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“Honeymoon part 2”

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Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 27, 2013

The Sanbona Wildlife Reserve was the second station on our honeymoon trip. It was also our first experience with wildlife resorts in general. We have to admit: It was just great. The location itself didn't looked like a five star resort from the first view but that was camouflage. The personnel is really caring and friendly (something we experienced all over South Africa).

The room was exceptional great, scenic view into the wilderness, comfortable beds and romantic interior is a combination which makes such a stay a real memorable one.

The wildlife experience was - even compared to other experiences we got later at the Addo - was exciting. The wild life personnel was motivated to show us all the highlights the park can show.

Of course such a trip through a wild life resort is not compared to a walk through a zoo. animals may not be there where you want them to be. But that makes it an experience.

The only problem was that we just booked one night. We recommend two at least.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Tina_und_Henning
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 9, 2013

We stayed at Sanbona for 2 nights in late November whilst on a 3 week trip to Cape Town and the surrounding area. Sanbona was without doubt the highlight of the entire trip. The 3 hour drive from Cape Town is picturesque to say the least (and we apparently took the 'less scenic' route!), and once you turn off the main road and onto the gravel track leading to the welcome lodge and beyond, you can already start keeping an eye out for various animals. We were greeted with a drink at the welcome lodge, a small but welcoming building with amazing views out over the reserve. We were then driven via the two other lodges to our location - the Dwyka tented lodge, which was fantastic. Kobus (the lodge manager) greeted us with another welcome drink, and explained what to expect on our stay.

The Dwyka tents are fantastic, and the food at Dwyka was brilliant throughout. The dining area provides a nice quiet / relaxed environment to sit and talk about the events of the day.

The game drives were also fantastic. Whilst some recent reviews have highlighted the relatively small number of animals at Sanbona, we did not find this to be a problem at all, and actually enjoyed the experience of just driving through the reserve spotting animals.

Whilst it is extremely unlikely you will see a leopard, we were well aware of this before our trip having done a bit of reading up on Sanbona. This didn't put us off at all, and we saw plenty of other animals. The highlights were a 45 minute spell sitting 10m from two cheetahs as they relaxed in the late afternoon sun, and a stand-off between 2 lions and a zebra family ending in an attempted kill! This was breathtaking stuff, especially in what seemed such an intimate setting (just two jeeps, far fewer than you'd find on safari in Kruger!). Our guide Suritha was excellent, and managed to track down most of the animals before the other rangers had a chance!

A stay at Sanbona can cost a lot, but so does any safari experience. We initially booked this as a 'once in a lifetime' experience. I think it is safe to say that spending those two nights at Sanbona has convinced me that at some point in the future I will be making it at least a 'twice in a lifetime' experience!

Room Tip: Dwyka tented lodge was fantastic, and looked the most '5 star' out of the three lodges we sa...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank tpcharlie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 4, 2013

Besides the very good game viewing (which was excellent), the whole experience was average.

For the amount that you are paying, you would expect very good food, wine and service. What you receive is average food, below average wine and (in some instances) staff that were unattentive and poorly trained.

For the price - I would recommend that you look elsewhere.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank NoordhoekTravelGuy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 2, 2013

The lodge is beautiful and the cabins are pretty new. We did not use the pool due to the bad cleanliness. The spa is higly recommended. The staff needs training, cause they are quite new. Managament new, too. Game drives are ok - the guide makes photos on his own - this is disturbing to the customers.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Ha_Bae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

We stayed at the Dwyka Tented Lodge in November. Our booking had been rearranged from September due to the flash floods. It is an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from Cape Town and is the perfect weekend getaway. We caught the transfer from the Welcome Lounge as our road car was not suited to the rough terrain. The transfer was efficient and we were ushered to our beautiful tent by the wonderful staff at the Lodge.

This is my kind of “camping”! The “tent” was beautiful with all the amenities you could need and more. The private deck looks up at the rock face housing an array of birds.

Breakfast was varied and was served after the early morning game drive. The food was good and well presented.

We both had massages at the spa. My massage was relaxing and the therapist was skilled. The only negative was that the therapist came in after the massage with a list of products which she felt I was lacking and I felt pressurised to purchasing these products, this took away from the wonderfully relaxing massage.

Our ranger Chris was great. He asked what our interests were and tried to accommodate every passenger. The phone in our tent was out of order and he even gave us a personal wake up call at 5am for our morning game drive! We were there after the Lion’s had made a kill and were able to watch them feeding. The sundowners at dusk was a wonderful way to end the evening game drive. My favourite however was a walk on the Giraffe which allowed us to take note of the delicate flora which you couldn't appreciate from the jeep.

I would recommend Sanbona, it was the perfect weekend away we felt we had been away for a week!

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank rosemaryCapeTown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

This was our second visit to Sanbona and the second time that we had stayed in Dwyka tented lodges. As before all the facilities were extremely comfortable and luxurious. Rudi, our ranger was extremely knowledgeable and made the game drives very interesting and fun. The addition of the "safari boat" is a great idea and we had a fantastic view of the elephants walking around the waters edge but sadly the hippos stayed hidden. The staff are all very friendly and welcoming but generally service is a little "hit and miss"- just not quite enough attention to detail unfortunately. Also, the food, whilst good is not really of the standard you expect when paying 5 star prices but all that being said we had a fabulous time and would still recommend the Sanbona experience - it only needs a tiny bit more thought and effort to tick all the boxes.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Journeymaid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

We arrived at Sanbona following a 3 hour drive from Cape Town, and were told that the Welcome Lodge was undergoing renovations, so we had to wait in our own car until the transfer to Dwyka was available. A full hour passed before a rickety bus arrived. We sat amongst other staff members - waiters and cleaners - on the bus on route to our accommodation. Not quite what we expected as a welcome for a five star safari.

The accommodation was fine. Had all the amenities that are described on the website.

The food was abysmal. Really let the place down. It was closer to canteen food, rather than 5 star dining. And since you are in the middle of the bush, you have no alternative. In addition, the dining room had absolutely no atmosphere. We have stayed in some of the finest hotels in the world, and this is not in the same class at all.

The biggest disappointment was the game viewing itself. This is not a safari location - do not be fooled by the advertising or what your travel agent will tell you. While they claim to have "the big five" they only have a handful of each animal on the site. So you might see two elephants one day, and then the same two elephants the next day. They have no adult male lions. They have one leopard, which the ranger confessed has only been sighted once in four years. The landscape is arid desert. Sanbona is the size of a small country. They claim they are the largest private reserve in South Africa. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING. The result is that you spend 4 hours each morning and evening driving on endless rocky terrain, with the possibility of a chance zebra sighting.

We will not recommend this to anyone. Spend your money on a proper safari location nearer to Kruger. Although Sanbona has the benefit of being driving distance from Cape Town, by the time you have driven 3.5 hours and then another 1 hour from the entrance to the Dwyka tents, you could just as quickly flown up to Kruger.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Daniel L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

Address: R62 Between Montagu & Barrydale | Die Vlakte, Montagu 6720, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Montagu
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 35 Specialty Lodging in Montagu
Price Range: $862 - $1,262 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Sanbona Wildlife Reserve 5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in the heart of the Little Karoo, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is a three-hour drive from Cape Town, along Route 62. At the foot of the towering Warmwaterberg Mountains, Sanbona boasts sculpted Cape Fold Mountains, wide open Karoo plains, indigenous flora and fauna and rare examples of San rock art, some dating back more than 3, 500 years. Explore all this from your choice of 3 different luxury lodges. Whilst the free roaming Big 5 call Sanbona home, it’s the vastness of the landscape and the raw beauty of the boundless plains that make safaris at Sanbona unique. Explore the 54, 000 hectares of this malaria-free premier, private game reserve for an ultimate safari experience close to Cape Town. PLEASE NOTE THAT BOOKING IN ADVANCE is ESSENTIAL FOR VISITS TO SANBONA WILDLIFE RESERVE. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - Tilney Manor, Dwyka Tented Lodge, Gondwana Hotel

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