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“I would go back in a heartbeat!”
Review of Pondoro Game Lodge

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Pondoro Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Washington, D.C.
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“I would go back in a heartbeat!”
Reviewed October 29, 2010

We stayed at Pondoro for 3 days to end our vacation in Africa, and it was totally worth the wait! Every day we were treated like we were the only people staying in the lodge by the staff. Even though we didn't stay in one of the luxury rooms, we felt completely taken care of in every way. The game drives were fantastic, and Robbie and Andres were amazingly informative about every little thing we could possibly ask. We saw four of the "Big Five," with the leopard being amazingly difficult to find. It didn't put a damper on things at all though, because we saw so many amazing sights!
The day before we left, eight elephants came across the river and proceeded to graze right in view of the dining balcony.
The food was AMAZING. Lize knows what she is doing, and her and Rozanne made us feel like family. The cornbread Lize makes is divine, as was the impala pie.
All in all, I would go back in a second. The staff was top notch, the rooms were amazing and the experience was first-rate!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank ccastowvu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed September 4, 2010

great lodge for the safari with very knowledgeable guides, excellent food. very accomodating & eager to please! rooms were beautifully decorated & unique! I would go back in a heart beat!

Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank YanetA2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
20 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed August 29, 2010

My husband and I were planning our first safari, and not knowing what to expect, I researched many many lodges before selecting Pondoro. The reviews are all accurate - this place is fantastic and a great value!
We stayed in the Tree room, which was huge with high ceilings, a separate sitting area, and a very large balcony overlooking the river. The bed was comfortable, although I think the large bed was actually two smaller beds pushed together and housekeeping service was good, not great (some dust on window sills, in room corners, etc.). In my opinion, the biggest drawback was the completely open floor plan - the toilet had no door, and the shower was two shower heads mounted on a wall in one corner of the room. Overall, however, the room was very comfortable and beautifully furnished.
The food was exceptional - breakfast each morning with eggs made to order, bacon, sausages, potatoes, cereals, fresh fruits - the perfect post-game drive meal. Lunches were appropriately light and equally tasty. The dinners were special, served on the deck with bonfires, candles and amazing food. Lize is a very talented chef.
Our tracker was Remson, and our ranger was Shaun, both of whom were extremely knowledgeable and worked hard to ensure we saw as much as we could - we stayed out well past the scheduled drive times for each drive. We saw 4 of the big 5 (we missed the elusive leopard), but each of our drives was eventful. Although we didn't have much basis for comparison, according to other more seasoned safari-goers, we did have to drive around a bit to see the animals. This didn't bother us, since when the animals did appear, it was magical to watch them in their natural environment. We chose a private game reserve as we wanted to be able to ride off the roads, which did in fact make a huge difference in game viewing. Balule is also not overcrowded with many lodges and camps, so it was rare to see other vehicles driving around.
What made Pondoro so memorable was the top-notch service, from the rangers/trackers, to Rozanne and Senty our hostesses, and Lize and Robbie and the rest of the staff. Staying here was comfortable, like staying with good friends. Everyone took such great care of us and seemed genuinely happy to have their guests there. Our last night, since we were on our honeymoon, the staff set up dinner for us in the wine cellar, which was so nice of them. And I've certainly never been to a hotel where the hostesses wave good-bye to you as you are departing!
I wouldn't say the lodge is super-luxe, but to be honest, there wasn't even much time to enjoy the room and amenities with the busy safari schedule. The setting is beautiful, the game viewing is superb, and Pondoro has everything you need. You will feel right at home when you are there!

  • Stayed August 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank TravelGrlNY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charleston, South Carolina
1 review
Reviewed August 3, 2010

My husband and I recently returned from 2 nights at the Pondoro lodge that were, in a word, amazing! The lodge itself is the perfect luxury safari resort. We stayed in the Tree room which was very romantic and spacious. The bath, shower, and toilet are all open so you certainly have to be very close to your roomates or at the least not very modest. The deck overlooked the river and animals could be seen standing right outside our room. The staff, guides, and rangers were all so friendly and helpful...it was a pleasure getting to know them all. The meals were plentiful and delicious...elegantly served in a relaxed and casual setting. The drives were incredible! We saw the Big Five several times over in just 4 drives. I could not believe how close to the animals we were. I highly reccommend purchasing one of Robbie's famous photos on canvas as the perfect souvenir. We hope to return there someday with our family and friends. If you are considering the Pondoro please don't hesitate...you will be more than satisfied! Thanks to the entire staff for a wonderful vacation! Thank you also to Destination Southern Africa for booking us at the Pondoro and making the trip so amazing...job well done!

Stayed July 2010, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank maggieuga
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
75 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed July 4, 2010

We have just returned from South Africa and staying at Pondoro Game Lodge was one of our highlights!! It is located in the Balule Reserve adjacent to Krueger and overlooks the Olifants river. This place is amazing and we had the most memorable time there. All the staff at Pondoro are really wonderful and know how to spoil their guests. The food, in particular the dinner is a culinary experience and delight.
We stayed in the standard chalet which is sufficient if you are a couple and travelling with max 1 child. However, we had the chance to see one of their new luxury chalet (amazing!!!) and they are much bigger and include a very generous lounge area which the standard chalets don't have.
We saw animals on every drive, thanks to the experienced drivers and trackers working for Pondoro Lodge. Lions, giraffes, zebras, elephants, buffalos, rhinos, hippos, impalas, warthogs, wilderbest, kudus.....so we saw all of the big five except the leopard. We also did a couple of walking tours with the tracker around the lodge and came across elephants and hippos down at the Olifants river.
They also offer spa and massage treatments and have a little gym too. The hot stone massage is highly recommended.

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank precisionstrike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed July 3, 2010

Stayed three nights in the newly built "River View" lodge. While it's a bit of a trek from the main lodge area, the serenity and gorgeous vistas of the Olifants River are worth it.

We had Shaun as our ranger and Eric as our tracker, and both were top notch. We saw lion cubs and then leopard at a watering hole our first night! Over 6 game drives, we saw leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, impala, jackal, warthog, eagle, kudu. On our last game drive, Eric successfully tracked a couple of male lions who had killed a buffalo the night before (tracked = he followed footprints on the ground as Shaun drove the truck at 20-30 mph).

The room itself is great, equipped with indoor and outdoor showers, balcony with lounge chairs, a comfortable sofa, desk, and bed with mosquito net (although unnecessary during the South African winter).

Meals were prepared exquisitely by Lize, who doubles as Executive Chef and Lodge Manager. I'm lactose-intolerant, and Lize was able to accommodate me while still providing some very tasty meals. The "fall off the bone" lamb shank we had the first night was especially memorable. A spa where you can book massages, a small gym, and a curio shop complete the amenities.

We were there during the group stages of the World Cup, and the staff graciously allowed us to take our desserts and after-dinner drinks into the lounge/library area to watch the games on TV.

I have stayed at similar lodges in Madikwe and the Timbavati that charge much more than Pondoro, and I can honestly say that Pondoro holds it own! Thank you to Lize, Robbie, Shaun, Rozanne, Senty, and the rest of the Pondoro staff for a memorable trip!

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank YNWAtravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leiden, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed June 7, 2010

My husband and I recently spent three nights in Pondoro and were overwhelmed. We were amazed at how close we were able to come to the animals and how many animal sightings we had during our stay. The trackers were fantastic and the guides helped us learn about the animals as well. The accomodations were built with luxury and relaxation in mind and did not disappoint. The staff was friendly and helpful and the food was superb! We had such a fantastic experience here, we did not want to leave.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Fisher021
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

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 20 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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