 1/2 hour drive through banana plantations and mid-size cities. When we arrived at Toro Yaka we were greeted with iced tea and shown to our rooms. The rooms are fantastic. An indoor/outdoor shower, double sink, and very comfortable bed. We had lunch right away which was always delicious! Our first day there was a giraffe drinking from the water hole. The service was great, I would take a nap and within minutes the bed would be perfect again. I felt like there were elves doing this. The game drives were everything we expected. We stayed on the lodge one afternoon and got to see the bush babies. Every breakfast, lunch, and dinner were well planned out and didn't include anything on the list of things we provided we didn't care for. Dinner was always in a different location and configuration. When we left, our rental car had been washed. There was nothing that could have been better. Well, I wish the pool had been a warmer so we could swim, but that wasn't there fault. This was May.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Drew S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2014

We arrived at Toro Yaka after three days of driving ourselves around & staying in Kruger Park lodges. Driving ourselves in the park had been absolutely incredible: we saw 4 of the big 5 and many other amazing sights. Neither of us thought that our trip could be improved on, but we were wrong. Toro Yaka is the most wonderful place we have ever stayed. Nicole, Percy, Mike, Deborah, and C.J. greeted us warmly on arrival while we settled into our luxurious, private, quiet, spacious room. Our accommodations, in the “Lion Room,” surpassed any expectations we had. The outdoor shower (there’s an indoor option as well) was heavenly, the bed (surrounded by mosquito netting just as you picture when you think of a safari) was comfortable and luxurious. The main lodge & the pool area were lovely and comfortable, featuring an honesty bar and tons of spots in which to relax. I believe there are six rooms at Toro Yaka, allowing for a very intimate, friendly, comfortable vibe. We didn’t get to see the other rooms but I’m sure all of them are similarly perfect.
We stayed at Toro Yaka for two days and we wished we could have stayed a week or more. But we took full advantage of our time there with the help of the friendliest, most interesting group of people we encountered during our two weeks in South Africa. Nicole, Portia, & Mike prepared the best meals we have ever eaten. Everything was fresh, delicious, and thoughtfully prepared: I was one vegetarian among a group of meat eaters and Nicole did not skip a beat in providing creative and tasty vegetarian-friendly options for me. We went out on three game drives (sunset, sunrise, sunset) with C.J., whose knowledge of and passion for the wildlife of the bush made those trips unforgettable. And aside from that we just had a blast hanging out and talking with him as well as with Goodman. We immediately recognized that C.J. and Goodman were experts at what they do & their confidence and obvious skill made us feel totally safe even during close encounters with lions and elephants. During the evening game drives, right at sunset, C.J. found a particularly picturesque spot to pull over the Land Rover & set up a table with snacks and a bottle of wine we were asked to select earlier in the day over lunch. Having “sundowners” on the bank of a river filled with hippos and crocodiles was a highlight of our trip, if not the highlight.
Another high point of our time at Toro Yaka was the bush walk that Steve and Mike escorted us on on our last morning there. We were lucky to be able to explore Balule on foot with the help of such expert guides. Steve skillfully tracked animal prints that would have been totally imperceptible to us without his help, and expertly guided us through a close meeting with a group of elephants. It’s impossible to effectively describe in words what it’s like to come so close to these massive animals on foot in the wild, but needless to say it’s thrilling and terrifying. Steve and Mike made us feel comfortable during the entire 3-hour morning walk, and Steve’s stories about his experiences as a guide are incredible & truly beautiful.
Toro Yaka is a place that borders on magical. We’d like to return as soon as we can, bring friends, and stay for a longer time. If you’re considering a trip here you should not think twice about booking. We will be forever thankful to Nicole, Steve, C.J., Deborah, Goodman, Mike, Portia, and Percy for the unforgettable experience we had at this amazing place.

Room Tip: The Lion room was perfect but we're pretty certain that any room there would be fabulous.
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Evonne N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sliema, Malta
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2014

Got back home yesterday from 4days at Baluli where we stayed at Toro Yaka Bush lodge. Cant even begin to describe what a beautiful treasure this place is :) The lodge is beautiful, with the most comfortable beds (makes it extremely hard to get out of them !), the food is just fantastic, different every day and each meal was just better and better and the special little treats that are left (stories and chocolates..it goes on and on ) :) However, it wasnt just the beautiful surrondings and the good food and comfortable bed and room that make this place special and amazing.. its the people there. All of them made our trip that much more amazing, the smiles from everyone, the genuine love for the place and the love for the animals is so apparent its infectious. Visitng Baluli is amazing, all those animals is just mind blowing and unreal but staying here ..it just makes it even better :) The attention to detail from all the staff is wonderful and you feel like you are at home. We loved that its a small lodge, so you get to know , not only the staff but even the people visiting on a personal level and get to share your experiences. I highly highly recommend this place .. you would not want to leave. So Thank you Toro Yaka for making our stay the most magical stay :)

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank samzy2014
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

Property: Toro Yaka Bush Lodge
Address: Sable Road, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Balule Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Balule Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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 
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Also Known As:
Toro Yaka Bush Lodge South Africa/Balule Private Game Reserve

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