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“True Safari Experience” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Carnarvon Dale

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Carnarvon Dale
Level Contributor
18 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“True Safari Experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 September 2012

My wife and I had the most wonderful time in Carnavon Dale. Roger the owner of the lodge we stayed in made our stay special. Not only was he very informative on the nany animals on the reserve but he was also a good host. Beautiful building, very private and staying true to its period roots. We stayed 3 nights. Guides were all great. We would like to thank Rihan, Yvonne and Craig for the time we spent on the reserve. The option of going into Shamrari game reserve is a real bonus when you stay at Carnarvon Dale. I believe they this lodge has exclusive transversing rights. We seen 4 female lions here, fab. Thank you again Roger and guides.

  • Stayed September 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Paulj75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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45 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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York
Level Contributor
69 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 June 2012

Our hosts Roger and Maryan were great company. Roger's quite happy to chat about what you've done and seen during the day as well as any other topic that comes along. The lodge was as we'd expected from the reviews we'd read. It's an old lodge with 2 bedrooms, each with en-suite shower rooms and a communal sitting room. We were lucky enough to have the place to ourselves. The food was good, we had no complaints about what we were given, it was served over at Rogers home and he joined us each day, except one evening when we joined a group at the Quatermain's camp for a dining experience around the fire. Lunch was served at our Lodge between the game drives. The dogs were optional, we liked them, so they joined us on the veranda of the lodge when they weren't following Roger around. We chose Carnarvon Dale based on reviews and cost and we weren't disappointed in any way. The positive reviews on the game were accurate, we had some fantastic experiences. The rangers knew their stuff about the animals themselves, the best places and times to find them, this was helped, on occasion, by the radio contact with the other rangers. We couldn't fault the drives and the enthusiasm of the rangers. I found the river trip quite calming after the game drives, but equally as exciting. That was the morning we saw lots of different birds which made a nice change to seeking out larger game on land. The bush walk, looking more at plants, added yet another dimension to the experience. Being able to go onto the Shamwari reserve added a few more animals to the list we saw, in particular the Lion (we only saw the one), a couple of hippo's and in the distance a Leopard, everything else we saw on Amakhala as well. I have to say my highlight was late one afternoon on Amakhala, approaching dusk, when we sat for about an hour (our choice) watching the Elephants eat and play, it was better than any wildlife programme on TV. Go for the game, accept the accommodation and enjoy the company of the hosts, I'd do it all exactly the same again.

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank MarDee5922
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston
Level Contributor
174 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 157 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 December 2011

My traveling partner and I stayed at Amakhala's Carnavon Dale for two nights in November 2011. Overall, we were overall quite happy with our decision (both our decision to stay at Amakhala over all of the other game reserves and national parks in the area, as well as our decision to choose Carnavon Dale over all of the other Amakhala properties).

A little background on our choice to stay at Carnavon and Amakhala: Basically, neither of us had ever been on a safari-type experience before, and our priorities were 1) Quality of game viewing (above everything else); 2) Price; and 3) Quality of accommodations. We considered high-end game lodges like Shamwari/Pumba/Riverbend but felt that $700-$1200/night was just not worth it given that we were in it for the animals and not the luxurious lodge experience. We also considered self-guided tours through Addo National Park, but we didn't want to risk driving around for hours without seeing any animals. Ultimately, we choose to stay at Amakhala because we wanted the game reserve experience (i.e. being driven around by experienced rangers who know were the animals are hiding) and because Amakhala offered some reasonably priced budget accommodation options (as far as I can tell, Amakhala is the ONLY game reserve in the area for which this is true). The main budget options were Carnavon Dale and Quatermain's Camp; we chose Carnavon because we wanted to "splurge" a little and have electricity.

Here's a breakdown of our experience at Carnavon:
1) Accommodation (3 stars out of 5) - I should start by emphasizing that Carnavon Dale is a FARM property and the accommodations are NOT luxurious. If that bothers you, then definitely look elsewhere.

The property consists of a main house (where the owner Roger lives with his wife Miriam and a bunch of dogs) as well as a guesthouse that contains a living area and two guestrooms. The maximum number of people that can stay in the guesthouse at any one point is 4 people, which means that there's a strong chance you'll have the place to yourself (as we did our first night). The guesthouse is charming and has free bottled water and tea in the living space. Each of the rooms are tidy, quiet, and come with a bathroom with a hot shower. But again, it's a FARM so the accommodations were on the basic and rustic side (e.g. the bedding was fine but not super-soft, the water pressure was adequate but not fantastic, the paint on the walls was old, and there were occasional insects like moths and spiders). We more or less knew not to expect luxury coming in, but I think that someone who was envisioning a "game lodge" atmosphere would have been disappointed.

2) Food (3 stars out of 5) - along the lines of the accommodation, the food was adequate but not spectacular. Roger's wife Miriam cooked a home-style dinner for us and the other guests every night (very much along the lines of what your mother might cook for you: things like vegetable soup, pork roast, potatoes, cake for dessert). Breakfast was generous with both a continental spread (cereals, yogurt, fruit) as well as an option for cooked breakfasts (eggs, bacon, etc.). Lunch was pretty light (e.g. grilled cheese sandwiches) and was served around 2 pm in between the morning and afternoon game drives - I'd definitely recommend bringing a few snacks in case you get hungry.

3) Game-viewing (5 stars out of 5) - I'd gave 6 stars if I could. We did three game drives - two on Amakhala, and one on Shamwari. We also did a "bush walk" where the rangers took us into the field and showed us a lot of the interesting plants in Amakhala. Each of the drives were about 3-4 hours and were led by experienced rangers who not only knew where the animals tended to hang out but also were in constant contact with other rangers who spotted animals. Over our three drives, we saw all of the Big 5 plus zebras, plenty of bok (antelope), giraffes, and cheetahs. The landscape possessed a very distinctive type of beauty. At one point, a stray elephant came up LITERALLY next to our land rover and was flapping its trunk against the hood of the vehicle!

I should note here that we would NOT have seen the Big 5 had we not gone to Shamwari. ***It's really important to understand that for Amakhala, only people who stay at Carnavon Dale and Quatermain's Camp get to go to Shamwari.*** The reason is that Roger's land directly borders Shamwari, and technically Shamwari uses some of Roger's land as part of its reserve. In exchange, Roger's guests at Carnavon get to drive on the Shamwari grounds (Quatermain's is also located on Roger's land so their guests also can go to Shamwari). Amakhala says it's a Big 5 reserve, but I actually don't think this is true because there are no leopards on Amakhala property. We only saw rhinos, water buffalo, and elephants at Amakhala, but we saw a leopard and a pride of lions at Shamwari. Amakhala guests who stay at properties other than Quatermain's and Carnavon Dale can see lions, but they have to take a one-hour ride in the land rover out to a remote area of Amakhala (they had to put the lions way out so they wouldn't eat other animals).

To summarize: stay at Carnavon Dale if you want phenomenal game viewing, don't want to pay more than $500/night, and are OK with good but not great food/accommodations. Also, stay at Carnavon Dale if you'd like to see the world-famous Shamwari reserve without paying Shamwari prices.

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank traveldoc42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 November 2011

Our 2 night stay was the perfect end to our honeymoon in south Africa.

Twice a day we were driven deep into the Amakhala and Shamwari game reserves. The experience was far better than we'd hoped with every game drive surpassing our expectations.

The homecooked food was really great and Roger and his wife are very welcoming - On leaving they even gave our car a jump start!

If you are looking for a first class, down to earth safari experience in the western cape - we cannot recommend this lodge highly enough.

  • Stayed November 2011
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Farquharson79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 November 2011

We've just had an unbelievable stay at Carnarvon Dale lodge and 2 days of safaris with the Amakhala reserve... Saw some exceptional sights including a cheetah chase and some wallowing hippos! The hosts and rangers are top notch... Hospitality was excellent and the accommodation way surpassed our expectations. We've had so much fun and also learned lots. Great value for money. Would recommend to anyone looking for an authentic safari experience.

  • Stayed November 2011
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Johead
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Israel
Level Contributor
3 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 October 2011

My wife and me stayed for two nights with our 2.5 years old daughter. The owners did everything they possibly could to customize the service to our needs including blocking the whole house and vehicle + guides for us as well as arranging meals that will fit our daughter's menu. The stay was very pleasent and the drives were great. We managed to see almost all of the animals in the reserve and get some beautiful pictures as well as a memorable experience for us all. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed October 2011
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Oren K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stratford upon Avon
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 September 2011

We were originally booked into the the Quartermain Camp but as the river had "come down" the camp was unreachable and we were seamlessly transfered to the loving care and attention offered by Roger and his wife at Carnarvon Dale. This was in July 2011 and we were lucky enough to be the only guests at their unspoilt traditional home where we were made to feel like old friends whilst being waited on hand and foot! Our rooms were very comfortable and we enjoyed sitting on the veranda soaking up the view extending from the bottom of the garden.
Meals were superb - plentiful and very good homely quality - and were shared with either Roger or the Rangers giving us much interesting insight into life in South Africa. Roger is also an expert on Rugby and was able to fill us in on some of the clubs our son was playing against on Rugby Tour.
The Game Drives and walk were excellent and we benefited from the rangers expert knowledge. We not only saw 4 of the Big 5, but so much else to paint a complete picture of South African wild life.
We would certainly come back again

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Phil_Caroline
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Carnarvon Dale

Property: Carnarvon Dale
Address: Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Amakhala Game Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Amakhala Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Number of rooms: 2
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