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“Wow, did we love Simbambili!”

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Simbambili Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 13 November 2009

From the moment we were met on the airstrip bu our guides Lazaro and Solly, to the moment we left three days later, we loved every part of Simbambili. Elaine and Steph were great hosts. Lazaro and Solly were the most fun, positive and inventive guides imaginable. Reimus and Matthews gave us food and service extraordinaire! The rooms are marvelous and the amenites (like the gym) add something special. We were just blown away and held up all of our other locations in Africa to Simbambili. And if you want game watching, you get it all here!

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled with friends
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Thank Pandare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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290 - 296 of 336 reviews

Reviewed 12 October 2009

This was so quaint and cozy, with such a beautiful setting. The staff was amazing and the food was great. The rooms were spectacular and the decks with plunge pool and day bed, were just wonderful. Our guide Alistair was the best. He was so knowledgeable and nice, and he found all the best animals for us to see. We would love to come back.

Stayed: October 2009, travelled as a couple
Thank want2travel247
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 September 2009

Simbambilli was the last safari lodge out of three and what a great way to end the safari portion of the trip. We were greeted by Doctor at the airstrip and by Elaine and Steve at the lodge with damp cool cloths to refresh ourselves. The lodge is smaller than the other two we had stayed in, Thornybush Game lodge and Ngala lodge but nicely laid out with beautiful furnishings. After a quick check in, we were escorted to the Waterhole suite just to the left of the lodge dining area. What a beautiful suite with a large deck, but also a separate sala (livingroom) with glass doors (walls) that opened to have fresh air looking out at the waterering hole. The space was quite large and deck even has a small plunge pool. August is not pool weather.

The food, service and accomodations were all superb. The game viewing during our 3 days was not as good as we had expected with only one leopard encounter (it did have an impala kill in a tree). Every drive gave us something new even though we had already been on more than a dozen game drives. Witnessing 2 male lions at night answer each others roar was incredible! Thanks Matt and Doc for 3 fun days.

The small spa is lovely with a room even open to the riverbed below and my massage from Vanessa was one of the best I've had anywhere! Most don't go on safari to excercise but with all the eating taking place, Simbambilli did have a small workout facility if you want to try and keep the pounds off!

We would recommend Simbambilli to anyone and even the Thornybush collection based on our experience at Thornybush game lodge as well.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank marcianluanda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 August 2009

We stayed 2 nights at Simbambili and were looking forward to this very much as we had heard so many good things about it.

Firstly, there is no disputing that the game watching is spectacular. We saw all Big 5 in one day and our ranger was knowlegable and fun. Only one minor complaint, which may seem petty, but on one game drive it was advised by other rangers that they had located 3 lionesses with 8 cubs. Everyone was very excited. Due to the understandably strict rules that at such sightings only 2 jeeps can be present at one time we had to wait our turn. This meant waiting for about 1.5 hours with no real activity during this time. So whilst it was fantastic to see, it ate up a lot of time. The group in the other jeep from the lodge managed to see many other things in the game drive (leopard for example) which we ddn't as we were sitting and waiting.

However, I have to give a huge thumbs up to the safari experience. Sabi Sands is excellent for this.

With regards to the lodge, I have to applaud the layout and appointment of the common areas and the rooms. Each room has an enormous verandah with a day bed, sun loungers, chairs and even a small dipping pool. From the dining area you overlook a water hole and can witness various animals coming to drink. I could have sat there for hours. One evening we had dinner in the (dry) river bed just below the lodge. It was beatutiful. Food was good and ambience excellent.

Just three small-ish quibbles

- inbetween game drives and outside of lunch, it was impossible to find a staff member. We wanted to sit watching the water hole and enjoy a drink, but it was impossible to get any service. The bar in the common area was well stocked but heavily pad locked. A lot of other lodges I have been run an "honesty" bar. Given the price of the lodge and the clientele, I would have thought that there could be some element of trust, or at least a waiter on standby.

- this may explain the second quibble. Whilst sitting watching the water hole, the waiters came to set up for lunch. The manger appeared and started to berate the waiters very openly and quite loudly because ...... 2 cans of coke could not be accounted for. This would be a loss of 20 Rand (about US$2) and the manger went on berating the staff for more than 10 minutes because of this - all whilst we were sitting there. Very unprofessional. I'm glad I don't work there.

- this may then explain why the watiers all seemed like deer in headlights. Which is my third quibble. The quality of service was not that good. At breakfast for example you are told what the breakfast special is - for example one morning it was scrambled egg with feta cheese (simply two lumps of feta plonked on some scambled egg; another morning it was a ranger omelette (simply put a precooked egg "pancake", folded in half with the fillings inside more like a taco). Anyway, the point here is that aside from telling you the special, you are then not asked if you would like bacon, tomoto or whatever. The waiter disappears as fast as lighting and then what you get is exactly that - a plate with some scambeled egg and nothing else. The waiters should be trained to ask or offer what else you would like. I know it sounds nit picky, but it was kind of strange. I just got the feeling the staff were all a bit scared.

Last small observation. Check out was fine and they offered to collect our bags from the room. The next thing we see is the poor little cleaning woman hauling our bags to the car rather than any of the men. We felt terrible. Poor lady.

So, in summary,. Simbambili is fantastic for the game watching, a beautiful lodge, but they need to improve their service quality as people will not pay their prices for that level of service.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled with friends
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3  Thank barbene
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 June 2009

This is what you picture when you think of Africa--at least that's what my husband and I felt like. Simbambili is located in Sabi Sands and is great for spotting wildlife.

As soon as we arrived, we had lunch and witnessed a family of elephants drink water from the watering hole right in front of our hotel! We continued to see the major animals and even witnessed a special event: wild dogs. Apparently, they are rarely seen and we were lucky enough to see them.

I didn't give it an excellent rating for two reasons: 1) We were far and away the youngest people at this location, the closet couple probably 20 years older and others more likely, about 40; 2) there was too much bird watching on our tours!

The dinners were very different. I am an EXTREMELY picky eater, but I came away from Simbambili with a fondness for ostrich (go figure!). It would've been nice for the wine to be included in the price of the room, but I'm not going to complain. We were given a bottle of champagne in celebration of our new marriage and a romantic bath with candles all over the room.

All in all, it was an incredible experience and hope to return. I recommend at least 2 nights and bring a jacket in the morning because it gets cold.

  • Stayed: February 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank ZCastro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 February 2009

Simbambili was our first lodge during our Honeymoon to Sabi Sands and we were very impressed.
We received a warm welcome on our arrival and would have had immediate access to our room. However, we arrived 15 min before the afternoon safari was due to depart and the staff quickly rustled up some sandwiches to take with us.

This very first drive introduced us to the interesting and varied landscape of Sabi Sands and we had several great sightings including a rare opportunity to see a mother rhino and her very young baby extremely close, a pair of mating lions and a dinning leopard in the tree being pestered by a hyena.

Each day offered a pair of drives (early morning ~6am and late afternoon ~4.00) and we enjoyed every single one. Each safari brought different experiences but in total we saw all the Big Five and many other birds, animals.

Our guide was enthusiastic, experienced and very keen to convey his knowledge - on the other hand, our tracker seemed rather shy and quiet. Throughout the drives the guides were subtly communicating via radio with one another to increase the chances for guests to see all animals. There was the opportunity for walking tours and visits to the local villages.

Back at the lodge, which felt modern and luxurious our room was spacious and comfortable, with a huge bed surrounded by a romantic and practical (even if our 'winter' visit did not need) mosquito net around it. We had a large private terrace with a day bed and a lovely (but very cold) plunge pool.

Service was excellent, our days starting with a wakeup of fresh fruit and juice delivered to our door. The main terrace for breakfast, lunch and dinner was delightful providing an open vista to a nearby waterhole where we could observe visiting Game during our meals. The food was excellent with many local dishes and attention to special needs (one of us was vegetarian) and the staff attentive.

The only negative - we knew drinks were not included in our package but we were somewhat surprised by the price which was a bit steep.

A small complaint as overall as honeymooners we were very well looked after with some special touches.

We would highly recommend it and would go there again!

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank XisF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 January 2009

As if the animal viewing wasn’t enough, this place sparkles in so many ways. From the spacious, spectacular rooms to the creative and beautiful way dinner is set every night. The staff is very attentive and our game driver Johan, and tracker Doctor provided an experience we will never forget! Having our very own plunge pool was divine and our cabin was even equipped with an outdoor shower. You’ll have hippo’s, monkey’s and more, right in your back yard (and sometimes the Monkey’s are on your deck). Simbambili provides spectacular luxury, great game viewing, a wonderful staff, and beautiful, tasty meals!

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank lovetotravelColorado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Simbambili Game Lodge

Address: Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park 1363, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #16 of 42 Speciality Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range: £1,047 - £1,284 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Simbambili Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Simbambili Game Lodge is a highly individualised destination for the discerning traveller located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Set in magnificent trees along the meandering Manyeleti River, with views over an extensive savannah grassland, that teems with wildlife visiting an ever popular water hole. Sophisticated yet simple, each suite has spectacular views whether from the unique en-suite bathrooms, outside salas or individual private plunge pools. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the extraordinary and unique wildlife of Africa, whether it is your choice to linger at a close encounter with lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo or to be amazed by the extensive array of birds and insects, or simply relax in the Sanctuary Spa. Your ranger and tracker team will astound you with their ability to track big five game, either on foot or from an open safari vehicle. The amazing safari experience is complimented by elegant cuisine, a selection of fine wines andthe warmth of true African hospitality. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Simbambili Game Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Hotel Simbambili Game
Simbambili Game Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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