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Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 26 July 2014

we stayed there only one night last May; this is a magnificient resort located on top of a small mountain; the scenery is superb; we had room 28, which is in fact a very large suite with two bedrooms and a double shower. We aslo had excellent buffet meals, supper and breakfast; we were feeling like millionnaires!
This is one of our best souvenirs of South Africa.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank lessasy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 24 July 2014

Like every other international traveler visiting Zulu Nyala we purchased the 6 night stay through a charity auction. We ended up doing three nights in the tents (we were in T7) and three nights in the Game lodge (room 35)

Note there are three options to stay when you come here:
-The game lodge--this is up on the hill, and inside their actual game reserve--this is my top pick
-The heritage lodge--this is outside the reserve (less than a 5 minute drive) and from appearances is more of a best western in Africa
-The tents--these are on site with the heritage lodge. The tents and the heritage lodge share all facilities--reception, restaurant, pool, etc.

We did not experience any bugs at all while at Zulu Nyala, no mosquitoes but also not any bugs or snakes at all. Snakes were not on my list of things I wanted to see so I was quite happy to hear that when it's cold they don't come out. Apparently in the summer they do have a lot of snakes on the property.

The room was nice. It was less spacious than at the tent, but it was quiet and we slept great! It also had a completely seperate bathroom with a door! The grounds up here at the lodge were also far better. The landscaping just outside the room was lovely, but try to watch the sunrise from the pool area-it's just gorgeous.

The food at the lodge was better than at the tented camp. Breakfast was a nice buffet with an egg station every morning. There was a wide variety of tea, coffee, hot cocoa, and three juice options per morning. The breakfast assortment included fruit, yogurt, cereals, oatmeal, bacon, sausage, pastries, and more. Dinner selection was also great as far many many varied foods and desserts. Each night seemed to have one beef/chicken option and one more exotic option (kudu, warthog.)

Staff were all pretty good up here, but our guide for all our trip, Amon, was just absolutely amazing. If you're paired with him you're in great hands. He spotted things in the bush we'd never have been able to pick out on our own. He did our best to make sure we were all comfortable on what was often a bumpy, windy, cold dive. He told great stories about the land and culture, answered all our questions, and was just generally very knowledgeable.

We did a total of 4 game drives on site, and one at Phinda, plus our self drive at hluhluwe. That was enough for us. Amon was such a great guide we saw pretty much everything on the first day. There are two drive a day, one in the am 6-8:30 or so, and one in the evening 3-6pm or so. The animals are active at dawn and dusk. We did one full day of drives, and additional morning drive, and one night drive looking for nocturnal activity. The starts on the night drive were the best part. I thought we'd see a ton of stars from the lodge or tent, but the grounds where you're staying are very well lit and cause too much light pollution to see stars.

If you are travelling in July, you'll realize it's their winter, but it will be even colder than you expect. Gloves are a must. I usually wore a long sleeve shirt, a long sleeve hoodie, and a long sleeve fleece. Used the provided blankets on top of that. Still often a little chilly when driving full speed on the road.

As far as renting a car or not, travelling as a couple it was certainly worth it. I'd imagine even more so if you're travelling with a family or another couple. We flew from Joburg to Richard's Bay and arrived after dark with a bit of rain. The drive was still fine. Roads were very well marked. This was also our first time ever driving on the left. Leaving the lodge we were flying from Durban to Cape Town. A longer drive, but still easy. The highway (N2) actually improves a bit and is often two lanes each way during this stretch. But there are a few tolls, so be prepared for that. All told the tolls were less than $5. If you're choosing the Durban airport is a bigger modern airport, Richard's Bay is small but a lot more convenient to the lodge. You're good either way.

Having the rented car saved us money both in not paying for an airport transfer, and in doing our own excursions which we were not as sure about doing in advance. We drove to St. Lucia and did the hippo/croc cruise, and also drove around the Cape Vidal park. We drove to Sodwana Bay even though it turned out it was too windy to snorkel (call ahead.) We drove to the cheetah rehab in the morning, and to the Hluhluwe park for the afternoon. All driving was easy. We used one tank of gas which cost us about $60 to fill up.

I've tried to be pretty thorough here as we relied heavily on reviews when planning our trip. Overall we had a great experience here and everywhere we went in Africa.

Room Tip: Find out how much it would be for an upgrade, the rooms over the pool were certainly higher quality.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
17  Thank hdempsey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 July 2014

One of my best friends had an Africa trip on her bucket list and I came across an amazing deal to take a photo safari at an auction. I could not have been more pleased with this purchase! We did a LOT of research prior to our trip which made everything come together like a well oiled machine. We booked at the lodge for our 6 night stay and upon our arrival, we were very pleasantly greeted by an ostrich!! Needless to say, this gave us great hope of the things that were yet to come! The staff were absolutely amazing and very helpful with any and all of our requests. The facility was very clean, the restaurant and bar were fabulous, and our guide - Welcome - couldn't have been better!

If you are planning this trip, I highly suggest that you book your flight early for the best price. Book the flight to Richards Bay Airport from Johannesburg and from there, rent a car to drive to the lodge. It's pretty much a straight shot thru the area with only a couple of turns off the main road. We also rented a cell phone and internet connection for my laptop at the airport in Johannesburg. We exchanged our US Dollars to the African Rand at Johannesburg as well even though we didn't need as much as we thought!

While there, make sure you go to Phinda to see the lions - AMAZING experience to get within 25 yards of these amazing cats! Also, the Zulu Village tour was very informational about the local culture. We drove our rental cars to a couple other nearby reserves and were amazed at the different animals we saw. Some of them actually were within reach!!

If you bid on this trip - take it! You will NOT be disappointed! It is a life changing adventure!

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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2  Thank CEpting
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 July 2014

We stayed here just this past week, July 6th through the 12th. There is so much I can say, but for now, (until I can properly leave a detailed review), let me just say that this place is 80% the cards you're dealt and 20% enjoying the experiences. If you don't get a nice room or a decent guide (beg for Howard, trust me.) you may not enjoy it as much, but remember that you are on a safari experience in Africa and that can't be discounted in its awesomeness.
We were assigned room 46, upon further chatting with people who stayed in similar rooms, it's essentially like staying in an African themed Motel 6. Any room between 31-50 are like this. But then, if you request and upgraded room, as people suggest on here, they charge you, anywhere from 10rand a night (about 10 cents in America) which a great deal, to 1000rand a night (about $100 a night) which is not a good deal. We were charged the later, while others in our group were charged only the former. So make sure to either request a particular room or area, or you'll have to suffer with the room or rate.
The food is definitely hit or miss, but as a big foodie myself, there was always enough options and the food was never .horrible. I'm not really sure why people say it's that bad, but I certainly didn't think so. There's always something super tasty and something kind of iffy.
The guides are by far and away what makes the majority of the trip for a lot of people. You are assigned a guide when you arrive at the lodge, but there are a lot of guides and not all of them are super awesome... I really can't say enough about Howard, though. He took the time to explore the land and scenery with us, showing us minute details we would have never even asked about on our own. For him, it's about more than the animals, he's in this for the long haul and really cares to teach you about everything the preserve has, not just the elephants. He wasn't even the guide we were assigned to, he just took us around the preserve once or twice, but the difference between him and our regular guide was simply astonishing.
The excursions are ridiculously overpriced and honestly, not worth it. While you should totally do some excursions while you're here, do yourself a favor, save $1000, rent a car, and do them yourself. The locals in this area may intimidate you at first, the guidebooks may intimidate you even further, but people are friendly here and the guides can tell you all the great spots to visit by yourself. If you do elect to do the excursions with ZN, do the Tembe elephant park, while it's a drive away, it's soooo worth it. We saw three herds of 9 to 10 elephants each in the span of two hours. Lots of other wildlife there as well. Skip the school visit, the people who went on it said it was quite unrealistic and that the kids seemed totally uncomfortable with the tourist presence.
The wi-fi here is spotty and very unreliable, but you're on top of a mountain in the middle of essentially nowhere, so that's to be expected.
A word of advice: if you plan to go to Zulu Nyala in the winter months, listen up! BRING A WINTER JACKET, GLOVES, SCARF AND HAT. It is cold, and very windy, and you will very much wish you had these items! While it may get up to 65-80 during the day, the morning game drives start at 6am, and it is not 80 at 6 in the morning. I know, it's cold in Africa? Yes, it is, I was surprised too! And I was freezing for most of the time!
With all these cautionary tales behind me, I must say, it really is quite a great experience. The preserve itself is just small enough so that on every game drive you spot something awesome. With the bigger parks like nearby Hluhluwe Umfalozi, the park itself is so big that you may pay to take an excursion there (like we did) and not see anything at all! Savor the park for what it is, in all it's natural beauty and glory. You will see game, you may even see a lion on the border of the next door Phinda preserve, (the guides do try hard to find on at some point during the week) and you will have a ton of fun. You may not love your room, you may not love the food, but you'll love the park.

Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
10  Thank Lora B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 July 2014

We are like others that won this trip through a charity auction and I really didn't know what to expect. I was very impressed. The Game Lodge is a very nice, large facility and we stayed there the entire week. Our room was very "roomy" and the bathroom was huge with a full soaking tub and separate shower. A lot of other reviews I read said that you should upgrade your room, but we didn't spend the extra money and had a wonderful stay. The restaurant and bar are very nice and the staff is wonderful! The food is good buffet food, but be careful - buffet food 3 times a day can add up quickly on your waistline. The entire experience with regard to the game drives is really up to the guide that you get and we had an awesome guide, James. He was entertaining and knowledgeable and knew all the answers to our questions and where on the reserve to take us to see the animals. This is not like a park that you drive through to view the "wild life" like we have in the states, these animals are truly wild. We went in May as South Africa was entering it's winter season and we had absolutely no issues with bugs at all. This certainly was a once in a life-time trip!

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
2  Thank 3-sacrowd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 July 2014 via mobile

The staff are great and the ranger guides very informative. The food was filling and above average. We enjoyed the twice daily safaris throughout the game reserve. The room was average but comfortable Nothing special.
All the Americans are here because they won the package at a local charity auction.

Stayed: May 2014
Thank Jack H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 July 2014

We stayed 3 nights at Game Lodge and 3 nights at Heritage Safari - I would recommend splitting as we did. GL - probably a bit nicer facility with restaurant, hilltop views, and pool layout but we also really enjoyed HS which had a nicer bar area, and George the Zebra. Breaking the experience down into sections:

Overall - best vacation for our family by far ever. Watching the animals up close was imply amazing. Kids loved it (10 and 13), and we loved it.

Accommodations were really nice at both 4 star - we had family room at GL which had large bed, then sitting area in middle (loveseat, chairs, fridge) and then the kids area (2 twins side by side) - very large room. Nice terrace area to sit outside at both GL & HS. Pools are not heated and fairly cool but you get used to them. Rooms were well maintained & clean. They bring you one large bottled water per person which was plenty. No TV's in the room - bring a book, watch tv in the bar/library (world cup was on so we wanted to see, otherwise, really didn't want to watch tv).

Food - 3 star but good. Definitely not gourmet but you have a nice variety of choices each meal served buffet style. Plenty of fruits, vegetables, meats/fish, and deserts. Each dinner you could choose from a roast (lamb a couple nights, turkey a couple nights,) plus a fish dish, chicken, and some type of stew (I think we had nyala one night, impala another). They do repeat items a lot - rice, potato wedges, same type of salad but enough variety that you can avoid some of the repetition. Overall, as good as you will make yourself at home and good for a buffet but not like going to upscale gourmet restaurant. For breakfast, they can make you an omelette and you get bacon, sausages, breaks, cheeses, fruits, etc. Bar drinks - wines and beer very inexpensive (200-300 rand per drink). Cocktails I got a kick out of - a single is carefully measured 1 oz, and a double is 2 oz so not a generous pour but prices were reasonable relative to size.

Service - 4 star. I have seen some complaints about service but I didn't experience anything negative. Everyone was super friendly - from bartenders, restaurant staff, front desk, maids......... people great you and are happy to converse. I think you just have to put forth a bit of effort. I saw a few folks/tourists who had more of an "affluent" attitude who to be honest, if I were waiting on, I wouldn't be super friendly with either. The staff was very outgoing and went out of their way to chat with my kids (10 and 13).

Safari Guide 5 star- we had Deon who was amazing. He was super knowledgeable about the animals & birds and did a great job of answering all questions and provide a ton of insight. What we loved about this park - unlike the public parks (we visited Hluhluwe-Infolozi and iSimangalio Wetland Park), you can go off road and get real close to the animals. You drive through the bush to get up front and personal. We had an elephant come within about 2 feet of us on a couple occasions, even putting its foot on top of the jeep. Deon was also super accommodating - we weren't looking forward to waking up the kids for a 5 or 6 am game drive so we went out at 8 most days based on everyone in our group agreeing to the schedule. You see the same animals and get more rest. Everyone we talked to in other groups really like their guides so I don't think you can go wrong. In addition, compared to a guide we had at another park - these guys were so much more knowledgeable about the animals, birds, etc.

Reserve - not huge at 6000 acres but plenty to see. We had the pleasure to see a 6 week old rhino which was amazing to watch with his mom. 3 elephants only but they were great to watch - one day we sat there about 30 minutes just watching them eat. We had the great fortune to track down one of the two cheetahs right after a nyala kill - he was still panting and slowly ate his meal (and we came back later for evening drive and he was still there). A ton of zebra, giraffes, warthogs, impalas plus kudu and nyala. No lions but you can go to H-I or Pinda to see them. We did not see the leopard but on our last day, he came right up to the game lodge and one of our group saw him briefly (they scared each other).

Some of the side attractions are a bit expensive - rent a car and do them yourself. If you don't rent a car, do Phinda - others in our group went, saw lions and a lot of elephant. We booked Heritage Tours (see St Lucia attractions) for Hluhluwe-Infolozi game park tour - met at Nyalazi gate (1.5 hours from game lodge) - $95 per adult for 1/2 day at HI and 2 hour Hippo/croc boat tour at St Lucia (I think about 75-80 for kids) and saved about 1/2 price vs booking through ZN. We also did a self drive at iSimangaliso Wetland Park (see St Lucia attractions) which was a nice contrast to ZN. I think 3-4 days of game drives at ZN and 1-2 at other places is a good mix. We also visited Cheetah Rehabilitation center (less than 30 minute drive) on our own and much cheaper (not sure it would be worth the ZN price)vs I think about $18 per adult (kids 1/2).

Overall, a great experience - no regrets and we will remember for a lifetime. There weren't a ton of kids - I think most buy at auction but you can add kids on for a reasonable price - they will have an experience they will remember forever. If you have any questions, shoot me a mail. We were fortunate to find another previous visitor who sent us a ton of general info on Africa, ZN, etc. so happy to share.

  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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9  Thank gocougsNorthBend
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

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 #2 of 33 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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