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“Luxury in the bush!”

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Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp
Reviewed 2 July 2009

My husband along with our best friends spent 3 night/4 days at Vuyatela and enjoyed every minute of our time. We traveled to several "safari' lodges while on our trip and this was by far our favorite stop. We were blown away at the warm hospitality of the staff, the knowledge of our guides, the peaceful setting, the fabulous food and the wonderful "Kayas".

Upon our arrival we were greeted by an elephant called "One Tusk" and a pack of little monkeys. Each day brought a new adventure & we were able to see such an amazing variety of animals, including the big 5. It was a fantastic experience and one which we plan on doing again. It was nice as Vuyatela was not a large camp but small and intimate.

Each morning we were awoken by a staff member with a large pot of coffee or tea and a warm fire in our suite. As the mornings were cold the guides provided wool blankets for the drive, and always a warm beverage plus a quick snack while out. I love their "biltong". One morning we drove to a clearing in the bush to find an amazing breakfast of steaks, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh juices and all sorts of pastries waiting for us.

The afternoons were a wonderful time to relax around the lodge, play some games, take a quick nap, go for a walk in the bush and eat a picnic lunch. My husband and I both took advantage of the spa and received massages. It was great sitting out on either our private deck or the large deck at the lodge watching the animals come and go.

Each night we would go for another drive and dinner was served us once we arrive back at camp. The dinners were always delicious and served in the beautiful dining room. We loved the glass bottle chandelier — very unique. We especially enjoyed the traditional South African dinner around the fire. We loved talking to the other guest and hearing about their drives and the animals they had seen.

Once it was time to go to bed we were always escorted by an armed guide. I will never forget him saying one night "Mind the elephant" and there right beside the trail was a large male elephant. It was so quiet and blended into the bushes, that we never saw it during dinner.
One morning we were on our way out and right beside the door of our Kaya was a large steaming pile of you know what. A "gift" from an elephant and later that day one of the ladies in the Kaya beside us was using her outside shower and over the enclosure came an elephant trunk! It was amazing to think they were so close to us.

Djuma really was a fabulous place!!

  • Stayed: June 2006, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank enatashadunn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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96 - 102 of 118 reviews

Reviewed 11 January 2009

Like the previous reviewer, we have recently returned from our third visit to Vuyatela and, as always, it was an experience we will never forget.

The accommodation could not be more comfortable and manages to avoid the excessive, over-the-top luxury that some places strive for. Vuyatela is like staying with good friends if your friends happen to have a fabulous house and they really want you to have a good time. The staff are all extremely friendly and I think they genuinely want you to feel at home and want you to come back again.

The food is delicious - again, not over-the-top, but good food prepared perfectly with something for everyone. My husband must stick to a strict gluten-free diet and they are able feed him better than I do at home and far better than most restaurants with professionally trained chefs can do.

The game viewing in the area is fantastic and the guides and trackers really go out of their way to maximize the experience. Most of them have lived and worked in the area for their whole lives and their personal experience really adds to your enjoyment. Thank you Charles and Handry for those special moments.

We have stayed at other lodges in other reserves, all of which have been very enjoyable, but Vuyatela is special. I can't wait for our next visit.

  • Stayed: November 2008, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Hailey_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 January 2009

We have just returned from our 3rd trip to Vuyatela Game Lodge. It was like visiting old friends, as the majority of the team there were there when we got married at the lodge in April 2005. We had the most amazing Christmas in the bush, we were looked after incredibly well. The rooms are delightful, very rustic with authentic Africa artifacts and outside showers. For the less adventurous the bath tub is like a mini swimming pool. Game drives with Graham and Roy were exceptional as far as viewing was concerned and absolutely brilliant in terms of laughter and fun!

I have been to many lodges all over the Sabi Sands Reserve and Vuyatela meets the criteria every time. We will return again and again to enjoy another unique experience.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with family
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1  Thank sunshineharrogate
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 November 2008

I didn't really know anything about this place before we got there as my travel agent suggested it for our stay before we were to go to Singita Boulders. We were very pleasantly surprised, however, and found this to be a warm welcoming place, with great food and nice people. The cottages are a good size with a sort of African kitsch decor. The only thing they need to add is some sort of indoor shower and it would be perfect. The food is very good, not necessarily gourmet but more like the food of your favorite aunt who is a really good cook. The best thing here, though, is the people. What makes this stand out is that this place is really locally run and you feel like they are opening up their home to you. You really noticed this on the village visit, which I recommend, and you see that everyone who works there is a local. It's also nice because the proceeds of the visit go to the preschool. It's not weird either like some village tours because it's not like they're putting on a song and dance for the tourists, it's more like this is where we live. The other guests were a nice mix of families, couples, and friends traveling together. Since there are only 8 cabins you get to know your fellow travelers and everyone eats at a long communal table. You can have your privacy if you want but you won't get an opportunity to really get to know people at a regular hotel like you do at a small game lodge where you're doing the game drives together and eating together. I also wanted to say that the manager Jimmy, our guide Charles, and our tracker Terrence were the best.

  • Stayed: October 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank oscarfelix
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 November 2008

We stayed here midway through our honeymoon, which began in Zambia. Having never been on safari before we didn't exactly know what to expect, but I have never been anywhere that had the level of service or touches found at Vuyatela. The staff were without exception superb - courteous, professional and fun to be around. The small number of guests means there is what is best described as a family atmosphere, while remaining professional. I think this is a difficult thing to achieve, and of great credit to the staff.

Now on to the game... like previous reviewers, we also saw the Big 5 within 24 hours. On the second game drive, we were witness to 2 male lions with a Buffalo kill - which they proceeded to consume over the next 3 days. We also saw a breeding herd of elephants numbering 15, incuding several young of only a few months. The nature of our finding these was simply amazing. It was on an evening drive and the night had completely closed in - suddenly we saw a couple of elephants in the headlights. As the spotlight was swung left and right, the couple expanded into a large herd, which we tracked to a watering hole. It was something we will never forget. However, we soon heard over the radio that a pride of lions had been spotted, and raced through the night to see them - spotting Jackal and a bachelor crush of rhino on the way! The lion pride was amazing. Apparently, they are relatively infrequent visitors, and to see a family group at such close quarters was incredible. We returned to camp that night exhillerated by what we saw.

When we arrived at dinner that night, we found that we had a table set on our own, including a bottle of bubbles, in honour of our honeymoon celebrations. This was superb and finished a perfect day.

Of the 7 game drives we were on, we always saw something new or interesting on each drive. We even saw one of the Small 5 - Leopard Tortoise! We were fortunate to see two different leopard three times - one of the animals was snoozing in a tree. The beauty of the animal when watching just feet away, really comes through.

Nicholas and Amos were our ranger and tracker, and they were superb. Their knowledge was encyclopaedic, and their company fun. I believe all the guides are local from the nearby villages - this helps to understand the lives of the people in context with the lives of the animals. To this end a village visit can be organised, and shows the great work Djuma is doing for the local population.

The accomodation is like nothing we have stayed in. Designed and built along traditional lines, using local techniques and materials, they make you feel like part of the landscape. The outdoor shower is fantastic - I would shower every morning before the game drive just to wake up! Each lodge is air conditioned and very comfortable. The plunge pool is very useful in the mid-day heat. To listen to lions roaring in the night is something I will never forget...

Lastly, don't forget to try the Amarula or the Marula Jam! The food is out of this world - incorporating lots of local produce and recipes as well as more familiar dishes. The soups were outstanding - don't miss these - a fresh soup was available every lunch and dinner which were very different, but delicious! My wife was until recently a vegetarian, and still is a bit fussy about what she eats, so opted to go vegetarian at Vuyatela. The staff accomodated her wonderfully - she even felt guilty about eating any meat dishes since the staff made such an effort with her veggie food!

We can't wait to go back one day, and haven't really stopped talking about it since! It made our stay in Mauritius in a top hotel pale in comparison.

Paul and Sally Stanger

  • Stayed: October 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank stang78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 October 2008

Can't speak highly enough of the place. We spent 4 nights there at the start of our honeymoon and we both absolutely loved it. The game is excellent and we saw the big 5 in the first 24 hours. The trackers really wanted to ensure we saw everything we wanted to and went in search of a hippo on our last night drive. The food is surprisingly excellent considering it is in the middle of nowhere. The cakes and pastries were particularly good. The lodges are very private and aren't overlooked. The standard of the accomadation was also excellent with big spacious rooms, outside showers and a plunge pool. The staff were fantastic, genuniely friendly and made a real effort to make the start of our honeymoon special. On the last night we were dropped off at our hut and they had laid on a speacial private chamapagne dinner on our patio. Interestingly they had a couple visting from a south african professional body who were were examining the standards of the trackers and they said the standard of the game and the accomadation was one of the best in the Sabi Sands and Kruger area. We would both also highly recommend.
Anna and Rob - London

  • Stayed: October 2008, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Anna28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 October 2008

This was undoubtedly the highlight of our honeymoon.

We loved how Vuyatela brought together elements from the local villages and incorporated it into the luxury accommodations.

We arrived and were greeted by Jimmy, the manager, who quickly escorted us to our suite so we would be able to make the 4:30 game drive. After a monkey stole a piece of my cake, we were off.
We had our jeep to ourselves, being the honeymoon couple, and Amos and Nichulas were our private trackers and ranger -- at least for the next two drives.

The people working there are so friendly. I had numerous conversations with guides, mangers and wait staff, all so nice and willing to share their experiences.

The food was tops. The lamb stew has to stand out as the best meal. Both lunch and dinner are buffet with two mains, veggies, starch, salad and dessert. The afternoon snack of cake or cookies and tea/coffee makes sure you don't get hungry on the afternoon drive. Even if you do, there's a break in the middle where you have drinks and some hot or cold food (dried fruit and nuts, kabobs, chicken).

The huts are decorated with local art and have air conditioning. We often saw animals in the waterhole, zebras, giraffes.

On our last night, we had our own private, candlelit dinner in the den area of the lodge. When we returned to our room, there was a trail of tea candles leading to a bubble bath and champagne.

On our game drives, we saw the Big 5, went off road to track down some elephants, and even saw a pride of lions eating a kill. You would believe how close you can get to the animals. Nichulas was very knowledgeable about the animals and the environement and answered all our questions.

We would totally recommended the place to everyone.

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

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Additional Information about Vuyatela Lodge & Galago Camp

Address: Djuma Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve > Djuma Game Reserve
Amenities:
Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Speciality Lodging in Djuma Game Reserve
Price Range: £87 - £124 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 5
Also Known As:
Vuyatela Hotel Djuma Game Reserve

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