We stayed at Garonga (main Garonga cabins) at the start of June 2013 and we had a truly fabulous time. The attention to detail is second to none from the staff and everyone is just so friendly, they made us feel at home from the moment we arrived. The cabin/tent is very well presented with a large (very large!) bed, indoor and outdoor shower and a big deck overlooking the watering hole, which saw plenty of activity when we were there. Our cabin was no. 4 which looked straight onto the permanent watering hole. We had some wonderful views of the elephants and giraffe that came for a drink during our 5 night stay.
Our guide and tracker were Josia and Patric but we also drove for some game drives with Moosa and Tulani and they were all fantastic. We saw some amazing game over those 5 days with my highlight the sighting of a cheetah with her 3 cubs and the lions mating right in front of us. We had a great time with Josia and Patric and if you're lucky enough to be paired with them on your stay, get Patric to tell you his stories. They are very entertaining.
We also slept at the sleep out in the middle of the bush which was a great experience. We didn't see any animals (ok, 1 bird when we woke up) but the animal sounds at night and the starry night made up for that in spades. Within 10 minutes of leaving the sleep out Moosa and Tulani had found us a pair of cheetah brothers which was so exciting. We had a number of Cheetah and lion sightings and enjoyed all the other game the reserve has to offer (elephants, giraffe, antelopes and much, much more). We even saw a leopard, albeit very briefly.
The food was excellent. We dined at different spots every night and there were choices for mains and desserts every night as well so you should find something you like. As it was winter, the main boma and the personal ones that were placed near our dinner table were much needed but it meant that we were comfortable whilst dining on the deck. The bar is very well stocked and if you're unfamiliar with the South African shots, ask Liz for a springbokkie. You won't be disappointed!
You can't afford to take a nap at Garonga as there's a big chance you'll miss a great sighting at the watering hole which is directly beneath the main deck and visible from all cabins. We made the mistake to have an hour nap to shake off the long flight and we missed a pride of lions who came for a drink. There's a nice pool with several deck chairs where you can laze and look out over the watering hole. You can also go for a swim but I recommend you don't try that in winter (I did and it was C.O.L.D.!)
The staff and management are fantastic. We had the pleasure of being entertained by Bernie the owner a few times which was good fun. Liz, the lodge manager was around for the entire time we were there and she was fantastic. She looked after us and we enjoyed many casual conversations with her during our stay. The other staff were great too and our waiter, Robert, appeared to be working around the clock to look after our every need during meal times. The chefs are outstanding and if you love a dish, ask for the recipe. We did!
The lodge has a wifi connection at the main building but I recommend you only use it for emergencies. I really enjoyed the time away from all the modern technologies and relax and enjoy all that Garonga had to offer. If you're after an authentic safari experience with a personal touch you can't go wrong at Garonga and I highly recommend it for both the game viewing (best cheetah viewing in SA) and the lodge experience.
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- Also Known As:
- Garonga Safari Camp Hotel Makalali Private Game Reserve
- Garonga Safari Camp South Africa/Makalali Private Game Reserve