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“A lifetime experience”
Review of Pondoro Game Lodge

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Pondoro Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 11, 2008

The place is great, you should go to one of the three top suites. You can have a shower outside, in winter, and you will not feel cold!
The owner takes care of every single detail, is one of the rangers.
The meals are great, and the safari experience is fully integrated with the stay. Dinners outside are a romantic experience.
If you want a true safari, where the tracker has to work hard in order to find the big five, that are really wild animals, this is the place to go.
If you want to see many animals walking around your car, like at a circus, go somewhere else.
We spent 3 nights, but one more night is recommended.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank UramSeb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 3, 2008

Pondoro was our first ever safari experience and a good one it has been. Pondoro is a lovely place with very friendly and attentive staff that make you feel welcome from the beginning to the end. We were truly sad to have to leave even though it was just the start o our holidays.

The lodge is situated in the Balule Game Reserve. Bear in mind that you have a 20 to 30 minute drive ahead of you on sandy and rocky road once you have entered the gates of the reserve. Keep you eyes open though we spotted some wild animals on our way to the lodge even before our real safari began.

Days are filled in such a way that they are over before they began. You're woken up at 5 for coffee and a muffin. Than the morning safari starts. By the time the sun rises the jeep is parked in the midst of the reserve and coffee, tea and cookies are served. The sunrise (and sunset) in the bush are a rather special experience.
Upon arrival in the lodge around nine breakfast is served. An abundant choice of food, freshly baked bread and muffins. All served in the most professional way ! After breakfast you can join in for a walk around the lodge with one of the rangers or just relax in your room. Take the walk its definitely worthwhile !
At one you will be served a light (excellent and delicious) lunch. At three again coffee and off you go on your evening safari which will occupy you until nine in the evening. A sundower is served in the bush (enjoy the stars in the sky - never seen them that bright)
When ou arrive back in the lodge a warm welcome awaits you; hot towels, a welcome drink as you hop out of the jeep. At the main lodge fires and candles have been lighted and an aperitive is served before you can enjoy a very fancy and tasty three course meal ! Really wonderfull.
Tired but happy you can return to your room where a hot water bottle heated up your bed (we were there in winter).

Rooms are tidy and could probably be improved a bit (some things were a bit shabby). But than again you're on safari and in the bush.

As to the safaris, the rangers are highly motivated guys that go through enormous efforts to get as close to the animals as possible and find the animals that everybody longs to see. There are definitely game reserves that offer even more wildlife than Balule but we saw quite a bit here as well. If you have the choice hop in Ranger Eric's car !! He's truly a character !!

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Antwerpengl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2008

My husband and I spent 3 amazing nights at the Pondoro Safari Lodge, This was our first trip to Africa and our first safari experience and we weren't sure what to expect. Everything about this place is extraordinary. The lodge itself has a beautiful view of the river that you can see from your room, or private deck or communal deck where meals are served. We were in a regular chalet that was decorated beautifully and had all the necessary amenities. The bed was very comfortable. There was heat, ac, a safe, lovely extra touches like wonderful shampoo and body soap, large windows that overlooked the river, turn down service each night with candy on your pillow and tomorrow's weather forecast. The lodge also had a spa and swimming pool. Dinner each night was served on the deck with fires blazing and candelight. Meals were delicious and served with care. Breakfast was served in the AM after the morning game drive with made to order eggs and there was also a light lunch, morning coffee or tea and coffee or tea before the afternoon game drive. Every staff memebr was friendly and made you feel like family. Lisa ,the chef ,had a pet mongoose. Little touches like staff waiting for your upon your return from the afternoon safari ride with wash clothes and sherry made this a special place. The actaul safari rides were wonderful also. Sean, our ranger was very knowledgable and pleasant answering all of my many questions. We saw all of the big five except for leopard, but we saw cheetah instead. Also we were fortunate to witness an actual kill. A pride of lions took down a wilderbeast just feet from where we were in our jeep. My trip to Africa was the trip of a lifetime and my stay at Pondoro was exceptional. Thank you Lisa, Sean, Sandros, Roxanne and the rest of the staff.

Stayed: July 2008
Thank deeg324
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2008

What an amazing experience!!!! We arrived at the lodge to find that we had the place all to ourselves!!! The good omen for the trip was that moments after we arrived and were served lunch and the Hippo who hadn't been seen in the river for 2 months made an appearance!!!!

The chalets are lovely, nicely decorated and very comfortable. The staff go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and welcome. Thanks to the ladies who waited for us after each game drive with warm towels to freshen up with and to the guys who escorted us to and from the chalets with flashlights when it was dark. I don't eat red meat and Lize made sure that I had an equally fabulous fish or poultry entree to enjoy. I especially enjoyed the dinner that was prepared and served on the "Beach". The torchlights and the star filled sky with the full moon.....Paradise! When the other guests did arrive for the weekend we enjoyed interesting conversations as we were from all over the world, USA, Israel, Australia, Germany and South Africa.

When we were told that we would be starting the game drives before dawn I brisled because after all I'm on vacation. When I saw the first sunrise the reason for trip became obvious. The fire filled sky at dawn put things into perspective. Our game ranger Shaun did an awesome job and put a lot of effort into our drives, constantly providing information about the bush and the wildlife. We found the lions, yay!!!! Louie our tracker did an amazing job, constantly vigilant to his surroundings...he even noticed snakes under bushes..wow. Great gin and tonics too guys, thanks loads.

Pondoro is a wonderful lodge,with great service, fabulous food, lovely accomodations, unquestionably good value for the money ....an experience we will never forget.

  • Stayed: April 2008, traveled with family
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Thank carolnahoum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2007

This is an incredible place to stay and Lize and Robbie are so kind to everyone that they make you feel really special.Every small detail is thought to make things look even more beautiful .The chalets(we stayed in "rocks"in august 2007) are really fabulous,sophisticated and in perfect harmony with nature.The confortable deck overlooking the river is perfect to relax watching elephants or monkeys.Robbie (the owner of the place and also a great wildlife photographer)makes every game drive absolutely unforgettable sharing with you his love for nature and animals.There are never many jeeps rushing from one sighting to another,only peace,silence and respect of nature.Last but not least the cooking is just great !This is a magical place!

1  Thank Floppy92
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2007

Pondoro is amazing. The lodge is beautiful, the food is INCREDIBLE (best I've ever had at a small accommodation like this) - absolutely restaurant quality. There is no sense that they are cooking for a large amount of people (and they are not - only 12 people can stay here at a time). Service is unbelievable, I had a problem with work and had to check email and Lize helped me resolve the problem.

The game drives are amazing. They grew on me more and more every day and by the time we left I was a wreck b/c I wanted to stay longer. Robbie (owner of lodge) was our ranger and his love for what he does really rubs off on the guests. We met great people as well - obviously Pondoro attracts a good crowd. The property is unique, the chalets are really classy, with personal touch decorating. The deck is beautiful, the view of the river (and occasional monkey in the trees) fabulous.

Isaac was our tracker and he was great. A little scary when he gets out of the jeep for 1/2 hour ! We had great sightings of elephants, lions, and buffalo - there was a better sense of adventure here than in the other lodge we stayed in where there were more jeeps rushing to each sighting.

I can't recommend this place enough. If you want a zoo experience and 'guaranteed' big five sightings, this is not for you. If you want relaxation, immersion in learning about the animals and appreciating nature and the bush, along with great food and a wine list that I couldn't possibly afford to really take advantage of, then this is the lodge for you.

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled as a couple
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Thank saraohara
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2006

I have stayed in some great places with outstanding service but Pondoro beats the lot. Robbie, Liza and thier staff were fantastic. The accommodation, games drives and food were truly exceptional. I can't think of anything I'd want to change. The cost compared to other luxury lodge sin nearby reserves alos makes this an outstanding place. If you are going to teh Kruger on safari then you won't be disappointed with Pondoro

  • Stayed: April 2006, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Ian_Stanworth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about 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 #2 of 21 Specialty Lodging in Balule Nature Reserve
Price Range: $693 - $1,178 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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