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“Enriching Experience at Umlani Bush Camp”
Review of Umlani Bushcamp

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Umlani Bushcamp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 21, 2012

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Umlani Bush Camp. It is such a special place.
We have so many treasured memories of Umlani from the moment we arrived.

The camp has a beautiful ambiance, so warmly welcomed with warmth and hospitality by David, Tembe and all the wonderful team at Umlani.
So refreshing to get away from a world of materialsim and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
The enriching experience of viewing animals in their own habitat, to the wonderful meals provided. This place is certainly a hidden gem, where you feel so privledged to be living with the animals. The Safaris with our guide, Elvis and Tracker Derek were amazing,they are so very talented and knowledgeable. We thoroughly enjoyed their company.
I would highly recommend this bush camp experience to all. To sit back and enjoy the simple, amazing pleasures life has.

Room Tip: We loved our bungalow which was near the dining room.
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Bernadette85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this reviewResponded December 7, 2012

I found your review an absolute pleasure to read ,I especially resonate with your mention of "To sit back and enjoy the simple ,amazing pleasures life has "

Thank you for the highly recommending Umlani and also Elvis and Derek appreciate the special mention.

Marco

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296 - 302 of 446 reviews

Reviewed November 18, 2012

This was our first safari and we stayed 3 nights at Umlani. Just after arriving we were welcomed by some Giraffes at the waterhole opposite the lunch hut. Umlani impressed us with their back to nature approach without loosing any level of comfort. Within the 3 days we saw all Big 5 and felt that our ranger is very responsible and knowledgeable. We enjoyed the bush tree house which is a great place to relax after breakfast whilst having a lot of animals just walking by. Some of our best photographs have been shot from here. The hosts made sure that everybody felt welcome and all needs were satisfied (including battery charging right in time).

Thanks very much to the whole team for this amazing and for sure long lasting memories.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank abeisswenger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2012

Thank you for your lovely review you have made our day .

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Reviewed November 17, 2012

The trackers and guides are superb, the rooms and the grounds are pleasing and there is plenty game to be seen , but i found the food disappointing,the lack of it mostly. I could have eaten more at each meal but there was always a shortage for those at the end of the line. Once we were even told we could only have one piece of pizza and those slices were barely 2 inches wide.I have never seen food rationing like this for the price i paid for lodging there. Other guests were upset about this too.I had chicken backs for 3 meals. I never saw a breast, a leg or a thigh. There is no meat on a chicken back.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled solo
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3  Thank linda_lg74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2012

Thank you for your review of Umlani Bushcamp I am pleased you found the guides superb and the grounds pleasing.

I apologize for your experience regarding the lack of food and rationing. It is our intention to make sure every guest feels well fed and nurtured. Your review has been helpful in alerted us to do better. , We have addressed food portioning after your review and I promise any reader of this review that this will not happen again. I will contact you with regard compensation.

The Umlani team is eager to please and if any guest feels they want or need more food please feel free to ask and we will jump to the request.

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Reviewed November 12, 2012

Our first visit to Umlani, with our grown up son. We opted to share a cottage and knew that it was going to be a back-to-basics camp with no electrics and paraffin lamps - although each bamboo-walled hut does have plumbling.

The camp is protected only by an 8-foot high electric wire (to stop bigger elephants from entering and causing damage) but is open to other animals walking through - although sadly we didnt see any. There were few animals visible from the camp itself as they didn't seem to come to the water-hole or use the dried-up river-bed. We were treated to a talk about the perils of animals in the camp and how to react - but it did start to be a little alarmist about snakes and spiders.

The game-drives were excellent - we saw all big five in one day- and the ranger and tracker made it really enjoyable. We also watched a family of Hyenas (loved the little brown baby hyenas) and a pack of hunting dogs - both rare sights - and a variety of other animals. We stayed for two nights and the game drives were getting a little repetitive as its not a huge area and the other guests in the jeep wanted to see the lions each time.

There is an option to spend the night in a tree-house overlooking a waterhole - its primitive with no plumbing - and not much of a roof. If you're thinking of that, take knee-pads. We didn't fancy the hide and it was booked anyway. The people who used it didn't see much and spent windy nights with the whole contraption swaying.

The food and service were very good (we had told in advance that our son is a vegetarian) and we really enjoyed that aspect of the camp - although I'm not sure whether lunch at 1:00 was really necessary.

The biggest problem with Umlani is the lack of electicity in the huts. Whilst its charming to use paraffin lamps, the modern safari-er has electronic kit that needs batteries charged regularly. The camp hosts would take the batteries/chargers away to be charged overnight - but thats a problem when you have two batteries and only one charger as they don't change them over - so you only have one usable battery per camera. Worse still, the batteries were returned uncharged one morning - luckily we still had a little charge in the spares but we couldn't use the cameras much that morning. I can see that the camp wants to maintain its back-to-basics style but it really does conflict with modern safari-ing. Maybe theres some way of using solar panels to provide some form of battery charging in the huts?

Not sure I'd make a return trip to Umlani as the drives were repetitive and the battery problem was quite annoying. But don't let that put you off going for your first time - especially if you can avoid the battery problem somehow. In every other respect we had a lovely time there, and I'd recommend it for a first visit - especially if you've done a luxury lodge before.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank colinobj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2012

Thank you for your review I am glad to hear that you found the game drives to be excellent and you had a lovely time. About electricity , we sell an experience and operating off the grid is part of that experience. I have taken note of your comments regarding charging your batteries we will brain storm a solution and improve on that part.

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Reviewed November 5, 2012

Umlani bushcamp is located a short 20min drive from Hoedspruit airport and takes 16-23 guests at any given time. There is a deck to sit at and overlook the dried riverbed and watering hole (with water!) whilst enjoying drinks from the bar. The bush camp is not fenced in therefore be warned that animals can, and do, enter the camp - particularly at night and an escort is a must to go back to your room!
The rooms are spacious, comfy and have their own toilet, washbasin and open air shower - there is no electricity so the shower is gas powered, and lighting is provided by oil lamps or candles.
The day usually starts at about 5am with a wake up call and coffee on the deck before going out on a 3 hour game drive including a coffee stop. Time at leisure until lunch on the deck at 1.30pm, followed by the afternoon game drive at 4pm including sundowners. Dinner is served on your return to camp and the food, whilst simple, was still good.
Timbavati has the Big 5 and we saw everything except buffalo, including hyenas and wild dogs which are a rarity.
This is a great camp provided you are prepared to be fully immersed in to Kruger NP and nature, and have no problems with snakes/spiders/scorpions etc as they do exist and can be relevant. The hosts David and Tembe were great, Elvis and Derek were fantastic at guiding us around the park and how they spot so much still amazes us!
The tree house located 3km away was a little more basic than expected, and could have been improved with a few more luxuries - like chairs/cushions and standing room but is worth a visit for the experience although I'm not sure I'd want to overnight there myself.

Room Tip: Ask to be located close to the main bar/dining area - we were located in Riverside 1 which was a few...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank DivechickLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2012

Thank you for your review , your description daily routine and tree house will be helpful to fellow travelers we hope to see you back one day.

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Reviewed October 29, 2012

I stayed at Umlani last week for the... umpteenth time. I can't get enough of it.

The staff are incredible and make you feel very much at home - everything you want without feeling like you have someone breathing down your neck. And their hospitality is genuine. You can feel that each of them takes pride in their camp.

Game viewing here is crazy amazing. Of course, one can never guarantee things when it comes to wildlife, but I've never been disappointed with the quantity and diversity of game at Umlani. In fact, I don't recall a time that I haven't seen the Big 5 on a visit there. It's fantastic.

The camp is so relaxing and comfortable. In fact, I often feel like it's a 'dilemma' to choose between going on game drives vs chilling on the bar deck to see what comes in to the water hole. Tough choice.... :)

Down side? I honestly can't think of one... Just book and enjoy! It's a unique piece of South Africa's bush that won't disappoint.

Stayed: October 2012, traveled solo
1  Thank LisaSontheRoad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2012

Thank you for the glowing review we appreciate it and look forward to your next visit to Umlani.

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Reviewed October 26, 2012

As South Africans living in the US, we wanted to return to a game reserve and expose our 10 year old daughter to this wonderful experience. Our trip from September 25 — 29 was everything and more we had hoped for it to be. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by manager David, lovely Thembi, assistant manager, and Elvis, one of the charming trackers.
The early morning and evening drives with excellent game spotting by tracker Robert and rangers Shaddy & Ginger. They took such good care of us and gave great information about flora and fauna as we went. The stops for tea, coffee and rusks in the mornings, and drinks on the evening drives were much appreciated and fun.
One cannot describe the magically special feeling of lying in bed listening to animals calling in the night. This is a memory to savor. Our rondavel was further away from the main activity of the camp, which we enjoyed, and my daughter made use of the sparkling pool out front. There is another bigger pool closer to the dining area. The spacious rondavel was perfectly appointed with very comfortable beds with mosquito nets, flushing toilet, & hot water shower open to the stars.
The food was excellent and my advance notice that I'm a vegetarian meant that I was treated to wonderful dishes specially made for me. Delicious, every time, and so varied. Thank you chef Lena. (Please let me know if I have the spelling incorrect, and I'll fix it.)
We saw all big five and more. The sighting of the white lions was extremely special — they had not been seen for about 8 or 9 months. And the sight of 400-500 buffalo, a leopard on the hunt, 4 rhino — together, varied bird sightings, the boomslang, the hyena with cubs, the lion cubs and much much more made this a memorable and trip for us all. My daughter loved everything — the drives, the food, the mosquito net over her bed… but especially the cubs!
This time of year was perfect for us. We had wonderful weather, and excellent treatment at the camp and on drives.
We would highly recommend Umlani Bush camp.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Adrienne W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this reviewResponded October 29, 2012

Wow thank you for the awesome review , we are very pleased that you found Umlani to be "outstanding in every way" .We are very happy to hear that your daughters introduction to the African wilderness was a success , also well done to you for doing that for her.

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Additional Information about Umlani Bushcamp

Address: Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 17 Specialty Lodging in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Price Range: $461 - $657 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Umlani Bushcamp 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Umlani Bushcamp, a rustic yet exclusive lodge, accommodates guests in cozy en-suite reed and thatch rondavels. Early morning and evening game drives are in open four wheel drive vehicles accompanied by experienced rangers and trackers offers exceptional game viewing opportunitys. Umlani makes the whole event personalized and specializes in escorted walks into this unspoiled wilderness. Umlani, meaning Place of Rest, was established in 1990 by Marco and Marie-Louise Schiess, in the central section of the Timbavati Nature Reserve, which is part of the greater Kruger National Park. Umlani is the perfect nature lovers choice. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Umlani Bushcamp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Umlani Bushcamp South Africa/Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

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