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“Best Holiday Ever” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Camp Jabulani

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Camp Jabulani
Certificate of Excellence
Essex
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Best Holiday Ever”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 May 2014

As part of a 10 night trip to SA, my husband and I recently (01/05/14) stayed at Camp Jabulani for 4 nights. We flew to Hoedspruit from Johanesburg via SA Airways and were collected by Ruan, our dedicated ranger who was awaiting us at the airport.

Ruan took us on the short (30 min) drive to the Camp, although the actual entrance to the private reserve was literally opposite the airport, and we got our first glimpse of the wildlife.

Upon arrival we were greeted by Kate who runs the camp, with a glass of bubbly and introduced to the Butlers who would take care of us at mealtimes.

The main public areas of the lodge, both inside and out were beautifully designed and built and from there Kate took us across the bridge over the riverbed to our suite. When we entered it was absolutely stunning and as described, very isolated, surrounded by the Bush on 3 sides and with patio doors out to a deck and plunge pool looking out into the Bush and riverbed.

Whilst there we did 3 different safaris on the elephants 2 “sundowners” and 1 at night. All were superb. Being on top of the magnificent animals looking down on the world, but still knowing that the elephants were in charge and happy was incredible.

Basically all the elephants were orphans (including Jabulani after whom the camp is named), injured or born at the Camp and whilst they did the safaris and had handlers (who really love and care for them and NEVER use force) led by Tiger, they are free to roam where they want most of the day.

We also did game drives by jeep with Ruan every day and had a once in a lifetime encounter petting cheetahs at the endangered species centre. All were wonderful and we saw all the Big 5 over the 4 days, but on our last full day we saw them all again (and plenty more) only a few feet away within the space of a few hours (as well as a great picnic and spectacular sunset).

The animals were obviously the highlight, but anywhere else it would have been the food and wine prepared and recommended by the Camp chef, Andre. Andre came out before every meal, including breakfast and personally talked through the menu, checked if there was anything we did or didn’t like and recommended wines to compliment the menu. Whilst we were there we didn’t have a single course of a single meal that not only tasted delicious but was beautifully presented. On our wedding anniversary Kate arranged for a private table to be set up in the wine cellar and Andre prepared us an anniversary cake. Just another example of some lovely little touches throughout our trip that made it even more special.

So our thanks to Kate, Phil, Andre, Tiger, all the Butlers and housekeepers and in particular our superb Ranger, Ruan for really giving us an incredible holiday.

To sum up, Camp Jabulani is a bit more costly than most of the safaris you will see, especially within package deals, although the “fully inclusive” price covers everything we have mentioned and much more.

However, for us it gave us a true “Once in a Lifetime” experience, was worth every penny and we could not recommend it highly enough

Room Tip: Only 6 couples lodges and all looked wonderful
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank AntEd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
wildm0untain, General Manager at Camp Jabulani, responded to this review, 19 May 2014
Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a wonderful review. We all thoroughly enjoyed meeting you both and particularly whilst you celebrated your 19 years together. We intended for your anniversary to feel like a second honeymoon, so we are glad that you felt thoroughly spoiled. It is great that the animals also played along and came out to see you, though I am sure that Ruan's excellent guiding skills played a huge part in the excellent Big 5 sightings that you had.

We particularly appreciate the kind words that you have shared about Camp Jabulani's elephants and the special bond that they enjoy with their handlers. As you know, Camp Jabulani's whole existence is about providing support for these wonderful animals and their welfare is at the heart of everything that we do here.

Hopefully you will have the opportunity to return again at some stage in the future, but until then best wishes from myself, Phil, Ruan, Andre, Tigere, and the all of the team at Camp Jabulani.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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243 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (52)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
34 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 May 2014

What an extraordinary experience we had at Camp Jabulani. First of all, it is ultra luxurious with exquisite décor and incredible bungalows with plunge pools and amazing views. Meeting Jabulani for the first time is just an overwhelming experience. To stand next to him and look in his beautiful eyes as he calmly looks at you is incredible To touch his skin and then of course to feed him. Wow!

You meet the keepers and learn about their lives and how they are completely dedicated to the elephants. I rode twice with Foster. Foster, I told you that I would always remember you and that is true. Riding on Bubi and Sebawke with my husband and you was one of the highlights of my life. Thank you!!!

This isn't Disney World! On one of our rides Foster said, "listen, the elephants are talking". And then the babies started walking quickly to be closer to the herd. The elephants knew there were lions and indeed there were! I saw a huge male lion watching us. And then we saw his pride of females watching, too! Elephants don't like lions. And lions respect elephants. So although there was a feeling of tension. The lions didn't move any closer. On another walk there was 3 rhinos and a herd of buffalo. Again they just observed us, but you realize this is very real. Not an amusement park!

Another highlight was feeding the baby elephants. Oh, how they love their treats and to receive some extra love. We also got to watch them swim and play in a watering hole. Such joy.

The elephants are so well taken care of. They are all orphans and have formed a loving herd where other orphans are welcomed.

All of the elephants would have died or have been killed if it wasn't for the amazing Lendte Rhodes who established the Hoedspruit Endangered Species center to save cheetah's and other animals. She built Camp Jabulani, too. And the elephants are supported by the few lucky guests who stay at Camp Jabulani (only 6 bungalows and a house).

So, we felt so very good about staying there. Plus we had a fantastic guide, Schulk (sp.) who showed us so many animals on game drives. A huge bull elephant walked right over to our jeep and started touching it with his trunk! We were told we were safe, that the elephant was relaxed and just curious. But wow, what a feeling to be so close.

As guests of Camp Jabulani we had the special privilege of petting a cheetah at the Hoedspruit Wildlife Center. And watching what looked like a hundred vultures being fed at the "Vulture restaurant". WOW, unforgettable.

We stayed 2 nights and I would strongly suggest that one night just wouldn't be enough for the whole experience. You don't want to miss feeding the babies or the center!!!

Oh, and if you are into wine...you are allowed to go to their wine cellar and pick any bottle you would like. It was a fun thing for the wine lovers in our family to do.

Room Tip: The bungalows are ultra private and luxurious.
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank DaisyM03
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 February 2014

The Camp is indeed excellent - the obvious first of all is that the experience with the elephants is fantastic. Each ride lasts around an hour but you go through the reserve and see all animals which happen to be there - including wild elephant (detour will then happen) and 4 lions. The grooms are knowledgeable, friendly and funny. The rangers are all good - Werner a top guy and very helpful and willing to go the extra mile (or few stray bushes) to get great sightings. The food is worth the destination in itself - really top quality gourmet food, certainly the best we have ever had in a safari location. All staff make you welcome and the facilities are all superb. Thoroughly recommended.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Voldadbird
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level Contributor
18 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 December 2013

This camp was the last of 3 we stayed at. We really enjoyed our stay and would recommend Camp Jabulani if you have never experienced a safari bush trip. It is in the Kapama Game Reserve and has about 4-5 other camps that use this reserve so it can be crowded with other jeeps cruising around. The game sightings are excellent but we came here for one reason: to ride the elephants and they did not disappoint. We rode Sebakwe, the largest elephant there and he was an amazing specimen, standing nearly 12 feet tall and 6 tons. We loved our room, the Jabulani suite and the food and service here is exceptional. Our ranger, JP is very knowlegeable about the bush and a real pleasure to be around.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank worldly2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa
Level Contributor
172 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 August 2013

This property and service will satisfy the most demanding tastes. We especially loved the flood service, which was outstanding and beautifully catered to my vegetarian needs. The trip to the Hoedspruit Endangered Spiecies Centre was a treat.

The reason we booked was the elephants....And the elephant night walk is absolutely outstanding experience. I was a little uncomfortable however with the amount of "show" and little true interaction we had with the elephants. I would have enjoyed more time simply observing them and interacting with them in their natural habitat and in a more natural way(which we later experienced in Sanctuart Bains camp at the Living with Elephants Experience)

Overall, a great experience.

Room Tip: Any, they are sublime
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank TaniaCarriere
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
51 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 July 2013

Really great luxury intimate camp located within the Kapama Private Game Reserve. Fantastic food and staff. Very relaxed and everything is at the guests request. All inclusive property (All meals, drinks and activities)
Tip: Be sure to meet Jabulani the elephant and do the elephant interaction and ride - an experience of a lifetime!

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Monet T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
22 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 July 2013

I cannot overstate how wonderful this place is. The accommodations are beyond first class; the food is as well. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Camp Jabulani exceeds any expectations you could ask for in a resort hotel - but it happens to be located in the middle of zebra, lions and elephants. If you are looking for a top-notch experience on safari, this is it.

Room Tip: We stayed in the family villa - it comfortably fits a large family and is very private.
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  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Elena J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Camp Jabulani

Property: Camp Jabulani
Address: Kapama Game Reserve | Maruleng, Hoedspruit 1380, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Hoedspruit
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 99 Speciality Lodging in Hoedspruit
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Camp Jabulani 5*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Camp Jabulani, a family-owned private safari lodge, is guaranteed to offer first class accommodation, cuisine, facilities and personalised service. But its most notable feature is the herd of trained African elephants, which were rescued by the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. Over and above its once-in-a-lifetime elephant-back safaris, guests are also able to join experienced rangers in safari vehicles as they head out in search of The Big 5, and the smaller creatures that are part of an African Safari; visits to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre or simple relaxation around the camp or in the "Bush Spa". The exclusive Zindoga Villa is ideally suited to family travellers, or the client who prefers a more private, luxury experience. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Camp Jabulani Hotel Hoedspruit
Camp Jabulani South Africa/Hoedspruit

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