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“A Wonderful Start to our Honeymoon”

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Dulini Leadwood Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“A Wonderful Start to our Honeymoon”
Reviewed 27 December 2008

To keep this short(er), I'll just put down several comments in bullet point format. Summary: we loved it and the safari itch has bitten us but pity about the cost!

Overall experience:
- We had amazing game drives and managed to see all the Big 5, although in summer with the lush vegetation, the animals were harder to spot. Hence we missed out on some of the animals that other reviewers managed to see, e.g. wild dog, cheetah, hyena, bush baby, etc. However, Mac and Colbert definitely lived up to their reputations and were excellent and always very informative and sharp. Mac has a great sense of humour, is extremely knowledgeable, and will always do his best to make sure that you see as many interesting things (not just animals) as possible. Other highlights for us were enjoying the sunsets with a G&Ts, and Colbert's hot chocolate and amarula coffee.
The jeep was not bad at all, and we were lucky to be sharing with some very nice honeymooning couples on our first 2 days, and on our last 3 days, with a lovely S African family who loved birds. Everyone would rotate to have a chance to sit in the front row.

- The lodge itself: We stayed initially in Room 4, but requested a move to Room 1 when it became available. While both are lovely, Room 1 is a bit better as it has more natural light, and is completely away from the other rooms. However, I think it must be the most popular one as it is a bit more run-down than 4. Lovely interiors and use of stone, wood, glass, and metal. It was HUGE! The showers are a little bit uncomfortable as the stone floors slope too much but that's just a minor point. I agree with the other reviewer about the towels - the small ones looked like they had been mauled by lions. The pool was lovely, but extremely cold even in December. Finally, the minibar is very well-stocked, but most of the time we were too well-fed to use it much.

- The food: Breakfasts were huge and delicious - I was always starving after the morning game drives. Lunch was the highlight for us. You could take it in your room (comes in an oversized picnic basket) or out on the tree deck. It was always 3 salads and a grilled meat plus some sort of home baked bread, always different. It wasn't gourmet but we loved the salads as they were always delicious and different. Dinner was not as good but maybe that was because we were tired. We had 2 braai buffet dinners, and 2 surprise private room dinners. They were good, but not wow. Found it strange however, how bad the wine was though!! We had amazing wine in Cape Town and Franschhoek and it was extremely cheap but we were pretty unimpressed with andBeyond's selection.

Enjoy Leadwood!

  • Liked — Privacy and pampering
  • Disliked — Wine
  • Stayed December 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank fh142
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Denver, CO
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 October 2008

We had a fantastic 4-night stay at the Leadwood Lodge in September/October 2008. We had high expectations for the lodge but they were exceeded in every way. We were thrilled with the game viewing, both the number of animals we saw and our close proximity to them. We saw the big 5 many times over along with innumerable other animals. Our guide Chris and tracker Isaac were fantastic. Chris had a contagious energy and an incredible knowledge about the animals. Learning about the animals we were seeing made us appreciate viewing them all the more. We thought the safari vehicle was very comfortable (and my husband is tall!) and while the lodge was full the entire time we were there, we had no issues with 8 people in the vehicle, though I think it was helpful that we had a pretty laid back group of guests.

Our room was enormous and beautifully decorated, and the views from the endless windows were spectacular. We loved the glassed in shower and the large deck and plunge pool. From the comfort of our deck we enjoyed watching elephants, baboons, a family of warthogs, nyala and a number of other animals. While we intended to nap a bit on the deck between game drives it was hard to sleep as there was always something fascinating to watch. The main lodge area was also beautiful and completely open to the bush. We could not have been more impressed with our room and the facilities.

The food was abundant and we found it of very high quality – much better than we were anticipating. They gladly accommodated my dietary restrictions (just let them know when you book) and we enjoyed both the food and the wine immensely. We were so well fed that we were not once hungry during our entire stay. Tea/coffee and biscotti were served prior to the morning game drive, then at a stop during the drive we enjoyed coffee/hot chocoloate and cookies, followed by a breakfast feast when we returned to the lodge. Lunch was an assortment of continually changing but always delicious salads and cold vegetable dishes, along with two entrées. There were snacks prior to the evening game drive, snacks and cocktails at a sunset stop during the evening game drive, and then dinners upon returning for the evening. Two nights we all ate as a group with our guide and two nights we ate alone, one night enjoying a private candlelit dinner on our deck complete with champagne that came as a nice, romantic surprise. We found that balance for the dinners perfect, as it was nice to interact with the other guests but also to spend some time alone.

All of the staff at the lodge were gracious and friendly and willing to accommodate any request – though we rarely had to request anything as it seems they had thought of it all in advance. We could not have asked for better service.

The only downside for us, aside from having to leave, was the lack of any exercise facilities. We are both runners and with all of the eating it would have been nice to enjoy some physical activity. But this was a minor sacrifice for such a special destination.

We enjoyed our entire trip to South Africa, but our time at Leadwood was the highlight for both of us. We have traveled throughout the world, but now that we’ve had a taste of the safari experience we are completely hooked. Thanks to all the staff for such a wonderful experience.

  • Stayed September 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Wandererz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chevy Chase, Maryland
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 October 2008

We stayed at the Leadwood Lodge at the end of September/ beginning of October 2008. When I was planning the trip, I thought that 4 nights would be plenty in the same lodge. In hindsight, I am glad we stayed there at least that long and wish that we stayed there longer. The lodge itself was absolutely wonderful. The views from every place inside are just amazing and there's always some animal walking by. We were even joking that you could just sit there, and watch, no need for game drives, because so many animals walked right past our hut. One day we walked in on an entire baboom family hanging out by the pool. One of the other huts had an elephants drinking from their plunge pool.

Our tracker Isaac and guide Chris were very good, but they were also fun and very much concerned with making everyones' stay perfect. I can't express enough how wonderful they were. We saw the Big 5 on the first 2 game drives and then saw all the animals several more times. Some of the highlights were lions playing with each other on a tree, a huge horde of water buffalo running by only 20 feet away, leopards playing, and many many more. While we were there we saw elephants, giraffes, zebras,lions, leopards, bush baby, hyenas, various antelopes, baboons, monkeys, wild hogs, rhinos, hippos, water buffalo, jackals and many more animals that I don't remember the names of. Just about all these animals were extremely close to the truck, almost so close you could touch them.

All in all this was definitely the highlight of our trip. I can't wait to go back to the bush, I never thought it would be so exhilirating. My husband was the happiest I have ever seen him there, just running around with the camera snapping away pictures and I had a fabulous time myself. I even got up for the morning drives twice, which I did not think I would do. And it was totally worth it, because the sunrise in the bush is spectacular.

The food at the lodge is okay. It's not a buffet, as for some reason I thought it would be. So it's nice that there's a waitress. But there's also not a lot of choice and even though they ask you if there's anything you don't eat, there was still one time when we didn't really enjoy much of our lunch. However, the down side with food did not ruin our experience, it really seemed minor.

The service at the lodge was also nice, although we did not really ask for anything in particular. One night they surprised us with a bubble bath, left us a bottle of champagne and served us dinner at the hut. There were also 2 nights with dinner at the boma and both of those nights there was some nice singing by the local staff.

Bottom line: we loved it, and we definitely recommend the Leadwood Lodge.

  • Stayed September 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank ka2shaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bethesda, MD
Level Contributor
18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2008

My husband and I stayed at Exeter Leadwood Lodge for 3 nights in August. It is an intimate, luxurious, beautifully situated and designed property with only 4 rooms, each in a beautiful, secluded house with an infinity plunge pool. We enjoyed our stay very much, but a few things did detract from the experience. First, there is only one safari vehicle for the entire lodge (8 people), which means tight quarters on the drives and a greater likelihood of unpleasant companions. One would think that a lodge in this price category would have less crowded vehicles. Second, there is only one ranger for the entire lodge. This means that if you want, for example, to go for a walk in between the drives, the chances are high that the ranger will be otherwise preoccupied and you won't be able to go. Our ranger had "a meeting" on the day we wanted to do the walk. Again, in this price category, one expects better attention. Finally, while the lodge is otherwise well-maintained, something is horribly wrong with their towels -- they are old, of questionable color, and tattered as if they've been through the claws of the Big Five.

Stayed August 2008
Helpful?
3 Thank Drer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
54 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 August 2008

We loved our stay at Leadwood, and the staff did everything in their power to make us feel at home. Colbert, our tracker, picked us up at the Ulasaba airstrip, and we saw our first of many elephant herds on the ride into the camp. Keri was filling in as manager (we would get to meet Kelly on the morning of our last day). She greeted us with some fantastic lemonade upon arrival, went over the lodge schedule and rules, and asked if we had any special requests. Aarone, our butler, then showed us to our room and explained how he could contact him for anything we needed. (He was also an exceptionally quick study, and learned our drink preferences within one day). We had an hour or so to settle in before we headed over for the teatime before our first game drive. There we met our guide, Mac, and I think I threw him for a loop when I told him that I had heard great things about him on TripAdvisor. He definitely lived up to his reputation, since he proved to be quite knowledgeable about the local game, and was very entertaining, plus his enthusiasm about birding was contagious.

We ate exceptionally well at Leadwood, and there were so many chances to eat that we were never close to being hungry. The day started with a wakeup call an hour or so before dawn, followed by coffee/tea and biscuits before we headed out for the morning game drive. Each morning we stopped somewhere in the bush for "Colbert's Hot Chocolate" or coffee, and then we ate a full breakfast (usually as a group, but one day we were split apart) before we had the mid-day relaxation time, which always seemed to fly by. The "light" lunches were served sometime between 1 and 2 (Aarone asked us each morning what time we would like to have lunch) and soon after that it was time to change into warm clothes again for the evening game drive. We'd meet at 3:30 for afternoon tea (or lemonade, or their delicious iced coffee) with snacks, and then head out on the game drive. Each evening we stopped in a nice spot for sundowners in the middle of the game drive. We were always greeted upon returning to the lodge, and dinner followed soon after. There was a communal dinner in the Boma on our first and third night, but the groups split up on the other two nights. The reason for that was one of the nice surprises that my wife loved, since she had not read any reviews before going. The attention to detail by the lodge staff was phenomenal!

We stayed at the lodge four nights, and got to go on eight different game drives. We had eight guests in the vehicle for five of the drives, seven once, six once and four once. We had zero problems with this, since we had a really fun group of guests. There was one couple on their honeymoon (the back row was soon designated as the honeymoon suite) but the other quests had all been married for a while (one night it was a couple with their grown daughter) who did not necessarily have to be as close together as a couple on their honeymoon. On most of the drives, I sat in the front seat with Mac (a legroom issue) with my wife behind me, which allowed us to have only one row with three people. I can see how the seating for eight could cause problems with the wrong mix of people (heaven forbid if there were four honeymoon couples!), but Mac said that this was rarely a problem. People may simply be so amazed at being in the bush that their behavior changed for the better.

The attention to detail is what makes Leadwood stand out to me. The staff seems to thrive on making the visit to the lodge special for all of the guests. One example of this occurred on the Saturday of our visit, when the South African rugby team was playing a match against Australia (I think). Some of the guests discussed the game with Mac on the game drive (or at dinner in the Boma the night before), and Keri arranged to take the Land Rover over to River Lodge so the guests could watch the game, while their wives (mine included) could go check out the lodge and its guest shop. I stayed at Leadwood in order to start recharging the batteries of our cameras before the next game drive, and ended up getting some fantastic photos of the buffalo and other creatures that wandered below the veranda that morning.

I would like to thank Keri, Mac, Colbert, Aarone and the rest of the staff for making our stay at Leadwood so enjoyable.

  • Liked — The variety of the surprises for the guests
  • Disliked — Nothing at all.
  • Stayed July 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank TigerBait
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swtizerland
Level Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 July 2008

We stayed at the Exeter for 3 nights, we booked trhought CC Africa that is a great organization if you want to plan your SA holiday in luxurious lodges!
We simply loved the experience at Exter, the stuff is amazing and very very helpfull (they even prepare a chocolate cake for me as surpice when they heard i liked the one they served fro breakfast!)
The rooms are huge, all with private swimming pool (that actually we dind't enjoy since was a little bit too cold), the bath is amazing and they were used to prpare a warm bath for us once back from the afternoon safari, they put candels all around the bath and they prepare 2 Martini: what a life!
I strongly recommand this lodge, for the stuff, for the game , and for the rooms
The only thing they should improve is the food. Excellent service but honestly for a person like me (Italian!), used to be spoiled by good restaruant, I think it was so so. The only time we had great lunch was when they prepared something local, that sam much better the en European dishes prepared before!
Last advice; concat CC Africa they organized all our Sout Africa honeymoon and they were great!

  • Liked — luxurious rooms and service
  • Disliked — food
  • Stayed September 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank DreamingSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
nyc
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 June 2008

After staying at Phinda Forest and Ngala Tented my husband and I were very looking forward to our stay at Leadwood, as it was the most pricey of the 3 accommodations. However, we were left feeling disappointed. I had grown accustomed to the thrice daily maid service and Ngala and the nightly drawn bubble baths awaiting you upon your return from the evening game drive. The service and staff were also not as service minded as the staff at Phinda Forest and Ngala. Stay somewhere else in Sabi.

  • Liked — Janet is great!
  • Disliked — service (from others) was lacking
  • Stayed June 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank chevalier24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Dulini Leadwood Lodge

Property: Dulini Leadwood Lodge
Address: | Mpumalanga, Kruger National Park 1242, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #32 of 42 Speciality Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:5 star — Dulini Leadwood Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in the fork of the Sand and Mabrak Rivers, andBeyond Leadwood Lodge offers a cosy and serene getaway completely at peace with the bush that surrounds it. With suites carefully distanced from each other, andBeyond Leadwood is ideal for families or parties of friends who want to share their safari experience without intruding on each other's privacy. ... more   less 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with South African Hotels so you can book your Dulini Leadwood Lodge reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
And Beyond Leadwood Lodge
&Beyond Leadwood Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Dulini Leadwood Lodge South Africa/Sabi Sand Game Reserve

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