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“Absolute First Class Game Lodge Experience” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Pondoro Game Lodge

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Pondoro Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Somewhere in Asia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Absolute First Class Game Lodge Experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 7, 2013

As I was nearing the end of a three month trip through Africa, I decided that I needed to tack on one more game lodge and picked Pondoro through a web search. It turned out to be my best decision of the whole trip. It was a perfect way to wind up my stay in Africa. I don't give out 5 star ratings casually, but this place really deserved it. The staff is exceptional, their friendliness and warmth exceeded anything I'd found in Africa. The food was amazingly good, I constantly found myself looking forward to the next meal. The chalets are spacious and tastefully decorated, each in an individual theme and all with a beautiful view of the Oliphants river. The game drives were also excellent. We had good close encounters with all of the Big Five and more. The guides and trackers really know their terrain and provide encounters that others would surely miss. The game lodge is owner operated, so you get a personal tough in every aspect of your stay. I will return!

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank DigitalDiver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, October 25, 2013
Dear DigitalDiver,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

I am elated to see how much you enjoyed your stay with us especially after a 3 month safari trip throughout Africa.

I am looking forward to your next visit.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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676 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (160)
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English first
Brisbane, Australia
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 5, 2013

It's hard to find the words to describe the experience we had at Pondoro. We fell in love with this beautiful place from the start. We knew that we were in for a treat for the next 9 days.

The staff were fantastic. From Madeline at check in to the lovely ladies that looked after us at every meal, we could not have been made to feel more welcome. Thank you

The games drives (all 18) are not to be missed. We loved each and every one of them. Mark was our guide for the first 6 days. We could not have been in better hands. He made our drives so exciting. His knowledge of the wildlife is vast. He has a great sense of humour which made it all so much fun. We had Rul as our guide for our last 3 days. Mark was a hard act to follow but Rul certainly lived up to the challenge. His passion was the leopard. it was fascinating to watch how they track the wildlife. Staying there for over a week, we got to see the animals (big 5) and heaps more on different occasions doing different things. We saw the 8 lion cubs on our first game drive. They were alone while their mothers were out hunting. We then saw them 2 days later with 4 adult lioness. The next time we saw them, they were all on a zebra kill. Each sighting was so exciting. The guides are helped by the trackers. Eric, Louis and Remsen did a great job tracking the wildlife. You guys work so well together which means the best possible outcome for the guests.

Tips for game drives...... Don't miss any of them.!

The food. You will not be disappointed. We had Chef Percy cooking up a storm every night. Just fabulous. Great wine selection, something to go with every meal.

Tips for meals...... Bring your appetite.!

Accommodation is breathtaking. The rooms are built along side Olifants River. The location is spectacular. Elephants within meters of our back deck was amazing. We even had a hippo walk past one night. Loved the decor. Just fabulous.

Robbie and Lize are the owners/managers. They are very hands on and it seems this is more their passion than their job. They are both lovely and made us feel very welcome. They ensure that everyone is happy and nothing is a problem for them. By putting the wildlife first, it means that the guests are winners. We absolutely can't say enough about Pondoro. The staff are outstanding.

I could only find one negative with Pondoro......We had to leave. We are already planning our next trip back.

Thanks for the best holiday we ever had.

Toni and Faye.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Toni S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, October 12, 2013
Dear Toni and Faye,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

It has been a pleasure to host you and welcome the 2 of you into our home. I am so glad that you enjoyed it and that it turned out to be your best holiday ever. Your enthusiasm for wildlife have inspired all.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Port of Spain, Trinidad
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 4, 2013

My husband and I recently stayed at Pondoro for four nights and enjoyed every second. We stayed in the Tree suite overlooking the river and the entire safari vacation is one that we will remember for a long time. Words cannot describe the warmth and hospitality we received from everyone...Lisie, Robbie, Future, ........... From the moment we arrived we recognized that we had chosen well.

The food was unbelievable... Healthy choices for breakfast, simple lunches and marvelous dinners... and the very best service!

Pondoro’s rangers are excellent and very professional. Big thanks to Rul and Rensom who went to extra lengths to ensure that all our game drives were exciting and fun-filled. Their ability to track the animals is something to experience, I simply cannot describe....and so we left Pondoro completely satisfied.

This was THE BEST vacation ever!! Don't hesitate to visit. We plan to return, hopefully next year.

Thanks Team Pondoro
Jacqui and Allan

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Jax S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, October 12, 2013
Dear Jacqui and Allan,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

It is very pleasing to see that this was your best vacation ever. We are looking forward to your next visit.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jau, SP
Level Contributor
435 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 4, 2013

I stayed at Pondoro 18 to 21 Aug 2013 (were wonderful days) . My expectation was I had never done "safaris" and I was not disappointed. Pondoro is a great option in Kruger! All is perfect (game drives, staff, food, etc) . I recommend !

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Carlos P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, October 9, 2013
Dear Carlos P,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

It is great to see that you enjoyed your stay with us and that you found everything to your liking.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 4, 2013

This was the first time I have been to a private game lodge, so I can only speak to the experience I had as compared to the experiences of friends/family who have been at similar lodges. That said, I cannot imagine being able to find a better place that provides a better experience for the price, than Pondoro.

Pondoro's lodge and location were immaculate. Situated on the Olifants River, the lodge grounds paid great homage to the stunning natural beauty of Kruger. The food was prepared by co-owner and Executive Chef Lize, and was absolutely amazing (dinner specifically, as it allows her and the staff to display their culinary chops). The food continues to have a recurring role in many of my best dreams.

We also had the unique experience of being able to stay in both the chalet and suites. Both were clean, comfortable, and impressively designed. They've tastefully blended aspects of the natural surroundings with expected and unexpected (claw foot bathtub on the deck!) luxuries. The room amenities were top-notch and accounted for everything we needed. Beds were fantastic, as were the views from the outdoor decks.

Staff - including all waiters/waitresses, rangers, trackers - made us feel so welcome and relaxed during our entire stay. The service was fantastic, and the attention to detail made such a big difference when you are in a remote location that is essentially self-contained. They plan some nice surprises for guests to enjoy during and after game drives.

Last but not least, the rangers and trackers did everything within their power to ensure that we had a great experience while on the game drives. Considering that you are looking for wild animals in such a massive area, I am still astonished at the amount of wildlife we saw. The rangers and trackers were so in-tune with the surroundings and often found game deep in the bush. These guys were absolutely phenomenal and great at what they do.

Our stay at Pondoro was simply perfect. We couldn't have asked for better hosts, guides, staff, location, food, peace/quiet, views, and so on. Pondoro deserves all the positive reviews and accolades it gets. Thanks for the wonderful time!

Room Tip: chalets are closer to the main lodge. for peace and quiet (and possibly some visits by elephants) bo...
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank tjkvu06
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, October 9, 2013
Dear tjkvu06,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

There is absolute nothing that I can add after a heading like that except that it is a huge compliment and puts a lot of pressure on us!!!

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wernau, Germany
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 3, 2013

we dont expect a lodge like Pondoro. evreything was perfect. it starts from the owners, the staff, the place, the menu´s, everything !!
the chalet was prepared with love and we had a beautiful view to the river. in the trees the monkeys comming for lunch, some visit´s from waterbocks and bushbocks. in the late evening some elephant are passing the terrace. the safari´s are amazing. we had a wonderfull team and a lot of amazing moments and also a lot of fun. we stay 3 nights at the Pondoro, but after we thought about it was to short.

many thanks to Lize and here team

Meggy and Werner

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank wernereisele
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, October 7, 2013
Dear wernereisele,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

I am elated to see how much you enjoyed your stay with us and to see that it was the highlight of your stay in South Africa.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
186 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 98 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 29, 2013

We took some our family to Pondoro as a treat to celebrate a 70th birthday and booked two suites and a chalet for 4 nights.

My sister in law was staying in a chalet which was conveniently located next to the restaurant and main buildings of the lodge. The chalet was beautiful with lovely views over the river to the banks across, was well appointed and had an outside bath.

My partner and I stayed in one suite with my in-laws staying in another. Each suite has a theme, are huge with an open plan bathroom, large deck outside and are very comfortable. There is complimentary sherry in the suite which was much appreciated and I must admit, had to be topped up on a regular basis!

The lodge only accommodates 16 guests so has an intimate feel. We stayed in midwinter and all meals bar one were taken out doors on the restaurant deck. One of the evenings we were surprised to find that tables had been set up on the river bank with candles lighting a path from the main buildings and fires lit to provide warmth on a chilly evening. A lovely surprise and very enjoyable evening.

The meals are unpretentious and honest using local ingredients. Each one was delicious and well prepared and presented. There is something available most of the day and if you keep active with game drives and walks over a long day, you will appreciate the amount of food on offer. You can make your dining experiences as social with other guests as you want of as cosy with your own party as you like. The hosts and staff are always around and contribute to the social aspect of the lodge with genuine warmth.

The game drives are spectacular and we were very lucky with the amount of game we saw. Be prepared for early starts and hold on tight, they can be a little bumpy at times, especially when the excitement takes over of a sighting of game communicated from one of the other game vehicles....when there's game to be seen, you don't wait around! Drives in the early morning were cold on the open safari vehicles but much appreciated rugs and heated bean bags were provided which took the edge off. The amount of information given during the drives was perfect and our tracker was amazing at locating game that we would never have seen without his input. Morning drives had a coffee break (with a cheeky Amarula to give the coffee a kick) and afternoon drives had sundowner drinks with snacks.

There is no pressure to do any excursions and we chose to skip some drives and walks and just relax in the suites which gave a good balance to the early morning starts. The suites and chalets are very comfortable, the beds huge and turned down each night. We had a small issue with leaking sink in our room but it was dealt with and a small bottle of sparkling wine provided as an apology for the inconvenience.

The whole lodge exudes a feeling of peaceful, rustic sanctuary in luxury settings. Sitting on your deck you can hear the game, feel the peace of nature, enjoy the languid river and at night marvel at the beauty of the star studded African sky.

Well done to RobbieLiza and the entire team at Pondoro for a most pleasant stay that is well priced for an establishment of this calibre.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank david p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, October 7, 2013
Dear david p,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

I am honoured that you chose Pondoro as the venue to celebrate such an important event and I am glad that we could live up to your expectations. It was a pleasure to host you and your family in our establishment.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pondoro Game Lodge

Property: Pondoro Game Lodge
Address: Balule Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Balule Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 19 Specialty Lodging in Balule Nature Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Pondoro Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
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 
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Also Known As:
Pondoro Game Hotel Balule Private Game Reserve
Pondoro Game Lodge South Africa/Balule Nature Reserve

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