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“The Umlani Experience”
Review of Umlani Bushcamp

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Umlani Bushcamp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 27, 2013

Second visit to Umlani Bushcamp and another wonderful experience. The staff are fantastic and you feel part of the "family" from the first time you step onto camp. Be prepared to share you hut with guests that you may not find at first glimpse! We loved our matching gecko's and our friends shared their shower with the frogs. Monkeys apparently love to steal your malaria tablets and fudge so another couple found out so pay attention to what you leave hanging around. Sit at the bar and see who visits the waterhole on the other side of the bank. Candlelit dinners and drinks round the campfire.

Room Tip: Sleep quality depends on how noisy the animals and birds are ! Good room depends on who is around!
  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank LittleBirdLes
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 27, 2013

Thank you for your review of Umlani and fantastic that it was your second visit .It was good to hear that you felt part of the family hope to see you again.
Best wishes Marco

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241 - 247 of 438 reviews

Reviewed November 24, 2013

Thanks to all at Umlani for making our stay so wonderful - from the rooms, to the early morning wake up calls, to the meals, and the exceptional game viewing - it was 6 nights to remember forever. Huge thanks to Shaddy, Robert, Tembi and Marco for making us feel so welcome and special.
This camp is highly recommended, particularly for the very real and natural environment.
Will definitely be suggesting this as a destination for any friends wanting to experience South Africa!
Louise and Alan Irvine

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank LIrvine59
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 27, 2013

Thank you for your review , we appreciate you recommending Umlani to your friends .It was lovely to meet you both.
best regards Marco

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Reviewed November 9, 2013

This was our first African safari experience an what a great way to start. The camp is an open bush camp, which means animals can (and do) wander right through the camp. The 2 hyenas killing an impala in full view during our dinner was a novel if slightly unnerving experience.

The huts are rustic but comfortable with solar power only. They do have a generator for charging cameras etc in a hut nearby. A torch or headlamp is very useful. The beds are comfortable and the outside shower OK once they got the hot water going- you have to expect that these sort of things happen in an isolated camp and it really didn't detract from our holiday.

Meals were good without being brilliant- you certainly didn't go hungry.

The game drives were spectacular- elephants, lions,giraffes, leopards, buffalo, rhino, warthog, honey badgers, lots of antelope, birds, etc etc. Our drivers and spotters were top notch and took you right up to the animals . Drinks out in the bush while the sun went down- just a brilliant experience.

It's well worthwhile spending a few hours at the tree house overlooking the watering hole. You can spend the night out there or just a few hours during the day. We watched zebras, giraffe, warthogs and then a herd of elephants came down for a drink- amazing

David and his staff were fabulous and I really can't thank them enough for providing us with such a memorable experience.

Coming from Australia where tipping is not part of our culture, I found it a bit annoying to have to put tips in envelopes for the various staff members. I wish they would just increase the overall tariff and save us the trouble but I guess this system works for them. Maybe they should provide those of us not so familiar with tipping with some "tips on tipping". I would hate to think that I might have under tipped such wonderful staff.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Perthcott
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 18, 2013

Thank you for your review of Umlani Bushcamp I am glad its was a good way to start on your first safari .

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify tipping on Tripadvisor . We deal with many different travelers from all over the world and most countries have their own tipping culture . We respect each countries different tipping cultures and tipping is by no way obligatory it is purely on the guest wish to do so and what ever amount the guest is comfortable with.

We presume that it would not suite every traveller to pay tips as part of our overall tariff .The general info folder in the rooms gives the same advise on tips. We mention that it is not obligatory and purely if a guest wishes to do so. The amount is what ever suits you the individual and is always much appreciated. Many guests wanting to do the right thing ask us and we refer them to the info folder in the rooms. Your review has prompted me to furthermore put the tipping guide lines on our website for travellers pre travel information.

Thank you for that......... best regard Marco

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Reviewed November 8, 2013

We were lucky enough to stay at Umlani on our first trip to South Africa. The ratings were high and the rates very reasonable, the location for game viewing excellent, BUT, the reason to return is for a 'lodge' experience not isolated from the land and animals. Umlani is casual, open, and centered on the biodiversity surrounding it. Yes, the food is good and the rooms comfortable, service is excellent, and the staff knowledgeable. But there is none of the separation one often feels in more luxurious settings.

Room Tip: All the thatched rondovals seemed about the same.
  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Bruce M
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 9, 2013

Thank you for your review on tripadvisor and you mentioning that your ratings are high and about the reasonable rates .
We look forward to your return visit with friends. All the best Marco

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Reviewed November 8, 2013

Our 4th visit to Umlani and it remains top of our list for a visit to the lowveld bushveld. Marco has created a very special place indeed. Just the right combination of rustic and comfort to enable you to fully immerse yourself in the bushveld experience.

Service, meals, rangers, game viewing, birds, all superb. Viewing elephants and lions from the camp was very special.

Thanks!

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank J S
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 9, 2013

Thank you for the review , super happy that you mentioned Umlani is very special place and remains on top of your list . We look forward to you 5 th visit . all the best Marco

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Reviewed November 5, 2013

Firstly, apologies for the delayed review (we visited back in July 2013) but this review needed a decent amount of time to write, to do Umlani justice! This was our first safari experience and it was unforgettable! And if you cant be bothered to read the whole of my long review....just take my word for it and book!!! :P

I'll start with the camp itself...as you've probably guessed there is no electricity...at all! (even the refrigerators in the kitchens are solar powered!! - talk about green! :D ) This doesn't mean that the camp isn't comfortable though. With oil and solar lamps, hot outdoor shower and fully functional bathroom with lots of running water your little individual hut has everything you'll need. The beds are comfy with mosquito nets and lots of storage for luggage. The whole camp is small, rustic, charming and full of proper South African character. It blends in with the natural environment perfectly...because after all WE are the visitors in the bush!
If your looking for luxury with all the mod-cons this isnt for you....but if you want to immerse yourself into the safari experience through great game, people and atmosphere then Umlani is it.

The game drives are amazing!!! We visited in winter time when it was very cold in the morning and evenings but there were blankets provided in all the game vehicles for when the wind got abit chilly. (I would recommend lots of warm layers if your visiting in winter - but upside is there are no bugs!) We saw looooooads! All the big 5 plus tonnes more!
The drivers and trackers are really passionate and knowledgeable about the bush and wildlife - and have incredible senses to spot some of the animals. Elvis is brilliant! He is funny, engaging, and makes every game drive something to remember! Thank you Elvis for finding all the cute baby ones for me! :)
All of the viewings are really private and the drivers communicate with all the other camps' trackers so that you will never miss a viewing and they will never be too crowded.
I cant put into words how exciting it is to see such beautiful animals in their natural habitat!!
We booked a private walk with Elvis one afternoon which was another great experience - giving us a chance to see everything at ground level as opposed to in the jeeps. Elvis was fantastic - getting us to touch, taste and smell different plants, showing us tracks and even seeing wildlife....soo exciting!
We also stayed for a night in the tree house - which is a once in a lifetime!! Not for the faint-hearted as you get dropped at the treehouse at night (good 5mins drive from any camp) and left with a torch, a radio and a bucket. Haha! It was the most incredible experience to lay under the stars (which are unbelievable) and listen to lions calling, hippos splashing in the water hole etc. Just give it a go! - if you decide you dont like it you just radio back to camp and someone will pick you up. We woke up the next morning very cold and wet due to mist and fog and we got picked up so we could change into something dry for our morning drive. Elvis was there in minutes.
Even sitting and reading a book in the bar area whilst watching the waterhole can turn into an exciting viewing. With wildlife frequently visiting you could almost not bother getting in the jeeps!

Your stay would be all-inclusive - inc food, drinks, game drives, private walks, treehouse. You need not worry about getting your wallet out whilst at Umlani! Open bar is accessible at all times of day. The food is delicious - all fresh and local produce - Ruth and her team do an amazing job. Dinner and lunch are buffet style with hot breakfast to order.

Umlani felt like a home from home almost immediately! David, our host, was lovely - greeting us after every game drive; sharing stories and facts over dinner and drinks. We also had the absolute joy of spending alot of our stay with the owner, Marco's, family. Margaret & co were so welcoming and friendly it was a delight to join them on nearly all of our game drives and they were even kind enough to invite me and my boyfriend to join them for pre-dinner drinks. Lovely family that just reflect the entire ethos for the camp! We hope you are all well and hope to be back soon!

Emily & George x

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank leolion1
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 9, 2013

Thank so much for your informative review . We are glad you felt at home immediately and it was lovely to meet you guys and we hope to see you again sometime in the future back at Umlani.

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Reviewed November 3, 2013

This was our first visit to a game reserve, and Umlani did not disappoint. It is a small camp, but this adds to the attraction. The accommodation should be described as rustic, but to us this was an added bonus. We have Holiday Inns at home. Management, service, game viewing, food and wine left nothing to be desired. I would not hesitate a second to return.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Stig S
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 9, 2013

Thank you for your review of Umlani Bushcamp , I am glad to hear that Umlani left nothing to be desired . The Team look forward to your welcoming you back sometime in the future.
best regards Marco

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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: $478 - $669 (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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