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Reviewed January 22, 2011

We really can't speak highly enough about the staff, game drives, food and accommodation at Ulusaba. The stay exceeded our expectations.

Date of stay: December 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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1  Thank daubyb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 16, 2010

An African Safari was on my life list and I got to do it this year. It was all I dreamed of. Up close and personal experiences spectacular wildlife in a super small group setting. The staff at Ulusaba totally pampered us. Great food, fun and knowledgable guides and of course hanging out at Richard Branson private game reserve is pretty cool too. Highly recommended.

Date of stay: August 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled on business
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Thank adventureguy2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2010

We booked to stay at Ulusaba for 5 nights in September 2010 after 6 months of vigorous research on various Safaris in South Africa to celebrate our wedding anivarsary!

Ulusaba comprises two lodges: Safari Lodge sits on the banks of the dry Mabrak riverbed, while Rock Lodge is perched on a hill with panoramic views over the bush. Both offer very different experiences of the bush - you can stay at one or the other or split your time between the two like a lot of the guests had. We choose to stay all nights at the Safari Lodge. All the rooms here are built tree-house style with a private deck from where we had unrivalled views of the elephants or the Nyalas ambling past going towards the watering hole. At the Safari Lodge we were right in the heart of the bush, a fact hammered home at around five each morning when the baboons started to party - screeching, scampering and jumping over our roofs and decks!!! One morning at 4 am we were woken up by the roar of the lions that were miles away but given how quiet the bush is we felt like they were right outside our door!!!

Right since our arrival we were made to feel very welcome! Champagne on arrival and cold towels to soothe us – everything had been well thought off. Our ranger and tracker for the 5 days were both there to welcome us. We were taken to our rooms and then shown around the place. The room is spacious, rustic, and bright and has everything you would want including indoor/ outdoor slippers, bathrobes and hairdryer. The bed was huge and extremely comfortable with lovely pillows. We didn’t have a TV in the room but really we only noticed that on the 3rd day as we were hardly in the room!! From the fully stocked Bar area outside, to the huge dining room, to the wine cellar as well as the open Breakfast area the Safari lodge is a beautiful place.

But the real draw, of course, was the wildlife and the beautiful animals. Although it was mesmerising to stand and survey the miles of parched savannah with a chilled champagne glass in hand there was no substitute for heading out into the thick of it. There were twice-daily game drives as well as bush walks. The first is at 5.30am when the open-topped Land Rovers come stocked with ponchos to keep us warm and the welcome hot-water bottles for the cold early morning! The hot chocolate with Amarula that our Ranger Sean made us every morning was big hit and has become my favorite drink to have on a cold day in London!!! After tea the second game drive heads off at about 4 PM in time for sundowners in the bush. Every little detail has been taken care off! You can tell that all the staff love working at Ulusaba which in turn means they do everything for you with so much warmth and affection that you feel like you’ve known them forever!!

We were lucky to have a great set of people with us on our rides. We were 3 couples that had never met before but we hit it off so well that it was a pleasure and a lot of fun going on our bush rides! We shared a lot of laughs over the course of our 5 day trip! With Sean the ranger at the wheel, and Jimmy the tracker perched on the fold-away seat on the bonnet, we bumped along the dusty tracks each morning and evening. We saw the Big 5 and also Cheetah, giraffes, wildebeest, Hippos, zebras, hyena, nyala, Impalas and baboons and more during our drives as well as many birds and scorpions under the UV light at night (brilliant!). One evening we watched 2 female leopards fighting over territory and tracked them for nearly an hour until they disappeared in the bush – Its one sight I’m never going to forget – A leopard walking into the sunset!!. One night we followed pride of lions through the scrubby thickets - An absolute highlight was sitting in the jeeps with a pride of lions under the stars waiting for them to wake up! We also saw a cheetah being driven away by a Hyena from the half eaten Impala she was having for dinner! It's truly amazing to be so up close and personal with these animals in their natural habitat.

The rangers and Trackers skill and knowledge of the bush is humbling. We heard so many of their experiences that were awe-inspiring as well as completely fascinating. At the Bush observatory one night, with the velvety sky pinpricked by stars, our ranger pointed out the different constellations - including Scorpio. Walking through the bush in single line, Sean and James, rifle to hand, had a story, a use or a warning for each tree and bush we passed. Plucking a handful of leaves from a bush, Sean added water from his bottle and rubbed them together, producing nature's soap. Twigs from another bush can be turned into a toothbrush after stripping away the bark. We lapped up their every word and our entire group always had loads of questions to ask which they answered patiently!

The food at Ulusaba was brilliant and there was so much food around the clock that we skipped lunch on all but the last day!! We were pampered and overfed! Breakfast was delightful; we would sit outside and watch the animals come to the watering hole while we enjoyed the huge spread! Dinner was like a huge celebration where we sat with all the guests of the Lodge! Dinner could be served in the rooms but we had all our meals with the group as it was so much fun! We had a special Boma dinner organized one night for the 2 of us to also celebrate my husband’s birthday and our anniversary!

We had a lovely wine tasting experience at the Wine cellar in the Safari Lodge – Dane gave us some excellent recommendations and also went out of his way to print some information on Cape Town where we were headed next. We also visited the Aroma Boma Spa at the Rock lodge with a room that overlooks the bush and has stunning views - Both me and my husband enjoyed a fabulous 90 minute warm oil massage!

For those that knock the cost remember that it is all inclusive! Its definitely not cheap but you wont pay for a drop of a drink or any of the fabulous food available around the clock , your night time trip to the lodge observatory , twice daily safaris ,gym, pool , daily laundry ,bathroom products, in fact all in all the amazing experience is worth every penny.

This was our first trip to Ulusaba but definitely not the last! The bush is a magical place to be and we absolutely agree with the first thing our ranger said to us when we reached Ulusaba – He said once you come to the bush you will keep wanting to come back to it!. Choosing to stay at Ulusaba was the best ever decision we took and we can’t thank the entire team at Ulusaba enough for making our trip everything we hoped it would be and more! Nothing was too much trouble, but most of all you didn't need to ask, it was just done. Not only were they all genuine, friendly and kind but also let us have our space when we wanted it! All in all we cannot wait to go back to this place. I could go on and on about how lovely Ulusaba is - but all I will say is do stay here and see for your self that this is indeed a gem!

Cheers to our best holiday ever!
A&S London

Date of stay: September 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Love_to_travel_391
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2010

For $1200 a night there, the service really needs an upgrade. Let me start with the good first. Food was 7 star and you get fed so much that at meal time, you probably don't even have room to eat. The lodge itself is also quite nice. They have a nice observation deck by a pool of water and other lookouts to a dry river bed. However, since I haven't been to other parts of the Sabi Sands area, I don't know if it's the location of this resort or just all of Kruger. With the exception of 1 game drive, spotting animals was hard although I sort of felt like I was in a zoo. It seemed that all the animals were in groups of parents with an offspring with the exception of the grazing animals like impala. I just didn't find the game that impressive but maybe that is how a safari in Africa is suppose to be. I will say that while you are there, the employees do act very friendly.
Now for the not so great. I changed my whole schedule around to stay at this particular lodge - made serious efforts on my part. I even asked for either a boma dinner one night or a bush dinner which they said wouldn't be a problem. Upon check-in, reception also knew this is what I wanted and told me to tell the kitchen staff. I did so and guess what, it was our last meal and no boma or bush dinner. I was told it was dry and there was a fire risk although NO ONE told me this until I asked about it during our dinner. Then I found out that it was just done a few days before and that they like to only do one of those per week. Shouldn't someone have just told me that as opposed to hope that I would just forget? Then I asked about this optional bush walk which EVERY lodge there offers. I was told that if we wanted this, it would cut into our game drive. So basically, who wants to give up a game drive? And before I forget, make sure to get some really good directions there since their website is WRONG. There are NO signs that say Ulusaba near the front as stated in the directions on their website. We were lost in the shanty town nearby for 1.5 hours and had to get help from locals there. Make sure to follow signs for Newlin Gate or something like that. Also, the pool was NOT heated -- it apparently needed repair.
Well, when I told the General Manager my complaints, he was very nice and told me that there should have been an optional bush walk which he offered to us on our last day even though we were trying to leave to make a flight later. He also said a boma dinner or bush dinner should have been arranged for us and he did try to provide a boma drinks thing the last night we were there. He also gave us a few parting gifts. BUT we just paid $2400 and they couldn't even get a few things right? So if the GM is saying these things should've been offered, why weren't they? Why are the employees not on the same page about what is offered and what is not offered and how come no one bothered to tell me they couldn't do a boma dinner or bush dinner at ANY of the 6 meals we had there? When we checked out, the reception even asked how our boma or bush dinner was and this again reinforced the fact that requests do not make it to a live person on the other end of the email. It must just get put into the system and certain people see it but not the people who make the decisions. It just seemed too bureaucratic. The left hand doesn't speak to the right hand and employees are not on the same page with management.
Over-rated as there are other resorts in Sabi Sands and I really should NOT have made the effort I did to work around my whole entire itinerary to stay there. Maybe it would have been better if I didn't have to change my schedule around 3 times to get a room there.
Also, don't stay here if you're not ready to be BFFs with the group that also arrives at the same time as you. I had no idea that I signed up to be in camp again. Every meal and game drive was with the SAME group who was NOT on tour with us and not our friends. I was not there to make friends and socialize the whole time I was there. There should have been options to NOT have to dine with the group all the time.

Date of stay: September 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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11  Thank missslayer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2010

My husband and I traveled here from New Hampshire in August of 2009 for a getaway and wedding combination. We stayed 4 nights and were married on the 3rd night. We stayed in a room in the Safari Lodge. The meals are just incredible and the delicious dinner was the perfect ending to each day. I drank more than my weight in wonderful wines and some local beer (They even brought in my husbands favorite american beer upon request!).

The safari is what it's all about here. You're up at the crack of dawn for 3-4 hours, then back to relax before heading back out for 3-4 hours around dusk. We took over 1500 pictures during our (compared to others) short stay of amazing animals - up close and personal! A good camera is a good investment. The pictures attached here are our own from the game drives (didn't have any of the hotel handy upon writing this review...). We learned a ton from our extremely knowledgable ranger and just really enjoyed the drives.

The staff is amazing. They're all extremely friendly, helpful, and easy going. I had a wonderful pedicure/manicure at the spa and our couples massage in the rock lodge, high above the ground, was a great experience.

We had a few special surprises as a part of our wedding package which only made the trip better. It should be mentioned the hair stylist, photographer, and floral arrangement they set us up with for the wedding were wonderful as well, especially having never met or spoken to either until the wedding day. We also got to spend some time driving around privately with the guide to find the perfect spot for our ceremony. It was VERY easy to plan (literally, just show up with your dress and suit).

I cannot recommend this place enough, and am looking forward to returning for an anniversary someday - likely with many more people in tow!

Date of stay: August 2010
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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Thank JScurrah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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