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Etali Safari Lodge
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All reviewsheated plunge poolwatering holegame drivesrooms are amazingwater holeanimal sightingsspecial requeststhe reservewild dogsan amazing experiencelarge decktotal privacyspa treatmentssafari lodgewithin hoursspecial thanksbush walk
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Reviewed April 30, 2013 via mobile

Stayed at the Etali lodge for four nights. My wife had previously been to the Kruger on safari so Madike was a change for her and added advantage that it was malaria free. We probably chose Etali off the back of other Trip Advisor reviews.  We arrived via the short internal flight from Johannesburg (Federal Airways) to the Madikwe Eastern Strip. This took an hour and was a great albeit very expensive way of getting to the Reserve. You could drive but this would take a long time and the lodge would be very difficult to find under your own steam. 
We were met at the landing strip and taken to the lodge. Etali  itself was lovely and tastefully and simply furnished with open fires, deck overlooking a watering hole etc. Our accommodation was clean and large with its own private decked area, heated plunge pool and outside shower. The actual safari experience will obviously be a bit variable but we managed to see all the "big five"with the exception of leopard. The morning drives, starting at 5.30/6.00am were the most productive in terms of sightings so if you didn't fancy one the afternoon/evening ones were the ones to miss. Our guide/Ranger Kelvin, who was dedicated to us for our entire stay, was fantastic and very good at his job with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the wildlife and was very ably assisted by George the tracker. Etali seems one of the few lodges to retain a front seated "spotter".  Generally I'd give the place top marks but there were a few niggles which any objective and fair review would have to include. The food whilst good was by no means excellent and we were disappointed by the absence of any South African game on offer. We also ended up grouped with a large group of 16 individuals who were on a conference of some sort which meant that breakfast and lunch were available as a self service buffet.  On our last morning as  we looked for a soft drink we discovered the fridge had been locked-  presumably we thought to prevent guests from emptying its contents without the management's knowledge! Considering the cost of staying there this seemed like an unnecessary thing to do. We had been particularly restrained in our drink consumption in any event. We felt that this particular "risk" could be managed in so many other ways without causing offence to guests.  Overall would give it 7.5/10.  

  • Stayed: April 2013
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Thank Nos6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2013

It is a long drive from Johannesburg but worth every moment. We were greeted at the entrance of the lodge and informed that a safari trip could be ours right then. We were tired and we declined and that was a mistake. The accommodations are luxurious but minimalist. The food is excellent and true to nature. The staff is extremly courteous and helpful. The owners are there all the time. But the focus is on the animals and the nature. The ranger and the spotter are professionals at what they do. We had Many highlights during our stay and it is very hard to choose the best moment. Was it the elephants that surprised us at dinner time? Or the bleeding lion? Or the two elephants going head to head? Or the wild dogs found due to the persistence of Doctor? A word of advise: if you can, plan your stay to include a full day enjoying your room and the silence.

Room Tip: Choose if you can room # 5
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank BouMickey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2013

My daughter booked back to back lodges for herself , my husband and I for three nights and we all had a wonderful time. We started out badly by getting ourselves lost but were given directions to the gate and escorted to the lodge. The welcome we received was unbelievable and the stay just got better and better. All the staff treated us like royalty and made us feel very special. The game drives were amazing with great guides, (Doctor you are one in a million !) My husband managed to lose a bag with all his tablets and money in but thanks to Ronnie and Johnnie it was found off road, we couldnt believe they found it !My daughter and I both indulged in a massage whilst at the lodge, it was superb, thank you so much . Jeff the chef laid on some delicious food, can honestly say I have never eaten so much. (well-it would be rude not to ) To see wild animals up close was breathtaking, we were blessed to see a whole pride of lions on our first day and managed to see all five of the big five before we left. Who would have thought dung beetles would be so interesting? And that Zebras fart lol, SO funny. We thought the icing on the cake was to see a herd of elephants at the water hole on our last night but there was more to come as a bull elephant came to visit us just as we were leaving, amazing ! Thank you all, will live on the memories for years.

Room Tip: We loved our back to back room, even had our own plunge pool on the deck.
  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Tiggerwosere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2013

Before I wrote this review, I was going over and over everything that happened while I was at the resort, wondering what could have made it better. I am still wondering!
I will start off by stating that upon arrival at Madikwe, I was surprised that we still had an hour journey to the lodge. However, as the evening was closing in, it gave us our first opportunity to check out a real game drive.
Upon arrival at Etali. it was night-time and very dark. We sat down for dinner, and the service and food, along with the smiles, made me feel very welcome and comfortable. I loved the fact that they included drinks with the meal. I got the impression immediately that this was a classy place, not out to penny-pinch.
Over the next 3 days, I was treated like a king; Everything from start to finish was of the highest caliber, which was a pleasant shock.
The game drives were great, the staff (trackers and rangers) were all first class, and I could not have asked for anymore.
The game drive breakfast was first class, and the outdoor dining to die for.
What sealed the deal for me, was that the owner was constant fixture ensuring that we all had everything we wanted. this is truly a first class resort, being run by a very classy team.
I cannot wait to return!!

Room Tip: As close to the main lodge as possible
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled on business
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Thank no818528
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2013

First of all, Obie is without a doubt a knowledgeable and experienced ranger and makes ones experience at Etali a memorable one. Thank you. Whilst this was a lovely stay a few things proved dissapointing:
1. Rooms are poorly lit
2. Wash basins very low, so that unless you are a child you have to bend down to wash face, brush teeth, etc... and I am very much of average, short height!!
3. Whilst we were there paths are VERY badly lit and on our last night not a single light, candle anything of any sort was anyware to be seen. Having an armed guard escort didnt exactly make one feel any safer in pitch total all around you
4. Whilst the food was beautiful present and of good quality, it always lacked salt or sugar!!
I would say this is an average lodge, 3 stars at most so if you are looking for 5 star this is not the place to come to. If however, you are only interested in a safari and getting to see wild life, this certainly fits the bill.

Room Tip: Choose a room facing the watering hole
  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank Fomc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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