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“Almost perfect”

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Ulusaba Private Game Lodge
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Skukuza
Jersey UK
Level Contributor
40 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Almost perfect”
Reviewed 4 November 2008

Just spent 4 nights at Ulusaba - our first safari experience. Ulusaba, like many safari lodges is expensive but having now been there I can understand why. Ratio of staff to guests is 3:1. The price you pay includes everything - all game drives (2 a day), all food and all drink. Our extras bill was .... zero. Service was warm, attentive and friendly. Our room - Makwela Dusk Suite - was spacious, luxurious and, overall, as much as we could have hoped for. The game drives were amazing ! We had the same ranger throughout, Steve, and there were 6 of us on open top Land Rover - loads of space and very comfortable. We saw pretty much everything - lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, zebra, baboons any many more. Well worth getting up at 430am everyday ! Our only negative at Ulusaba was the food which was patchy. Guests meet at 5am for the morning game drive and tea/coffee is served with ... scones. Everyday is the same and I note the take up was unenthusiastic. I really think perhaps bacon rolls might be called for. Breakfast after game drive was superb. Lunch is okay. Dinner ranged from excellent (nights 1 &2) to okay (night 3) to rather average (night 4). Wines were all excellent. So, in summary, excellent staff and service, amazing game drives, very good room and facilities but slightly disappointing food. Having said that we would, and probably will, return.

  • Liked — Superb room & service
  • Disliked — Patchy food
  • Stayed October 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank New2Jersey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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33 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (16)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Lumberton, North Carolina
Level Contributor
40 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 August 2007

Truly an amazing, uplifting experience! I told my husband that I was sorry as I could never top this vacation!

Airport/Transfers:
You are met by your ranger at the airport, greeted with a hearty welcome and a glass of champagne. A great way to start off your day after arrival. The ranger takes you to the lodge so you can settle in before your first evening game drive.

Lodge:
Oh my! What’s to be said that has not been already. We got a chance to view both Safari and Rock Lodges and while both of them are incredible for different reasons, I must say my preference resides with Safari Lodge for its luxury in the bush feel! You are so close to the action and the sound of animals in the mornings is a wonderful thing to wake to! The rope bridges really add to the feel of the exclusivity of the lodge and they are quite fun to cross after your wine in the evenings. It has a real open feel in all of the rooms and there are real trees that some of the rooms are built around growing and swaying in the rooms themselves! There is a natural beauty in the use of wood and rock, yet a contemporary look in some areas as well.

Rooms:
We were fortunate enough to view all 3 types of rooms. Our room was the Elephant room. I would book that same room every time. We loved it! We also saw one of the River rooms and 2 of the Safari rooms. All 3 are lovely. The main differences between the rooms are size and privacy. The safari rooms are a bit smaller, especially in the bathroom area and they are closer and on the path of the main lodge. That being said, the rooms are still absolutly lovely and the back porches have great animal viewings. The River rooms are the largest rooms and the furthest away from the main lodge, so the most private. I would say if you can do it, the Elephant room which is not quite as large as River, but still fairly big and still very private is worth the extra over the safari rooms. The open shower and bathtub with animal viewing opportunities exists in all 3 room types and are fabulous! I wanted to take the bathroom (and the view) home with me, sadly, they do not allow this nor will they let you take home the remarkably beautiful and comfortable beds. Just amazing.

Staff:
The friendliest, kindest, most amazing people. They make you feel right at home and you truly want for nothing! Some of them had schedules that allowed them to join us for some of the dinners and this was one of the highlights of our trips. Getting to know the people that live there, work there and see the soul of the place in them, was a wonderful experience. Ulusaba would not be what it is without their efforts.

Ranger and Tracker:
Although all the Rangers and trackers are wonderful, we praise the name of Trevor and Jack! We swear they must have X-Ray vision and secret powers to accomplish what they do and to know what they know! These two work extraordinarily well together as a team. There was nothing they would not do to track down an animal, yet both of them very respectful of the animals and would not do anything to jeopardize the animal or interfere with its ordinary behavior or disturb them in any way. We loved that! They both contained so much knowledge about so many things and were fun as well! Although there are stated amounts of time for the game drive, they certainly would not rush you back when something amazing was happening and they always seemed to locate something amazing! You can see they trust each other and the chemistry between them enhances the whole experience. Thank you Trevor and Jack, the only 2 we would ever want again!

Overall experience:
We traveled for 26 hours total to get there and spent only 4 nights. We would travel another 26 hours to spend only 2 nights if that’s all we could get. That’s how amazing the entire experience was and we hope to get back there again!

  • Liked — Game drives! Friendly people.
  • Stayed July 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank oinee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 August 2007

in one word...EDEN! My experience at Ulusaba surpassed my expectations! From the moment we landed on Sir Richard Branson's reserve til the moment we left, I along wth my children (ages 12 and 10) and my aunt, were treated like family and royalty. The private and luxrious accomodations at the Rock Lodge were superior to what American Express travel had informed me of. In thinking of having the ultimate game safari, my tracker, Anios, and my ranger, Steve, provided some of the most comprehensive, and insightful knowledge about the animals I'd only read in books!

THE STAFF: From the Rock Lodge Management to the Security officers, we fell in love with Ulusaba. Each staff person knew all of our names and provide the most impecable service I've experienced on a vacation! Chris, Gene, and Glenda became like family for us. This isn't a staff that is standoff-ish. They have done their homework! Everyone is skilled and gets the 5 diamond rating in my book.

THE SAFARI: Imagine National Geographic High Definition. Now take it one step further. It's GOD's definition. The lions, leopards, giraffes, zebras, bush bucks, elephants, bulls, hyeanas, impalas, those naughty baboons, hungry hippos, and the horned rhinos! Now invision yourself within 5 feet of those animals (whith exception of the bulls, rhinos, and hippos of course!) Unbelieveable! My tracker, Anios, and my ranger, Steve, are incredibly smart, intuitive and kind! It helps that Steve is from the local village and knows the ins and outs better than anyone! Trust me on this one! Other rangers from neighboring reserves were calling him for tracking!!!!!!! He's the BEST!

THE ACCOMODATIONS: LUXURY....LUXURY....LUXURY! Sir Richard Branson's body washes, soaps, and shampoos are an excellent and exhilirating way to open the senses and remove the scent of the wild from your body! From beautiful open showers, claw foot tubs, scenic balaconies, soft pillows and sheets, I think I look 5 years younger after being there!

I won't lie and say that this is a cheap experience monetarily! However, with proper planning, this is a vacation must for everyone and theres no better place than ULUSABA! Kudoos! I'll be back July 2008!

  • Liked — The cleanliness and spaciousness of the rooms!
  • Disliked — The sheets could have been softer! I'm a sheet snob and prefer 1000 count or more!
  • Stayed July 2007, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank MINGELEYWALKER
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Zealand
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 June 2007

My family and I just spent four amazing days at Ulusaba Safari Lodge. The kids had a safari room and we had an elephant room. It was an unforgettable experience, all of the staff were great and the rooms fabulous.

Our children (14 and 15) gained a real insight into the wildlife and bush, their needs were catered to beautifully, nothing was too much trouble. The game drives were outstanding, we saw all of the big five plus almost every other animal imaginable. Lion and leopard cubs were a favourite, watching male lions devour a wilderbeast incredible, zebras a high point for my horse mad daughter but for me the hyenas (mother and babies) were fantastic. We got a real insight into the way the animals interact and I am so pleased we made the trip back to the Sabi Sands (my husband and I have been before but not the kids) rather than going anywhere else.

The food was good, again, no trouble to make just what you felt like at any time. We had some great wines too, I intend to search out a few back here.

The spa facilities were lovely as well, Carolyn (the therapist) was great, making sure we really felt pampered without being pushy and obtrusive.

I was a little disappointed with the village tour but that probably has more to do with the fact that I was expecting more like a Zambian village which we experienced last year and South Africa is far more advanced than that.

Small touches like the lovely drinks and dancing in the bush, seeing Saturn through the telescope, having the laundry done at no extra charge, personalised books for the kids, letting the kids have a ride in the trackers chair, patiently answering every question no matter how irrelevent made this the trip of a lifetime for all of us. I want to go back with a big crowd of friends and do it all again.

If you choose to go to this lovely lodge you will not regret it, worth every penny.

  • Liked — The view of the moneys from the bath
  • Disliked — The swing bridge took a bit of getting used to for my scared of heights husband!!
  • Stayed June 2007, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank MandyNewZealand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
67 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 October 2005

Our complete family went to Ulusaba for the 2nd time for New Year celebrations in 2003.

What a place - this was our second trip as my wife and I had been there for our Silver wedding anniversary a couple of years earlier.

We stayed at both Rock Lodge and down at Safari Lodge - which was best is REALLY hard to decide. I think we would give Rock 11 out of 10 and Safari 10 out of 10. Rock wins because if you are ever fortunate enough to see a thunderstorm across the African plain there can be no better place to see the most fantastic lightning show.

The food is awesome and the staff are the most attentive lot I have ever met - even down to finding yet another bottle of Black Sambuka when we had drunk them dry!!!

Special celebrations are awesome - my son and his girlfriend had the most romantic meal set up in their room one night and our 25th wedding anniversary was something else.

Since I have been 2 colleagues from work have also been and Ulusaba has taken a special place in all their hearts as it has in ours.

Would recommend this place to anyone, especially for those very special occasions.

The rangers (we had Jobe both times) really know their stuff and seem to find animals when the untrained eye sees nothing. Watching Lions trying to drink from the waterhole as the hippo decide that its their waterhole just shows who really is king of the jungle.

If you want to see Africa, then this is a place which will torment you for years to come because all you will want to do is go back.

  • Stayed December 2003
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
17 Thank Dave W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Birmingham uk
Level Contributor
43 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 January 2005

If you are looking for a safari you will not forget then this is the place. I spent 3 nights here as part of my honeymoon and it was everything I could wish for. The rooms were pure luxury along with food , champagne and anything you want. Its an early start everyday but it is well worth it. We went in July so it was their Winter so it can get pretty chilly early morning. We saw leopards, lions, cheatah , elephants, rhino , hippos and lots more. The staff are very friendly and make you feel special. The only thing that may keep you awake are the monkeys in the trees and the wild boar that are below you - you have a rope bridge to your room - they need to be high enough for the elephants to walk under! You have another safai in the evening and stop half way when the ranger converts the back of the land rover into a bar (everything is there that you can imagine) you have your sundowners whilst listening to lions roaring inthe distance ( a sound I wont forget!). You can even be driven to a tennis court where you are surrounded by bush and can see for miles around you or go to the gym based at the rock lodge and run on the treadmill and see giraffes in the distance! I could not rate this place high enough.

Helpful?
23 Thank claireuk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Ulusaba Private Game Lodge

Property: Ulusaba Private Game Lodge
Address: Ulusaba Private, Skukuza 1242, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Mpumalanga > Skukuza
Amenities:
Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Spa
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Skukuza
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Number of rooms: 20
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Ulusaba Private Game Hotel Skukuza
Ulusaba Private Game Lodge South Africa/Skukuza

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