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“Outstanding”

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Tuningi Safari Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
germany
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Outstanding”
Reviewed November 1, 2013

Tuningi Safari Lodgi offers a heartly welcome, wonderful houses, all of them really nice decorated, very clean with wonderful bedrooms and bathrooms. The food was great and the excursions in the morning and evening wonderful. everyone is quite attentive and the service is really good. We have been there for the second time and it can be absolutely recommended.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
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Thank ute_lisa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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205 reviews from our community

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Los Angeles, California
Level 6 Contributor
142 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
Reviewed October 28, 2013

I spent 3 nights at Tuningi in early October with my husband and 2 adult children. Everything about the place and the people who work there is fantastic. Our suite was enormous: a big living room with 2 nice bedrooms and large patios. The food was excellent and, as a vegetarian, I really appreciated getting customized menus to make my choices, and my family enjoyed the non-vegetarian cooking. The main areas of the lodge are pleasant and comfortable and we loved watching the elephants at the nearby watering hole.

Best of all is seeing the animals. On our twice-daily treks with Gavin, we saw and learned about the amazing animals. We would see all of the big 5 nearly every day as well as zebras, elephants, kudo, and African wild dogs. Gavin willingly shared his encyclopedic knowledge of the plants, animals, stars, and everything else we saw.

On this trip, our first, to South Africa, we stayed at 3 different safari lodges. We loved all of them and I highly recommend Tuningi and would love to go back another time.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Randi R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed October 11, 2013

My husband and I stayed for four nights at the end of September at Tuningi Safari Lodge, at the beginning of our first trip to South Africa. Was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed the game drives, our room/cottage, the service, the food, and chatting with the other guests and with the staff.

Our days began around 5:30 a.m. with a wakeup call from our ranger, Gavin. Coffee at 5:45 a.m. in the main lodge and we were in the vehicle by 6:00 a.m. for our morning game drive. Halfway through we would stop for coffee and a muffin out in the bush. Back to the main lodge from the drive at around 9:00 a.m., and then had breakfast. Between breakfast and lunch at 2:00 p.m., you are on your own. Nice time to hang out by the pool and watch the animals on their way to the watering hole, go down to sit by the watering hole, read a book or take a nap. At 4:00 p.m., it was time for another game drive. Returned to the main lodge after the drive around 7:00 p.m., but not before stopping for a drink ('sundowner') and a few light snacks as the sun goes down in the bush. (Waiter would take your order after lunch for your drink selection on the afternoon game drive. I usually went for a gin and tonic, but others had beer, soft drinks or juice.) Dinner was around 8:00 p.m.. After a long day, I was usually ready for bed by 10:00 p.m.! Some guests chose to skip some of the morning game drives.

On our game drives, we saw the 'big five' (buffalo, rhino, leopard, elephant, and lion), wild dogs, many different types of antelope and birds, giraffes, zebra, wildebeest, monkeys, small wild pigs and other animals. We didn't see any cheetah, although other guests we talked to saw them the morning we arrived (by the time we arrived, the cheetah had crossed a river and were no longer viewable for the duration of our stay). Gavin was great at explaining everything and finding the animals for viewing. Was surprised at how close we would drive up to the lions and other animals. We would drive up and turn off the vehicle and just sit there 15 feet away from the lions and other animals watching them. A great experience. Vehicle was an open air truck/land cruiser, with a top that protected us from the sun. Could seat around 10 plus the driver I think, but often the vehicle was not full. Water was always provided. Take a good camera! Binoculars were of use sometimes, but I found I didn't use them all that much.

Rooms/cottages were great. Spacious and lots of storage. Outdoor shower was nice feature as well. Also was a bathtub in the washroom. Animals would often walk past the room (they were about 150 feet away) on their way to the watering hole.

Watering hole (30 second walk from the main lodge) was a real treat. Animals would gather to drink, bathe and relax near the water. Nice place to relax in the late morning or afternoon.

Pre-dinner we would often gather in the bar area to have a drink or two before our meal. Was nice to chat with the other guests (the size of Tuningi makes it easy to get to know other guests) and with Gavin, Heidi, Cornelius and Franz. Heidi was one of the managers and was extremely helpful and always tried to make sure we had whatever we needed. Franz was awesome! Best bartender ever. Cornelius was one of the other rangers, and a super nice guy.

There was always some choice at all of the meals and we enjoyed the food. Generally, guests are seated with their travel companions (my husband and I usually sat at a table for two), although for several meals we and some other guests at the lodge asked to sit together and we were put at the same table. Met some great people at Tuningi. Most meals we ate outside, although on two colder evenings we sat inside where there was a nice fire.

We went in late September. Morning game drives were fairly cold, especially with the wind when the vehicle was moving, but with a warm sweater and a jacket we were fine. There are also blankets in the vehicle. Some guests had hats and gloves as well. During the day it was very warm--could wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts. Early evenings and overnight was cool again--light sweater or jacket was a must. It didn't rain while we were there, which was great, although I understand that at that time of year there is often some rain.

We stayed for four nights, which for us was about the right amount of time. Would have had no trouble staying for the whole week, but I think that 3 or 4 nights is optimal.

We had flights from North America through Amsterdam into Johannesburg. We stayed overnight at a hotel at the airport in Johannesburg (Intercontinental, which was expensive but extremely convenient) then took a flight (Federal Air) from the Johannesburg airport into the game reserve (flight was about 45 minutes), where one of the rangers from Tuningi picked us up and drove us to the lodge. This worked out great. We talked to some other guests who drove from Johannesburg, and they said that if they were doing it again, they would take the flight we took. Plane was small, holding about 6 or 7 passengers. We arrived at the lodge around 1:30 p.m.. We had lunch and then went on the afternoon game drive. On the morning of our departure, we went on the morning game drive and then left the lodge around 12:30 p.m. for our flight back to Johannesburg.

A few words on gratuities. We were not sure what was customary at a game reserve in this regard and so we asked. We were told that gratuities, and their amounts, were purely optional and solely at a guests' discretion. When we then asked what might be typical, we were told 250 Rand per day per room for the staff and 250 Rand per day per room for your ranger. I understand that rangers are often tipped separately, as guests are often with their ranger for several hours a day. Given all of the great service that we received at Tuningi, we were very happy to leave a tip for the staff and for our ranger. We gave our ranger an envelope sometime after our last game drive and left an envelope for the staff generally with the individual who checked us out when we settled our bill before we left. Envelopes are available in your room.

We had a great time at Tuningi and we would recommend it highly to anyone. After our time at Tuningi, we stayed for four nights in the winelands near Stellenbosch and then stayed for four nights in Cape Town. We loved our time at Tuningi and it was a great start to our first, but hopefully not our last, trip to South Africa.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank LucyMarley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
san francisco
Level 3 Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2013

This was our second time back at Tuningi in 3 years- both times were amazing. There is something about taking an outside luxurious shower and watching a herd of elephants walk by. We met people from all over the world- the intimacy of the lodge makes it easy to form bonds with the other visitors. The food is spectacular and Heidi and Gavin, Wilma and Christo are wonderful hosts.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank travelbug140
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, England
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed September 1, 2013

We had a fantastic stay at Tuningi and would very much recommend it. The staff are exceptionally friendly, the food is excellent and we felt very well looked after. A very personable approach. Nothing was ever too much for the team at Tuningi. As the lodge is relatively small all guests got to know each other very quickly and we sat around the fire place every evening after the evening game drive chatting about all we had seen and experienced during our game drives. The water whole which is adjacent to the lodge attracts a lot of animals - on one occasion we counted 30 elephants who were taking a bath and having a drink. Fantastic experience! The ranger who took us on the game drives was very knowledgeable and we loved the game drives. Only downside: The swimming pool is rather small and quite chilly. But we did not really feel that we needed a pool with all the other things to do and see.
Our recommendation to other guests: During the colder months in South African winter don't forget to take a warm jacket, a scarf and a hat for the game drives.

Room Tip: We loved our spacious and stylish room and we had more than enough space in one of the "normal...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Quaxie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed July 6, 2013

We wanted the kids to experience a safari and decided to spoil ourselves with a trip to Tuningi Safari Lodge. It was worth every cent and there are only two things I am sorry about.....firstly, that I didn't have a better camera with me and secondly, that our trip was too short! The family suite we stayed in was very spacious and absolute luxury. There is a path going right past the deck that the game use to and from the waterhole - what a pleasure to watch! There was a lot of attention to detail that we didn't expect which made the trip even more enjoyable. To soak yourself in a huge warm bath in front of a gas fireplace is just the epitome of relaxation! We loved the safari drives with Cornelius, our game ranger. His knowledge of the wildlife and nature is amazing and his passion for what he does left us inspired. I think that one's perception of a great game drive differs from person to person. Most people (especially foreigners) would only rate a game drive experience high up if they were lucky enough to see the Big 5 which certainly puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the game ranger. For us, just being in the bush and having the opportunity to observe the wildlife in their natural habitat, is rejuvenating - no matter how many times we see the same type of animal. And thanks to Cornelius's tuned-in senses, we even managed to see a White Rhino on an evening game drive which was an absolute bonus!! The refreshment stops in the bush were also most enjoyable and the spread very impressive. The staff at the lodge were all very friendly and they made us feel so at home. When we left, we felt as if we were greeting family. Our children loved the effort the staff made to play with them in the afternoons. Yet, the staff were also very good at subtly telling the kids to quieten down when other guests were around. This makes Tuningi a perfect safari lodge for everyone - no one need be put off by the fact that it is child-friendly. The quality of the food was fantastic and the quantity much more than we could stomach - we never once felt hungry! Thank you Heidi, Cornelius, Lorraine, Rose, Future, Ria, Petrus, Marita - to name just a few - for making our few days unforgettable. As soon as we can afford it again, we will be back!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank LouwProfiles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sea Point, South Africa
Level 5 Contributor
59 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed July 5, 2013

It is difficult to rate a lodge, one has to separate the lodging and the game viewing side of it, at least for my experience at Tuningi. The lodge is great, the staff is amazing and Heidi is charming and helpful. The room is large and clean. I would have preferred an indoor shower as well as outdoor, simply because it is too cold (July) to shower outside before going to bed or when you wake up. My son loved the huge bath and relished soaking in it daily. I cannot fault the lodge in any way, it was a very very good standard. To be noted that there is no cell phone reception in the rooms and only wi-fi at the main lodge. The food is delicious and plentiful and caters for every taste, well down to the chefs. On the game side, the reserve is beautifully located by a water hole, the vehicles are modern with individual seats and warm, clean blankets. Unfortunately we were not so lucky with the game viewing. Maybe it is the fact that I have been to many lodges in the past 15 years or that I had read the amazing reviews on Trip Advisor and I was expecting too much, but it is fair to say I was a bit let down by the game experience. There is always a "luck" factor in viewing animals in the wild but sometimes the ranger needs to have a lot of experience to counter balance the poor viewing and this did not happen. Our first game drive (p.m.) was mostly spent touring around a small area near the lodge looking for lions (did not see them) and the second game drive (a.m.) was mostly spent going backwards and forwards the fence line in search of cheetahs (did not see them); we did however spot a hyena on the farmer's side of the fence. By the third game drive, our luck had turned a bit and our ranger started interacting a bit more. We did manage to see a lot of animals, 1 brown hyena, some lions and cubs feeding on a kill, 2 buffalos, plenty of elephants and quite a bit of plain game. It is also really crucial to spend time looking at the smaller things in the bush (birds, insects, plants, trees etc.) especially while driving around when no "heart bit" is to be seen. I must say I will remember our ranger as he demonstrated "dung spitting" during an evening drink in the bush :). Our big disappointment was to be told that the wild dogs were too far from the lodge in the mountains and we could not go and see them, even though we had booked for 3 nights. We did not take part in the last morning game drive as we had to leave the lodge at 10h00 to drive back and catch our flight. It was very enjoyable to spend a lazy morning at the lodge and enjoy breakfast at the water hole. Back home and remembering our stay is very pleasant, and we have a lot of enjoyable moments.
The bush is a magical place and we are so happy we can experience it once in a while.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Murielle V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tuningi Safari Lodge

Property: Tuningi Safari Lodge
Address: Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 23 Specialty Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Tuningi Safari Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tuningi Safari Lodge, situated in the world renowned Big 5, malaria-free, Madikwe Game Reserve, proudly showcases this protected areas African success story in magnificent style! Tuningi offers guests superior accommodation enhanced by an impressive Big 5 safari experience and personalised service in a friendly and relaxed environment. The Lodge welcomes children and in doing so, avails them of the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature, wildlife and our delicate eco-system first-hand. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tuningi Safari Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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