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“Fantastic weekend”

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Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Hluhluwe
Certificate of Excellence
Gillitts, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Fantastic weekend”
Reviewed 13 August 2013

We stayed in a spacious tented unit - interesting combination of brickwork and canvas tent (the roof and most of the side walls are canvas). The only drawback with this is that these units are obviously not sound proof and although free standing, the units are pretty close to each other and a noisy neighbor can be a nuisance. Unexpected visitors are a tame herd of zebras grazing on the lawns of the hotel grounds and in between the units. The staff are extremely polite and helpful. The buffet breakfasts and dinners were sumptuous. The big attraction is the game drives and we had a fantastic outing with close encounters with a cheetah mom and cub; a rhino mum and calf and a very close encounter with some elephants. Various other animals were also spotted. Well worth a visit!

Room Tip: Speak to the staff to arrange for a transfer if you have noisy neighbours
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank Santjie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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371 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Level Contributor
40 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 August 2013 via mobile

This was our first visit to South Africa, and we enjoyed it a lot. Zulu Nyala's web site is very confusing. Only after getting there did we figure everything out. There is a HUGE difference between the game lodge and the heritage safari lodge. The game lodge is situated beautifully atop a hill with a wonderful view. It is well off the beaten path, so it is quite peaceful. It is actually within the game reserve, so you'll see lots of wildlife without going anywhere.

The heritage safari lodge is also quite nice, but it's a whole different experience. It's close enough to the N2 highway that you can hear the traffic (though it's not all that loud). It's right next to a dirt road, so when the wind is blowing the wrong direction the dust clouds are bad. It's also right next to train tracks, which is quite loud at times.

No one told us in advance that most people split their nights between the game lodge and the safari lodge. By the time we learned that, it was too late to switch. That was disappointing.

Overall we enjoyed our stay a lot. The food was good and plentiful, the service was terrific, the game rides were great, and there's plenty to do in the area. Based on our experience, here are some tips:

-The tents can be quite loud. It's a fun experience, but ear plugs will help you sleep.
-Rent a car. Being stuck in the property limits your options drastically. And driving in the left side if the road is easy. It will also save you a LOT if money because Zulu Nyala charges high prices for excursions.
-Do an estuary boat tour in St. Lucia to see hippos. It's a great experience.
-Bite the bullet and go on the expensive Phinda excursion. Skipping it is our one regret because others we met who did go said it's a great experience.
-Bring warm clothes, including light gloves and a hat. South African "winter" is a joke compared to a lot if other places, but the morning game rides are still chilly (in the 50s). Standing outside may not seem cold, but the wind generated by an open vehicle makes it feel much cooler.
-Bring a real camera. I was amazed how many people spent thousands if dollars and traveled to the other side if the planet but showed up with nothing more than a tiny camera (worse - a phone or even an iPad). You'll get little more than casual snapshots with a camera like that. At the very least, you should bring a digital SLR with a zoom lens up to about 200mm. That will get you some good photos, but for really amazing photos bring a 500mm lens. Yeah it's expensive, but you just spent thousands if dollars in this trip. Pay some more and get a truly memorable photo album you'm cherish forever. You can always sell the lens when you're done with it and recoup most of the cost anyway.
-For the best deals in souvenirs, go to the shop next to the bridge over the estuary as you go into St. Lucia. The selection is fantastic and it's dirt cheap.
-Visit Ithala Weavers near Hluhluwe. We never saw baskets like that anywhere else. Even if you buy nothing, it's very interesting.
-Go with an open mind. Zulu Nyala isn't a luxury resort, and you won't get gourmet meals, but it's a great experience, and the food is good. As long ad you understand what to expect, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

  • Stayed July 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
14 Thank AcornMan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Massachusetts
Level Contributor
135 reviews
67 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 August 2013

Contacting Zulu Nyala and arranging your accommodations is not easy on the internet. You are not quite sure at which area you will be staying As mentioned by other reviewers many guests won their visits in auctions in the States. They have an all inclusive arrangements. We made our reservations through Hotels.com and had breakfast and dinner included but not lunch. We also had to pay each time we went on a tour of their game reserve. We weren’t sure what room we’d end up with but once we got there the staff couldn’t have been any nicer or more helpful. When we arrived we were told we were in the lodge but thought we had arranged to stay in the tent area. The staff easily remedied the situation and we were set up in one of the tents. Don’t be fooled. The tents are lovely. We had a king sized bed (2 twins together) with a warm comforter and a bathroom with a huge tub, shower and plenty of running water although not a lot of water pressure in the hot water. The roof and sides of the tent are heavy duty canvas so the room is not air conditioned but does have a ceiling fan. It was cool and windy at night so the fan wasn’t necessary. The lodge has the rooms with TVs and air conditioning. On a windy night the canvas is ruffling in the breezes and is not quiet. Many reviewers have complained about that. We had no problems with it but if you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs. The food at the lodge was delicious. It was buffet style with many choices. The desserts are excellent. Right out the door of the tent zebra and nyala are roaming. It is amazing to see. Because we had to pay each time we only went on one game ride but Manny was an awesome and caring guide. The remainder of our 3 days we spent in Hluhluwe national park nearby. The national park was large enough to have elephants and lions while Nayala was not. For a small price we drove through the park in our rented car and saw many of the animals up close including giraffes, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, baboons and impalas. It was amazing. The lions there are illusive and we were told it was not likely that we’d see them. We also drove to St. Lucia and took a boat tour of the estuary and saw many crocodiles and hippos. The boat ride cost $15 lots less than the tour arranged through Zulu Nyala which included transportation. The gift shop by the bridge in St. Lucia has a wide variety of souvenirs cheap. If you have your own car or rent a car it’s easy to get around and you won’t be at the mercy of the hotel for their normally higher priced tours and souvenirs in the gift shop.

Room Tip: The tents can be noisy but are well worth it.
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
4 Thank WintersR4beaches
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CT
Level Contributor
22 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 August 2013

Spent the first 6 days of a 16 day Africa trip at Zulu Nyala. I took my daughter and my teen aved grandchildren.. We stayed in the tents and found them to be lovely, clean and well appointed.
We stayed in the two farthest from the lodge. I did read some reviewers that said they were bothered by trains. We did not have this problem. I can say, however , that you hear everything from tents closest to you! As there were very few people in the tents while we were there, this was not a problem for us. Our guide Dion was wonderful and we saw every animal on the reserve up close. We did many of the side trips offered which were wonderful but very expensive. Our weather was perfect as it is winter in S. Afruca and our guide told us it is the best time of year for game viewing. The food was terrific, even my picky eatters really enjoyed the large number of choices . The wait staff are lovely. Always a smile and warm greeting. All in all, we had a terrific time that left us with oodles of pictures and great memories.

Room Tip: Ask for tents farthest from lodge. End tent if possible so only have people on one side!
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank elanaliya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hamilton, Michigan
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 July 2013

Wonderful place to experience the natural trills of the South African Bush. The staff is very knowledgable, courtous and professional. They saw to our needs in a kind and thoughtful way. Although the reserve is not one of the biggest in the region by far it is afine represntation of the natural wonders that the Zulu Natal region has to offer. It is a great "jumping off" place for trips to Tembe Elephant Park, St. Lucia and the other game preserves.

We would go back in a flash if we are ever given the opurtunity..Wonderful, wonderful trip..Thank you to all the staff, especially Jacgue - our game driver, for a true South African adventure.

Room Tip: Stay two night at the Heritage Lodge than move to the Game Reserve -- you will get(and expereince) t...
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank TuscanyHorizon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Des Moines Iowa
Level Contributor
35 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 July 2013

I was very discouraged by some of the other reviews. I thought it was a decent hotel, but I wasn't expecting a 5 star resort either like some of the other reviewers. I was happy to be in South Africa surrounded by a great view no less. The rooms are just ok but kept very tidy. The bathrooms aren't modern, but I didn't care. I was there for the experience and that was all. The food was actually pretty good. They had a nice selection too. I got to try warthog and impala which were both delicious. The staff was terrific. They all tried to make sure we were happy. The grounds are very nice. The weather was very pleasant, in the low to mid 70s by day. Make sure you have a hat and scarf that won't blow away for the game drives though! It was VERY cold driving back in the evenings and even more so on the early morning drives. We saw everything but elephant and leopard but others say they saw them at different timed drives. I also did the St. Lucia river cruise and the Mbonise school and village. I would recommend both. If you do plan on going to the school, take something for the kids. Someone else told me this much too late and we had no time to plan so only got candy from a convenience store. I would have bought crayons and notebooks and candy from Walmart back in the states to bring if I would have known ahead of time. I definitely want to visit again. This was a trip of a lifetime.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank andmarDesMoinesIowa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lafayette, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 July 2013

I think the negative comments for the Heritage Lodge are from people who have not compared this to more expensive 5 Star Lodges - either private reserves or those in Kruger Park. Note that this reserve is next to Phinda which is probably twice as expensive.

We spent a week at two other lodges - one in Kruger and one private lodge outside of Kruger - both were more upscale than this - both considerably more expensive. We saw as much game in any day at Zulu Nyala as we did in any day at other venues. If you need to be pampered, go somewhere else. If you want a great wildlife viewing experience it's fantastic - after all, did you come to South Africa for a massage or to see animals? We also enjoyed the people we met - the other places we stayed seemed to have more overly demanding people and one lodge was to large - taking entire bus tours making seem much less intimate. We met fun and down-to-earth people and had a blast.

We were booked for 3 days at the Lodge and 3 days in the tents, but we liked our tent (it's actually a spacious bungalow with a heavy canvas roof) so much we asked to stay and were accommodated; however we arranged to have dinner at the lodge with the people we had been on our game rides - the grounds at Heritage are more spacious because it is just outside of the reserve. The people we joined on game rides were staying at the Lodge and had no complaints.

Our guide Bernie is delightful and was a wealth of information on both wildlife and local culture. We saw as much wildlife in our first 3 game rides than we expected to see the entire 6 days (even spotted the elusive Honey Badger)

The food was decent (breakfast was about the same as other places we stayed) but not gourmet. Someone on this site said the drinks were expensive? The wine was about what you pay in grocery stores or bottle shops so I'm not sure what they were drinking. The dining rooms are both nice and no less well appointed than the other lodges we stayed in.

Couple of suggestions:
1. Do not miss the full day excursion to the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park. It is a 1000 square mile park not far from the Lodge and we saw a number of animals we did not see in Zulu Nyala - hyena, lion, baboons - plus some massive elephants. It really adds to your viewing experience. If you choose only one of the optional excursions, this is a must.
2. If you fly to Durban, you might find it less expensive and more convenient to rent a car and drive - it's only 120 miles on a good road, and it is cheaper to rent a car than pay to picked up and returned to the airport. It allowed us to visit the Cheetah rescue facility in Hluhluwe on our own one morning.
3. We also took the excursion to a nearby village. Many people fly to Africa, take a van to a game lodge, and return to the airport. If you want an unvarnished view of life in rural South Africa this is worth the couple of hours. Our group stopped in a general store in Hluhluwe and bought a few bags of children's shoes, visited the local school, and a family home. If you are traveling with kids, by all means take them - they won't gain this sort of insight into the rest of the world in a Geography class. The lodge provides a local guide.



.

Stayed June 2013, travelled with family
Helpful?
4 Thank 61GaryL843
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge

Property: Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge
Address: 45 Bree Street Cradock 1969 | PO Box 247, Hluhluwe 3960, South Africa
Region: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand > Hluhluwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Hluhluwe
Hotel Class:4 star — Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 57
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Heritage Safari Lodge was originally built in the 1940’s as a hotel and was a landmark pit-stop for weary travelers between Maputo and Durban. Acquired in 1996, the gracious building was lovingly restored to its original colonial grandeur, enhanced with new accommodation, and tastefully themed to highlight Zululand’s unique cultural heritage.With buffet-style meals in our restaurant, the wide, welcoming veranda and our ‘human watering hole’ - the pub or thatched boma, warm and relaxing atmosphere is conducive to shared good times and conviviality. The sparkling pool is always inviting, and you’re sure to enjoy browsing our beautifully stocked curio shop for a few authentic African mementos. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Hotel Hluhluwe
Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge Hluhluwe, South Africa - Zululand

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