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“South Africa's best kept secret”
Review of Bulungula Lodge

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Bulungula Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 20 January 2013

What a wonderful place. We weren't totally sure what to expect, but our trip to Bulungula was fantastic. We stayed in a safari tent for 5 nights, which was great, wonderful views, and luckily we had pretty good weather the whole time we were there. We loved the relaxed atmosphere, the fact that the lodge is so much a part of the community, and that we met such a wide variety of people during our stay. The work that the community is doing to uplift themselves from poverty is quite astounding.

Places like this remind South Africans how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful country. I think people all over the world dream about this kind of lodge, and we feel very fortunate that we had the opportunity to stay there. We are already planning to go back in a few months' time :-)

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank SAtraveller29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dave M, Manager at Bulungula Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 25 January 2013

Thanks for your kind words and we look forward to your next visit!

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79 - 85 of 130 reviews

Reviewed 2 January 2013

Bulungula is a wonderful find, the lodge is partly community owned and run. Its a little tough to get to - a long, dirt road which ges really bad after rain is followed by a 500m walk. So be sure to have an easy to carry bag and a full tak of fuel. If you can't get by without your luxuries (good wine/ chocolate, fresh milk) rather bring your own or skip this one. Things happen slowly, but after the effort of getting here its worth it to leave yourself enough time to explore. The massage was great value for money and the hike along the beach to Lubanzi (5hours) is rewarding. The local community are welcoming and there is less begging here than in other parts of the Wild Coast. If you're lucky and there's a ceremoney going (wedding etc) chances are you'll be invited along. We were a little disappointed in the campsite, which has been mostly converted to safari tents leaving only one pitching site in a rather wind swept location - but the sea on our doorstep made up for it. The reading room is a great place for cold nights or rainy days - though the light bulbs need replacing - maybe with eco-bulbs? Overall well worth the effort and a great place to think community.

Room Tip: The Safari tents seem to be the best value and have great views.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank leribbet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dave M, General Manager at Bulungula Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 4 January 2013

Hi there

Thanks for your thoughtful review.

As far as the camp site location goes, we've always wanted to allow campers to have epic sea views but of course this means that potentially they are affected by the occasional strong coastal winds. We will look to create a third more sheltered camping location but without a sea-view.

Of course all light bulbs at Bulungula are low energy (LED in fact) - they have to be due to us having only solar powered electricity. We will look to change the bulb in the chillout area to a slightly brighter one... although some guests prefer dimmer lighting for conversational ambiance while others prefer brighter reading lights.

We're glad you enjoyed your experience overall and hope to see you again.
cheers
Dave

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Reviewed 5 December 2012

We were told by many travelers to not miss this place and we couldn’t agree more. It takes time and patcience to get there so here are my tips. I wish I had known this information before I arrived! Get the directions from their website, do not use Google. Fill up on gas, money, and provisions.Limit what you bring. The car park is 500 meters away from the main area on a dirt path. All rooms are Rondavales, even the dorms. There is no ensuite, everyone uses the same bathrooms. Showers are called rocket showers and they are heated by using Paraffin. The toilets are compost, which normally are ok, but since there are 8 of them the odor can sometimes be bad. The communal kitchen is small and the fridge is tiny. There is only solar electricity, but they do have a common area to charge cell phones and computers. We had dinner both nights and the food was very good and plentiful. The nightly campfires were nice and a great way to meet the other guests. The setting is beautiful and the people that work there very nice. We took walks on the beach and a village tour. If you really want to do the kayak trips book ahead. Not to be missed. Different from all the other places we have been in SA.

  • Stayed: November 2012, travelled with family
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Thank bikingmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 December 2012

I discovered this place by coincidence and i wanna goooooooooo again.A perfect place to open your mind and relax.Away from civilization trying to keep still the pureness of culture and nature.This backpacker is clean, safe and quite and is just two minutes from the ocean,but i f you expect to meet others from other backpackers forget it, it's only this one there and nothing else around ,day time you can do some activities like horse riding or simple go to the beach and at night you can chat with new people and sing the tshotsholoza song around the fire with some bongos :).That's why is so unique for me.So if you wanna ''party'' choose another one,if you want to experience real Trenskei in peace i suggest this one.

  • Stayed: November 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank stella j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 November 2012

After a long journey down the coast on some pretty terrible roads, waking up to the unspoilt coastline the next day made it all worthwhile. Stunning beach and rolling hills in every direction, you really are in the wilderness! The place has an amazing laid-back atmosphere as well - it's run by the local village who add to the whole experience, and everyone is happy to see you! The activities are a bit hit and miss but you'll be happy just relaxing and exploring the area because it's so beautiful.

My one complaint: it's all very well them saying 'don't use Google Maps, you'll get lost' , but they need to provide a far better map than the one on the website. The directions are not good enough ("drive past the blue house, look out for the school with the blue roof, turn right at the peach huts") and it means a lot of people will arrive very stressed! All they actually need to do is move the Google Maps location to the other side of the estuary and it'll solve the problem.

Apart from that, the whole stay was perfect.

  • Stayed: November 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank Aaron K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dave M, Manager at Bulungula Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 6 December 2012

Hi Aaron

Thanks for your comments.

As far as your complaint about the directions goes: if only it was as easy as to "move the Google Maps location" to the correct side of the river!

In fact, our Google Maps location is correctly positioned, the problem is that Google don't recognise that there is a road directly to Bulungula so by default they bring you to the nearest point that has a road. That happens to be on the other side of the river! I have written numerous complaint to Google to tell them that there is this error with their system but no response. It seems to be some sort of program/algorithm that automatically identifies roads from some mapping service and that mapping service hasn't recorded our "new" (2 years old) road. There's nothing we can do on our side to change it...

As far as landmarks for our map goes, there aren't many besides schools really, but you're welcome to suggest some others if you think they're easier. If you use our map which has precise kilometer markings on it exactly where all the turns are, then you will get here. The trick is to do exactly what the map says - some people just use the map as a vague guide, instead of following the km markings exactly.
We hope to see you again.
cheers
Dave

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Reviewed 25 September 2012

This was one of the coolest places to stay. This area was a bit off the beaten path but I think that is was made my heart so happy when we finally made it over one of the many, many, many large hills only to see pristine coastline that was basically untouched. Bulungula Lodge was a wonderful spot to rest your bones and recharge your spirit. We took the community tour, a beach walk, and we did a sunrise breakfast with a local lady that made us crepes which were simply devine. Although I was not able to communicate with the local I was able to take part in making beer with one of the local women. Brew masters beware - this is very different than the micro brews you have tried but that is all part of this amazing experience.

The huts are very basic but how many mornings can you say you woke up with a cow poking its head into your hut to wake you up? The entire experience from the local food to the compost able toilets, to the solar powered computer charging stations brought travel and consciousnesses full circle for me. By far this is one of the places that I hope to visit again.

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank MissGreen_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 June 2012

Bulungula was the first place we stayed on our 5 week trip of SA. We stayed a week but could've stayed much longer. Absolutely amazing place, getting there was a bit of a bumpy ride but it all just added to the experience.
You can decide to relax or do some of the activities they offer which were all brilliant. The beach is stunning and you are free to roam over the hills and meet the villagers who are all very friendly.
Food was delicious, shooting star shows every evening and loads of comfortable places to read and take a nap.
One of the best places I have ever been too!

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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1  Thank annalouiseg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Bulungula Lodge

Address: Bulungula River Mouth | Elliotdale District, Nqileni Village 5070, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Nqileni Village
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Speciality Lodging in Nqileni Village
Price Range: £12 - £34 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A community-based eco-lodge on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world in the heart of a traditional Bomvana (Xhosa) community. Fair Trade accredited. Many fun, informative and authentic cultural and adventure tours/activities every day. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bulungula Hotel Nqileni Village
Bulungula Lodge South Africa/Nqileni Village

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