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“So many animals, really exceeded my expectations”

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Zulu Nyala Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Level 5 Contributor
45 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 97 helpful votes
“So many animals, really exceeded my expectations”
Reviewed 8 July 2010

I’ve been on a couple of safaris but my husband has not. He purchased this at auction and frankly I was not over excited, given some of the comments I saw here. I was worried we would not see many animals. I could not have been more wrong. It was pretty much non stop animals and with a trip to Phinda to see lions we caught the entire Big 5. It was the first time I saw a leopard so I was thrilled. We saw two of the resident cheetahs jump into a tree and also saw some baby cheetahs, 12 days old. There was a rhino with a week old baby, it just went on and on. Giraffe, zebra, wildebeest everywhere. There are only 3 elephants, if you go to the other parks you will see how destructive they can be so it was understandable.
We originally planned to stay at the tented camp 3 nights and the lodge 3 nights. The tented camp “tent” was nice but they are not air conditioned and a little close to each other. The lights can bother you at night if you have the flaps open to get some air. There were larger groups of Germans here so not much socializing at dinner. After our first game drive the next morning we asked to switch since our “jeep group” were all staying at the lodge. We were lucky and had a great group of people and just had a fantastic time. They assign you before you get there and don’t make changes so this part is just luck unless you have your own jeep load. The staff was great about accommodating our request to move to the lodge and we did that night. Everyone we dealt with was friendly and efficient. We had been emailing Reshmi and Thandi who always responded quickly so we were not surprised that the rest of the staff was just as good.
The room was smaller than the one at the tented camp but the socialization was well worth it. The rooms were clean, yes you get some bugs and geckos. If you worry about such things this might not be the trip for you. They upgraded us to one of the nicer rooms when it became available which we appreciated.
Our ranger, Jason was great. He is both fun and informative and really works at getting the sightings. He even offered to lend us his dive equipment when we discussed diving in Sodwana Bay! Wow!
The food was good and there is plenty of it but it’s not a five star place so don’t expect five star food. The emphasis here is on the animals and adventure. All meals were buffet and they were fine. They had some great deserts. We got to try impala and warthog which was fun.
If you can, rent a car. It’s much cheaper and you can then drive yourself to the other nearby parks, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, which were just as great. They have a lot of elephants and some lions which we did not see but saw everything else. We saw several elephants mock fighting with a rhino in front of them, talk about photo ops! They gave us a packed lunch to take with us which I thought was very good and more food than we needed. There were 2 sandwiches, one cheese and one meat and cheese, fruit, candy bars, cheese and crackers. Stop at the Hilltop Lodge for the view. If you go out the south gate you have a long drive back on the highway it might be better to drive through the park and out the north gate. Take the Phinda excursion through the lodge however, it’s the only way to do it. We flew into Durban (more flights and cheaper I think) and drove (about 3 hours). From the airport its right onto the highway and straight there to the exit. Be careful when driving, slower cars will drive on the shoulder to allow others to pass and keep an eye out for passing cars from the other way, they will expect you to give a little room if it’s needed. Really not a place to text and drive! Once you go for a little way you will get the rhythm of it and it’s not a problem. Just pay attention and use common sense. Make sure you are back before dark, it’s a bit more daunting at night. All gas stations are full service and take only cash. The town of HluHluwe has a couple of liquor stores, we stopped at one but the wine was reasonable at the lodge so we really didn’t need to. They are working on the highway and have it down to one lane towards the end of the drive so keep an eye out for stopped cars.
The only thing I did not like was the fact that they were charging per minute to use the internet. We would go back here in a minute. My husband absolutely loved his first safari and was talking about where to go next year by the 2nd day. It really was that good!

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
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7 Thank rwethere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Portland, Oregon
Level 4 Contributor
23 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 May 2010

We had so much fun at Zulu Nyala. It was a trip of a life time. We loved our guide, Alan who would always stop and tell us more about an animal or a plant and also the history of the location we were in. He also told some funny jokes. He had a great sense of humor. I felt safe with him as our guide. The food was plentiful and good. We had plenty of choices. The croissants for breakfast were too good. I always ate more than one. We had rooms 12 and 13. They both had pretty views of the pool and the valley. We woke up the first morning and there were Nyalas all around the grounds eating the grass. We must have taken 1000 pictures on this trip. We saw many elephants, giraffes, nyala, zebras, hippos, rhinos, cheetahs, antelope, kudzo, cape buffalo, a variety of birds including eagles and we also saw lions at the Hlehlehue/Umfofozi National Park. Most of the staff were very welcoming and nice. The front office did not have the same friendly manner as the rest of the staff. We always traveled with the same group of people and that was alot of fun in itself. Overall we loved our experience there and we would love to do it again.

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank ckcsimpson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington
Level 5 Contributor
40 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 May 2010

ok, I'm like 2 years late in my review, but felt I needed to comment, given the negative comments of late... We "won" this trip at a Montessori school auction in Seattle and it was truly great, BUT, here's what you need to know...get a car and drive, that way, you'll be able to go to other game reserves at will. We actually started in J-Berg, drove to Kruger, stayed there, then drove to Zulu. It honestly was great, yes, there are no cats, only 3 elephants, but IF YOU HAVE A CAR, you can the travel to all the local reserves and see whatever your heart desires! Our game driver was excellent, as was the food, and all else...the only thing funky was the pool which wasn't really usable, but who cares. I'd go back to South Africa tomorrow! :)

  • Stayed October 2008, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank SNOHOMOJO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NYC
Level 6 Contributor
33 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 April 2010

My husband & I recently spent 6 nights at the Zulu Nyala Game Lodge (following a 2-night stay at the Zulu Nyala Country Manor, Johannesburg—see separate review). As in most of the other reviews I’ve seen on Trip Advisor, our 6-night photo safari was from a charity auction. Every American we met at the Game Lodge seemed to have obtained the trip the same way, so they were all there for 6 nights. But we also saw a quite a few touring groups (some German, some French) who were only staying there for one or two nights and then travelling on to other places in South Africa. In addition, while we were at the Game Lodge, there was a French film crew working on a reality show elsewhere on the property for French TV; we sometimes encountered them on their game drives while we were on ours. So it was an interesting mix of people coming & going, but it never seemed crowded. This was our first visit to South Africa, which we started planning almost 2 years before we actually went. I had started looking at reviews on Trip Advisor, but those from several years ago were not all that glowing. So I was initially a bit concerned about making arrangements for this major trip over the internet. But from our first contact with the Zulu Nyala reservations people, I found them to be very responsive & helpful—particularly Reshmi & Thandi, who replied almost immediately to my many questions and concerns. (I’m sure I was a bit of a pest. Every time I read a complaint on Trip Advisor I e-mailed, and they would explain & reassure me. Every reassurance they gave turned out to be accurate, and all the transfer arrangements they made worked perfectly. I was very happy to have the opportunity to meet them and thank them in person when we arrived at the GameLodge, after being almost “cyber pen-pals” with Reshmi in particular for nearly 2 years.) This same responsiveness & welcoming attitude was evident in everyone we dealt with in person at both the Country Manor & the Game Lodge. Our room (#11, by the pool) was enormous, with a huge bathroom (nice shower & a tub big enough for 2) and a spectacular view. (It felt like a honeymoon suite, and when I later asked Reshmi she confirmed that it indeed was.) We met our Ranger, Kyle, the afternoon of our arrival day & he immediately took us on our first game drive. Kyle was a great guide, very personable and full of information about animals, trees, birds, insects, just lots of fascinating details about everything. We learned & saw new things on every game drive. We had arrived on a Sunday and the others who would be sharing our game drives for the rest of our stay didn’t arrive until the next day. So we basically had private game drives for the first afternoon and the next morning. But the rest of Kyle’s group turned out to be friendly interesting people, with whom we enjoyed sharing all the rest of our game drives as well as our meals & excursions. One couple in that group had been there 2 years before & loved it so much they had now returned with their grown son & his wife. (The 2 couples of that family were from, respectively, Boston & California. The two other women in our group were from Oregon, and we are from NYC. So we were all Americans, but a geographically diverse group.) We were all so excited discussing what we had seen on the game drives & comparing our photos; it was nice to be all together at meals. The buffets at breakfast & dinner were varied and very good. Lunches had more limited choices from a menu (basically sandwiches & salads) but they were fine. We took 2 outside full-day excursions as a group, with our regular ranger Kyle: one to the St. Lucia Wetlands & one to the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Preserve (in hopes of seeing a lion, but no luck). Contrary to some of the older reviews I’ve seen, although there are no lions on the Zulu Nyala property, they do have some other beautiful big cats. We saw 2 leopards (one on an evening game drive where it was dark out & Kyle was shining a light into the bush to find night-time predators by the reflection of their eyes, very cool), and 3 cheetahs. One amazing experience was following a cheetah while she hunted, grabbed a baby impala from a herd (as the rest of the herd ran off), and played with the baby impala for about 20 minutes like a cat with a mouse (without really hurting it) until she finally killed & ate it. Apparently it’s not common to actually see this; Kyle said it was the first time he’d ever seen a “kill” while he had guests with him, and he’d only seen it at all a few times before when he was with other rangers. (It was both sad & beautiful; we felt sad for the baby impala, but Kyle told us this cheetah was pregnant, so she was eating for more than one.) We also saw many other wonderful animals: elephants, buffalo, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, wart hogs, nyala, etc. I’ve posted some photos—wound up taking over 900, as well as many short videos; but just posting a small representative sampling of photos here. Every time I look at the photos & videos I wish I were still there. It was far better than we’d imagined; and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Zulu Nyala Game Lodge to anyone who is considering going.

  • Stayed March 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank LovesSunnyIsles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Diego
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 April 2010

My mother and I traveled from San Diego, CA to Zulu Nyala Game Lodge having no idea what to expect. It turned out to be magical in every way. The trip (flying) itself was grusome, but when we arrived at the Lodge we were greeted with friendly faces and open arms. We were introduced immediately to our fantastic Ranger-Kyle. I cannot give him praises enough. He was full of knowledge-not only about the animals but about the ecosystem, plants/flowers, and surrounding areas as well. He made the trip even more magestic. The Lodge itself was quiet and serene. The food was good. The view was amazing. Just taking the game drives around the lodge was terrific in itself! I would recommend going on the following day trips: Emdonemi-Cheetah Rehabilitation Center (wealth of knowledge) and supports such necessary needs for the cat families and Hluhluew-Imfolozi Park-Full Day-what a blast-we saw hundreds of elephants. I would not recommend going to Tembe Elephant Park (only saw 2 elephants)-we spent an awful lot of money to barely see any animals. It was beautiful, but I was much more impressed with the previous two which I mentioned. Overall, I felt like I had an experience of a lifetime. Even though I was unable to find a Lion, I saw so much more. I would highly recommend this Lodge and Kyle as your Ranger! FYI-it is very HOT there, we were there in the Fall (late) and they kept mentioning it was cold-87 degrees F and HUMID. Pretty funny how different our hemispheres are within our world. In the summer I heard it gets dreadfully HOT. I would go back to Zulu Nyala Game Lodge again in a heartbeat. Just be prepared for a LONG Airplane ride!!! Thanks again Staff! Take a GOOD camera!!!!! Oh and fly into Richards Bay-much closer!

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank EssyLiz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle
Level 4 Contributor
16 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 February 2010

Excellent staff. Even before the trip I was impressed at how thorough & quick the responses were to my e-mails. Staff attitude was great from service to mngt. during our stay.

Like other reviews, we were also very impressed with James our Ranger. He too was a wealth of information. But what I was really thankful for was on a side trip to the estuary he was able to save me from being a crime victim. My best friend & I had to use an ATM when 3 men approached to "help us." They tried to do a card switch on me & one of them already had his hand on my card while I was holding it. Luckily James saw what was going on & rescued us.

The side trips I took: the Sta Lucia Estuary; local village & school; National reserve to see lions(they just made a kill) were all worth the price I paid for. We signed up for viewing the sunset at a high point in the reserve on our last night. It was a fitting ending to say goodbye to a really nice group of people we just spent the last 5 days with.

Lunches were okay but breakfasts & dinner were always awesome. Although food was almost the same everyday, there were so much to choose from that you don't have to eat the same thing each day.

The only down side was the water pressure in the shower that I chose to ignore because I felt it was a very minor issue. On the drive back to the airport I mentioned it to the mangr who said they could have taken care of it. Lesson learned, it is okay to complain.

The airport transfer is basically renting the van at one price so depending on how many guests are riding it could be either cheap or pricey. My best friend & I were the only ones leaving on the last flight so it would have been ridiculously expensive if we were to shoulder the amount ourselves. Instead we went w/ an earlier group even though it meant 3-4 hrs waiting in the airport. Fortunately the mngr had some errands to run in the city so they dropped us off at the mall & took us to the airport closer to our flight time. This is another example of how Zulu Nyala staff ensures customer satisfaction.
Oh did I mention the animals? Plenty to see especially so many baby giraffes in September but do take the side trips to other places to see more. I wouldn't hesitate to come back.

  • Stayed September 2008, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
3 Thank craulocsol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sherwood, Oregon
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 3 February 2010

My best friend and I spent a week at the Zulu Nyala Game Lodge at the end of April 2009. Her husband purchased it for us at the annual Safari Club International Convention in Reno. What an incredible trip! The grounds of the property were immaculate, the staff was so attentive and catered to our every need and the food was awesome! Our safari guide, Sipho ("sippo") was so knowledgeable of the history of the Zulu people, the land and the animals - he was a delight!
The entertainment from the Cultural Center was delightful and did I mention the wine?!
We'd go back in a minute! Thank you for such warm and wonderful memories!

  • Stayed April 2009, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank FlyGirlGail
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 32 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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