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andBeyond Ngala Tented Camp
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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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6  Thank Just_Passin_Thru001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
Thank BeckiLondon52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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7  Thank pharmanuke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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2  Thank nyctrichick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 4, 2010

This is part of &Beyond group of Lodges and Camps in South Africa and other parts of Africa. I would highly recommend going with this group. We found it to be consistently high in quality and service. We stayed at both Ngala Tented Camp and Exeter River Lodge for 3 nights each. First to know is that there are 24 staff and up to 12 guests at the Camp. What this means is top notch attention to detail. We were greeted with fresh cold lemonade and a cold cloth on arrival and then served a lunch and drinks. From then on it was fabulous service and food. Our game drives were interesting and we saw endangered African Wild dogs, as well as leopard, elephant, buffalo,hyena,giraffe and many others. Brett and Elvis, our ranger and tracker were very good at finding game. The game drives were early in the morning and in the evening. We napped in the afternoon, but bring something to read or you can go swimming. There were only 6 other guests, so needless to say we were treated like royalty. Our butler, Richard attended to every need and Clare and Elizabeth were wonderful in management. Our chef, Oscar, prepared food that would please Top Chef judges. Special mention about Tuli, the massage therapist, just $65 gave a fantastic one hour massage in our tent. Be aware though in the summer (which is now) it gets HOT on the game drive (it was 100 degrees when we left) and insects abound, even in the tent. We had monkeys on top our tent one night which kept my husband awake. The air conditioner is not 100% effective, although there is a ceiling fan that helps. Make sure you bring a hat and suntan lotion and boots for the game drives. There is a fence to keep elephants out but no other animals. You will be escorted to your tent when the sun goes down, which is important because leopard sightings are close to camp. Also, try the Amarula creme liquor! Brett, Clare, and Elizabeth wished us a fond farewell after 3 short days. Well done Ngala Tented Camp. Just a note, I would choose this over the Ngala Lodge with 24 rooms. They have less flexibility about meal times and game drives. Who wants to be with 40 other people!

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Dhathaway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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