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“AMAZING”

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Ulusaba Safari Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“AMAZING”
Reviewed November 27, 2012

We stumbled across Ulusaba when we were looking through a wedding magazine for ideas on our honeymoon - we looked at other safari lodges but kept coming back to Ulusaba and knew then that we had to book it...and boy, it did not disappoint!

When we arrived at Ulusaba "airport" and were greeted by our ranger Sean with a glass of champagne we knew we had made the right choice! From then until the end of our stay things just got better and better!

The room we stayed in was out of this world - it was comfortable and luxurious at the same time and we were lucky enough to have a room with a plunge pool which was particularly relaxing after the morning game drive.

The food was amazing and was offered in abundance - you never went hungry that was for sure! We booked in for a private meal in the wine cellar one evening which added a touch of romance and exclusivity. Other than that we ate our meals together as a large group which was lots of fun.

All of the staff were friendly and accommodating - they really made you feel at home and nothing was too much to ask.

The game drives were amazing, all thanks to our fab ranger Sean and tracker James. They made sure we got to see everything which included wild dog and hyena pups, as well as the big 5. They also took the time to point out the smaller animals/creatures in the bush that often go unnoticed ...which my other half loved because it meant he got to use his macro lens!

All in all it was an absolutely awesome trip - we have some incredible photos and memories that will last forever. It was the most perfect way to start our married life together and we will be back....for every anniversary if we could afford it!!!

Thanks to everyone for making our honeymoon so special!

Room Tip: Based on what the other guests were saying, all the rooms are fab!
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank milesymilesy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VLELondon, General Manager at Ulusaba Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 29, 2012
Thank you so much for taking the time to provide us with your wonderful feedback. Ulusaba really is a special place to spend such a momentous occasion as your honeymoon so we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed it as much as you did! I’ll be sure to pass your comments onto Sean and James as I know they’d love to hear them.

We hope to welcome you back to Ulusaba in the near future!

All the best
Karl Langdon
General Manager at Ulusaba
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (122)
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1 review
Reviewed November 25, 2012

It was everything we wanted from our safari experience. Liquor was all top shelf and food was amazing. The safaris were great as well (we saw the big 5 day 1). Not 1 compliant from us. Be sure to get massages as I had the best massage of my life there.

  • Stayed October 2012
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Thank Jkovin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Southampton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
316 reviews
82 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 160 helpful votes
Reviewed November 23, 2012

Ulusaba takes your breath away and is just perfect. There cannot be many better places in the world than this if you want to commune and experience the reality of nature. The place runs like clockwork starting with the 5am wake up call, the 5:30 early morning safari; return for a quality breakfast; have some leisure time or a planned activity; enjoy a scrumptious lunch then prepare for the late afternoon safari followed by a bbq or an intimate dinner. All the staff pamper and care for you expertly, taking great care to keep you safe and well protected. Greg our safari guide was affable and a 'fountain' of knowledge. The place is unpretentious and exudes quality. You can almost run out of superlatives trying to describe your stay.

The safaris themselves were memorable. During our short stay we went out on four. I won't tell you what you can expect to see because that would spoil your moment. Rest assured you won't be disappointed.

My wife and I have travelled extensively all over the world and were getting slightly jaded. Ulusaba invigorated us and brought back that special feeling of awe and pleasure again when visiting a special place..

If you can please take time to visit/tour the village close by and see the work being carried out by the Pride 'n Purpose development initiatives. By going on the tour you will be directly contributing to the various projects being undertaken in the village. Better still find room in your suitcase for writing materials, paper, pencils, pens even books which you can donate to one of the schools as part of your visit. And meet the delightful children who attend the classes.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank kempr52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VLELondon, General Manager at Ulusaba Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 27, 2012
Thank you so much for your positive feedback, it really is greatly appreciated and I can assure you that I will pass all comments onto the team as I know they’ll be so pleased to hear them. We believe Ulusaba is a very special place and so glad to hear you felt invigorated after your stay.

It was also great to hear that found time during your stay to go on the community trip. The team that heads this up do an amazing job and I’m delighted you could see first-hand the impact their work has on the local communities so thank you for taking the time out of your holiday to spend some time seeing this.

We hope to welcome you back again soon to Ulusaba.

All the best
Karl Langdon
General Manager of Ulusaba
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern NJ
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 20, 2012

I am at a loss for words because this place is so amazing. I realize now, how flippant I have been with my use of the word "amazing". Ulusaba has given it a whole new meaning!
It has been 6 months since we stayed at this wonderful place, and I still find myself looking at pictures and trying to re-live the beautiful moments experienced there.
There is something about Africa that, in my opinion, will change you forever; It grounds you and fills your soul with everything that is missing in your life. It always gives me a sense of belonging (I grew up in Nigeria).. and Ulusaba, despite all the luxury it provides, still manages to make you feel exactly that... At home in the bush, surrounded by wilderness, and safely guarded and cared for by genuinely beautiful people.
My husband and I chose Ulusaba as the place to tie the knot. We are so glad to have made that decision. It is the most memorable day of our lives, and Ulusaba worked hard at making that happen! Other than upgrading our room, there are so many little details that I don't want to give away in case you are considering making the same decision to get married there; I don't want to ruin the magic of surprise.. but rest assured that you are in good hands. Ulusaba will pamper you and make your dream day come true.
The rangers and trackers work very hard as well to make sure your safari experience is filled with "wow" moments. They do a fantastic job. They respect the natural course of life in the bush by not interfering with the animals' movements, yet they manage to make you feel like you are amongst them - SAFELY. It's truly incredible.
Because the wedding day stole some time from the game drives, we opted out of the pride n' purpose visit to the village. But we heard it's a must see...
What can I say? I miss it so much! Nothing will top the wonderful experience we had at Ulusaba and I just hope to have the opportunity of returning one day!
We love you Ulusaba! Thank you Richard for picking such a beautiful spot and fantastic staff to make this a real paradise on earth!

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank jerseygirl07960
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VLELondon, General Manager at Ulusaba Safari Lodge, responded to this review, November 27, 2012
Thank you so much for your kind words, it means so much to all of us here at Ulusaba to know that you had a wonderful stay. It really is a special place to get married or to stay on honeymoon and we’re honoured that you chose Ulusaba for such a special occasion as your wedding. We know how important a time it is and of course we’re biased about the beauty of the African bush but delighted it worked its magic.

We hope to welcome you and your husband back in the future, perhaps to celebrate your wedding anniversary!

All the best Karl Langdon
General Manager of Ulusaba
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wellington, New Zealand
Level Contributor
118 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 191 helpful votes
Reviewed November 15, 2012

My husband and I stayed at Ulusaba's Safari Lodge in late October. This was our second visit to Ulusaba, the first was three years ago at Rock Lodge. That time it was for a significant birthday and anniversary. This time it was my significant birthday, and I chose to return to Ulusaba, but to give Safari Lodge a try this time.

I'm going to review Ulusaba on the same basis as I did the other lodge we stayed at during this trip - Kwandwe's Great Fish River Lodge.

When I choose a safari lodge/destination, I do so on the following basis

1 safari/game drive experience
2 quality of accommodation
3 quality of service
4 food and wine
5 other factors, such as location, etc

1. Safari/game drive experience. Having been there before, I knew that our game viewing experience would be wonderful. And it was. We saw plenty of leopards, and I was delighted to see that one of my favourite leopards from my last trip was now a mother with a cub (though we only got to see the cub briefly). The rest of the experience was wonderful, as we knew it would be in Sabi Sands, but we also experienced some new things. In spring there are lots of cubs and baby animals, and we also saw a huge herd of buffalo, which I didn't think we would so far west. Also, Johnny, our ranger, and Dan, our tracker also gave us a new experience - an off road stalking of rhino.

The only downside (and this is the "but" referred to in my review title) was that we specifically chose Ulusaba because we believed they had a maximum-six-person only policy for their vehicles. When you're spending 6-8 hours every day in the vehicle, space is important - especially if you're tall and need to stretch your legs out. Due to some mismanagement in terms of bookings and the departure of a ranger (I think, I never really got the full story), we had two game drives with 8 people in the vehicle. Among those 8 were other guests who arrived that day and were also return visitors - they too were shocked at this. They tried to accommodate us, and I appreciated their efforts, especially those of Johnny. They apologised, and Karl the manager assured me "it should never have happened, and I guarantee it will not happen again," but I did not receive an unequivocal assurance that Ulusaba lodges definitely have a six-person policy, and so it does make me very nervous about booking Ulusaba again, or about booking Ulusaba in Kenya when it opens (as I previously was very keen to do). I think this is why I was upset - that I didn't want there to be any reason why I would not go again. I probably will still make the effort as Ulusaba still has a very important place in my heart - but I will also seek those assurances at the time of/before booking.

Our last visit was at the beginning of winter (May) and this visit was at the beginning of summer. If you go at this time of year, be prepared both for hot weather, and very cool weather. I was glad I had brought winter clothes, because I needed them - both on the drive, and then around the lodge and in the evenings.

2. Quality of accommodation. Safari Lodge was a delight. Whilst we loved the quirky nature of Rock Lodge, Safari Lodge is relaxed and beautiful, and I liked being part of the action amongst the animals. I also liked the opportunity every day to walk up to the Hippo Dam via the swing bridges. It gave us a little exercise (let's face it, we weren't going to the gym) too after breakfast.

We were upgraded to a River Room (from Elephant) - River 1 - which was a good size, and is a detached villa on its own but still very close to the lodge (and there is no need to cross a swing bridge so would be good for people with mobility issues). The bathroom does look out towards the swing bridge, so we did feel the need to pull all the curtains in the bathroom. There was therefore no chance of having a bath and looking out to see an elephant looking back, as one of our fellow guests experienced in one of the Elephant (how appropriate!) rooms. A screen strategically placed a few metres outside the room would make the room feel much more private.

3. Quality of service. With the exception of the issue around the vehicle, the service was what we expect of Ulusaba. Friendly, personal, informal, but prompt and efficient. There must be something in the water to make everyone so relaxed and happy. Everyone you come across is personable and helpful.

Oh, I had a massage and facial too. The massage room is simple but lovely - you really know you're in Africa.

On my last visit, I commented in my customer feed-back form that some hints on tipping could be useful (especially as we come from a country where tipping is uncommon). I was therefore very pleased to note that in our welcome letter, there was reference to tipping, and suggestions to talk to management if you are unsure of what to do. Other guests had the same advice on their welcome letters too. So I was impressed to see that they do actually act on guest suggestions/feedback.
4. Food and wine. This was one of the reasons we returned to Ulusaba. Food and wine is important to us, and specifically we had great memories of the quality and variety of wines available on our last visit. We were not disappointed, and enjoyed the best wine of our two plus weeks in South Africa at Ulusaba. Once they knew we were interested in wine, then they were happy to talk to us about what we preferred, and offered us different options if we wanted them. I will note that this time I didn't see any Veuve Cliquot about, whereas it was more readily available last time. Perhaps I just needed to ask for it.

The food was more patchy. Breakfast was excellent - the eggs benedict were to die for. Lunch had a good variety of options - lighter than at Kwandwe, which is good if you only had breakfast 3 hours earlier, and the desserts on offer were wonderful. Dinner was always good, but not always great. We enjoyed the food, and the desserts again were all excellent. The evening the substitute chef cooked was actually our highlight - dinner that night was absolutely delicious. A very odd thing was that there were no steak knives. So when we had kudu or ostrich (ostrich in particular is delicious!), we were sawing away with our regular knives. That's really something I didn't expect at this class of establishment, and it did actually affect our view of the meal, which was perhaps unfair (as the ostrich did melt in your mouth once it got there!).

We also had a private dinner at the Wine Cellar. This was absolutely lovely and I highly recommend it.

If I have to compare with Great Fish River at Kwandwe, I'd say their food was better, but Ulusaba's wine won hands down.

5. Other factors. Ulusaba is only a short flight to Johannesburg, so it is easier to get to if you're flying in/out of Jo'burg. It is a malarial area, but in late October it was still cool, and we didn't see a mosquito the entire time (validating our decision not to take preventive malaria medications).

And whilst Ulusaba is right at the western boundary of the Kruger area (right up against the fence as some of the experts on the forums will comment), this doesn't really affect the quality of the game viewing.

I think Ulusaba is still reasonable value for money, in "South African Game Reserve" terms. Yes, it is expensive. But we managed to get a 4 nights for 3 deal this time (and these seem to be available for most of the year). When we compared it against other first class lodges it is actually not too bad, and therefore a very worthy choice to visit.

I fell in love with Ulusaba three years ago. I still love it - perhaps more realistically now. As I said earlier, it still has a special place in my heart. Even when things don't work out perfectly. Because imperfect at Ulusaba is still magical.

Room Tip: River 1 is close to the lodge, and doesn't require walking on the swing bridges. Safari Lodge r...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank LindaNZ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
2 reviews
Reviewed November 14, 2012

This was an absolutely perfect way to experience an African Safari. The property is wonderful. it provides every modern convenience but never lets you forget you are in the middle of the busy. The staff were all round friendly and helpful. The rangers and trackers really got to know the guests and worked hard to make the trip everything you want. The food and wine were plentiful and delicious. Highly recommend this lodge.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Dana J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed November 12, 2012

We had a wonderful time here. The food was excellent, the wine even better! All the staff were wonderful. We were lucky enough to see the big 5 and many many more including lots of babies.
The safari was excellent with an amazing ranger and guide. The gin and tonics in the bush were a nice touch and the children were looked after with homemade cookies and hot chocolate.
The whole team is a big family who take extra special care of you

Room Tip: We preferred the rock lodge as the views were sensational
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Clare H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ulusaba Safari Lodge

Property: Ulusaba Safari 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 #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Ulusaba Safari Lodge 4.5*
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Safari Lodge is built along the banks of the dry Mabrak riverbed. The 11 rooms at Safari Lodge include a Treehouse Suite overlooking the nearby Xikwenga Dam as well as three other room types: Safari, Elephant and River Rooms, some of which have private plunge pools. Kids over the age of 12 are welcome to stay at Safari Lodge. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ulusaba Safari Hotel Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

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