Pondoro was fantastic…very elegant and a great value. Pondoro is in the Baluli reserve and it was full of game, the big 5 plus many more. Pondoro is right on the Olifant river so we had hippos behind our hut and we slept to the sounds of elephants tearing up the bush….they make a racket. Velvet monkeys and baboons came by daily.
We visited Pondoro as a family of 7, all USA nationals with 3 currently living in Switzerland.
A week before we arrived a pride of lions killed a big water buck just behind our hut. During daily bush walks around our lodge we saw fresh lion, leopard, and hyena tracks. On one bush walk along the river our tracker Remsen pointed out what looked like a huge black rock underwater, suddenly two hippos came to the surface 2 meters from us! The hippos were snorting and clearly annoyed with our intrusion. The main Pondoro lodge is encircled by an electric fence but the guest huts are outside the fence. Pondoro required a guide whenever we walked to our hut at night or early morning. A bit unnerving to see hippo’s in the flashlight beam 10 meters away. The guides said we were fine as long as the hippos were between us and the river, dangerous the other way around.
Even our guide Mark took out his camera for some unusual sightings. Cheetah’s are not common in Baluli as they prefer the open Savannah. We were fortunate to follow a Cheetah through the bush, up and down a tree, for around 20 minutes. We also got within 2 meters of a resting leopard in the twilight, again Mark had his camera out. Surprisingly the guide was impressed when at night we saw a civet cat and an aardvark, again his camera came out. Our guide told us that these animals are not rare but unusual to sight. The last time our guide saw an aardvark was years ago.
We travelled in a 9 passenger Land Cruisers with a guide and tracker. We would follow tracks until our tracker Remsen would hop off his front-most seat and walk deep into the bush to find a pride of 6 lions resting in dense grass. It seemed very daring in our regulated world of health & safety. During one evening tea-break the tracker and guide urgently hustled all of us back into the Land Cruiser. 60 seconds later two lioness walked by the truck giving us a close inspection. The tracker said he heard something and saw movement….the city slickers from Zurich did not notice anything until we were hustled into the truck.
We saw a lot of birds as well, vultures, harrier hawks, hawk eagles, African eagle, owls, lilac rollers, franklins, black ibis, etc
Seeing the sunrise and sunset, morning and evening stars, in the bush was amazing. Makes one realize how far away our lives are from nature.
The staff at Pondoro were amazing, always smiling, or ready with hot towels at the end of a game drive. Mark and Remsen, our guide and tracker, were very knowldegable about the flora and fauna. Mark and Remsen worked hard to deliver amazing animal encounters....and deliver they did! We were so happy to have them show us the bush. The food was delicious, with many courses each one better than the previous. The Chef and her team got everything rigtht...fresh ingredients, variety, novelty, and presentation. Several in our party took in a massage at the spa which was delightful.
This was our 30th wedding anniversary and the staff went out of their way to help us celebrate with candles, champagne and rose petals galore.
In short, Pondoro provided an amazing experience and a very good value. I highly recommend them. Many thanks to our friends at Pondoro...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set on the cool riverine banks of the Olifants River (largest in Kruger) in the 40 000 ha Big 5 Balule Private Game Reserve inside the greater Kruger National Park, Pondoro offers its visitors comfort, sophistication, elegance and a canvas on which to create a truly unforgettable African safari.In this small, very exclusive 16-bed lodge ( owner managed ) you will discover the only way to experience the African bush. In addition to luxurious accommodation and the caring attention from trained professionals, our visitors are lavished upon with international fare and humble African hospitality.Meals are an extraordinary culinary experience where Traditional African Cuisine fuse effortlessly with modern European trends.To compliment the food, select any of our fine wines from our extensive wine cellar. Vegetarians are specially catered for. All meals are served on a wooden deck high up in the tree canopy overlooking the Olifants River (weather permitting).Between game drives in open safari cruisers, nature walks and peaceful afternoon naps, enjoy a dip in the sparkling rock pool, a spot of sun bathing or browse through the library. The Pondoro bar is the ideal spot to quench your thirst and grab a snack. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire, TripOnline SA and Agoda so you can book your Pondoro Game Lodge reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Pondoro Game Hotel Balule Private Game Reserve
- Pondoro Game Lodge South Africa/Balule Nature Reserve