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“What sets Pondoro apart is that every detail is right.”
Review of Pondoro Game Lodge

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Pondoro Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“What sets Pondoro apart is that every detail is right.”
Reviewed May 16, 2014

My husband and I are seasoned world travelers, but this was our first trip to Africa. We stayed at two game lodges, Pondoro and another one. The second one was very nice, but it was no comparison to Pondoro. The difference was in the details, and also in the warmth of every single person involved in the operation. We felt happy and pampered the whole time we were there. The setting, right on the river where hippos live, is wonderful. You may see monkeys playing in the trees as you eat breakfast on the deck. And, oh yes! We saw plenty of amazing animals on the game drives too, which was a huge thrill, much more than I expected, actually. If you are considering a trip to a game lodge, don't hesitate. Just go to Pondoro. You won't regret it.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Elizabeth v
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, June 11, 2014
Dear Elizabeth v,

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

Thank you very much for the review and noticing the details and warmth of our service. Looks like you had a wonderful safari experience as well.

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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Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
146 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
Reviewed May 15, 2014

For the Lodge :
* Wonderful lodge with nice African decor and outdoor Jacuzzi overseeing nature and the river
* Great warm staff with sincere and service (Vanessa + Lize is great)
* Nicely prepared food with efforts in presentation as well
* Memorable rosemary-scented towels on arrival

For the Game Drives :
* Highly experienced trackers to seek out the elusive mammals (Ramson actually hunted on foot into the fields for quite a long time with no rifle in hand, whilst everyone else stayed on the truck)
* The game reserve here is huge with pasture that seemed to attract more of the key animals (compared to a different lodge I was staying 2 nights before, also in Balule Game Reserve area).

For the Reserve :
It is confusing for first timers about Kruger vs Greater Kruger, it is essentially almost the same as fences between the two have been removed so animals are free to roam about. Note : Kruger NPk only allows driving on designated roads, whereas private reserves can drive you closer to the animals if they are spotted. Also, the Wild Card is for Kruger and other govt owned parks, Not applicable for Balule, so don't waste money buying it in advance.

Room Tip: I booked the Water Suite that had a bath facing out. The lodges offer elevated view of the riverbank...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Mei O
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, June 11, 2014
Dear Mei O,

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

It is great to see how much you enjoyed your stay with us. It is always nice when guests notice all the small things we do to enhance their stay and make it unforgettable.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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Mumbai (Bombay), India
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed May 14, 2014

We came to South Africa for our honeymoon and Pondoro was our first stop in SA. These guys are experts and have got everything right! Right from the beautiful villas overlooking the river to the terrific food and safaris. Lize went out of her way to organize something special every night as we were on Honeymoon - a private candlelit dinner by the pool, candlelit dinner in the middle of the forest. All of it was stupendously organized and well planned. Thank You Pondoro! We will be back for sure!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank ShagunSeth
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, June 10, 2014
Dear ShagunSeth,

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

It is an honor to be chosen as part of your honeymoon travels. Glad that we could live up to your expectations and that we could help you celebrate such a milestone event in your lives. Cannot wait for your return visit.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Level Contributor
17 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed May 14, 2014

My family and I have spent two nights at the lodge and I can absolutely say that Pondoro Game Lodge was the best place I have ever stayed in. We arrived the Saturday before Easter, after a really long flight from Brazil, and were greeted by Lize, the adorable lodge manager. She told us all about the lodge and took us to our rooms (Buffalo and Water suites), which were right by the Olifant river. The lodge is located in the middle of the reserve (no fences!), and as a result we often had interesting visitors around our rooms, such as monkeys, crocodiles, hippos and even an elephant! The rooms were incredible and the lodge’s website photos do them justice. Beautifully decorated rooms with great open spaces, very confortable beds, beautiful views, a private patio and an outside Jacuzzi provided the perfect place to relax and overlook the bush and the river. After freshing up, we were provided a light lunch, which was followed by our first game drive. The drives would take place each morning and afternoon, and thanks to the highly skilled rangers (with amazing animal tracking skills), we could see every animal we were hoping to see. The food of the lodge is also amazing: we had the chance to try some local food (impala pie, for instance), as well as great deserts and an incredibly good breakfast. The facilities of the lodge were excellent (some of my family members had great massages at the spa), but its main feature is, without a doubt, the remarkable service. Everyone who works at the lodge is always doing their best to make us feel at home and have the best possible experience. They were so thoughtful that they have surprised us twice on Easter: for breakfast, we were given a chocolate egg with a “Happy Easter” note, and during the evening game drive we were surprised by a lovely basked, hanging from a tree in the middle of the bush, with chocolate treats inside! Hence, Pondoro Game Lodge is the perfect place to experience the bush and the south African natural life, and I can’t way to go back!

Room Tip: The suites we stayed in (Water and Buffalo) were a bit further away from the main area of the lodge...
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Luiza T
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, June 10, 2014
Dear LTC1987,

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

Great to read that Pondoro is the best place that you have ever stayed in. It is a huge compliment and we will certainly strive to be even better when welcoming you for your second 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.
Vail, Colorado
Level Contributor
137 reviews
66 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
Reviewed May 13, 2014

Wow. Robbie and Lize really know how to get it right. Their love and reverence for the bush just bleeds through everything at Pondoro—from the structures to the decor, the staff and the dining, and of course, the game drives.

Each unit is thoughtfully built and decorated using as many found objects and natural materials as possible. And with Lize's art background earlier in her life, she has brilliantly crafted magical spaces throughout the property. And her food—wow! Not only is it brilliant but it is also always served in a gorgeous, artful presentation, even if it's just the jam on the table at breakfast.

A part of me would like to write a dissertation about every little thing I loved about my 3 nights at Pondoro (I actually was only booked for 2 but loved it so much I canceled another place to stay an extra night!), but I don't have the time, nor do you probably want to read long and verbose reviews. ;)

Having been to a few of the most spectacular game lodges in South Africa, I can wholeheartedly say that Pondoro is now at the top of my list, even though the game viewing in the Balule isn't quite as prolific as the Sabi Sand due to the density of the bush. But it is not about quantity—it's about quality.

Oh, and one of the best things is the value. Pondoro is less than half the price of a lot of the Sabi Sand reserves and every bit as spectacular and even though it is not all-inclusive of drinks, the drinks are extremely low priced so not to worry. Spending $25-50/day (total—not PP) on wine and drinks for two people is certainly a bargain compared to spending an extra $400-500/day PP for an all-inclusive property!

Room Tip: The Buffalo and Water Suites are at the far end of the property and the elephants often frequent on...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Nemophilist
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, June 10, 2014
Dear Nemophilist,

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

It has been a pleasure to host you at Pondoro. It is always nice when the small extras that we do make peoples' stay unforgettable gets noticed. Yes half the price of some of our more illustrious cousins and that at a small, intimate, owner run lodge. 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.
Accra, Ghana
1 review
Reviewed May 2, 2014

Pondoro Lodge was just the most wonderful experience from the very private accommodation, to the warmth of the staff, to the exceptional safaris, to the superb food, to the great knowledge of Robbie and his trackers and the lovely ambience of the Lodge. We cannot speak highly enough of our time at Pondoro and would love to return one day. Thank you Robbie and Lize for one of the best short breaks we have ever had. Seeing the 3 lionesses and their 9 cubs on our last morning was just the "icing on the cake"

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank danaher2014
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, June 10, 2014
Dear danaher2014,

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

It is always nice to read how much someone enjoyed their stay with us. Glad that we could give you one of the best short breaks that you ever had.

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
Level Contributor
14 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed April 26, 2014

We loved our stay at Pondoro. We were here in early January- sorry for the late review.

We stayed in both the Buffalo suite and the Hardekool chalet, since it was a busy time of year and the rooms were pretty booked up at this point. Obviously both rooms were great. Buffalo was a bit bigger but was further away from the resort main area. We had to be escorted back to the room at night. Hardekool was smaller and closer, but still a wonderful room to stay in.

Pondoro is such a great value. I researched other safari lodges that were double the price, and I think we got the exact same value out of it. Even though Pondoro is still expensive, once you factor in 3+ daily meals, twice daily game drives, all the complimentary sherry and snacks, wonderful rooms, you have a great deal. Also they will bend over backwards to do whatever you ask.

We saw all Big 5, 4 of them twice, during our stay. Rul was our safari guide. He was pretty quiet and didnt provide much commentary, but it was obvious he loved his job and he was very talented at finding animals. When he got a call about a good sighting on the radio, he did everything he could to get us there. Sundowners were always a fun part of the daily safari, with good snacks and good company.

The food here was so good. I was worried since we are a bit particular and you can't really choose what to have at dinner. But they are so great at finding dishes that everyone will love. And the wine! The wine is so good and SO much more inexpensive than NYC. $3 USD for a glass- yes please!

Wouldn't hesitate to stay here again. Animals are amazing and so is the hotel and staff. The 18+ hour trip from NYC makes it difficult for us to go again anytime soon, but safari was a vacation that we have always dreamt about. We'll be back sometime in our lifetimes!

Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank NewYorker1025
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, April 30, 2014
Dear NewYorker1025,

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

Saw that you managed to explore both the suites and chalets and I am happy to see that you thoroughly enjoyed both. We go through a lot of trouble to ensure that the wine list is one of the best in Southern Africa and glad that you managed to taste a few. Hope to see you soon again.

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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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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