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“Our weekend breakaway.”

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Kololo Game Reserve
Certificate of Excellence
Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Our weekend breakaway.”
Reviewed March 22, 2012

Kololo exceeded my expectations by far. The management and staff are very professional and friendly and it felt like home instead of a visit to an unknown place. The accomodation was clean and very homely, and I just loved to sit and listen to the lions roar. The food was fabulous and I am sure I gained a kg or 2. And the bonus is, that the reserve is not even such a long drive from O.R. Thambo Int. A defninate place to visit at least once in your life.

Room Tip: I woud definately recomend the Kings or Queens chalets. They are private and have the most beautifu...
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Karien D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirsten_Jansen, Marketing and Sales at Kololo Game Reserve, responded to this review, April 6, 2012
Thank you very much. We are glad you enjoyed your stay. Maybe we can welcome you back again someday.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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381 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Sunnyvale, California
Level Contributor
57 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
Reviewed November 30, 2011

I stayed at Kololo for three nights in November 2011 over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday after carefully researching my options. This was my first visit to Africa as well as South Africa.

I wanted a malaria-free reserve as far north as possible (because the Western Cape and Eastern Cape reserves, while lovely, are notorious for not offering an authentic bush experience); I wanted a place that was far enough from Johannesburg to escape Gauteng's insane crime rate; I wanted a place that was within reasonable driving distance of Johannesburg; and I wanted to keep my budget under control. So my options narrowed to Welgevonden and Madikwe, and after further research, I decided upon Kololo. Although Welgevonden and Madikwe are approximately the same distance from Johannesberg, Welgevonden is slightly easier to get to because the N1 highway has been upgraded to full freeway status as far north as Modimolle. Although Pilanesberg is closer to Johannesberg, Pilanesberg is also notorious for being overcrowded.

Kololo is a beautiful, quiet reserve which is incredibly affordable because it sits next to a Big 5 reserve, Welgevonden, and has access rights for game drives, but is itself not a Big 5 reserve, which means you can walk around by yourself without having to worry about being eaten by lions. But they have lots of other animals and it's such an amazing experience to look out the window from one's chalet and see a herd of zebras casually walking by. Kololo is also a bit larger in terms of capacity than most lodges (it can accommodate approximately up to 60 people across all the chalets and the tented camp, I think) which means they are better able to amortize their cost structure over a larger number of guests (as opposed to five-star ultraluxury game lodges, whose fee structures are spread over only 12-18 guests). However, because the chalets are scattered across a large area and the tent camp is in a totally different part of the reserve, it doesn't feel crowded at all.

Kololo started out as just another farm, then for some years was a "self-catering" game reserve (i.e., bring your own food and cook for yourself) which was turned into a full-service reserve by the current owners, who have significant experience in the Dutch lodging industry. They bought the place in 2005, added the current swimming pool, full-service restaurant, and reception building, and then began building more chalets. They also merged some of their land into Welgevonden and thereby gained access rights. Although a direct gate has built between the two reserves, they are still working out the bugs with the security system, so for Welgevonden game drives, your guide will still have to take you back to the main road, go half a kilometer, and then into Welgevonden through the south gate.

I stayed in the Kingfisher chalet, which had been recently renovated and was very pleasant and comfortable. I booked the full board program and had breakfast and dinner in Kololo's restaurant, where the service was a little slow but the food was excellent. I went on two game drives in Welgevonden and one Kololo game drive, which were all really fun. (I saw rhino, hippo, zebra, elephant, baboon, warthog, kudu, impala, nyala, eland, etc.) As everyone else has noted, the staff and rangers are professional, knowledgeable, and very helpful.

Now, the disadvantages, which are all relatively minor. First, the owners are Dutch and market most heavily to the Dutch and German markets, so most of the guests are Dutch or German. (I think I was the only guest there during my stay from a predominantly English-speaking country.) Fortunately, all the staff speak good English so this isn't much of an issue.

Second, until the direct gate between Welgevonden and Kololo is operational, you'll have to go through the checkpoint at the south gate to get in and out of Welgevonden.

Third, Kololo is on the south side of Welgevonden, away from the R33 highway, and is accessible only by driving on dirt roads. This means that (1) you either must arrange for an airport transfer (i.e., someone to drive or fly you to Kololo) or (2) must be experienced at driving on dirt roads (I am). The good news is that Kololo is easy to find once you get to the start of the dirt road to Bakkerspas (clearly visible on Google Street View); you just turn left off the R33, follow the dirt road for 29 km, and look out for the Kololo entrance on the right.

Fourth, be warned that the R33 highway is undergoing major road construction for the next two years between Vaalswater and Modimolle, which means that much of a 48 km section of the highway has been narrowed to one lane for three separate segments (with controls in place to alternate between the two directions of traffic). Unfortunately, this means that the 3 hour drive to Kololo can easily turn into the 5 hour drive from hell, of which you'll spend over an hour sitting in traffic listening to South Africa's obnoxious DJs on radio stations like R2000 and Jacaranda 94.2. There is an alternate route to the south via Alma and Rankin's Pass on other dirt roads which is not congested at all (ask about it when you make your reservation), but you have to study Google Maps very, very carefully to use it without getting lost. The advantage of taking the detour to the south, though, is that the scenery there is more striking than that visible from the R33 highway.

Fifth, the pool which is supposed to be heated was a little bit chilly when I was there. Other than that, once I got used to the temperature, the pool was quite pleasant, as it appears to use a non-chlorine system, and I enjoyed getting some swimming done during my trip.

Sixth, it's not near Kruger, which means your probability of seeing the largest predators is somewhat reduced compared to Kruger. But if you're looking at Kololo, it's because you don't want to risk malaria or the nasty side effects of antimalarial drugs, both of which you may have to deal with if you visit those really expensive game reserves near Kruger.

Seventh, rangers can't go completely off road to get a better view of animals, but that's true of most game reserves with only a few notable exceptions, mostly near Kruger.

Eighth, Kololo and Welgevonden are both former converted farms (as are Madikwe and Pilanesberg). This means that you will see, particularly in Welgevonden, minor indicia of civilization scattered here and there, like old farmhouses, power lines, and a huge cell phone tower. While I was aware of this issue going in, it was a little bit irritating having to shoot photos of wildlife in such a way so as to avoid power lines and the like.

Overall, I was very happy with my visit. I recommend Kololo to any first-time visitor to Africa looking for an affordable, comfortable malaria-free preserve with access to Big Five game drives.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank coolcaesar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed November 28, 2011

It is a lovely lodge with extremely helpful staff! We went for a night for my dad's birthday and they really made everything so special from the accommodation, the game drive right through to the bush braai under the stars exclusively for us! The road there is terrible though and I do hope they will fix it.

Room Tip: We stayed in the Leopard's Den which is perfect for 6 adults and 2 children. It has its own swim...
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Genie-Mari
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JHB
1 review
Reviewed October 28, 2011

For my taste, Kololo has the right balance in what it offers. Beautiful location, lovely accommodation and quality amenities make for good value . It is just the right size to ensure that the service is personalised yet discreet enough to give that feeling of "getting away from it all'. It's proximity to the Wegevonden nature reserve is an added bonus. Choose the game drive to the southern end - it has stunning savannah vistas and is not crowded!

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Frank R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Enschede, The Netherlands
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed October 26, 2011

We have been a few times to Africa, but Kololo is really a top destination to stay.
Beautiful chalets in a perfect natural environment , impala’s are just walking in the front of your chalet.
Staff is very friendly and will do anything to make your trip the perfect one.
Wegevonden gate is next to the reception of Kololo and is a spectacular area with a lot of different landscapes and a good place for game drives (organized by Kololo).
Biking and hiking is possible on the Kololo site and also recommended, you will see a lot of animals like zebra, wildebeest, giraffe and all kinds of bucks.
The restaurant, Food is delicious and really nice sunsets from the terrace.

We will be back and recommend it to anyone who likes to enjoy all the good things in life.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank johan v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eibergen, The Netherlands
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed October 6, 2011

Last July we spent more than a week in KOLOLO Game Reserve where we stayed at the Kingfisher bush chalet. It was our best Africa experience ever. The staff were very kind and helpful, really nice and hospitable people. When we went on a game drive in the neighbouring Welgevonden Reserve, we saw lots of wild animals, including the Big Five. The KOLOLO Game Reserve itself is very charming, no dangerous animals here. So we could just go walking and cycling whenever we wanted, without a guide. During these fascinating tours we photographed kudus, zebras, giraffes, warthogs and a lot of other inhabitants of KOLOLO. What beautiful tracks! We also made a KOLOLO game drive and enjoyed the guide’ s interesting stories. After returning from the drive the staff of the restaurant welcomed us with an excellent diner. This was our first visit to KOLOLO. No need to say it won’t be our last. Website: ( www.kololo.co.za )

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank carlo d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed July 30, 2011

Kololo is a beautiful location and when sitting on your private porch, you can experience a true Out of Africa landscape. Everything is built with quality in mind. We were there during wintertime and missed a few items that could have made our stay a bit more comfortable. Like robes and slippers, a fireplace inside or other things to avoid getting cold, which we certainly did. One of the owners was determined that we were in need of his company all the time and his presence caused us to have little privacy which was annoying. This was regrettable because the rest of the personnel is truly very nice. The food is good but not exceptional. This place really has potential but misses the finishing touch and for the price we expected more. If only the owner would be open for that ... he didn't ask.

  • Stayed July 2011
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Marxx63
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pim_Jansen, Owner at Kololo Game Reserve, responded to this review, August 9, 2011
Thank you for taking the trouble to put your Kololo comments on Tripadvisor. We appreciate your positive comments and will look into your suggestions on giving Kololo the final touch. We also appreciate you mentioning your discomfort with the presence of one of the Kololo owners. It looked like his enthusiasm for Kololo came across as overwhelming and annoying. We sincerely regret the fact that you felt intimidated by it. That definitely was not his intention; he was shocked when he read it and will seriously take your comments as a lesson for the future. Once again, thank you for making this known to us.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kololo Game Reserve

Property: Kololo Game Reserve
Address: Bakkerspas, Vaalwater 0530, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Waterberg > Vaalwater
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 36 Specialty Lodging in Vaalwater
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Kololo Game Reserve 4*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kololo Game Reserve is situated in the beautiful province of Limpopo, South Africa, in the heart of the Waterberg biosphere. Vast, peaceful and incredibly beautiful, this is a fascinating destination with a rich cultural legacy and natural splendour.A malaria-free area, child friendly and home to a large variety of game, Kololo is a perfect safari destination. Visit neighbouring reserve Welgevonden Game Reserve (of which Kololo is also part) and view the Big 5 - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - or enjoy a sneak preview over the fence, from the comfort of your chalet at Kololo.Kololo has its own gate near the reception, which provides direct access to Welgevonden Game Reserve. Kololo therefore has a unique concept: the Big 5 and accommodation in a luxurious, comfortable lodge where only the safe wildlife roams free. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kololo Game Reserve Vaalwater, Waterberg, South Africa

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