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“Most Amazing wedding destination on earth.......”
Review of Ulusaba Rock Lodge

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Ulusaba Rock Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 30, 2010

So why get married in South Africa at Ulusaba everyone said??
Take a look at the piccys......
Well you only have to look at the most amazing views, sunset, animals (leopards inparticular) and add the food, the hospitality, the staff for the most awesome experience of a life time to remember!..... and not to forget that Ricjhard popped in for Christmas with his family on the day of our wedding.

There was no indecision about the venue, and dreaming of pictures on the deck.... the only question was safari lodge or rock lodge.....They are both very different....think we made the right decision the views from the Rock lodge and the family feel is amazing..... to sit and have lunch on the deck, see the bush moving and then spot a pack of lions chasing a herd or wilderbeasts...... We were unsure at first if we'd made the right decision and if it might be a bit stuffy and the other guests would be a little too refined for our liking but they were all great and socialable and made it a memorable stay.

We loved everything about it....the food, the staff were amazing.....
We were upgraded to the Rock Suite, lovelly suite, bathroom, far too big for the two of us but my wedding dress had a room of its own all week....

The game viewing was amazing....Greg and James did a great job, during our 3 days of drives we saw EVERYTHING!!!! Many amazing leopard sightings, lions, elephants, etc..... and the very evasive Wild Dog which even Mr B is still to see....

I had no idea what to expect of our wedding...... we chose Kings Rock, Al arrived by Landrover, followed by me 5 mins later..... they'd set up it up really well.....some sculptures, some canapes, strawberries, wedding cake and at least 4 bottles of my favourite Veuve Cliquet Champagne. The staff turned out and sang, the miister was hilarious. the staff doubled up as a video man, and the photographer was great and has put together the most amazing album. It was 36 degrees at 4.30pm in the afternoon but the breeze was lovelly, the rock lodge on the hill in the background, the hippo's snorting and the lions roaring........... You'd hardly of noticied we were the only guests........

Without doubt the best experience ever and I grinned and smiled all day it was beautiful.......... the day was finished off by an amazing sunset, dinner of out choice of favourite foods, copious amounts of champagne and a few drinks with our newly made friends.

Yes its not cheap, but its an amazing experience and you don't want for anything!!

Get saving and just do it! We'll be back!
It's a very special experience.

Sue & Al McLay

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank SUEDDerby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 8, 2009

Although with friends I stayed on a single supplement basis in a Rock Cliff Room at Rock Lodge. Firstly let’s get the good, great and amazing things here first;

1. The staff at the lodge were fantastic; genuine, sincere and really helpful. They couldn’t have done more for us and everything they did do really seemed a pleasure rather than a chore. In particular Carmel, Vickers, Knox, Peggy and the wonderful guy behind the bar (he knows who he is!).
2. The location was outstanding, having gone down to Safari Lodge I am really pleased we decided on Rock Lodge it seemed more intimate and more of a boutique feel plus the views were spectacular and it benefited from the breeze.
3. Our Ranger (Stevie) and Tracker (Tulani) were amazing, they worked so hard to ensure we saw the animals on our game drives, made everyone feel special and included and made the best tea’s and coffee’s known to man ;) Our team were also the best at “off roading” and deep bush trekking which made for an even more exciting time. Other’s who need a mention are Greg, Stuart and Johann for making everyone laugh via the radio and their camera expertise 
4. The size of the lodge and accommodation was great; Room 3 is on two floors with a spiral staircase leading down to the bathroom which included a free standing bath overlooking the bush and a huge shower complete with some of the original kopje stones. The balcony overlooks the bush with great views to the lake and cross-country to the mountains. The room was very well equipped with a safe, hairdryer, repellent and fantastic toiletries, slippers, gown and a mini bar stocked with wine, champagne and beautiful snacks together with a super quick laundry service.
5. The food and wine were outstanding with something for everyone and a bar stocked with every drink known to man and some we have probably never heard of! The wine was varied and well chosen and Carmel or Vickers always had a recommendation which proved to be good.

Now for one niggle which made the experience a little less amazing….

1. The game drives were somewhat spoilt for me by the constant change of companion in the vehicle – 3 in all over 4 nights. This meant that as soon as we had all relaxed into each others’ company those people left and we had new people to bond with. This also meant that we repeatedly saw animals we had already seen on earlier game drives (for the benefit of the new people) when perhaps we could have spent this time looking for the more elusive animals we had rarely seen. However we did see most animals including leopards thanks to our fantastic team. I totally understand the logistics aspect with people staying for different lengths of time however it would just have been nicer if we had managed to stay with one group for more than a couple of drives. Comparing the experience to other safari’s this aspect of the drives did make the animal sightings a little repetitive and frustrating.

All in all a good experience made even better by the genuine service, friendly staff and location. Value for money as a single traveller? I’m not totally sure. Perhaps I will see again soon….

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank ChatelaineLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 27, 2009

We had for many many years wished to go on a safari so as we were both 40 this year we decided to go for it and treat ourselves to a stay at Ulusaba.

We had looked at many lodges but couldn’t get passed the Ulusaba page.

We began to become a bit sceptical the nearer the holiday became wondering if we would actually see any animals but this proved to be totally unfounded.

From the minute we arrived at the welcome lodge after a very long flight and a 4 hour wait for the private air transfer we loved every second.

Within 30 minutes of arriving at Rock lodge we were out on our first drive experiencing rhinos, elephants, lions to name but a few, the camera never stopped clicking. To our amazement half way through the drive we stopped, got out the jeep to stretch our legs only to be presented with a full mini bar and nibbles.

We thought because we were staying for 5 nights that we may have a lie in a few mornings and miss some of the morning drives….no chance we couldn’t wait and were awake earlier than the 5.30am wake up knock listening for the jeeps coming up the drive.

Every drive was different but all equally amazing…we never dreamed we would see so much. …playful baby elephants , cheetahs , leopards (including a 6 week old cub), lions with their kill , hippos , rhinos , buffalos, zebras, giraffes, snakes , crocodiles. We saw all these on numerous occasions.

We had the most FANTASTIC ranger and tracker …Steve and Thulani…they were awesome…they got us so close and were always smiling.

When you weren’t on the drives the lodge and the staff were equally as amazing. They are such a fantastic team …the chefs, the bar staff, the housekeepers, the security guards, the spa girls, the management…..they really did treat you like family.

And the send off from the staff, three jeeps parked at the side of the airstrip with the rangers and trackers standing in the jeeps waving us off….fantastic!

Ulusaba well exceeded our expectations on every level, we both had tears in our eyes when we left and we are already planning when we can go back.

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Mark_n_Pip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 1, 2009

Don't read another review, don't review any other game reserve - just go to Ulusaba. It will take your breath away.

I have always wanted to go on safari as I adore animals but I especially love cats. My partner booked us into Ulusaba as a surprise for my birthday and I can honestly say that I had the best 4 days of my life in Ulusaba with the animals and the Ulusaba family.

We stayed in river lodge 4 and the baboons didn't visit us there at night but we did have our own monkeys in the trees by our lodge. We went out on six game drives during our stay (06.00 and 16.00) and we saw the big five on our first trip out!

Our ranger Jobe and our scout Pauly were the BEST. Jobe is from the local village and it was clear to us as we met other guests that we were seeing a lot more animals on every trip out. What was great for us was that is was just the four of us (land rover holds 6 guests) for 4 drives. This meant he only had to take our needs into account and as we said we were happy for him to push the land rover to its limits in terms of exploring the bush - he did just that, every time. Luckily the four people that joined us for trip 5 and 6 were just as brave.

I am sure the rest of the rangers are great but Jobe just seems to know where to go to find the animals for you. I joked with him every day about what I wanted to see that day and apart from the last drive when I said I wanted to say goodbye to the leopard and we didn't find one , he found me the animals I said I wanted to see.

I cannot explain the excitement and joy at getting up close with lions and leopards and elephants - and Jobe took us up close and personal time and time again. It was a pleasure and a privilege to see so many lions ( we stopped counting at 23!) three leopards, loads of elephants, three zebra, white rhino, hippos etc etc and wild dogs. Seeing wild dogs is rare and everyone at the lodge was sooooo excited when they heard on the radio that we had found some.

The staff at the lodge are FANTASTIC and they really treat you like family. I had a big birthday while there and they made me a cake and arranged a private dinner, gave me a present and sang happy birthday to me in afrikaan. I cannot praise them enough - they know what service is all about and they are so genuine and nice to be around.

Ladies - You must visit the spa and I recommend the massage both back and head between drives. If you are lucky you may be joined by a baboon or an elephant.

Africa in July in early morning and afternoon / evening is COLD - so bring plenty of layers to keep warm in the land rover. Olusaba give you a hot water bottle (in the morning) and some blankets and poncho's but you do need to layer on the clothes - do bring a hat and gloves.

We had one day where you could have sat out in a swim suit during the middle part of the day ( I joke not) but apart from that day it was cold as the weather from cape town hit us.

The local airline limit your bagage weight so do pack carefully if you are not leaving luggage in a hotel in JBurg. People didn't dress up for dinner in our lodge and if you are in river lodge 4 or the tree house your walk home includes three 'I'm a celebrity get me outa here' bridges to cross - so ladies forget the high heels. The bridges are high so the elephants can walk under them.

Dont under estimate how tired you will be when you come home. You get up at 5 for the first drive and because you meet other lovely guests and dont get back from the afternoon drive until after 7 , and the staff are keen to hear about your day, you dont go to bed very early either. You need a beach holiday to recover afterwards.

I am definetely going back. Enjoy and savour every single minute of your stay.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Martina W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 21, 2009

My husband and I spent four days at Ulusaba in late May 2009. Earlier in our trip we had spent four days at Ngala Game Lodge (a separate review) so it was good to be able to compare, given that Ulusaba was more than twice the price. (That said, Ulusaba is still pretty good value compared to other all inclusive properties we've stayed in elsewhere).

First I have to say that the staff were without doubt friendly and helpful and relaxed. There were no airs or graces at Ulusaba, and generally the guests followed the lead of the staff, relaxed and had a good time. But everyone was extremely professional - the service really is outstanding.

We stayed at Rock Lodge. The room (we were upgraded to the Rock Suite) was lovely, large bathroom, private deck. The views from everywhere in the lodge (including the Aroma Boma for a massage) were brilliant, and as we had already stayed at a "bush" lodge we enjoyed being high on the hill and in a different environment. From the lunch deck, at different times, we saw waterbuck, elephants and baboons drinking at the waterhole just below. There are plenty of baboons around the lodge too, and we woke to the roar of lions one morning.

The food was very good (although not quite of the quality I had expected), and the wine was a highlight. It's only a pity that you can't drink that much with the early morning wake ups. Grant the bartender, Stuart (our ranger) and Trevor (another ranger) will all give excellent wine recommendations - and debate the merits of the wines with you if you want.

One night we had a bush dinner to mark my husband's 50th birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary - just for us and our jeep buddies. It was magical - held at the Observatory where we stargazed and saw Saturn and its rings whilst drinking our pre-dinner champagne. Even if you don't have a bush dinner, make sure you go to the observatory. The sky in Africa is amazing.

We had breakfast one day down at Safari Lodge. Although the deck overlooks the riverbed, and apparently animals can be seen there, we felt that it didn't have the atmosphere that you get at Rock Lodge. You just can't beat that view.

We had excellent game viewing at Ulusaba. We didn't get the herds of animals that we saw at Ngala - a drive in Ulusaba would tend to concentrate on just one or two animals. That could be because Ulusaba is at the western end of the reserves bordering Kruger - there is farmland and a village nearby. We didn't see as many birds here either. It is a smaller area than at Ngala, and the driving area is shared with Exeter, Dulini, Savanna and a couple of private lodges. This meant that there were usually other cars at viewings (though not always), and it just felt more crowded than Ngala. However we got wonderful lion and leopard viewing, pretty much daily, as well as the usual suspects (impala, rhinos, hippos, giraffe). We had more "drama" at Ulusaba (lion kills etc) than at Ngala though, including a wild porcupine chase one evening (sightings are very rare).

If you have time in Africa, I would recommend trying two different lodges in two different areas, so that you get the combination of the complete bush experience (which we had at Ngala) and the drama of Ulusaba - both in terms of the game drive and the lodge experience. But if you only have time for Ulusaba, you will not regret it. I am now trying to figure out how I can get back.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank LindaNZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2009

We went to Ulusaba for our honeymoon in late September 08 (I would not be surprised if we were there for the proposal a couple of post down, as there was a couple who got engaged while we were there.)

It was the most amazing place. The staff was great (James, Steve, Tulani, just to name a few). My husband loves orange flavored Vodka and I had requested it before we arrived. Well there was a bottle of Absoult Mardrian that literly followed us everywhere we went. It was quite comical.

My husband go sick on the trip and within 20 minutes of letting the staff know why he was not joining the rest of us for dinner, they sent a down some soup to the room. The next day they called a doctor and he sent up some medication.

The rooms were beautiful. We had a standard room, that still had 2 floors with huge picture windows in the bathroom that overlooked the bush. While taking a bath in the tub you can see animals rooming the bust. Buy the time you came back from your am and pm drives your rooms were cleaned or turned down. They also had electric converters in the rooms for you. (note: I brought a small travel powerstrip so I could charge all of our equipment. It was worth it if you have a lot of things to charge)

I had 2 messages that were very relaxing.

Make sure you lose some weight before you arrive because they fed you all the time. The chef was so accomodating that you could order outside of the menu.

The drives were great. We saw the big 5 within in 4 drives (1.5 days). The tracker and driver were nice and professional and I'm so amazed how they find things. I asked to see a giraffe, boom there was a giraffe. We were so close to the animals yet I never felt unsafe. The vehicles were nice and clean. I loved the extra poncho and warm water bottle for the morning (and in my case afternoon) drives. The first morning Steve noticed I like hot chocolate with milk and everyday he made sure it was there for me.

Overall I can't think of one thing wrong with Ulusaba. The staff and the other guests were just wonderful and we can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank crewusvi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 12, 2008

My wife and I spent 4 nights of our honeymoon at Ulusaba Rock Lodge and could not have been more pleased with our stay there. I used Tripadvisor extensively when researching our trip and despite all the pros and cons that come across in the reviews and message boards, Ulusaba was well above all our expectations. We considered many lodges including Londolozi, Mala Mala, Exeter, & Singita. Ulusaba provides the ultra-luxe ambiance yet retains a casual state of mind. Everything from the staff, to the facilities, to the game drives certainly exceeded any expectations that we had. From arrival to departure, you are treated with the utmost care and concern- practically as family. The staff was amazing - from James, the day manager, Duard and Anton - our Tracker & Ranger, to Ian the chef - the relationships formed are priceless. They truly know how to make their guests feel welcomed and cared for. We knew that there are a plethora of fine game lodge in Sabi Sands, but we would never hesitate to recommend Ulusaba to anyone! Thank you to all the Ulusaba staff and we hope to see you all soon!

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank EPScarlata
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ulusaba Rock Lodge

Address: Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve > Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Price Range: $15,573 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With panoramic views overlooking the miles of African bush, there are 8 rooms at Rock Lodge, including the Master Suite, Makwela Suites, Rock Cliff rooms and the two bedroom Rock Suite, some of which have private plunge pools. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ulusaba Rock Hotel Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

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