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Toro Yaka Bush Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 12 December 2013

Excellent four night stay at Toro Yaka. Saw all the big five (wahoo!) on our game drives. Also had the opportunity to do a bush walk which was wonderful even if we didn't see anything "big". Steve is so knowledgeable about the flora and fauna and learning about the little things was great--not to mention, a stroll through the bush is quite relaxing!

Also, as a lot of the reviewers have mentioned: the food! Nicole's cooking rivals that of some of the best restos around the country that we ate at for the rest of our trip! Absolutely wonderful. I especially miss the daily selection of fresh cheeses and honey that came with lunch. Oooh, heaven.

Suffice it to say, I miss this place! I think 4 nights was just right also for a stay.

Room Tip: although there are 6 rooms, Nicole and Steve prefer to keep max guest capacity at 8. all the rooms l...
  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with family
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Thank colettelh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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162 - 168 of 350 reviews

Reviewed 29 November 2013

From the minute I arrived I was made to feel increadibly welcome, which is especially nice when you travel alone. Nicole and Steve have created a lodge that isn't only their dream, but mine as well. I felt like I was among friends, with the other guests, with Nicole and Steve as well as with some of their staff - C.J., Ridwell and Deborah to mention a few. The atmosphere is unique.
They are increadibly knowledgeable about flora and fauna in the bush and have built up and manage the lodge with great respect for the surroundings.
The rooms are comfortable without being overly luxurious. The feeling of luxury comes from things like the outdoor shower, the super quick service (I had laundry done and returned while I was on a game drive for three hours!), a well-stocked bar run with an honor system, the spectacular food, having dinner outdoors in a different location/set-up every night, excellent game drives and Nicole's wonderfull treatments - massage and reflexology.
They will arrange excursions for you if you want but I stayed four nights and had no need to do anything but enjoy this amazing place and the nature around it.

Room Tip: The elephant room and lion room have private verandas that face the bush so they are probably the be...
  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled solo
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2  Thank Hoya91
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 November 2013

Just back from our first trip to South Africa, which we started in Toroyaka, a haven of tranquility. Leaving after 3 days was like leaving very good friends, so enjoyable was our stay there. Nicole and Steve are wonderful hosts. We appreciated that every day was different, in the excellent food and the way it was presented. We made the most of the bush drives, learning a lot about wildlife and conservation from Steve and Mark, whom we could have listened to for hours. The room was homely and confortable, and the outside shower was magical! We would certainly go back there.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Veronique C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 November 2013

Our stay at Toro Yaka was absolutely brilliant; it exceeded our expectations in every way, we saw the big five and more, ate fantastic food and the accommodation was top notch. Firstly I must comment on the Balule Reserve as a few other reviewers have turned their noses up at it - they do not know what they're talking about. The reserve is stunning, you're away from the crowds and scrappy accommodation of the inner Kruger and the wildlife literally walks right up to your front door. We saw lions within minutes of our first morning; they'd just passed by the camp, black rhino, elephant (including a great tusker) zebra and giraffe everyday we were there, a giant leopard on our first night, a lion kill on our second and a pair of male cheetahs walked by during lunch in between.

Steve and Nicole put everything into their business and you're made to feel like part of the family. There are only 6 rooms in total so even if the place is completely full there will only be a max of 10 other people sharing in your experience (we were 6 - 8 total throughout our 3-night stay and we were a group of three). Even then there are options for your daily trips; there are two Land Rovers (not Toyota's like everyone else in the reserve), Steve is an amazing game ranger and Stacey will stop at nothing to get you that extra special sighting - it was her who got us to the leopard. Also on offer are expert game walks with Steve, life saving massages from Nicole and extra birding trips with Steve and star gazing in the evening. If something amazing shows up even in the middle of the day they will let you know and get you too them at no extra charge - Steve heard there were some cheetahs right by the camp and got us all out there to see them.

All in all there was absolutely nothing to fault and there were so many small touches that made your stay extra special, even the coffee was great! I wont say anymore other than get yourself a booking here - you will not regret it!!

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with family
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3  Thank OJewell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 November 2013 via mobile

It's difficult to know where to begin with Toro Yaka, absolutely everything was perfect and you couldn't fault anything! I recently spent 10 nights at the lodge as a solo traveler and was made to feel incredibly welcome by not only Steve and Nicole but also their amazing staff and the other guests.

From the moment I booked Nicole was incredibly helpful with all my queries (and being the first time I had ever travelled alone there was quite a few!!) and was more than happy to help.

Unfortunately Steve was unable to carry out any of the game drives due to his injury but he was ever present at the lodge and his knowledge and love of all things nature is definitely catching and you could spend hours listening to his experiences.

During my time at the lodge I was able to go on a fair few game drives and the guide Mark didn't disappoint - incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and went out of his way to ensure that the guests got to see all the Balule has to offer! I was incredibly lucky and got to see the Big 5 as well as numerous other species of mammal, bird etc.

All the staff were lovely, incredibly helpful and would go out of their way to ensure that you have an enjoyable stay.

I absolutely loved every minute of my time at the lodge and will most certainly be back at some point in the very near future!

Stayed: November 2013, travelled solo
1  Thank lottiedavi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 November 2013

My partner Melinda and I stayed at Toro Yaka as part of my 50th birthday celebration for 3 nights mid October 2013. This is a small and reasonably priced lodge and is big on service and attention to detail. The accommodation is very nice and comfortable and they go all out on the game drives to help you see as many animals as possible. Being vegetarian is always a concern at any place we stay but in this regard I have to say they surpassed our expectations. The vegetarian food was creative, delicious and plentiful. You do not go hungry at this place. What impressed me as a Vegetarian was it was not a bother for them to cook vegetarian food as can be the case in other establishments I have visited. Add friendly and efficient staff and this place is the full package. For any Aussies researching game lodges, we booked directly with the lodge and our enquiries and subsequent booking were handled promptly and efficiently. I would without hesitation recommend Toro Yaka and stay there again. We booked the Ashton Kruger Shuttle bus for the 5 hour drive to Kruger from our Johannesburg hotel. (I have reviewed the shuttle experience separately) This was a great way to get to the lodge.

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Susan A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 November 2013

This was our first trip to a lodge in South Africa and we booked on the strength of trip advisor reports. Our expectations were exceeded and we had a fantastic holiday. The quality of the accommodation is really good and you feel you are in a traditional South African lodge. The standard of catering is exceptional and Nicole and Steve are friendly and very knowledgeable hosts. The staff are very friendly and go the extra mile to make you feel welcome. Mark and "red bull" were our guide and tracker for the week and made our drive outs interesting and memorable. If you want a reasonably priced holiday offering exceptional value this is the lodge to book. Needless to say we intend to return for our next adventure!

Room Tip: We were in Elephant and had a great view of the bush from our balcony
  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank David K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

Address: Sable Road, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Balule Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Free Parking Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Balule Nature Reserve
Price Range: £170 - £704 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Owner/Manager team Steve & Nicole Baillie would like to invite you to visit Toro Yaka Bush Lodge. This special lodge is nestled in the heart of the Balule Nature Reserve, a 38 000 hectare conservancy, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park area. ToroYaka means “My Dream” in Northern Sotho, one of South Africa’s local languages, and the creation of Toro Yaka Bush Lodge has fulfilled the dreams of Steve and Nicole, by establishing a haven of peace and tranquility from which to share their passion for nature. The lodge has been designed in a modern elegant style, with a relaxed atmosphere, allowing guests to sit back, relax and feel at home. The six en-suite double rooms ensure tranquility and comfort at all times. Steve has spent more than a decade sharing his knowledge and love for the bush with clients from all over the world at luxury game lodges throughout South Africa. Nicole is a qualified holistic massage therapist and takes care of all the tiny details. Together with the Toro Yaka Staff, they will ensure your stay to be a memorable one. Balule is home to a large variety of plants and animals. From the smallest spider to the largest elephant, from the tiniest flower to a 1000 year old Leadwood tree, owls at night and eagles by day, every aspect of the ecosystem is explored. The Olifants River, which flows year round through the Balule, is home to hippos and crocodiles, and the whole area is one of scenic splendor, with the northern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range being visible from many points. Together with all of this, Toro Yaka Bush Lodge offers you good home cooked food, friendly service, warm South African Hospitality and loads of enthusiasm. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Toro Yaka Bush Lodge South Africa/Kruger National Park

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