We traveled to Little Garonga and it was to be the highlight of our South Africa vacation. It ended up being our least favorite part of the trip. We were the only people in the camp for much of our time which was very depressing. We would constantly hear the laughter and fun from the lower Garonga camp during dinner and we felt very lonely. While solitude is nice for a night or so, sometimes you need human interaction. It was also very awkward for us because the staff was really only there for us. We felt that our guide was a little bit surly and it was very difficult to communicate with him. He just didn't seem to enjoy what he was doing. I think that he was annoyed that there were only the two of us as he seemed to become more enthusiastic when a family arrived on our last day. If you have a choice, definitely choose the lower camp. It was much nicer and the views were a million times better. We ventured down there a few times just for some interaction with other guests and to see the views over the waterhole.
The room is very beautiful but be aware that the Chiltern suite is not private at all. Our room faced a path that was often used by the staff and I felt very uncomfortable taking a shower because it was right in front of a window and there were not any window coverings. The outdoor shower was private but it was too cold to use it and there were a lot of bees flying around. Also, the front door felt like it didn't quite close which is not good when there are monkeys during the day and hyenas running about at night. They had also discussed seeing lions in the camp before so I felt very nervous with a door that did not quite close all of the time.
Food: This was my biggest disappointment. I was starving at Garonga. They do not serve lunch during the winter so you really have breakfast, tea, and dinner. This would have been fine if breakfast had been substantial. When you get an omlette or eggs, all you get on the plate is the very small omelette or other entree. They do not have sides other than some fruit and toast. I was also looked at like a crazy piggy person if I tried to order some additional food at breakfast. As someone who does not eat pork and can't eat only carbohydrates for a meal, the options were very limited. Tea was not that great until the other family arrived. We would have some small sandwiches (The same every day - we got so sick of this) and a dessert. When the other family arrived, there were more choices. We found ourselves eating the snacks that we had brought for the plane and such for a mid-day snack because we were hungry by around 1:00 after such a small breakfast and tea was not served until 3:00.
Animals: We did see almost all of the big 5 here (all except the buffalo) However, we did not see that the animals were as plentiful as other lodges that we visited. We saw some neat things (cheetah tracking a kudu, hippos, etc.) but we also had long stretches of not seeing anything during the game drives.
If you are afraid of monkeys or don't want them near you, be aware that they are often around at this lodge. A very entertaining monkey even stole fruit off of our breakfast table one morning. We also had them hanging around our room one afternoon. I enjoyed it and watching them was one of the highlights of our time there. I got very annoyed when the family arrived because the teenage daughter BATHED herself in perfume before the game drives. I felt that the guide should have said something to her because it may have impacted our animal sightings.
The sleep-out seems like a great idea. It was very neat but there were some drawbacks. The meal that was provided was a stew and rice. This was very messy to eat out in the bush. It was also so spicy that it was not edible. So, once again, I was starving. Dessert was a cobbler or fruit crumble of some kind and again, was incredibly messy. I felt that there are much easier food items to send for a picnic in the bush and it didn't seem well thought out. It was neat to watch the sunset and hearing the animals all night long was awesome. We even had two leopards making noise underneath our platform for half of the night. It was unnerving and cool at the same time.
I am sad that Garonga was a disappointment and was not as wonderful as I had been told and had read in reviews. I wouldn't consider myself negative or looking for things to criticize. This is just what it was like when we were there. Maybe the staff was having an off week or something. It is a beautiful camp but we just felt like we were all alone and that for the price, they should have some snacks or something available for guests that may be hungry. At least they shouldn't judge you if you want some extra food at breakfast to hold you over. All in all, I am glad we went and it certainly wasn't terrible. If I went again, I would choose the main Garonga camp and not Little Garonga. If you had a large group, Little Garonga would be a great choice though!
- Also Known As:
- Little Garonga South Africa/Hoedspruit