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“half time in tents and the other half at game lodge”

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Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Hluhluwe
Certificate of Excellence
Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
54 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“half time in tents and the other half at game lodge”
Reviewed 16 July 2014

We arrived at Johannesburg Airport on Saturday Evening 7/5 from the US and stayed right at the Airport at City Lodge Hotel. We then flew out to Durban Sunday Morning. We initially were renting a vehicle and driving up but decided to use the Nyala Zulu transfers since there were 6 people in our party and the transfer fee was the same as renting a van. We are all in agreement this was a much better decision. You don't just drive on the left hand side of the road, you also have to get used to how they pass each other, the wondering cows and goats on the road and the people that walk along the shoulder. Nothing is "close" by to drive too and try to navigate. The ride to the Lodge took about 4 hours. I thing if we had to do it again we would fly into Richards Bay which is a shorter drive.

We checked in at the Heritage and dropped our things off at the tents (T32-T34) and went on an afternoon game drive - 2:45 to about 5:00. Janine was our driver for the entire week. I cannot say enough good things about her. She was both very patient, we had an elderly person with us, and extremely knowledgeable about the animals, plants, birds and South Africa. She served us coffee in the morning for our game drives which started at 5:45 am - 8:00 and stopped for pictures as people requested. She is extremely passionate about her work and the animals! Bring warm clothes for the game drives and unexpected drop in temperature! We brought the packable jackets from Lands End which were perfect, but you definitely need a scarf or hoody jacket with a hat because of the cold wind your ears and face get wind burned. Also gloves were needed and long pants.

I stayed in the T34 Tent for 3 days and loved every minute of it. The room was very spacious, with a dresser to unpack your suitcase in. The bathroom only had a cloth curtain separating the bedroom from the bathroom, which was no big deal to me, but one of the people in our group didn't like that. The bathroom was very big with plenty of shelves to store all your items. The tent does not have heat or is not sound proof. You can hear talking from your neighbors but not really make out what they are saying. The front porch is where we spent our late evenings star gazing and watching the zebras and nyala's walk by. The frogs croaking in the background made you feel like you were out in the middle of nowhere.

We all loved the staff at the Heritage Lodge! They were very engaging and always helpful. Everyone smiles! They even taught us some Zulu.

Food was ok. Breakfast was pretty much a typical American breakfast. They had a person cooking eggs to order which was nice, cereal, muffins, potatoes, cheese, etc. It was served 7-9:30. We were only around for lunch 1 day and had a sandwich with "chips" which were french fries (which were very good). Dinner served 7:00 - 9:00 buffet style you could always find something to eat. It was ok. I am not sure what we were expecting thought maybe SA food was different then we eat in the States. Beer was only $2.00 a bottle = good value. Also you can bring your water from the room down to the meals with you versus ordering one.

We went on 4 excursions, trying to pack as much into our week as possible.

Tempe Elephant Park. It was a 2 hour drive away. Saw lots of elephants which was cool. We enjoyed going here because we have been watching the live camera feed at a watering hole on africam.com and went to the spot where the camera is.

Hhulwe Park - All day. We were hoping to see lions. It was a long day driving around with no luck. We tried to get into Phinda but they were booked up. Probably would skip this one.

St. Lucia. - Nice hour long drive here. The boat ride through the Estuary was fun. Saw lots of hippos, birds, cobra snake. Lunch was delicious and the beach was beautiful. Worth the money.

School and culture village - This was the highlight of our trip. It touched my heart seeing how the Zulu live. We stopped at a store prior to going and bought some fruit. I wish we would have brought more then just 3 bags of apples. We also brought pencils and toothbrushes from home. We visited the 12th grade Tour Class and they sang us the most beautiful song I have ever heard. The kids were delightful and engaging. The village was a learning experience on how the day to day life is for the Zulu. Fascinating!

After 3 days we moved up to the Game Lodge which is about 15 minute drive away. I didn't care for the room at all. They were small and no place to unpack our suitcase. The grounds were nice but didn't see any animals up close. The staff was unpleasant and not very engaging compared to the Heritage Area. The dining room was actually nicer and food seemed to taste a little better. I was disturbed by the way a supervisor talked and belittled his staff at the bar area while I stood there waiting to place my order. Another person in our party saw him doing it to another employee a short time later. The entire time I wished I was back in the tented area.

Some things I was disappointed in with our stay: I requested 3 different times to view the diamonds, there were a few of us wanting to make a purchase and was told Mr. Shaw was too busy with guests and they would get back with us. They never did. We never saw a Zulu Dancing Show. We were told they were performing on July 11th in the dining room but they never showed. Really would have like to seen this. I also would have loved a sheet of the animals I would be viewing with some facts. A flashlight for the night game drive to assist in looking for animals would be a nice touch or recommend us bring one from home.

All in all I am glad we went. South Africa is such a lovely place. I can't wait to return.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
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5 Thank lspangenberg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (91)
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English first
Durban, South Africa
Level Contributor
43 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 July 2014 via mobile

We stayed at the lodge from Friday 11 July 2014 to Sundy 13 July 2014 as a family and found the lodge to be very family orientated. The food was well presented and quite tasty with a great variety. We did not go on the game drive but rather opted to drive to Hluhluwe Game Reserve for a day trip entering through Memorial Gate. The day trip was spectacular with great game sighting. We could not do the hoseride on the beach at St Lucia as it was fully booked.

  • Stayed July 2014
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Helpful?
1 Thank kevinstone84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Long Beach, California
Level Contributor
51 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 July 2014

Our first two nights at Nyala Zulu were at the game lodge: nice, but the Safari lodge beats it hands down. First off, lodge is situated on the top a hill with views across the expanse. Our room was really nice, though they had these oversized chairs that were too large to get comfortable in. I know, how is that possible for a fat-assed American?!? The dining hall at the Safari lodge was much nicer. The dining room has a fantastic view if you can score a table near the deck. I thought the food was just a notch better than at the Game lodge. Our guide Philoman from the Game lodge remained our guide which was great. We lucked out with the family from Boston that shared our vehicle: they were a lot fun on the game drives. Again, if this is your first time on South Africa safaris this is a good place to start. None of these are inexpensive, but this is a better bargain (tongue in cheek) that some others.

Room Tip: I think we were in room 51: ask for an end room on the building for more light in the daytime.
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
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2 Thank ratboy1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
34 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 June 2014 via mobile

The stay in the tented Hemingway cabin with my husband and 2 year old was comfortable despite the cold nights, we stayed in T12 and were a little disappointed that our view of the veld where the Nyala and zebras graze was obscured by the tents in front of us.

The breakfasts and dinner were buffet style, selection was limited but very tasty. The staff were always friendly and courteous. Remember to carry a good supply of bottled water, especially if you are taking your baby along. The water from taps is borehole/tank water and was somewhat discolored during our stay.

From the reviews i read on Tripadvisor I expected more. On the negative side, there is very little privacy in the tents, as sounds carry through the canvas. You can literally hear your neighbors. Furthermore getting to the lodge was stressful because once you get onto the gravel road there is very little signage and you have to travel about 6km before you see the sign. Ensure you get there before dark as the roads are challenging if you are unfamiliar.

There was no tv in the tents and the safe didn't work. The mosquitos that got into the tent st night were troublesome despite it being winter. Also the loud noise from the diesel trains that pass through disturb your sleep at early hours of the morning. Construction was underway at the lodge and it was impossible to sleep in late because the workmen were loud and every sound carried freely in the tents.

The excursions to places of interest if booked through zulu nyala lodge is terribly overpriced, if you book directly you will pay a small fraction of the price. There are a lot of overseas tourists that frequent the lodge hence the expensive prices for the tours and excursions.

The elephant interactions at Bayete Zulu was amazing, the roads leading there are gravel but certainly worth the trip. Emdoneni cat/cheetah tours was also a treat. There are regrettably no self drives on Zulu Nyala Game Reserve either.

All in all a satisfactory stay but not the best experience for locals.

Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
Helpful?
1 Thank Ashina R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlantic Beach, FL
Level Contributor
92 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 June 2014

Zulu Nyala's Heritage Safari Lodge was originally built in the 1940's as a hotel between Maputo and Durban. It was acquired in 1996 and may have been renovated but still looks and feels much like a Day's Inn. The private game reserve is small -- no lions on the property -- and our guide "Welcome" seemed more interested in laughing with the other drivers and sticking to his set schedule of picking up and dropping off guests than too much else. We did see animals but felt that 3 days (2 safaris each day) is more than enough for this small reserve. The guide did have his moments when he was informative but these were few and far between. And, it did take time to pick up and drop off guest from the other properties. If we saw animals before getting the other guests, he would often zoom by and say he would find them later. They so have some individual cabins with tents over them that they call "tented room" -- which are so close to one another you have no view whatsoever and feel as if you must keep the curtains drawn in order to have privacy. Food was nothing special. Staff was pleasant. They do charge for laundry and seem to want to nickel and dime for most everything including anything other than tea or coffee at meals. Wi-Fi is available at no charge which is a plus. Flying into Richard's Bay and renting a car was the best thing we did as it's only about an hour and half drive to the property and roads are well marked. Three nights at this place is really more than enough. There were no closets in the room in which we stayed. The bathroom -- although large with two sinks -- seemed outdated. With a car you can do activities they offer at less than half of what they charge. Bayete Zulu offers an elephant interaction and isn't a far drive. Ilala Weavers is a good place to look for gifts and just down the road from this property. Also, you can do a self drive through Hluhluwe Game Reserve -- which is in between Richard's Bay and Zulu Nayla. The gift shop before the entrance to Hluhluwe is one of largest and best in that area -- and reasonable prices.

Room Tip: The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve outside of Johannesburg at the Krugerdorp Game Reserve is far bett...
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Linda G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 May 2014

we stayed in the tents for 6 days/nights and we had a great time. we slept deeply every night - even during a stormy night - and always had lots of friendly interactions with the lodge staff, other guests ( a mix of europeans and north americans), and all the animals wondering around the grounds.
we did a full day tour to the big Hluhluwe Reserve and other shorter tours to the elephant interaction, the cheetah rehab place (alcoholic cheetahs), and other local sights.
we flew into Durban and drove up: a 3 hour easy drive, plan your daylight though: it gets DARK here and the roads are not easy.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank richard8000milesaway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stonington, Connecticut
Level Contributor
18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 April 2014

We like others won the 6 day 6 night safari package at an auction. We contacted Reshmi one of their coordinators and she assisted in created a 3 week vacation. She was a pro right from the start, guiding us on our itinerary and time of year to book. We left all decisions in her hands from hotels, excursions and guides to transfers. We could not have been happier with all her choices. We spent 2 nights at their Country Manor in Johannesburg, went to the Lion park and a full day of city touring the next day. Neo our guide the entire time was amazing. He really took care of us, he was timely, knowledgeable and just a great guy. We then flew to Durban and took the long ride to the Heritage Lodge. I would recommend checking out flights to Richard's Bay only 1.5 hour commute instead of the 3 hours. Our Accommodations at Zulu Nyala were fantastic. They have these new tents/Cottages/ Villas that are not a "tent". We had a huge bedroom, sitting room and bathroom with AC. Others that wanted the romantic experience of the tents didn't feel the same way after a few sleepless nights due to the wind and noise from the canvas. You can request one of these Cottages as an upgrade. They have named them Buffalo 1, Rhino 1 etc. Gugu the front desk girl was exceptional at her job, great smile, warm and very helpful. Candice the restaurant manager really took the time to get to know us and made a very positive impression.She is friendly, helpful with directions and overall good at managing her team and servicing the guests. The food was good, not over the top but they had great choices, good quality and a great staff to serve you each day.
Philemon was our ranger and I have to say he made our trip. He was phenomenal. I was so impressed with his ability to interact with our group, answer All our questions and make us feel safe and well taken care of. You can tell he really enjoys his job. He is a very kind soul that has found his calling. We saw animals everyday several times a trip. I love the way all the rangers communicate to keep each other posted of animal activity. I think it's important that I mention the family feeling that resonates through the staff, they take care of one another and you, it's special. I highly recommend this safari experience it's on the smaller side but talking to others traveling about SA they had different experiences at the larger reserves. Some days you would see very little activity due to the size of the reserve.
Reshmi assisted with our travels to Durban, Cape Town and Victoria Falls. Overall the best vacation of our lives!
Thank you

Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
17 Thank Dahlia860
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
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
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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