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“Great location, great wildlife”

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Hippo Hollow Country Estate
Ranked #2 of 13 Hotels in Hazyview
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 4 June 2009

We stayed at Hippo Hollow as part of a group tour around South Africa. The two previous reviews say it all and I agree with both. We had a ground floor room in the two storey block, and it was well furnished in a rustic style with TV (we didn't switch it on!) and room safe. The bathroom has a large walk-in shower and the floor is not slippery.

There are two parts to the hotel, the thatched individual cottages and the block of rooms. Each part has its own swimming pool and nicely landscaped gardens. As it is now winter in South Africa we did not try the pool. Although the weather during the day was quite warm and sunny, the temperature drops rapidly at sundown (5.30pm) and the evenings and early mornings can be very cold.

If you are taking a game watching trip, the advice given by our tour guide was to 'dress like an onion' with lots of layers as the open jeeps used are draughty, and the mornings (5.40am start!) are very cold. As it is winter, there are far fewer bugs around. There were mosquitos down by the river, but there are also bats which eat them. We did not get bitten at all. The only visitor to our room was a tiny red legged frog.

The hippos came out and grazed on the lawns two of the evenings we were there, and crocodiles were also seen in the river. There are loads of birds in the gardens, but the noisiest dawn chorus comes from the Hadedah - a large brown ibis.

Buffet breakfast was excellent, with a good range of fruit and cereal. Eggs cooked to order. Evening meal was buffet with a fair choice, although the vegetables were a little unusual.

The Shangaan River Culture show is well worth watching, and the buffet meal included with that was good, and a trip to Elephant Whispers which is close by was wonderful.

The hotel has internet access at a cost of 15 Rand for 15 minutes.

All in all, an excellent hotel in a beautiful location with a well stocked bar and great prices.

  • Stayed: May 2009
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1  Thank gjmarhon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 1 June 2009

This was a favourite of ours on our journey through South Africa, with a 20 minute drive to one of the many gates into Kruger. Our rooms looked like huts from the outside, but once inside were perfect for our surroundings. Comfortable and very clean with all amenities one would need. Ours also had a balcony looking out onto the river. The complex is a fair size, with a lovely bar (and staff) which overlooks the river also. So most of our time was spent spotting and admiring the many birds on the river, and looking for 'shy' hippo in the river. Actually 2 of our travelling companions spotted some hippo that night from their room balcony.
The restaurant meal was nice, not fantastic, but for the prices good. Wine is incredibly cheap, which we found surprising throughout S.A. until you hit the Western Cape and edge towards Cape Town that is...
Regards Helen

  • Stayed: May 2009
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1  Thank nlbulh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 May 2009

We loved Hippo Hollow! We thought it was just right, blended perfectly with its surroundings and was perfect for exploring the central/south section of the Kruger and the fabulous scenery of Blydepoort Canyon. It was an easy 45 minute drive from Nelspruit airport in a hire car. The hotel staff were friendly and helpful and we saw two hippos!

The hotel is graded as 3*, like most things in life, you get what you pay for, and we think that’s a fair rating. The rooms have no television, telephone, or air-conditioning, (though there is a roof fan). There is a safe.

Hippo Hollow is well situated for the Phabeni and Numbi gates, and it takes about 20 minutes to drive to them. For our budget and preference, it was the best option for the Kruger and exploring the area more widely - we didn’t fancy staying in the rest camps, or shelling out upwards of £300 a night for the private reserves against £50 for Hippo Hollow. Also, we wanted to drive ourselves around (which is really easy to do) rather than go on guided game drives all the time which you have to do if you’re in a private reserve. If we went again, we would do exactly the same, except for one thing: We would hire a Jeep-type vehicle rather than an ordinary car for the Kruger visits as the extra height means you can see so much better.

It was the first stop on our honeymoon and we stayed there for six nights, which is quite a long stay as most people seemed to stay for only one or two as part of a tour. This means you get a few coach parties, but that was no problem.

If you can, get one of the cottages built out over the river bank as you can sit on the verandah with a drink, looking over the river as the sun goes down. There are barbecue facilities on the verandah if you feel so inclined. The cottage we had was on two levels, with twin beds on each, but open plan.The staff made up the twin beds as a double for us and brought us some fruit and a bottle of wine as it was our honeymoon. The furniture and fittings were rustic rather than luxurious, which blended with the surroundings. There was a fair sized bathroom with a good double shower, and a small kitchen area with a fridge, tea and coffee making equipment, and some basic cutlery and (zebra print!) crockery.

The food is generally good, especially breakfast which has a very wide choice including cereals, fresh and dried fruits, yogurts, various types of bread, ham and cheese selections and cooked food – sausages, bacon, eggs etc. This is buffet style when the hotel is busy, or ordered from the waiting staff at quieter times. Dinner was a bit more variable – good starters but the ostrich steaks were fantastic the first time, rather tough the second, as was the kudu steak. In our capacity as international experts on crème brulees, we can say the Hippo Hollow one was first rate. Wine was good as you would expect in South Africa. The cost of a three-course meal with wine was around £20 each.

The restaurant itself was clean and spacious and with huge picture windows over the lawn and river. You can eat inside, or outside on the terrace. Service was good. On our first night we briefly saw a big hippo swimming down the river but on our last night a sight that surpassed expectations – as we sat by the open windows eating our meal, a young hippo was grazing on the river bank for at least an hour! Fabulous.

Andrew, the restaurant manager, was very helpful. One night after we had ordered one of us started feeling very faint and we had to go back to our room. There was no problem with cancelling one of the orders, and they brought the other meal to our room for us.

If you have to leave early in the morning (best to get to the Kruger at about 6 am to maximise animal sightings), they will make up a snack for you to take with a sandwich, cereal bar, apple and fruit juice– just ask at reception the night before.

We didn’t try the swimming pools but towels for use there are available at reception. There’s also a small shop for souvenirs.

Hazyview itself has most facilities you would need for a few days’ stay – there are some fairly ordinary restaurants (curries, huge skewers of meat, burgers, pasta, pizza etc) and art/craft shops on the main road not far from Hippo Hollow, and a local shopping centre with cashpoints and a supermarket. The restaurants are only about 800m from Hippo Hollow, and are about 25% cheaper than the hotel for those on a budget, but the food is not as good.

Tips for the Kruger – go early in the day but be prepared for several hours “down time” between about 11 am and 3 pm when you’ll probably hardly see anything. If you drive yourself, go for a Jeep-style vehicle. If you’re not staying in the park, don’t stay too far away – for example Sabie, Graskop and Pilgrim’s Rest are at least an hour’s drive away even before you get to the park gates. Drive slowly, stop often and look for other vehicles that have stopped. Take your passport number with you if you’re not on a guided trip as they ask for an ID number on the entry form to get into the park (you don’t need the passport itself). If you buy a day pass you can come out and go back in again without paying a second time.

Entrance to the Kruger was ZAR140 each, you can buy a map for ZAR25. The roads are either tarmac or gravel. Signposting is good, you will not get lost!!. Take water with you in the car, all facilities, including petrol are available at the bigger rest camps.

If you’re in the area long enough, a day trip to the Blydepoort Canyon, God’s Window and the Three Rondavels is well worth it for the amazing views. We also enjoyed the animal rescue and breeding centres at Moholoholo and the Cheetah Project at Hoedspruit. Both are an hour’s drive from Hazyview. Most of the waterfalls to the west of Sabie can only be accessed in an off road vehicle, we would recommend giving this a miss.

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank JaneandIan7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 April 2009

We loved this hotel. It was set in beautiful grounds near a river. We stayed in a thatched cottage which was lovely. The breakfast buffet was good. The pool area was in a lovely setting. It is very conveniently placed for Kruger National Park.

  • Stayed: April 2009
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1  Thank biggles51
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 April 2009

Stayed one night en route to Kruger, in two rooms. Although first impressions of the lodge were favourable - nice reception in classic African lodge style, friendly reception and staff - we found the rooms to be average. The furniture is shabby plywood laminate, with cupboard doors badly hinged and so could either not be closed shut or were scraping against other surfaces. Balcony door could not be opened, which seemed to be down to humidity. The beds were reasonably comfortable, however, and the rooms were clean. At breakfast, staff were unattentive and surly. When we were offered no tea and coffee we helped ourselves to a thermos, only to later have it taken away by a waitress who asked neither permission, nor whether we wanted to have our cups topped up before she took it away. We had to chase her for more tea. Overall, it was ok for the night, but I would not spend much more time here.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled with family
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1  Thank thatsmystuff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2009

We stayed at Hippo Hollow for 7 nights and we were also married at the hotel. We were really looking forward to going and researched all we could about the place before leaving home. I can say however that the pictures and reviews on this website and others do not do the place justice. The hotel itself was wonderful, the staff were friendly and helpful and it was situated in the perfect place.

Our wedding day was perfect and it was all organised through staff at the hotel. They took care of everything and made it so we didn't have to worry about anything other than enjoying our day. The setting was perfect, the pictures were perfect and the meal afterwards was excellent. We also had a visit from a Hippo on the day of the wedding.

The hotel is a perfect base for safari's in to the Kruger and is also close enough for a visit to the Kapama game reserve (less than an hours drive). The sights on both safari's were out of this world. Elephant whispers is also well worth a visit and is less than two minutes drive from the hotel.

All in all we couldn't find a single complaint about this hotel and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone for a wedding or a normal holiday. We would also recommend booking it through virgin as the local virgin rep was excellent and couldn't do enough to help.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank jasper1234NorthWales
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2009

The hotel has been recommended by an agency however we was disappointed. The buffet was not good, the service was slow, they brough the hot breakfast menu after we already completed our breakfast buffet. The room smells and someone stole 220 EUR from our wallet in our room. The hotel manager toke some action but did not want to refund to us the stolen money

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank mykimax
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hippo Hollow Country Estate

Address: R40, Hazyview 1242, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Mpumalanga > Hazyview
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Hazyview
#3 Family Hotel in Hazyview
Price Range: £66 - £353 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Hippo Hollow Country Estate 3*
Number of rooms: 91
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Also Known As:
Hippo Hollow Country Estate Hotel Hazyview
Hippo Hollow Country Estate Hazyview

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