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“Elegant and rustic approach to magnificent animals” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Umlani Bushcamp

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Umlani Bushcamp
Certificate of Excellence
jeresy city, new jersey
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Elegant and rustic approach to magnificent animals”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 6, 2013

We stayed for three days at the beginning of the new year. The schedule is well thought out for serious but low-pressure learning about the animals and the bush. When we were not on a bush drive we were treated with warmth and comfort. By the second day, the passion of the staff for the animals and the park was infectious. Umlani means rest and at the end of the third day I didn't want to leave-- every need was taken care of, especially the need to reflect over an elegant lunch or dinner. I was glad to be away from the email and internet. I recommend that folks book a few hours in the tree house; from there we watched giraffes take a drink and a Impala avoid the crocodile. Ginger and David stood out for their respectful and attentive responsiveness to our need to rest and to be engaged with the goals fo the Park and the camp. I would go back, its a great deal. TeresaG

Room Tip: all rooms seem the same
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank teresa g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, January 7, 2013
I am am pleased to hear you wanted not to leave and would also return for another visit ,hopefully you do , thank you very much for the review. David and Ginger appreciate your Feedback . Marco
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413 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (73)
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English first
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 30, 2012

This was my second visit to Umlani and I was worried that I could never replicate the wonderful experience I had the first time. I needn't have worried, the second time was just as magical. The Camps Eco friendly and fair trade policies are admirable. You will be surprised how little you need electricity (except for charging camera batteries which the host will gladly facilitate overnight in the office). The staff, rangers and trackers are really friendly. Elvis, my ranger and Derek my tracker for the duration of my stay 'pulled out all the stops' to ensure that I had the ultimate safari experience. Seeing over 200 water buffalo and groups of rare wild dogs was fantastic as well as an abundance of birdlife, all of which Elvis could identify immediately. David, the manager went to great lengths to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves and I'm grateful of his suggestion to visit the treehouse - sit back, relax and let the wildlife come to you! I'll certainly be back .....

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Siobhan O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, January 7, 2013
I am pleased that you found Umlani " Truly Magical " second time round . Elvis,Derek and David appreciate the mention ,thank you. Hopefully there will be a third visit . Marco
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Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 29, 2012

We stayed for three days, in July 2012, as a family of five - from Grandfather down to a child of 10. From the exceptional warm welcome, to the food, the guides and overall hospitality there is really nothing to fault. We all had a marvellous experience and have taken away great memories which I'm sure will stay with us for life. The staff were excellent and were part of the camp - not just there to serve as we saw in other reserves later on. This overall involvement gives the camp a great spirit and makes it so unique. From the point of view of the safari experience we were fortunate to have seen all the "big 5" and plenty of other animals and birds. Our guides were extremely knowledgable and their passion was transmitted to all so that even the kids became involved. We cannot recommend Umlani highly enough.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Valerieandrew1997
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, January 6, 2013
Thank you for the reviewing of Umlani Bushcamp and recommending us to other travelers we (the team ) appreciate it very much and hope to see you or one of your group again some day.
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Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 26, 2012 via mobile

We stayed over at Umlani Bush Camp for a 3 day safari from December 3rd until December 6th. Wat an unbelievable bush experience we had! The whole setup is Africa, rustic and yet elegant with just the right balance between game drives and downtime/group time.

Our ranger (Sadric) and tracker (Robert) were excellent and provided us with the best experience and they were so focused on showing us everything the Timbavati has to offer. The 40 minute tracking of a leopard was unbelievable.

I can go off and elaborate on the food, bungalows, camp life and game drives but that would be touching the service. I would rather end with the following question:"You want an authentic top class Africa wildlife experience andwant to do it in a no frills but elegant setting with caring staff?" Stop looking around and book Umlani NOW!

I am coming back in 2013 with a whole group of people - probably just book out the camp for that matter!

Great!

Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Dan R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, January 6, 2013
Thank you for reviewing Umlani Bushcamp ,the Umlani team look forward to welcoming you back.Shadrack and Robert are pleased with your feedback on there performance. all the best Marco
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
69 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 9, 2012

Our stay at Umlani was fantastic. We came here after 3 days of self-driving in Kruger, and it was such a lovely change. From the moment when we arrived, when they greeted us by noting that Umlani is a place of rest, to our last minutes there, when they urged us to take cold drinks for the road, we were very well looked after.

The rooms are nice, though not luxurious. Our bed was comfortable, the mosquito net was excellent (and necessary at night), and there was a lot of storage space for luggage. The shower is open to the sky, meaning that you can see rainbows when you shower during the daytime. No electricity inside, but if you want to charge your camera, they can do that for you with solar-powered chargers.

The rest of the camp is also lovely – a small pool (I didn’t see anyone go in it while were there), a bar area (with free drinks) overlooking a waterhole (we saw giraffes drinking and buffalo cooling off), and a dining room for breakfast and dinner. If you’d like, the staff will also take you to a nearby treehouse, where you can hang out observing animals as they come to a watering hole. We didn’t do it, but other people told us that it was great.

The food was excellent: delicious, varied, and healthy. I’m vegetarian, and they made sure they had something suitable at each meal. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the meals were. (Though be warned that when you’re dining at night, there can be a lot of bugs that join you– guess that’s what happens when you dine outdoors in these parts!)

The highlight of our stay was definitely the twice-daily game drives. Our ranger, Elvis, and tracker, Derrick, were really great, friendly, and knowledgeable. Doing a game drive with them was a very different experience from doing a Kruger self-drive in a rental car. While we enjoyed both, the Umlani game drives are so much better! We were able to closely observe animals, watching rhinos play, giraffes fight, and hyena puppies tumble over each other. While no animal sighting is guaranteed, and a lot of it is luck, the skills and persistence of the ranger and tracker also help. Elvis knew that we really wanted to see a leopard, and when a sighting of one at a neighboring camp finally came in over the radio, he asked the camp if we could join and then got us there in time to see her. (We were even luckier the next day when we stumbled upon another leopard next to the road.) The lodges in the area all have agreements to help with sightings, but they also have a strict policy of no more than 2 vehicles near each animal, making it slightly less obtrusive for the animals and much less like the “car park” experience you can get in Kruger. Aside from the big sightings, we also loved the game drives because we got to learn so much about the animals, birds, and insects that we spotted.

Based on my research, Umlani is definitely one of the best value private game reserve accommodations in the Kruger area. It’s also fair-trade certified and environmentally conscious, which I really loved. Don’t come here for high-end luxury, but if you’re looking for a great, ethically-focused place with charming staff and excellent game drives, then I would highly recommend Umlani. We hope to come back again one day!

  • Stayed November 2012, 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
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank KatC123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, December 13, 2012
Thank you for your detailed review of Umlani , I was pleased to see that you consider your stay 'fantastic' and I will show Elvis and Derek your review regarding Game drives being the highlight.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Level Contributor
16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 5, 2012

The reviews are so glowing for this place my husband & I didn’t hesitate to book and I’m really glad we did

If you’d like to experience a real bush camp in the Timbavati then this is a great place for you. It actually feels like you are in the middle of the bush at all times. Wether its relaxing by the pool, sitting your porch reading a book, having lunch on the deck and watching and waiting for the local wildlife to visit the watering hole or laying in bed at night listening to the sounds of the bush this place just has a great ambiance. The lack of electricity is why we chose Umlani, we loved the lanterns dotted around camp and in the rooms. We especially enjoyed sitting around the fire after dinner, listening and sharing stories with the other guests. We really felt amongst friends, and I think that is what sets this camp apart.

David is a great host, very attentive & full of stories to keep us entertained. Shaddy & Robert make a really good team out on game drives, full of knowledge and amazing eyes for spotting the wildlife. The food was divine and plentiful – our waistline expanded accordingly!!

We were little unfortunate to have a couple of bad weather days so the game was not always easy to spot but Shaddy & Robert made up for it once the weather cleared. We were lucky to see a great variety of wildlife big and small – From Rhino, Lions, Ellies, Buffalo, amazing bird’s right down to the elusive Honey Badger and everything else in-between.

Our hut was really comfortable and I love an outdoor shower! We also had a little pond outside which was a pit stop for local birds during the day and other wildlife during the night – we had a Hyena drinking from it one night!

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Umlani just a really lovely place to stay.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 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?
Thank Kanga18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, December 7, 2012
Thank you for reviewing Umlani on tripadvisor I am pleased to hear that you would recommend Umlani. I will pass on your positive feedback to Robert , Shaddy and David . Hope to see you guys again one day .
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UK
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 30, 2012

My boyfriend and I had a wonderful 3 night stay at Umlani at the beginning of November. We loved our experience at Umlani, the drives were superb (which is why you go). We saw the big 5 and plenty more, got to know a bit more about the pride of lions we saw each day and it was really nice to watch their story develop. The camp itself has a small pool overlooking a dry waterhole. As the camp is small we spent most of our afternoons cooling off in the pool which we had to our self and reading. The evening drives were always at bit different, and we loved having our sundowners in somewhere different in the bush each evening. The debrief around the fire and over dinner each evening was great – wonderful food and very sociable. The only small negative is that we struggled to sleep because it was very warm in the rooms (which is difficult to fix without electricity)! A huge thank you and special mention needs to be made to Shady our ranger, Robert the tracker (who were both the perfect balance of knowledge and fun) and Tembe the host.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank LABUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, December 7, 2012
I appreciate you reviewing Umlani Bushcamp , I am glad to see you found the experience outstanding also your special mention of Shaddy ,Robert and Thembi .
I take note of your mentioning the warm rooms during hot weather and we will see what we can do about improving on that . " Thank you " ........Marco
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Additional Information about Umlani Bushcamp

Property: Umlani Bushcamp
Address: Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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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