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“Excellent African Safari experience”

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Makalali Private Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Chandler, Arizona
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Excellent African Safari experience”
Reviewed 23 February 2014

We stayed here for our honeymoon South Africa trip for 3 days, 2 nights in February 2014. - partook 4 game drives. Staff was very friendly and facilities were very clean and pleasing. The rooms/cabins are very private and all natural - you do have electricity, hot water, toilets, showers and Airconditioning + fans.

We did have to use the Suspension bridge to walk back and forth from camp 1 to camp 2 for some stuff - and the morning 5.30 wake up call can be a bit too much if you got to your room at 10 pm after dinner.

Food and provisions were good. Rooms, Dining area, Swimming pool, barbecue area, lookout areas were well kept. Game drives were very informative and fun. Our Game drive Ranger Wise and Tracker Pilot were great company and spotted almost all the main animals in the reserve.

The location has great wildlife, rustic and natural environs, well kept facilities and offers an enjoyable Safari experience. We did manage to see 4 of the big 5 game animals, but also dozens of other sights like baby elephants and lion cubs.

Notes:
The transfer from Eastgate HDS Airport/Air base to the Reserve is roughly 90 minute drive.

This place is probably a great refuge away from the over commercialized game reserves. Its good to unplug from TV and internet and enjoy a quiet yet adventurous time.

The only sore point is that many reserves compete against each other for tourists, turning this into a more disneyland than an actual forest - they should focus on the conservation efforts and allow moving certain wild animals through adjacent reserves..

We did note that many seasoned tourists were there after completing larger game viewing inside the proper Kruger National Park. If I had more time I would have planned that and then definitely used this reserve as a resort to unwind.. won't recommend spending more than 72 hours at this place though ...

Room Tip: If you are assigned the far away camp (Mkhiva) - the walkway connecting the camps is a bouncy cast i...
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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2 Thank Shriniwas K
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 (37)
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
50 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 January 2014

I booked this as a surprise Christmas present for my wife. I was a little worried as to whether 4 nights would be enough but, in our honest opinion, it's about perfect.

We flew into Nelspruit (Kruger airport) and so had a 3 hour transfer, which was quite tiring after the long flight from London.

We were welcomed by the staff as we reached the Lodge and from then on they always made us feel like valued guests. From the Reception you are taken by your Ranger to the designated camp. We were taken by Rams to Camp 1 (Tandane) and then met by Amos, the camp manager.

Then showed to our room, 106, given lots of information and then left to unpack. The room was great. Mesh 'windows', which kept the bugs and other animals out. Air Con was good to drown out the night-time noise but I actually loved hearing the bugs, frogs and occasional bigger visitors :)

One morning we woke to the sound of trees being stripped by 2 elephants next to our room! The elephants stayed around for a little while that morning and ended up being chased away after they starting drinking from the swimming pool :)

It is an open camp, which we loved, however after dark you are escorted everywhere. Literally anything can walk through the camp. In the daytime this was restricted, in our 4 days, to Impala and cheeky Baboons.

2 game drives a day, early morning and then late afternoon. Each drive around 3-3.5 hours long. It seems like a long time in a jeep but the time flew and what you see if amazing. We regularly saw Elephants, Lions, Rhinos, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Impala, Zebra, Antelope and on one occasion a Cheetah and cub :)

The All-inclusive includes all your food. Drinks are included on the game drives but drinks at meal times are not included. A bottle of red is no more than £10 though.

In the evening the Chef comes out and introduces the 4-course meal, which is a nice touch. The food at all mealtimes cannot be faulted. Breakfast is fruit, croissants and yoghurt, followed by a full English of your choice. Lunch is buffet and evening meal is immense, sometimes BBQ cooked.

All in all a great experience and somewhere we would highly recommend. Don't just sit there, book it, you will not be disappointed!

We had two nights on the flight from London and 4 in camp and was one of the best experiences we've ever had :)

(Special thanks to Amos - Camp Manager and to Rams - Ranger... They made our holiday!)

Room Tip: 106 is on the edge of Camp 1 (Tandane). From here you can see the bridge, which the Baboons walk acr...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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4 Thank The_Bentons_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Annandale
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 January 2014

We stayed three nights which gave us access to six game drives and loved the experience! The thatched roof huts were spacious, clean and had a great outdoor shower - no bugs anywhere! Each "camp" at Makalali has six huts and our camp ate as a group. Our tasty meals were delightfully prepared by Alice and our site manager was Edward who made sure our needs were met. (Be advised that you will need to buy your bottled water for meals and you may need to forewarn Alice if you like lots of coffee in the morning - we went through a number of those small pots they use). Our driver and spotter, Marvel and Godlove respectively, were fabulous at leading our safari game drives. The reserve has a bush (jungle) feel and it was amazing to experience Marvel's skill at driving deep into the bush to see the lions, water buffalo, rhinos and elephants up close. This is the benefit of a private game reserve rather than a national park where you must stay on the main trails. We found that it seemed to take about 90-minutes before we got to a "big" animal viewing - it's amazing they can generally keep track of where the big animals are roaming/eating on any given day but it takes time to find them! It's good to be able to experience different types of African terrain and approaches to game drives. We also really appreciated knowing about the "Pack for a Purpose" opportunity where we could donate school and health supplies to needy groups through the Makalali team. It was easy to pack a small bag of items at home and leave them at the camp.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
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2 Thank mshookey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
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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Helpful?
3 Thank bajagirl310
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Perth
Level 6 Contributor
161 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 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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Helpful?
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
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Tyrone907
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 104 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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