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“Better than expected, but your ranger is important”

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Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Sacramento
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Better than expected, but your ranger is important”
Reviewed 28 December 2011

We spent 3 nights at the game lodge and 3 in the tent camp and enjoyed both. We did encounter bad mosquitos at the game lodge the first night, but sprayed the next night and had no problem. The staff were very friendly and helpful. I was disappointed with our ranger. After reading such great reports from other visitors, this was unexpected. Your ranger takes you on game drives and helps you plan other trips you might want to do. The first day or so, our ranger kept in contact with us, but after that, he passed us off to other rangers, and rarely communicated with us. I was very clear that I wanted a night drive and a walk, and asked repeatedly for these to be arranged. On the last day, he took me on a pretty lame, short walk, and the night game drive was cancelled due to rain. We never saw him after we moved down to the tent camp. And we were tipping other rangers who took us places, so I really felt our ranger didn't deserve the tip we gave him. He didn't even show up to say goodbye. My suggestion is: make sure you read reviews, and make a request for a specific ranger - I actually requested William when I got there, but I didn't push it, and I wish I had. I think it makes a big difference. We had a great time anyway. I'd recommend trips to Phinda, Hluhluwe Umfolozi and St Lucia. Cheetah Rehab - not so much.

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled as a couple
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5 Thank Sally F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Tucson, AZ
Level 6 Contributor
204 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 156 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 December 2011

We had a wonderful room, but others were less nice. Only problem was;()&& mosquitoes . Food excellent. Guide great, but you've seen everything in 3 days. Unless you like to burn money the secret is to rent a car on arrival in Richard's Bay. Car rental is cost of airport pick-up. Then drive to outstanding nearby Imfolozi, Mkuze & St. Lucia for far less than the cost of ZN tours to the same places.

Room Tip: Get a room by the pool
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  • Stayed October 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
10 Thank Bird-Fanatic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington, United States
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 December 2011

Like all other guests, we purchased this stay via a charity auction and it served as a catalyst for planning the trip of our lifetime. Admittedly, we did not know what to expect upon our arrival but I can assure you that any preconceived thoughts were immediately replaced with the thoughts of what we had only dreamed of. The entire staff (from entry level to Sr. Mgmt.) is outstanding and gracious, the food is plentiful and delicious and the accommodations ideal. I highly recommend Philemon as a guide as he is extremely personable, informative and just a pleasure to be around. What my wife and I enjoyed the most was the ability to get to know the staff, speak with them directly about their lives and walk away with new found friendships and memories that will last forever. I would not hesitate one bit recommending Zulu Nyala to any of my friends or family. I hope to return one day myself.

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank John O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Canaan, Connecticut
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 November 2011

So happy to have had this experience! We bought our photo safari at a charity auction, and this was the catalyst for actually planning an African Adventure (rather than simply on the 'travel to someday' list) We built a larger trip around our stay at Zulu Nyala, and I would suggest anyone coming the distance from the US to add time to your stay at ZN...either before, after, or both! The staff at ZN were most accommodating and flexible in the many date changes we had from planning to arrival. The staff are very friendly and eager to help, however, if you come without expecting five star service, you will be fine. I was a little apprehensive after reading some of the other reviews when I was in the planning stages, but was very happy with our trip after having been there. In fact, we arranged to stay on Richards Bay the last night instead of our sixth night at ZN, and wished we would have stayed at ZN that last night instead.

We have stayed in Fairfield Inns to Ritz Carltons, so my review is meant to give you as specific advice to aid in your planning to set your expectations and make sure you will get the most out of your trip. I relied 100% on the Tripadvisor reviews when planning our trip, so wanted to add my opinions and pay back to help fellow travel self-planners.

Overall: The lodge was much larger than I pictured it in my mind. The decor was authentic feeling to the culture of the area. We were content to go on the morning drive, enjoy a leisurely lunch, relax for an hour, go on the afternoon drive, have a relaxing leisurely dinner, and then an early bedtime...only to repeat the cycle again (throwing in a few side trips). After buying a SIM card in Cape Town, I found it was more trouble to fuss with, and should have simply used the wifi from the lobby. It was not expensive as others have reported (but, really, how long does it take to send an email back home saying "we haven't been eaten by an animal"?!); and, we were trying to unplug for a few days, anyhow!

Food: Excellent quality though rather basic offerings. We were never hungry nor needed to break into our stash of emergency granola bars. They offered a variety of salads as well as standard 'meat and potatoes' fare. Breakfast always offered made-to-order omelets with the freshest eggs I've ever had. As others have stated, no need to try and bring in wine. The wine list was solid and offered good, inexpensive wines (and we splurged on a nice bottle the last night...lots to choose from!)

Rooms: I'd rate the accommodations as just OK, but really, we weren't there to hang out in our room! We had a room by the pool, and could only imagine how wonderful it would have been to be there in Summer! The views are spectacular. They are doing some renovations, so there was some noise. There is no TV or radio in the room, but there is the "CNN room" where they have satellite TV in a lounge with sofas.

Mosquitoes: I first have to admit That this was the thing that scared me more than any other wildlife we were going to encounter on the trip! We did see them in the room at ZN (maybe five a night) but the staff quickly produced a can of Peaceful Sleep, which I used to fumigate the room. We were there in the early Spring, so I thought the lowest time for mosquito activity. Did I mention I am a human mosquito magnet?! We didn't open the doors, or turn on the lights when going to dinner (bring a flashlight!)...and then I simply did a mosquito hunt before going to bed. It worked after I freaked out the first night. I'm not sure how one would even hang a mosquito net if they had one. All in all, not enough to make you not want to stay there, but you will want to be aware if you are scared of this like I was.

Game Drives: We were so lucky with the group we were assigned to. While searching for animals, we laughed and had a blast in addition to seeking each other out at dimner to continue visiting. Our guide, Peace, was so knowledgeable and went out of his way to ensure we 'got the photo' and seek out the animals we hadn't yet seen. In addition, Rohan was our ranger when Peace took our group to St. Lucia. He was great, too, and it was good to hear the stories from another guide...they all have their specialties and interests in addition to having the basics down pat! We also had a super guide in Philemon, and he ensured we were able to get the shots that we will treasure for years! We saw everything we wanted to see (except the leopard, but another group saw one..) rhino, baby rhino, giraffe, baby giraffe, ostrich, warthog, zebra, cheetah, baby cheetah, nyala, impala, wildebeast, waterbuck, hippos, croc, and elephants. You will see these so close it will amaze you!

Tip: If you are planning on seeing animals on another portion of your trip, I would HIGHLY advise to go to ZN first, and then go onward to your other destination. You will see many animals up close and personal....and you will be an expert by the end of day 2 in spotting and identifying. We went on to Botswana and Chobe after this part of our trip, and I think it would have been a let down to go from the vast spaces and herds first, and then to this smaller private range. Also, if you are NOT going on to another camp or reserve as a part of a larger trip, and this is your only safari experience, you would be doing yourself a disservice to not pay extra to go to Phinda or Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park as a part of your ZN stay (we did both, and enjoyed the Phinda experience more than the H-I park). This will allow you the perspective of open spaces with herds. As has been stated in other posts, there are no lions at ZN by design, and the Phinda rangers go out of their way to find the lions for the group coming over from ZN (you can only visit as a part of the group, not on your own.)

Tip: We traveled at the end of Aug 2011, and were very thankful to have our fleeces for warmth. Your two drives a day are early and late, and, we left for H-I nationa park at 5am in the open vehicle driving on the highway to get there!

Tip: See my review of car rental from Durban if you are wondering whether to drive or have ZN do the transfer for you from the airport

p.s. Don't bother to rent the I Dreamed of Africa movie that is referenced as being filmed there. It will NOT give you a sense of what to expect (the actual experience was MUCH, MUCH BETTER....and the movie was extremely boring!

Room Tip: Views from the Pool rooms are beautiful.
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  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
21 Thank BizTooMuch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Whitewood, South Dakota
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 November 2011

Going to Africa was never on my bucket list. Never had any desire. After spending 6 days at Zulu Nyala, if I ever have the opportunity, I WILL go back to the bush! As most everyone, our trip was purchased at a charity auction also. We were able to see 4 of the big 5 while we were there and not only did we see them, but we saw them up close and personal! (Including an ostrich wanting to untie my shoe then steal my sunglasses off the top of my head!) Our guide, Welcome was very knowledgable, and if we asked something he wasn't sure of, he had a book to look up the answer, and ALWAYS got back to us. I felt he did an excellent job of trying to accomodate everyone's photo requests during each game drive. With out hesitation, I would recommend anyone going to Zulu to request Welcome to be their guide. I give Welcome full credit for making our trip a true "once in a lifetime expereince" that the closest word I can come up with to describe is "A-M-A-Z-I-N-G"! Thank you Welcome!

The kitchen/dining room staff was very friendly and welcomed us into the restaurant at any time, be it just for a drink at the bar or a special request for ice cream after lunch! (Godfrey....ice cream in the bush is extra special!) Ruben (manager) stopped by our table regularly to ask how are meals were. Very good, buffet style, but always a good selection to choose from, fresh salads, fruit and several hot dishes. Dinner, like lunch, always had a good variety of dishes to choose from. I think we had one meal twice while there, although I can't remember what it was! The highlight of the meals for me was having the opportunity to taste wart hog, impala, and wildebeest. I would eat all three again!

The housekeeping staff was also very friendly to us. We never found out what our maids name was, but she ALWAYS had a smile on her face and was very accomodating should we come back to the room while she was still working. Our room was very clean, not the most spacious, but we didn't spend much time in it anyway. When we were at the lodge, if not in the dining area, we brought a bottle of wine back to our room to have a splash on our patio. My one surprise: the bathroom was huge! One thing I would recommend to management is to have a small refrigerator in each room to keep water bottles chilled. This is not a problem, just would be a nice touch.

Front desk staff and shuttle drivers were also very nice, polite, friendly etc. Patience checked us in and delivered our welcoming drinks to us and always had a smile on her face if we had any questions for her.

We did very few side excursions; Phinda is an ABSOLUTE must. Their excursions are on the spendy side, but it is how they are making their money. We also did the elephant interaction; a must if you are fascinated with these animals (which I am). Be prepared to be slobbered on! I loved every minute of it! Also, we did the school visit that was inconjunction with visiting a villagers home. I'm glad we went on this, but would not recommend doing it. Unfortunately, the way it is set up it just teaches the kids to be beggars to the "white people". We stopped at a store to buy candy for the kids - they need teaching materials, not candy. If you do want to do this, speak with your group so everyone is buying the same candy to pass out as they do try hard to get all the kids the same kind of candy. The secretary spoke of teaching conditions and lack of parent involvement, but she was SO DOWN, I almost feel that it was just part of the canned tour. I would have enjoyed this part better if we would have been able to just observe the teachers and kids interacting in a true classroom setting - rather than everyone being told to sit quiet and wait for a "sweet" to be given to them. I did however, really enjoy having the opportunity to take photo's of the kids when school was out, of them interacting amongst themselves. The stop at the villagers home was very ensightful to the Zulu culture. The home we visited was an elderly woman's raising several grandchildren on her pension as their parents have passed both from disease and accidents. We bought food in bulk to donate to her "cause".

We could not have asked for better weather while there. I would guess the temperature in the 80's during the day, cooling down to the mid-50's in the evenings....a sweatshirt was perfect for me to put on once the sun went down. The only rain we had while in the bush was the morning we were leaving it started to rain as we were loading our luggage in the car to go back to the airport. We picked September as the time we wanted to go after reading other's reviews. I do believe it is the perfect time as it is their spring time and the leaves are just starting to come out making it easier to spot the animals...also you might get lucky like we did and see a brand new baby rhino! Definately one of the top moments of our entire trip!

No one was traveling with children while we were there. I don't thing this is the place for small children, but older kids will have the time of their life!

After our safari we spent a week in the Cape Town area. We are not city people, and feel a city is a city no matter what continent you are on. I am glad we went down, we saw many sights and had many wonderful experiences, but I feel like "we've been there, done that". The only thing we weren't able to do was kayak with the penguines in Simons Town. Unfortunately, the town we stayed in was a bit far to pull that off, but Gordon's Bay offered absolutely incredible sunsets most every night, and was a small town that we seemed to fit in just right. We did not rent a car and chose to not go into Cape Town but one day as taxi/tour fares would have been very expensive to hire (we were quoted R900/day for a tour driver). Had we known this in advance we would have planned for it. Also if you do stay out at Gordon's Bay, there is one "shopping center", it probably has everything you need, but very likely not everything you might want. A must in Gordon's Bay, however, is the old Harbor Restaurant (serving the finest filet's we've ever eaten and we live in beef country). We were told it was very expensive, but found it to be the deal of our entire time in the Cape Town area.

All in all, our experience was absolutely incredible! And what stories we have come home with to tell!

Room Tip: We requested a pool side room, but think our request slipped through the cracks some how. They do h...
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank wyoconnie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Annapolis, Maryland
Level 4 Contributor
30 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 October 2011

Afica was last on my list of places to visit, but from the moment we arrived at this magical lodge we were treated with courtesy, wonderful game viewing experiences (special kudos to our guide, Sipho Dlovu!, a Zulu with amazing English and talent for herding his group around in the viewing vehicle and finding game. Also amazing commentary on all that we saw.)

The food was also very good (more "pap" please) and we thoroughly enjoyed all the people we met who were staying there. We stayed at the game lodge the whole time and were greeted almost every morning by Sophie, the giraffe (rescued and hand raised by one of the rangers). The views were stunning, so was the pool, although nippy in early spring.

We also enjoyed seeing the diamonds the owner also trades in.

Only comment: Zulu Nyala needs more "safari" clothing in their shop. Be sure to take your own. DO NOT count on white! I learned animals see this as an alarm (think deer tails). Keep your clothes neutral greys, khakis and greens. Bring layers. The weather varies a lot from hot to downright cold on an evening viewing outing.

All the staff was terrific; not enough room to list them all here, but thanks!

Room Tip: We loved ours (7 and 8) because they were facing the courtyard. Looking toward the pool offers more...
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  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank JanaB193
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 October 2011

My wife and I just returned from a terrific trip to Zulu Nyala. It was the trip of a lifetime. Our room was both attractive and spacious. We had a view of both the pool, and the expansive topography beyond. It was Beautiful.
Our guide, James, was great. He was polite, well spoken, very knowledgeable, and very accommodating.
The resort has a wide range of wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, buffalo, cheetahs, nyala, impala, and rhinos, to name a few.
We went on several excursions, including Phinda Game Reserve, and the St. Lucia River Cruise. Additonally, the food was excellent, and the service spot on. I strongly recommend the excursions, especially Phinda. I went to Phinda twice.
If you travel to Zulu Nyala from the States, get a flight that goes directly to Johannesburg. Avoid landing in Maputo, Mozambique, their airport is NOT traveller friendly. The flight to Johannesburg is a long one, so it is advisable to spend one night at the Country Manor, which we did, and it provided a welcome respite.
Upon landing at Richards Bay the following day, a Zulu Nyala staff member was there to meet us, and then drove us to the Resort.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. The staff were terrific, the accommodations spacious, the food great, and the experience of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, thrilling.

Room Tip: If you stay at the Game Lodge, request a room that has a view of the pool.
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank jim w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Zulu Nyala Game Lodge

Property: Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Address: Msinene Rd, Hluhluwe 3960, South Africa
Region: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand > Hluhluwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 31 Speciality Lodging in Hluhluwe
Hotel Class:4 star — Zulu Nyala Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 52
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An entrancing experience in a unique wilderness area. Zulu Nyala Private Game Reserve provides a unique bush experience in the heart of one of South Africa’s most diverse conservation regions. Nestled between the wilderness reserves of Mkuze, Hluhluwe and St Lucia, this lush stretch of paradise is home to a wide variety of game, from the majestic elephant to rhino, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, the shy and beautiful Nyala buck that is endemic to the region and the secretive leopard. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Zulu Nyala Game Hotel Hluhluwe
Zulu Nyala Game Lodge Hluhluwe, South Africa - Zululand

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