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“Paradise in Swaziland”

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Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge and Nature Reserve
Certificate of Excellence
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Paradise in Swaziland”
Reviewed April 1, 2013

I am currently living and working in Swaziland with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which means I have a limited budget to work with. A co-worker and I decided to extend ourselves over the Easter weekend. We shared a luxury tent (6), which was incredibly wonderful. The owner lived in the next building, and was very cordial and helpful. This place is beautiful and very relaxing. The landscape is amongst the best that I have seen not only in Swaziland, but anywhere! My only complaint is the food. Other than having to order dinner so far in advance, my fish was not fresh (and very dry and fishy tasting) and the next night I ordered a Swazi chicken dish that was overcooked. In the grand scheme of things, not such a bad thing, but for the price (did I mention that I am on a limited budget?), I would have really liked a better meal. On a positive note, the breakfast was fabulous. The service is great, everyone being so kind and considerate. I would return in the future. Oh, and I agree with the comments about the road. Thank goodness that I didn't drive it, but I felt bad for our taxi driver. It is a bit rough, and would be very difficult if it were raining very hard.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank sugaree5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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227 reviews from our community

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English first
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
436 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
Reviewed March 15, 2013

This is an incredibly lush property with falls, foliage, nature walks and a variety of chalets to stay in, with "the beehive" being the most unique as it features the Swazi style of using sticks and thatch over a completely modern interior, all beautifully done. Arriving sadly rather late and not wanting to have some poor fellow lug our bags deep into the property, we stayed in an efficiency ( self-catering) that was fine, even for a longer stay. Our accommodation provided a frig, microwave etc The overhead nets were arranged for mosquitoes, but we never saw one even with the dense and incredible foliage. Although strangely we were the only occupants , there was full dinner service. My lentil soup was a meal in itself although there was full dinner service.
At breakfast the owner dropped by. We had heard he was also Canadian although we learned he was actually born in Cuba but went to school in Toronto. He told us his former teacher and friend was Michael Ondaatje. Even as a student at Glendon college in-1975, Rod had kept a pet raccoon : shades of the Conservationist to come. We did inquire about the rather rugged road leading into the property and he explained it had once been paved but people whizzed along and he wanted the"serious" tourist . We definitely agreed. We wish we had had more time to explore, breath, try the beautiful swimming pool that overlooks this massive property outlooks. Plan for at least 2 nights in this paradise. The lounge s well features African art and icons. You will feel it right away that that this place is built out of love and respect for the African landscape and people.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank unhappytraveller123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
127 reviews
76 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
Reviewed March 12, 2013 via mobile

Quite a way down a fairly rough track, the hotel really is an oasis...lush, green and with a fantastic view from the pool area into the valley below. The 'luxury' tent (tent 5) could do with a good scrub to get rid of the damp, and as it is shaded by trees, the deck gets no sun. However, it is certainly still a nice spot just to kick back and listen to the sound of the river and falls. The whole place is so characterful and quite unique. Good food at dinner and breakfast.

Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank prippit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
39 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed January 29, 2013 via mobile

Phophonyane is a fantastic place to relax and unwind. It is a unique environment in which we felt close to nature, but with modern amenities to make our stay comfortable. It is great to know that places like this exist. We combined our stay with a trip to the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon, in neighbouring South Africa. Everyone made us feel very welcome. The food was excellent and the service friendly. We spent time walking the many trails across the reserve or sitting by the pool relaxing and admiring the wonderful views. The reserve is well sign-posted from Pigg's Peak, the nearest town. We took trips out to the nearby Maguga Dam and the Bushman paintings. The owner even took us to the highest point in the area, Kobolondo, which overlooks the reserve. The walk up was easy and the views from the top quite spectacular.
Although a little off the beaten track, we thought Swaziland is a beautiful and friendly country, and well worth the drive from Johannesburg. We are already planning our next trip and Phophonyane will, most definitely, be on our list of places to stay.

Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
Helpful?
Thank Brian M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brussels
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed January 27, 2013

We have spent two nights ar this place a few days ago. We were staying in a typical swazi hut. It was quite confortable, with modern facilities and a an excellent bed. Since the lodge is rather isolated and with an access by a difficult road, we took our dinners in the nice dining room, with a splendid view on the reserve. Food was excellent and typical. Service was very friendly, and we had the opportunity to talk with the owner but also with members of the staff. In both cases, we had interesting exchanges that permit us to learn about the country and its difficulities.
All the critics that we have are marginal, like a lighting that could be better in the hut or a service that is sometimes slow. But our global appreciation is extremely positive

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Pafran
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sun Lakes, Arizona
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed January 27, 2013

I enjoyed my stay here in January 2013 immensely. This place is very unique in terms of type of accommodation and beautiful environs. Definitely a place with lots of character and class. Their complimentary breakfast was quite good and sumptuous. I spent the morning hiking the trails which were clearly marked around the waterfall. It was a moderate but a beautiful hike.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank David W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aalst, Belgium
Level Contributor
283 reviews
276 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 261 helpful votes
Reviewed January 10, 2013

We prebooked the first night of the new year in a 'luxury' tent, we wanted again to be as close as possible to nature and the tent was recommended by staff during our booking in july (which we rechecked with them the week before we left)

Upon arrival, we were proposed an upgrade to a beehive, which we, after having taken a look at it, didn't accept. They look nice, have a great view, but it wasn't what we were looking for and had booked. So we took the tent, which I suppose they didn't expect as the bathroom wasn't very clean and no towels were present. ( the tentflaps didn't close anymore, reason why they wanted to upgrade us)

We did walk a combination of 3 out of 4 trails (mostly close to the falls), but were quite unlucky, as we saw only a few birds on our 2,5 hours walking, which is a bit disappointing as keen birdlovers..
Although must said that they have a nice garden and the falls make it worthwhile.

For dinner, we had to pre-order before 5pm, which we did at 2pm, to find out when arriving for dinner (we were the only guests) that they didn't have one of the ordered starters anymore and needed to order another one, but none other as a combination of salad with something. (Didn't they know they were out of stock when we ordered it, or did they just realize it 5 hours later ?) The bottle of wine we wanted was neither available, the second one either.. The food we got wasn't very tasty. At the end of the evening we saw the waitress leaving with a 'guard', we were wondering if we had to put out the lights, as we didn't see anyone around anymore..

All in all an ok setting but overpriced basic 'luxury' tent with very outdated bathroom, not so great food, disappointing birdlife and a bit surprised that we had to pay 'on top' a fee for the nature reserve.. Maybe this place gives a different feeling with some more customers ?

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank yvakat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge and Nature Reserve

Property: Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge and Nature Reserve
Address: Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve | PO Box 199, Piggs Peak H108, Swaziland
Location: Swaziland > Hhohho District > Piggs Peak
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Piggs Peak
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge and Nature Reserve 2.5*
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A place of legendary romance and breathtaking natural scenery. Choose between comfortable cottages, riverside safari tents or luxury traditional Swazi beehives, each blending into the lush sub-tropical forest. Enjoy healthy home-cooked meals and fine wines in our stylish restaurant with a roaring log fire. Small library and internet room. Refreshing natural rock pools, a stunning hilltop pool with views, waterfalls, walks, hikes and excellent birdwatching. A secluded hideaway for travelers seeking a magical retreat. ... more   less 
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