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“Ngala Aims to Please”

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andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp
Certificate of Excellence
washington dc
Level Contributor
23 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Ngala Aims to Please”
Reviewed May 12, 2011

I realize now that a lot depends on who is on duty during your stay at the camps. It appears that the staff has a rotation system and you are not sure who will be there when you get there. I mention this because it could make a big difference in your stay. We went to Dulini at Sabi Sand and Ngala Tented. I booked Ngala last because I thought I'd prefer it over Dulini - WRONG.
The Safari - spotting animals - was our priority so the ranger/guide and tracker play an important role. I was not really happy with our ranger. Our ranger (seemed the entire ranger team) was very young (during our stay). At times I felt that he was on Safari more than we were. Several occasion were he situated the truck so that his position was better then the guest. On one occasion I had to ask if he could move the truck because our row could not see the Cat at all but of course he had a great sight line. I can say this because the Dulini ranger always made sure that he situated our truck in the best way....getting us SOOOOO close to the animals and even asking if we could see everything?
Granted there was rain before we arrived at Ngala and when the ground is wet they do not go off the main paths - okay no problem - but when they got the ok when it got drier our ranger would have us in the worst spot while other trucks were closer and at an angle instead of front on (where he was sitting with his camera taking photos).

One other thing that is small but did seem to take away from the experience was hearing and seeing cars driving along the highway while we were on the Safari. I just didnt like that... We saw evertyhing there except Lion, Hyena, baboon, Rhino.

The tents were great! Everything you see online. The lodge is nice and its very quiet. The staff is very professional (again - during our stay depends who's on shift). Had a message with Thuile - she was great!

The food was OUTSTANDING. At Dulini they had private fully stocked bar with snacks in each room, at Ngala everything was in in the lodge so if you wanted a drink you needed to hoof over to the lodge. Unlike Dulini there are no phones in your room - whistles instead - so if you needed anything you'd need to blow that whistle or head over to the logdge, Since you are not allowed to walk alone at night you'd have to 'whistle' for someone to come over if you wanted a drink or something extra...it pretty much made me just say - -nevermind - - .

The staff performed song and dance for us that was very very nice and our rangers sat with us during 'happy hour' you know the pre-dinner time and even had dinner with us one night which was really nice.

Like I said, I preferred Dulini but Ngala tented was wonderful and worth it. I am glad I went.

  • Stayed April 2011
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Helpful?
2 Thank Phoenix
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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266 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (79)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
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English first
travel agent, San Francisco, CA
Level Contributor
143 reviews
103 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 224 helpful votes
Reviewed April 3, 2011

this intimate camp is wonderful. only 6 tents so maximum 12 guests...6 to a vehicle which is great if you like taking pictures. The staff is so wonderful and will make special arrangements for dietary needs.. They genuinely care about your stay.
The tents are very large and i loved my outdoor shower. I did get woken up one morning by baboons, but it is their neighboorhood, not mine..
pool is nice when it is hot outside. lunch is 5 or more small salads plus a meat or fish dish. breakfast is hot with a cold/fruit buffet. dinner is usually a choice of 2 entree's or they can make you something.
Oscar is a wonderful cook, Presence is a great manager and Gareth and Richard gave us wonderful drives. Richard tracks amazingly well.. always suprised us.
definately come stay at this camp

Room Tip: room 1 or 6 are more private..on ends of the area
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
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Helpful?
3 Thank christy2064
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
54 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
Reviewed March 7, 2011

Just returned from spending 2 nights at Ngala with 3 friends and we can´t stop raving about it! If you´re considering Ngala Tented, do yourself a favor & book.

Quick rundown of what we loved and what we thought could be improved:

PROS:
*Incredible atmosphere. The camp itself really makes you feel like you´re in Africa. The tents were extremely well-designed & meticulously decorated. And there were animals roaming into camp throughout the day -- a kudu even came up and sipped from the pool while my friend was swimming!

*Located right in the middle of things. Our driver mentioned that from the Ngala Lodge (the big one, not the tented camp), it´s a 45min drive to the best game viewing. [Similar situation at the other camp we visited, Exeter Dulini in Sabi Sands] From Ngala Tented though, we were already right there -- we never had to drive far to start seeing animals. And we never went more than 20min or so without a sighting.

*Great game drives! From what I understand, our group was incredibly lucky -- we saw 4 of the Big 5 in the first drive and had knocked all 5 (and more) out within 24hours. While some of that might be beginners luck, a lot of credit goes to our great ranger Ian and tracker Adam.

Ian & Adam really tracked the animals, getting out of the 4x4 to follow tracks and having us listen for different types of animal calls, which made the game drive feel much more authentic than our experience at Sabi Sands where rangers rely more heavily on radio intel to locate (& queue for) animal sightings. At Ngala Tented, we never had to queue because we were doing the tracking & chasing ourselves. Most drives we never even saw another vehicle!

At Ngala, we also did considerably more off-roading than at Dulini, which was great fun for our group & really added some excitement to the drive. (I didn´t realize how important the ability to off-road was before booking, but am glad I listened to TA and chose a place where it was encouraged!)



CONS:
*The tents are really designed to be a place to sleep & shower, so there´s very limited lounging space in the tent itself. This wasn´t a big deal for our group since we were happy to spend our afternoons hanging out in the common areas (ex: pool), but it could be a drawback for couples looking for a bit more privacy.

*The tents were clustered pretty closely together and have thin walls (its a tent after all), so we could hear when our neighbors were talking. Do yourself a favor and request Tent #6 for maximum peace & quiet.

All four of us would enthusiastically recommend Ngala Tented -- we had an incredible time!

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
7 Thank rtr2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Markham, Ontario
Level Contributor
57 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
Reviewed February 13, 2011

We spent 4 nights at Exeter River prior to arriving at Ngala for 4 nights... looking back, we should have switched this and started with Ngala.... don't misunderstand, Ngala is very good... and the tents are more like luxury rooms with a canvas ceiling.... definitely different and wonderful... and yes, if there are lions in the vicinity you can hear them roaring at night! We also found the service, food, etc. to be very good....

As to the average day... yes - they do wake you up at 5am with coffee delivered to your tent... and you are on the road at 5:30am.... there are lots of animals, birds, and other wonderful things to see..... you are back around 9:30 for b'fast and then the rest of the day is yours to rest, read, relax, eat lunch, jump in the pool, etc.... until 4pm when you gather for tea and then, at 4:30 you are off again... back by around 7:30... dinner around 8 or so... and then collapse 'cuz 5am comes faster than you thnk!

Ngala doesn't (and shouldn't) try to be Exeter... Ngala is a different and wonderful place... and for a tented camp, it deserves it's 5 star rating.... but for us, having stayed at both Exeter and Ngala, we preferred Exeter. We found Exeter River to be a more luxurious experience. Further, we found that our ranger and guide at Exeter were more personable and proactive in noticing/showing/explaining things than the team we had at Ngala... note that this is a 'luck' of the draw' kind of thing - it could have easily been the reverse if we were assigned to different people.

Having said the above, we DID like Ngala and recommend it to others...

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Just_Passin_Thru001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviewed February 1, 2011

This place has everyhing you need, without the things you don't need. The service that you experience at Ngala tented lodge is world class. It's the little things, like getting home from a drive to find our Butler had run us a bath and left a note with drinks that make Ngala so special. The food is fantastic and it's the perfect mix of being able to do your own thing and also socialise with the other guests. Mike, our safari guide, was so knowledgable and really made our trip to Ngala the highlight of our holiday. If you are going to Kruger you've got to go to this place!

Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank BeckiLondon52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Monica, CA
Level Contributor
28 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2011

This was the second of three safari lodges we visited in January 2011 - Phinda Vlei, Ngala Tented, and Leadwood.

My wife and I had been spoiled by Phinda Vlei, and because we'd seen all of the big 5 other than leopard in Phinda, we weren't sure how Ngala would measure up. Suffice to say it took our breath away - again. If possible, the game viewing was even better. We saw elephant bulls in a brutal fight with each other, a lion pride hunting for impala, two giraffes in "necking" which is how they fight, a mother cheetah with three cubs, and we tracked a leopard for over an hour through the bush as she marked her territory and fed her cubs. We thought Phinda was outstanding - Ngala was almost unreal.

I would note that a reviewer just prior to me said that in Ngala you cannot go offroad. This is not correct. You cannot go offroad when it rains or directly thereafter (a situation we encountered in Phinda and that reviewer said existed during their stay in Ngala) because of potential damage to the reserve grounds, but you can go offroad otherwise. Trust me that we had the same ranger (Brett), and we spent an hour mowing down two inch thich saplings as we crashed through the bush in places I felt sure the car would get stuck tracking that leopard. We spent half of our time offroad. So just hope it isn't raining. Another note is that &Beyond has exclusive traversing rights in Ngala (and Phinda). This leads to intimate viewings with unlimited viewing times. After Ngala, we stayed at Leadwood in the Sabi Sand (where Londolozi, Singita, and Ulusaba are as well). Ngala was better because lodges in the Sabi Sand have to "share" with other lodges. It was a minor point, but noticeable. Londolozi shares with Singita. Leadwood shares with Ulusaba. So you have time limits for a viewing so you can make room for other companys' vehicles.

For food and service, Ngala was just as spectacular as Phinda. The tent was very different than the Phinda Vlei but with th exception of not having it's own plunge pool, just as luxurious. As a note, the cmp itself does have a very nice infinity lap pool. My wife was nervous because we could hear lions moving through the area at night/baboons jumping around on the deck and she didn't feel as safe in the tent, but she still loved it. I thought the proximity of the animals was a bonus.

You can't go wrong here. Spectacular. See my review of Phinda Vlei to get an idea of the differences.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank pharmanuke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed January 13, 2011

My husband and I spent 2 nights at Ngala Tented as part of our honeymoon, followed by 3 days at Londolozi. It was our first safari experience ever and were unsure of what to expect but we had an idea about what this camp might be like compared to Londolozi, which promises utter luxury. Somehow, we enjoyed our experience more at Ngala, which is half the price, than at Londolozi (in terms of staff and accomodation!) The game viewing was unfortunately not the best while we were at Ngala, in part because it downpoured our entire stay, though Brett our ranger, and Elvis, our tracker, made every effort to find game, and were so enthusiastic and knowledgable, that they set the bar high for our subsequent experience. Notwithstanding the poor gameviewing, we would not trade in our experience at Ngala for anything. It is hands down the most charming and magical place I've ever experienced! The tents are incredibly luxurious, beautifully appointed and the best was the amazing cobble stone outdoor shower. The staff at Ngala pulled out the red carpet for us and made us feel like royalty, and even served us several private meals in our tent, lit up our tent with candles and ran a bath for us. It was super romantic. The food was also very well prepared, fresh and delicious, and honestly, on par with Londolozi and other fine dining. If you have the time and means for a couple of different safari experiences in South Africa, I would recommend this camp, coupled with a camp in Sabi Sands (with superior game viewing, wherever you stay)! Re: game viewing, one important thing to note is that Ngala Tented does not own its land privately but rents from Krueger and is subject to stricter rules including being unable to drive offroad, which limits the ability to see all of the more elusive animals, including leopards, etc, which there were plenty of at Londolozi and other reserves in Sabi Sands. Also, have to mention Tuli, the massage therapist at the camp. My husband and I are athletes and frequent users of massage therapists as a result, Tuli gave one of the best massages either of us have had. Worth every penny!

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank nyctrichick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp

Property: andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp
Address: Mpumalanga, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Ngala Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Ngala Private Game Reserve
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Boasting sophistication and comfort, as well as the romance of canvas, the six luxurious safari tents of andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp overlook the banks of the seasonal Timbavati River. Chic and contemporary, the camp combines the simple sophistication of polished wooden decks, textured fabrics and clean lines with a true safari experience that embodies the heart and soul of the bush. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ngala Tented Safari Camp Hotel Ngala Private Game Reserve
AndBeyond Ngala Tented Camp Ngala Private Game Reserve, South Africa

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