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“Exceptional Lodge and Elephant Experience”
Review of Camp Jabulani

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Camp Jabulani
Certificate of Excellence
Orlando, Florida
Level 5 Contributor
58 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Exceptional Lodge and Elephant Experience”
Reviewed 2 July 2014

My wife and I spent 4 wonderful days and nights at Camp Jabulani. From the time we were met at the Hoedspruit airport by our guide/ranger Ruan, to our departure, our experience was fantastic. The daily game drives were exciting with many sightings of the Big Five. We also visited the Endangered Species Center, which is a must if you plan to stay at Camp Jabulani. Our private suite (one of only 6) was perfect... roomy and very comfortable with a private pool, lounging deck and well stocked mini-bar. We chose to have lunch on our deck one afternoon, which was very special. But most of all, we will never forget our experience with the elephants... we experienced two elephant safaris; one at night and one in the afternoon. Both were wonderful, something we will never forget. I was able to ride the famous "Jabulani", who's majestic presence and demeanor is synonymous with the camp's namesake. Getting close to these animals and getting to know them was a dream come true. Our visit to the stables along with our daily visits to the watering hole to watch them play, roll in the mud and just be themselves was extraordinary!
Our thanks to Ruan, Henk, Kate, Andre, Shedrick and ALL for making our stay an exceptional experience! We will return, I'm sure!

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank GD M
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, 3 July 2014
Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a lovely review. It was a real pleasure to host you both at Camp Jabulani. We agree that seeing our elephants playing and enjoying their free time in the bush during the day is every bit as special as the unique opportunity to ride them in the evening. We hope that we do indeed see you at Camp Jabulani again in the future. Until that happy day, best wishes from us all, and especially from Jabulani himself.
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Potomac Falls
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 June 2014

An amazing operation from the airport ride in seeing a cheetah to leaving and seeing a rhino. Thanks Scott you made our morning

Even a minor mishap of changing rooms was handled with efficiency and a non event.... Managed to replace everything in the exact location

Level of dedication of the jabulani staff is to be admired, they made us feel like one of the family a perfect start to an African Safari

Our interaction with the elephants will make viewed elephants on the rest of the trip anticlimatic

Kudos to tiger and his staff

Our trip to the endangered species center was excellent and the petting of a cheetah made my wife's trip

Can't say enough about the service over the top Shadrick, Oberti, Ben and Scott thanks for everything

Oh last but not least........thanks to Jabulani for allowing us the pleasure of a ride


Mark and Mandy Reiner

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank mhrhino
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, 2 July 2014
Dear Mark and Mandy, Thank you so much for posting such a super review. We really appreciate your kind comments about the staff and we thoroughly enjoyed welcoming you into to the Camp Jabulani family for a few days. We are so glad that you had the amazing opportunity to interact with a cheetah at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC), and it is wonderful that you also managed to view these magnificent animals in the wild - perhaps it was one of the individuals successfully released from HESC? It is great that Camp Jabulani got your African Safari has got off to the most perfect start and I hope that the rest of your travels are as enjoyable as the days that you spent with us. Best wishes from the whole team.
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Johannesburg
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 June 2014 via mobile

We stayed at Camp J really seeking some quality R&R time, and boy did they deliver!
They were attentive to our every need, right from the get go. Kate and Philip are incredibly lovely hosts and really go out of their way to make you feel comfortable, catering to all of our requirements and sometimes even eerily reading our minds!
We weren't there for the elephant activities (I prefer my ellies in the wild) but our ranger Ruan was a fantastic guide, tailoring our safari experience to our wishes and making sure we were always far away from any "tourists". As a result we probably didn't see as much of the Big Five as you'd like to if you're in the bush for the first time, but because we're seasoned safari fans our porcupine and martial eagle sightings were far more thrilling for us.
The suites are incredibly well-appointed, and the bed was certainly top five most comfy ever. The only criticism I would have is that the geyser doesn't seem large enough to fill the beautiful and very spacious tub, which was a shame.
The food and meal service were incredible. Obert was our butler for the stay and he was confident, knowledgeable, and provided impeccable service. We were spoilt with one dinner in their beautiful wine cellar and one dinner in the privacy of our suite - so lovely. Again the only criticism I have is that the wine selection, whilst of a high quality, wasn't really large enough in my view. Only three or four estates and only one bubbly brand is a little thin for a lodge of this calibre.
I am saving the best for last though: the food warrants a whole rating of its own! Undoubtedly the best food I've ever had in a lodge. Andre and his team clearly cook with great passion, making croissants and ice cream from scratch, using only the freshest and best ingredients, and preparing inventive, tasty meals with such an eye for presentation that you can't wait to see what comes next. And with all of that, the portions are just enough to satisfy but not so much that you're tempted to overeat. I would go back to Camp J just for the food!
Well done Adine and Lente, for sure a lodge that deserves the Relais & Chateaux label!

Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank MonikaIuel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Michelle D, Public Relations Manager at Camp Jabulani, responded to this review, 19 June 2014
Monika, thank you so much for your wonderful review. We are really pleased that you enjoyed your stay at Camp Jabulani, and that you found the food and service to be of the high quality expected from a Relais and Chateaux property. Ruan so enjoyed the opportunity to get off "the beaten track" and to show you some of the smaller animals that are appreciated by safari connoisseurs.

With regard to your comments regarding the wine cellar, we currently have representation from 18 wine estates, and intend to develop this further over time. While we do realise the importance of a broad collection, our philosophy is to focus on quality over quantity.

Your comments regarding the geyser are most useful, and we will certainly investigate our options. As you mentioned, we do have extra-large bath tubs so it is important that we are able to fill them to capacity.

Your constructive feedback is much appreciated, as this enables us to continue to deliver a first-class customer experience.

Best wishes to you both from all of us at Camp Jabulani!
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Atlanta
Level 6 Contributor
91 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 June 2014

The personal service here is what sets it apart from other camps. Our hostess Kate went above and beyond to exceed our every expectation. Our guide Ryan Bates gave us very personal attention to find the animals we were most interested in and was very well versed in the habits of each.
Dylan, the chef @ Jubalani puts out a gourmet spread at every meal. It is hard to believe you are in the middle of the bush when you view his presentations.
Kate upgraded us to the only Villa which was way over the top. But I checked out the standard rooms and they were beautiful and plenty spacious.
The elephant ride into the bush at night to look for animals was very special.
Sundowners were a blast

Room Tip: Ask for a room overlooking the river bed
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Mike H
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, 8 June 2014
Thank you so much for your wonderful review. We are so glad that you enjoyed your stay with us and that your expectations were exceeded, As you know every cent of profit from Camp Jabulani goes towards the upkeep of our herd of orphan elephants and to support the excellent work done by Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, so we really appreciate you helping to spread the word to other travellers. Best wishes to you and your family from the whole team at Camp Jabulani.
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Sydney, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 June 2014

We recently stayed at camp jabulani with our 3 adult children,as part of a surprise birthday
Celebration. What a beautiful camp. We stayed in the Zindoga Villa which was out of this world. Absolutely beautiful.Elephants are amazing and I got to ride on jabulani. Staff are so welcoming. Food is fabulous. Sundowners is wonderful and lots of fun. Everything about this camp is more than you could ever imagine. Thank you Kate, the wonderful Werner, and the absolutely fabulous Ben for his spectacular cuisine and my beautiful birthday cake.
Another highlight was a trip to the endangered species centre and interaction with a beautiful cheetah. Thank you again, this will be a birthday I will never forget.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank mummahunto
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, 11 June 2014
Thank you so much for your lovely review. We thoroughly enjoyed spoiling you for your birthday and so glad that it was so special for you. We agree that getting up close to magnificent animals such as elephant and cheetah is a rare privilege and amazing treat. We have such lovely memories of your wonderful family. Best wishes to all of you from the team at Camp Jabulani, including Kate, Ben, Werner and Jabu himself.
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Sydney, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 May 2014

we recently stayed at Jabulani, march 2014, we found everything to be far beyond our expectations, food, wine, drinks, anytime with a smile. the elephant experience brought tears to my wifes eyes she was so impressed by the way the elephants a re pampered and the interaction allowed between the elephants and the visitors, the safaris day and night were great, with our ranger full of information. Sundowners, drinks in the middle of the bush at sunset was an added treat sipping a gin and tonic and watching the sun set, staggering. Put it on your bucket list it is a must go.

Room Tip: Only 6 rooms all are fabulous
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Cyclesamoa
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, 28 May 2014
We really appreciate you taking the time to write such a lovely review. I am so pleased that Camp Jabulani exceeded your expectations in every way and that you particularly appreciate how well that our elephants are looked after. You are right, there is surely no better way to end a day than to watch a magnificent Kapama sunset whilst sipping an icy cold G&T in the bush. Thank you for encouraging others to put this amazing experience on their bucket list as well. Best wishes from all the team including Jabulani and his friends.
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Essex
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
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
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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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Additional Information about Camp Jabulani

Property: Camp Jabulani
Address: Kapama Game Reserve | Kapama Game Reserve, 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 104 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 close-up and personal elephant interaction experience, 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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