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“Great setting, pity about the bed”

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Tangala Safari Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Level 5 Contributor
41 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Great setting, pity about the bed”
Reviewed March 21, 2007

I'm a bit surprised by the other reviews of Tangala and therefore disappointed by my own trip there.

I am an experienced safari-goer over many years and in different parts of Africa, mainly South Africa; and like other reviewers have done everything from 'posh' lodges to week-long walking trips with fly-tents and long-drops. Each time we push ourselves a little further, to get the best experience, and Tangala was going to be our three days of being looked after and driven by an expert after a couple of weeks doing it all for ourselves.

Don't get me wrong - Jimmy was, as others have said, completely amazing - we did a lot on foot, walking into herds of buffalo for instance and literally talking our way out of danger, the same with lions. His attitude is amazing, and we clicked instantly. Liezl also could not be better - even guests turning up late before dinner and suddenly annoucing they were vegetarian didn't phase her (did they not read the forms? specify preferences? no electricity? everyone eats the same thing?) and Richard the chef was simply hilarious and food very good.

But two things to note.

One, Jimmy and Liezl have moved on in February. And with them goes most of the camp's uniqueness. They were too professional to say why; it was fairly obvious why they felt they had to go. Good luck to them - somewhere else will gain the benefit!

Second, our accommodation didn't hit the spot. I caught something from the bed, which from the outset was spongy and felt damp; the thatch leaked on our faces in the night and the bed was too heavy to move away from the drips; the bath was cracked and leaked all over the floor onto our things; the whole place was filthy and the shower pointed no higher than my thighs and it wasn't easy to get under it to get clean or refreshed. Oops I sound so moany!

I was absolutely not expecting luxury for that price, but where the boasted-about accommodation awards came from I have no idea. There's many another lodge in the bush at the same sort of price that can actually offer hygiene at least. And on our final day our much-anticipated trip out to find leopard, to be led by their expert tracker, was ruined at the last minute when the owners decided to send half the staff home on changed working shifts much to Jimmy's shock. And with an inexperienced tracker, no, we didn't see the leopard.

There are many, many things going for Tangala. The setting is fantastic, the communcal areas are generally fine (apart from the dangerous tiles round the pool but then, that was from buffalo coming down to drink regularly so let's forgive that one), there is game around and some of it is spectacular.

But just a couple of warnings - firstly, if you didn't know, Thornybush is fenced. And not huge. I still can't see how we missed that one (not apparently mentioned on the website) and it was disappointing after the windlerness we've had before - although in fairness, in three days we didn't quite see all of it.

And second, the best thing about the place was Liezl and Jimmy and they're not there any more.

I did write to Tangala by the way, to say that I'd love to recommend it to friends but felt I couldn't until the rooms were upgraded even a bit and they didn't bother to reply.

  • Liked — Management, welcome, staff, setting, just love safari full-stop
  • Disliked — Lack of comfort, hygiene etc in the accommodation itself hundreds of bits from bed, impossible to sleep!
  • Stayed January 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7 Thank roll-on-next-trip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Dublin, Ireland
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed October 26, 2006

We stayed in Tangala for three fantastic days last month and had an unforgettable time. We had spent a lot of time researching different places for our safari and went with Tangala as we had a limited budget and were told by our travel agent (Brett from Sun Safaris who I cannot recommend highly enough if you are booking a holiday in South Africa) that it would be an excellent value safari experience and that Jimmy was a top-class guide. We were not to be disappointed on either count.

I agree wholeheartedly with the last reviewer - it offers top class game viewing and comfortable accommodation at a fraction of the cost of other lodges. Jimmy was a fantastic guide, as knowledgeable as he was personable. He had an exceptional skill of getting into the right place at the right time.

We were within spitting distance of all of the Big 5 after our first day (2 game drives) but Jimmy also had an enthusiasm and depth of knowledge for all aspects of wildlife and ensured that we got a wide safari experience (as opposed to solely chasing after the Big 5). Other highlights were seeing 2 leopard cubs, a 3 week old baby elephant playing with the rest of the herd, seeing a huge 200 strong herd of buffalo charging into a waterhole, and lions devouring a zebra. As well as his skill and knowledge Jimmy also has a clear passion for wildlife which is infectious. His bushwalks were a great experience (something which are a particular passion of his) with us sitting 20m away from a pride of lions for around 20 minutes on the first walk (a very different experience from being in the jeep).

The rest of the staff are also excellent and extremely friendly. Liezl is a superb host, extremely welcoming and so nice and along with the other staff ensures you have a memorable stay.
The food is also excellent with lovely tasty hot meals at breakfast and dinner (you will not go hungry) and tasty snacks for lunch. Credit must go to Richard and Ricardo who like everyone else at Tangala are extremely friendly. Dinner in particular was a lovely experience with everyone sitting around the fire for a lovely 3 course meal while recounting the day's experiences.

Given the price we paid we did not have high expectations as to the comfort of the rooms but we were pleasantly surprised. While they are not luxurious, they are very comfortable (nice comfy beds) and the absence of electricity and the resulting kerosene lamps and lack of noise combined with the room itself make it very romantic. The bathroom was also much nicer than we had imagined. As so many people have reiterated to me since, it is an authentic African safari experience (while still very comfortable).

The setting in Tangala is great too with a waterhole out the back with a beautiful view of the Drakensberg behind the bushveld. We awoke on our first morning to find a pride of lions at the waterhole with the cries of hyenas taunting them in the distance.

Overall we had a fantastic time at Tangala and were sorry to have to leave. It was the highlight of 3 amazing weeks in South Africa. We found it fantastic value and very highly recommend it.

  • Liked — Pretty much everything but the game viewing was superb, Jimmy was a fantastic guide and all the rest of the staff were so friendly. It was also exceptional value.
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
5 Thank RonanL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
50 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed October 6, 2006

This camp was recommended by my travel agent. I am SAfrican living in UK but prior to moving to UK have stayed at many luxurious camps in SA (Londolozi, Phinda, Ngala). Whilst Londolozi has been a favourite, Tangala is simply fabulous and I will definitely be returning again and again. I wanted to spend some time back in the bush and was nervous to book unknown lodges as I have been horribly disappointed with camps charging similar prices. But Tangala offers the same great game viewing and comfortable (not luxurious) accommodation as the top 4&5 star camps. This is a good find.

Everyone goes out of their way to make your stay comfortable and a memorable experience. From the time you arrive you are greeted by Liezel who is warm and friendly. Richard the chef has a delightful persona and turns out plenty of tasty, excellent quality food. All the staff are very happy and helpful. Jimmy the guide was the best I have ever encountered as he is so full of passion for the wildlife - it was truly inspiring and touching. Bennett the tracker is very experienced and first class. We saw so much in 4 days - 20 ft python, lion at a kill, lion whilst walking, lion from 2 prides, leopard, rhino and baby, hyena - in fact we were getting ready at 6.15 a.m. to go and have tea before our morning drive and I heard galloping outside and went on to the verandah only to find a young kudu bull running past our room, around the pool and around the rest of the camp, and in hot pursuit was a hyena, who eventually came face to face with a guest! Plenty of elephant, warthogs, giraffe, waterbuck, impala, nyala, kudu etc... only things we didnt see were cheetah and wild dog.

The rooms are 'rustic' with very comfortable beds with necessary mosquito net. They are decorated with interesting memorabilia, with a shower and separate loo. The rooms are not as luxurious as the top expensive camps - no roll top baths overlooking panoramic views, with a splash pool and outside shower, but for my money this was a fabulous experience at an affordable price. There is no electricity which makes it so romantic with kerosene lamps at night and the water is heated by a donkey boiler. Absolutely Brilliant - this is Africa. (They do have a generator so they can re-charge batteries)

I can honestly say this experience was one of my best.. There are other luxurious camps on the Thornybush Reserve, but why pay more when you see the same game?

There is a boma but I think it would be nicer if it was away from the main building and in a traditional boma design - i.e. full circle of wood or reeded walling with a fire in the middle and completely open to the African sky - this one is next to the main building in a semi-circle with a partial canopy (good idea for the wet season) - so you dont feel you are dining in the bush. They could also lose the plastic plants - but these are minor details.

The outlook from the main building is across the bushveld with a backdrop of the Drakensberg mountains - simply stunning and highly recommended.

  • Liked — Simple, comfortable and inviting
  • Disliked — Nothing - perhaps the mosquito nets could do with a clean and repair
  • Tips/Secrets — Take a good camera and prepare for a fabulous experience
  • Stayed August 2006, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4 Thank UKIngwe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed February 24, 2006

The lodge was everything I had hoped. No electricity to distract from the surroundings and hearing the animals at night. Jimmy is a very knowledgable guide. I learned so much. Liesle is very welcoming, helpful and friendly. The food was also very good. An all together fabulous trip. I will be back.
Thank you
Lyn Baldwin
Maui, hawaii

  • Stayed February 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, UK
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed December 30, 2005

We have spend 2 nights at the Tangala Lodge and I must say it was amazing, the service, the food, the hosts, the staff, everything was just perfect.

We will like to say thank you to everybody at the lodge.

Simone & Martin

4 Thank starnauceanu
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, June 5, 2013
Special memories for you, I am sure. Thanks for sharing and come back soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
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 
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Also Known As:
Tangala Safari Camp South Africa/Thornybush Private Game Reserve

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