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“Trip of a lifetime”

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Makalali Private Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Los Angeles, California
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Trip of a lifetime”
Reviewed 4 November 2013

Our 1st trip to South Africa- and this far exceeded our expectations!!! We stayed 3 nights, went on 6 drives, and can't believe what we saw! Our ranger Derrick and tracker Nicolas were the best....we saw every animal we wanted to see, and much more than we expected. Lions mating, leopard cubs and their mom feeding on a recent kill, elephants, rhinos, hippos, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, cape buffalo, impala, kudu, monkeys, and, oh yes, those darned baboons! We were amazed at how close we were to the animals- and the fabulous photos we have.
From Francois picking us up at the airport, to our friendly greeting upon arrival by Caroline, the service and food from Edward and his staff and chefs: everything was top notch. I can't recommend Makalali enough- thank you all so much for making this the trip of a lifetime!!!

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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3 Thank bajagirl310
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Perth
Level 6 Contributor
161 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 November 2013

If you are looking for an authentic African Safari experience, Makalali is the place to stay. I was in a group of five who visited for 3 nights. We completed 6 safaris during our stay. From the time we arrived and to the time we left we were warmly welcomed and became part of the Makalali family. I stayed in my own mud hut with thatched roof. It was an amazing experience, being one with nature. There is no TV or radio, but I had my own music on my iPhone, which I played quietly at night in my hut as I was by myself. The hut has a ceiling fan and air con. The outside shower was a delight to experience and the king size bed with mosquito net was inviting and I slept well each night. I am usually a poor sleeper. There are 6 camps, each with their own manager, communal dining areas and five huts.
Each morning at 6am and each afternoon at 4pm we headed off with our driver in the open jeep in search of wildlife. Lawrence was an amazing driver and is well trained and experienced in 4WD, tracking wildlife and has excellent people skills. We came across: Lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, wildebeests, kudu, impala, cape buffalo, hippos, white rhinos, wart hogs etc. We also saw baby animals with their parents. Most of the animals were very close and we took amazing photos and video of our experience. On our last full day at Makalali we watched a lone elephant in the creek below our huts, within the hour more elephants joined him and we counted up to 20 elephants within a couple of hours. We watched them feed and interact together. They stayed for over 4 hours. I would recommend Makalali.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank 711happytraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver
Level 5 Contributor
95 reviews
61 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 October 2013 via mobile

The drive from the Hoedspruit A/P is 1 1/2 hours by SUV (better than the 5 hours in a van from Windhoek to Etosha in Namibia)

In retrospect we should have booked more time here. (maybe 4 or 5 nights instead of 2) It was a highlight of our 4 weeks in Africa (3 of which in S.A.)
The accommodation was totally wonderful. Separate cabins, unique decor, and a crazy good totally private outside shower. (big tub inside) Ultra comfortable King sized bed, unobtrusive mosquito netting (that we didn't need --- no mosquitoes thank goodness), and a small deck to sit on with a glass of wine and watch either the scenery or the animals.
All meals were included and were good to very good. (Needless to say dinners were on the 'gamey' side, although there were other choices.

Our guide and tracker were phenomenal. (Derek and Nicholas). Interesting, knowledgeable, great senses of humour, and a true delight. With Nick on his feet flushing out Cheetahs, and Derek driving like a mad man through the bush to find them, the whole experience was a blast beginning to end. There were many highlight moments, including the stop on the early morning drive to have cookies with coffee (and a hit of Amarula). And yes, we found the Cheetahs --- and much more. WOW!!! These guys were hard working and totally fun to be with as they searched for their next 'find'.

WHAT A GREAT PLACE AND GREAT EXPERIENCE !!!! This is a must do.

  • Stayed September 2013
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Helpful?
1 Thank RND22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bendigo, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 September 2013

We have recently returned from Makalali and wouldn't hesitate in recommending this peaceful Game Lodge. The staff we had were just wonderful, nothing was too much trouble, not that we needed anything. The food was very good with great choices. The huts were beautiful, very clean. very private except for the animals passing by which was great, very special and very natural. We even had a leopard pass through one night while we were dining in the boma. The open fireplace in the room which we used 2 nights was very romantic and kept us very cosy. Our guide Godlove was exceptional and he could track anything- we saw lions mating, elephants, rhino's, buffalos, leopards, jackals, hippos, giraffes, impalas,mongoose, kudu, steenbok, waterbuck, wildebeest, vultures, numerous birds and more. Excellent for animal viewing. The last night was very special with the staff singing songs. We will never forget this great experience and the photos which I'm still sorting.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Tyrone907
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Gatos, California
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 September 2013

The rooms are spaced well for privacy, and they are charming and unique with custom artistic decor, and the staff was friendly and quick to please. We were a group of six traveling together, and we arrived after a long drive without lunch, so the staff whipped up some quick vittles while we dropped off our belongings in our rooms and raced back for the departing game drive. When we got to the rooms we wanted to savor the lovely ambiance, but had no time. The couple waiting in the game drive vehicle enthusiastically said they had seen the big 5 and had had such a wonderful 3-day stay. We were so excited to hear that! Our 3-day stay was great fun, but our only disappointment was that we did not see very much game. Apparently the cold snap in weather kept the animals down. Over our 3 days we did see rhino, elephant and lions, and several of the antelope family, as well as baboons, cape buffalo, hippo - just sparce sightings each day, with one day hardly anything at all. It is just proof that no two days are alike, and you get to see whatever animal whose path you are lucky enough to cross. We tracked leopard and lion with no finds on those game drives. The reserve is beautiful African bush, and this private reserve manages its wildlife so that one species is not overpopulated causing imbalance in nature. Fascinating methods are used to control certain species populations. The food is very good, enjoyed in both an outdoor boma and in the covered dining area. Baboons entertained us with their sneaky antics as they approached the serving table to snatch some food. The staff made sure we were safe at night, ushering us to and from our rooms after dark. The guides were friendly and knowledgeable, giving us lots of information about the animals as we watched them. The lodge is not hot-fenced, so we had animals wandering through the grounds during the day, mostly the beautiful nyala antelope, and baboon at times. An elephant came through while we were out on game drive and apparently ripped out one of the water pipes, rendering camp without water while the staff worked to fix the damage.

I like to travel in July as it is winter season in South Africa, no rain, cold nights, cool morning/evening game drives and moderately warm days. Water holes have pretty much dried up, so game is more concentrated at existing water holes, making it easier to find animals. I would return to this reserve and lodge. In fact I have a group of 15 to come with me in 2014!

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Sharon L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Milan, Italy
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 September 2013

This place was beautiful. The hut is so nice and private, with a nice view of the wild. The bathtub and the shower outside are sooooo nice! I loved the wild animals that came when we took a shower. The service at breakfast is really good and fast and they cook good food! The game drives were so fun, but freezing cold in the morning and night. It was exciting to drive super fast when we heard there was a lion somewhere. They knew we were on our honeymoon and they gave us a special treat on our last night. I hope we can go back!!
We travelled here Sept. 2012.

Room Tip: One that is farther from the main dining room.
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  • Stayed October 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank LadyKitten
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 9 September 2013

If there is one place I would love to stay at forever it would be Makalali.

We have just returned from our 6th visit in 12 years and the service and staff is just as amazing as always.

In 3 days we saw so much. Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Leopard, Cheetah, Jackal, Crocodile, Hippo, Civet, Zebra, Giraffe, Impala, Nyala, Kudu, Duiker, Steenbok, Waterbuck, Rietbok, Wildebeest, squirrels, rabbits, different Eagles, Vultures, Lilac Breasted Roller, Starlings, Egyptian Gees. These are the ones I can remember..

Lawrence is an amazing Ranger with over 20 years' experience and always going the extra mile to please the guests.

Can not wait to go back again.

Room Tip: All rooms are the same. If you feel more adventurous then ask for rooms away from the main boma. If...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank NickyCam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Makalali Private Game Lodge

Property: Makalali Private Game Lodge
Address: PO Box 809, Hoedspruit 1380, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Hoedspruit
Amenities:
Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 103 Speciality Lodging in Hoedspruit
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4 star — Makalali Private Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Makalali Private Game Lodge is a 4 star graded luxury safari lodge situated on a 26000 hectre private game reserve in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The lodge consists of 3 camps with 6 rooms per camp. Nestled on the banks of a river one can often view animals in and around the camps. Makalali Private Game Lodge offers game drive twice a day to guests which is included in the rate of accommodation. The reserve is home to the big 5 as well as cheetah and wild dog and a number of other plains game and mammals. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded on the property. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Makalali Private Game Hotel Hoedspruit
Makalali Private Game Lodge South Africa/Hoedspruit

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