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“Outstanding stay!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Tangala Safari Camp

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Tangala Safari Camp
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
23 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Outstanding stay!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 11, 2013

The stay we had here was outstanding. It really confounds me to see that this camp is eleven out of eleven in thorneybush according to trip advisor. Because of the 'low' rating the camp did not even come up on our radar screen. Very unfortunate.
We initially opted for one of the top three camps in the area according to Trip Advisor. Just a disaster. It was a real dump. They hadn't made any capital improvements in at least 10 years.....Obviously someone was sandbagging our initial accomodation on trip advisor. To make a long story short, we met some new friends (professional safari goers, five or more a year) at the first camp and they highly recommended we switch toTangala. We cancelled our last two days at the initial camp and headed over to Tangala, and boy we were not disappointed!!!! The difference between the two camps was like night and day. Tangala was EVERYTHING we had hoped for in a safari. Great, comfortable, accomodations. Good showers. Great food. Great staff. And wonderful intrigueing travel companions at the lodge to pass the time with. Oh and did I mention that the game drives were fabulous. Florin was great. We saw the big five and had an outrageous stay. I highly recommend this place for value, warmth and friendliness.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Bob M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this review, May 13, 2013
So glad you found us Bob! Keep in touch with us on our Facebook page and pls share your photographs and stories with our followers there, too.
Now that you are in love with Africa, we hope to see you back again - with an entourage of enthusiastic family and friends! Your praise is appreciated.
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106 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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Mokopane
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 8, 2013

Had the Privelige of spending two nights at Tangala. Was apprehensive at first because there was no electricity. But wow, what an experience. The tranquility of the lodge gives one inner peace, you are at one with GOD.

Our ranger Thomas and tracker Bennett and Ruben,masters of their craft. Made every effort to find the animals we wanted to see. Patrick the master chef prepared great breakfasts and dinner.

Last but not least, part owner Louw, the patriarch took care of our every need. He was the perfect host. Became good friends by the end of the trip. The rest of staff was great also.


Yusuf (mokpone)

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Yusuf T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this review, May 11, 2013
Thank you, Yusuf, for your profuse praise: I taught Patrick everything he knows...LOL.

Seriously, we appreciate your taking the time to hop onto this forum and give us feedback. Our staff are gems and as you can see from everyone's comments, really make an impression on all our guests by just quietly being themselves. It's all part of our authenticity.

I believe your family has already made enquiries about returning in the near future - we look forward to welcoming you back!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 6, 2013

Dates visited: 21-25 April 2013
Full glogpost: "TANGALA: Formal review":
http://www.africanwhitechild.blogspot.com/2013/05/tangala-private-lodge-formal-review.html

I am a South African writer, blogger and lover of our wild-life. You can read more about our trip to Tangala (many photographs) on my blog - above, but here are my considered ratings:

Environment: 10/10:
Tangala private lodge is located in the heart of the renowned Thornybush Game Reserve. It is a beautiful setting and home to some of South Africa’s “BIG 5” - Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhinocerous & Elephant . The lodge is unfenced and wild game is free to wander around, so there is a general need to be aware of one’s environment and keep safe. During our stay we were able to watch impala, warthog, buffalo and rhino at the waterhole adjacent to the lodge. This is a very attractive feature indeed.

Travelling to and from facility: (unrated - outside Tangala):
We visited this little lodge during the period 21st-25th April 2013, driving 5-6 hours from our home in Johannesburg. At times, the travelling was tricky because many of the roads in Mpumalanga are strewn with potholes. We travelled via Lydenberg, Origstad and the Strydom tunnel and arrived at our destination in the early afternoon. There is an airstrip at nearby Hoedspruit, so air-travel is an alternative option for travellers.
Although recent rains had played havoc with the roads, the road between the main gate and the lodge was passable and comfortable.

Friendliness of staff: 9/10:
On our arrival, we were welcomed by a very friendly cook and a housekeeper who showed us to our room. Unfortunately, the current lack of a manager at the lodge ensured that some of the smaller details were overlooked – like signing an indemnity form and a courteous enquiry about our room and general comfort, sometime during our visit. Nevertheless, it was obvious that Tangala’s staff are happy, affable and are a strong team – dedicated to trying to ensure the comfort of their guests.

Comfort and Amenities: 5/10:
Tangala only has accommodation for 10 guests at any given point in time. In my opinion, the private guest rooms need a thorough overhaul. The design of the private rooms makes the lack of electricity a serious drawback for the comfort of its guests: Most of the time you struggle to find things in your room because of lack of light. Torches aren't provided either.

Tangala is “electricity free” and rustic. Light is provided by paraffin lamps only. The camp is unfenced so game is free to wonder in and out at all times. It seems odd that the paraffin lights along the footpaths are also put out during the night - when the ranger retires to the staff quarters - making the whole environment extremely dark indeed. The lack of readily accessible light makes one feel very vulnerable. Obviously, one is confined to ones’ room at these times.

Luckily, my husband and I had brought along our own torches, as well as a gas lamp. We ended up relying heavily on these two objects in our room . Camera batteries also had to be given to the ranger for solar-charging. In my opinion, the paraffin lamps are inadequate – making it extremely hard to walk around the room at night without the fear of potentially standing on creepy-crawlies. Selecting clothes from a dark suitcase also becomes problematic - especially when getting up for the early morning game drives. Inserting contact lenses is almost impossible. The rooms are old and dark, and some serious refurbishment and thought is needed regarding upgrading the facilities.

Décor, Housekeeping and Cleanliness: 5/10:
The décor is outdated and the mosquito net in our room was grey and sticky. Odd suitcases which were placed around the room – supposedly for aesthetic appeal - but they defeated the object and become obstacles in the darkness. I also question why a game lodge, whose primary function is ecology and conservation, would choose to use animal skins for carpets. This didn’t sit well with me at all. Although my own bed was comfortable, my husband’s was broken.

Unfortunately our shower was also unacceptable – taking approximately 7 minutes before a comfortable temperature was attained in the tiny trickle of water which emerged from the shower head. Some taps in our en-suite bathroom were also broken. The shower curtain was “well used” and the window frames rusty. These are all small things which could be quickly corrected with better management.

We were told to close all windows and doors at all times – to keep out the unwanted creatures – but this ensured an uncomfortable and stuffy room. There are no insect screens so little air flows in the rooms. It becomes very claustrophobic. Unfortunately, without electricity there can be no air conditioning, nor ceiling fan. During the day we chose to spend our time under the comfortable deck instead - overlooking the waterhole.

Food/Meals/Beverages:7/10:
The kitchen staff are extremely friendly and go out of their way to do their best within the limitations of the lodge. They work late into the night and are up well before sunrise. I imagine that it is very difficult for them to perform their jobs in the inadequate lighting. The meals portions (at night) are far too generous, heavy and lack variety and finesse. A hearty breakfast is served. A bit of training for these willing staff would go a long way to allow them to soar in their work. The setting however – next to the camp fire – is very pleasant and attractive. The stars too add to the ambience.

Game drives: 10/10:
I cannot fault the game drives at all. Our trackers and rangers were professional and enthusiastic. The vehicle too was comfortable, but would probably not be so when it rains. (open-topped). Yes, they do go "off-road" into the bush, but that adds excitement. Every effort is made to ensure good game sightings. These people should be commended because they are the glue that holds Tangala together.

Entertainment during the day: 5/10
You have 5 hours to watch the water-hole and refresh yourself from the ‘honest’ bar. Bring books, relax and read ...

Cost effectiveness: 8/10:
Having described both positives and negatives, I must say that our holiday was very cost-effective indeed. We took up one of the ‘Daddy’s deals’ (South Africa) offers and got more than what we paid for - satisfied guests.

Booking procedure and administration: 9/10
Also efficient – although no credit card facilities are available at the lodge to settle the final bill. Make sure that you have sufficient cash with you!

Safety: 7/10
I felt safe at all times but must also say that, at no stage, was I required to sign an indemnity form. This I would imagine is essential to the lodge, but was entirely overlooked in our case.

My general comment about Tangala is the following:

OVERALL RATING: 7/10

GENERAL COMMENT:

“Despite the lack of attention to general amenities at Tangala, their staff, trackers and rangers make up for it with their homely attitude and their excellent game drives.”

I am sincere when I say ‘Thank you’ to the management and staff for their hospitality. I have full faith that, with a little cash injection, they will be able to turn TANGALA into a true South African treasure.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Maxmom54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Karin P, Public Relations Manager at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this review, May 11, 2013
Thank you for your frank input, Maxmom, and for all the lovely footage you have shared with us on our Facebook page.
There are tweaks that can be made to the rooms,we agree and as Tangala grows in popularity and income, things like re-doing the showers will be a priority. The management should have explained the mosquito nets to you: they are washed regularly and the grey colour is due to the fumes from the paraffin lamps at night, they are certainly not dirty!
Light is an ongoing debate. We are committed to remaining eco friendly and to becoming increasingly so. During winter months, with the sun coming up so late, it is more challenging than in summer. Increasing the size of the windows, or adding sky lights is also not an option, as the intense heat which goes on most of the year, would make the rooms unliveable: so we sacrifice some light for cool and comfortable interiors.
The path lights are extinguished after everyone retires for the night for three main reasons. Firstly, as energy saving (there is no reason to have them burning all night or have an ongoing fire hazard), secondly because it discourages guests from leaving their units after retiring, which is a total no-no and thirdly because it achieves what we always want to achieve at Tangala: the opportunity to experience the darkness, themoonlight and the special sounds of the bush.
Again, thanks for your wonderfully descriptive blocks, praising Tangala - it is much appreciated.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boulder, Colorado
Level Contributor
69 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 4, 2013

Tangala was amazing! The fact that they do not have electricity there makes a stay there like going back in time. The oil lamps and tiki torches give the lodge such a fantastic feel at night. There are only five guest cabins, so the lodge always feels intimate.

We were there for five days, and it wasn't enought. The game drives were wonderful, in one day we were able to see lions, rhino (black and white), elephants, buffalo, hippo, crocs, giraffe, zebra, wildebeast, worthogs, etc. The next day was leopard and more amazing encounters with the "Big 5". Floris was our guide and was really fantastic. He was always aware of everything, and as a photographer himself, made sure that he got us into the right spot for pictures. Rueben and Bennet were amazing trackers. Every drive was an anticipated event.

If you have had time to look at their website, being there in person is so much better. The animals do walk right up to and through the camp. Time between game drives is spent watching the pan, a small watering hole, just off the deck. You never know what is going to walk up for a drink. The staff is great, the food was fantastic, the cabin was very comfortable. The cabin may not be five star luxury, but we were not there to lounge in the room, we were there to experience Africa.

Tangala was everything that I was expecting and so much more. Hot tea as the sun is coming up, a cold beer in the afternoon, cocktails in the bush as the sun set, a hot towel after the evening drive, a bottle of wine with dinner around the campfire. To all the staff at Tangala, Thank you.

If you are thinking of going to Tangala, stop thinking and go.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Chris B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this review, May 11, 2013
If we made your holiday one of the best trips of your life - fantastic.
If we showed off a little bit about the special magic that is Africa - delightful.
If you will come again to enjoy some time with us -best of all!
Thanks for taking the time to write the review and for allowing potential visitors to get a foretaste of the spell that Tangala tends to weave on those who are quiet enough to sit silently and take in her beauty, in every form.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 1, 2013

To go on an African safari with no electricity and only kerosene lamps, to get away from computers and telephones for our 3 days was a dream come true. Thomas, our ranger and Bennett, our tracker, could not have been more well informed and helpful. The animals are divine, an experience to be treasured. There was elegance in the simplicity of our dining and lodging. And that there were only 9 of us made it perfect. I cannot wait to go back and find those zebras.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Mexicolover984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Karin P, Public Relations Manager at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this review, May 3, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to drop us a note - so sorry you couldn't stay longer. Guest like you who relish and revel in the unpretentiousness of the camp and get excited by even the smaller creatures, warm our hearts. The bed comment is valid: being a small camp however, we ideally like to accommodate 10 guests at a time, and converting all rooms to double beds limits our flexibility for non-couple guest bookings. When you come again, please specifically request Unit 6 which has a super duper extra king size extra length bed in it.
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Johannesburg, South Africa
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 1, 2013

Three star accommodation, five star wildlife sightings. Beautifully unpretentious. A rare find, at a fraction of the cost. Tangala Private Camp het die voortrekker in my laat huppel. Boerekos, no electricity, no fancy gimmicks. Pure, unspoilt bush life. It's like the old days, without having to be reminded of it. In the short time my friend and I were there, we saw 3 of the great 5. (Lion, buffalo, rhino) & a host of other game. The sound of lion roaring while we were eating dinner is unforgetable, so close! There are no fences around the property which allows the wildlife to roam freely throughout the camp. We saw ystervark and jackall within touching distance, & went to pick up an ystervark pen each for a souvenir the next morning. We saw the spoor of rooibok on the swept footpaths, although Louw, the manager, told us that they regularly have lion passing through at night. Nature dictates. In the dark, the camp is lit up by lots of little parafin lamps, which gives it a magical, fearieworld-like feeling. Switch off your phone. The stars and milky way are phenomenal. This is value for money! The luxury outfit next door charges R13 000 a night. Tangala charges just over R2 000. You pay for the opportunity to go on safari > the same safari as next door. If you want to expericence wildlife up close, and you dont need to bath in a bath with golden fittings, I recommend Tangala.

Room Tip: Enquire about double beds. We had a room with 2 single beds next to each other.
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank eppy25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this review, May 13, 2013
We hope to see you back again, soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Level Contributor
33 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 26, 2013

The camp itself has a lovely setting and the accommodation is comfortable, if a little dated. Stella and the serving ladies made some magical meals, though our dietary requirements had not, apparently, filtered their way to the kitchen. Floris, the official ranger, and Bennet, the tracker were consummate professionals, both knowledgeable and displaying sensitivity and respect to the bush and the animals.
Unfortunately our visit was marred by the fact that the owner took it upon himself to act as our guide for two of our four safaris. He did not have the knowledge nor the professionalism that we expected. We did manage to see the 'Big 5' in record time, largely because he was directed to viewings by other rangers on the park through their walkie-talkies. He mowed down trees and bushes mercilessly to get us as close to the animals as he could, and at one point got us into a dangerous confrontation with an angry and charging black rhino from which we had no clear escape route, and without giving the guests instructions on what to do in that situation. Happily it ended without harm, but it could have gone either way. From many years' experience in the African bush we know that you don't take chances with the lives of animals in that way, and as a player in the hospitality industry the owner should have known that the safety of his guests takes precedence over thrills. Game viewing is more than rushing from point A to point B to tick off a shortlist of 'top' animals. Thankfully Floris had a far more measured approach, proving that the driver of the safari vehicle is absolutely key to how much you enjoy it, and how safe you are.

Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank bateleur_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Karin P, Public Relations Manager at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this review, April 27, 2013
Thank you so much for your honest and helpful review. This behaviour is extremely unusual and very serious and your input has not been taken lightly.
The safety of our guests is paramount and everybody associated with Tangala is expected to maintain the highest standards of both safety and respect for the environment.
There will be an internal discussion to establish what the reason was for this unusual judgement call by the individual involved (who is a qualified ranger) and we will revert to you. Please could you send your e mail address to manager@tangalathornybush.co.za and karinp@tangalathornybush.co.za so that we can contact you regarding this and the dietary concerns.
Thank you for the compliments directed towards Floris, Bennett and Stella and her team - they are much appreciated and we will be sure to pass them on.
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Additional Information about Tangala Safari Camp

Property: Tangala Safari Camp
Address: Thornybush reserve | Hoedspruit, Kruger National Park 1240, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 12 Specialty Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Tangala Safari Camp 3*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An intimate and personal experience awaits you at Tangala Safari Camp which is located in the heart of the world renowned Thornybush big 5 Game Reserve bordering the Greater Kruger. The camp boasts sweeping views overlooking an expansive and active waterhole, with the majestic Drakensberg Mountain Range forming an impressive backdrop. With our eco-friendly camp, great hosting, comfortable accommodation and thrilling game drives, guests are assured an unforgettable experience. ... more   less 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with South African Hotels so you can book your Tangala Safari Camp reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Tangala Safari Camp South Africa/Thornybush Private Game Reserve

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