We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“Perfection in the Bush”

Best prices for -
Check In dd/mm/yyyy Check Out dd/mm/yyyy
Prices are for 1 room, 2 adults
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
Toro Yaka Bush Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Washington, DC
Level Contributor
17 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Perfection in the Bush”
Reviewed 17 January 2014

My friend and I stayed at Toro Yaka at the end of our trip to South Africa. Our stay exceeded all of the reviews and photos we saw before we arrived. When we arrived we were greeted by Nicole, one of the owners, and her staff. We would soon learn that we would be greeted after each safari drive. These little touches are what really makes Toro Yaka a special place. With only 5 rooms the attention to detail is evident all around the lodge and at each meal.

I have to preface this with the fact that I am a foodie, so I need to highlight the amazing meals. Nicole is an amazing chef who planned out great menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and dinner we ate as a group with our safari guide, CJ, and Nicole's husband, Steve, while lunch we ate at our own table. It was a great balance in getting to know everyone, but also having some alone time at meals. Breakfast consisted of many choices from a cold bar, as well as a cooked to order portion of the meal. There were either waffles or flaky croissants each morning which were delicious! We always had a lovely cheese spread and a fruit cup with lunch and then a delicious and light main course. Dinner followed our evening safari and consisted of many delicious South African dishes. The meals were definitely one of our favorite parts of our stay. Nicole also will cook everything around dietary restrictions, as well as any general dislikes.

But of course we came to see some animals! We went on all the drives during our stay and saw a ton of giraffes and elephants. We were also lucky enough to see a lioness eat a baby giraffe as well as another lioness and her cubs. These were definite highlights! CJ was our guide on the drives and was incredibly knowledgeable on the reserve and the animals. He also provided some great humor and stories on his time in the bush and South Africa in general. After our last evening safari ride we came back to see an elephant by the pool and were able to watch in for a while in the dark. This was really special. Following dinner we saw an elephant in front of Steve and Nicole's house, which was also awesome. I am not sure how many 24 year old American girls stay at Toro Yaka, but we definitely took advantage of staying up with CJ, Steve, and/or Nicole after dinner. This was definitely our favorite time because we got to relax and exchange more stories. It really felt like a family at Toro Yaka and that is what made our stay so memorable. We have so many memories and great stories from our time at Toro Yaka. I also have to say that I learned so much from Steve about the animals, poaching, and so many other aspects of the bush and South Africa. It was truly wonderful to get to know everyone on a personal level. I will definitely be recommending Toro Yaka to anyone I know going to South Africa and hope to return in the future!

Room Tip: The whole lodge is very small so nothing is too small. But there are three rooms by the pool that ar...
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Emily L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

340 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    327
    12
    0
    1
    0
See reviews for
46
211
18
2
Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (56)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Lancaster
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 January 2014

Today we arrived back from South Africa, both with heavy hearts. The country really touched us and had a fantastic 2 weeks travelling from Cape Town, along the Garden Route and then headed to Balule and Toro Yaka. After leaving the Garden Route we were already raving about South Africa but staying at Toro Yaka completely blew us away.
I'm some what of a sceptic and had read the rave reviews about the place and wondered whether it would live up to expectation... it completely exceeded it.
I am not even sure if my words will do it justice but thank you, Nicole, Steve, CJ, Ridwell, Percy, Deborah, Mike et al. I think it is fair to say that what makes this place is the passion that they all clearly share.
Steve- is a legend. His knowledge of not only the animals but also the birds, the fauna, geology etc is incredible. And his passion is infectious. We went on a bush walk with him and CJ on our very last safari which included tracking an elephant... such an incredible experience. Thank you.
Nicole- her attention to detail, her helpfulness, her incredibly yummy food and her nothingistoomuchhassle attitude ensures faultless service and experience for everyone. If that is not enough, she is also an incredible massage therapist. I thought I was relaxed when I arrived as we were at the end of the holiday, and then I had a massage... and slept like a baby all afternoon!!
CJ- Another legend! CJ along with Ridwell as our tracker got us to see some incredible sights and provided us with wonderful insight and knowledge... not to mention all his stories! A genuinely lovely guy, great with all guests including my mischievous husband!! ;)
Toro Yaka is a very special place. Nicole and Steve have managed to create a little piece of luxury whilst staying true to the African Bush and maintaining a personal service... that's got to be the hardest thing to achieve and they exceed it.
We're already plotting our next trip- can't say fairer than that, other than thank you from us both. And see you soon!!

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Bailey81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney
Level Contributor
225 reviews
66 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 129 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 January 2014

I’ve always been fussy about the ratings that I give on Trip Advisor. I only give a five star rating to the very best hotels, restaurants, etc.

But then again, there are times when a five star rating is just not enough. Toro Yaka is one such case. A mere five stars doesn’t do it justice. Why give such an amazing place only 100% when it obviously deserves so much more. There just aren’t enough stars to award for this fabulous place.

The location is excellent and the accommodation is very good but most of the stars belong to the staff - particularly the two owners, Nicole and Steve. Well, particularly Nicole. She’s amazing. (Steve might be just as impressive as a host but we didn’t see much of him because he was away from the camp for most of the time we were there.)

At the lodge, we had a cabin within easy walking distance of the main building. The cabins have solid walls (probably concrete block) with thatched timber pitched roofs. It was quite spacious - a large bedroom area, bathroom, toilet and two showers - one inside and one outside. There are two balconies overlooking the bush.

Nicole set us up with WiFi connection for our iPads and my laptop. The WiFi reception was OK but the internet connection was slow.

They offered us various game-viewing expeditions:
• Morning expeditions in an open 4WD vehicle starting at 6:30am (before breakfast)
• Evening expeditions in an open 4WD vehicle starting at 4pm (before dinner)
• Walking expeditions (with a guide carrying a rifle)

With the 4WD expeditions, we had a guide who drove the vehicle and gave commentaries. There was also a spotter who sat on a seat suspended on the bumper bar in front of the vehicle to look for animals and animal tracks.

For the time we were there, our guide was Stacey. She was excellent. She was moving to a different job after we left the camp and so we were very fortunate to have her before she left. Her departure would have been a big disappointment for Toro Yaka but would have been a big plus for any organisation that was lucky enough to recognise her considerable knowledge and people skills.

Toro Yaka is in the Balule nature reserve which is adjacent to the famous Kruger National Park. On one of the days we were staying there, we went for a full-day trip to Kruger.

One of the big differences between Balule and Kruger is that you must keep to the roads in Kruger. In Balule, Stacey would go off-road into the scrubland to find the animals and get close to them. In Kruger, you needed to spot them from the road. Often they would be partially obscured by bushes in Kruger and so were more difficult to see and to photograph.

In Balule, we managed to see lots of animals including elephants, impala, zebra, lions and many types of birds. One of the highlights was to see a rare black rhino at close quarters.

People often ask me what was the highlight of our three weeks in southern Africa. I respond be saying that every day was a highlight but the highlight of the highlights was the pride of lions we saw at Balule. We came across the lions on a night-time game viewing expedition one night and then again the following morning.

At the morning sighting, the same group of lions had just killed a zebra and were feasting on their prey. Stacey parked the vehicle only a few metres from the lions – allowing us to closely observe them (and take heaps of photos) while there enjoyed their breakfast. It was a truly mind-boggling experience to be so close to them.

The meals we enjoyed at the lodge were excellent – breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had some meals on the balcony overlooking the bush and one meal in the boma (place of eating) next to the main building.

Around the camp, there is an electrified wire that is designed to discourage elephants from entering the camp area. One day an elephant came to the waterhole just outside the wire giving us a close-up view and yet another photo opportunity.

As with other camps we visited in our holiday in southern Africa, you weren’t allowed to leave the camp without a guide because of the wild animals in the area.

It was a fabulous three days. I can thoroughly recommend it.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Stephen B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 December 2013

This was truly the highlight of our South African trip. We stayed at Toro Yaka back in July, and have been meaning to post this review, but life just got in the way.

Like many of you, we planned most of our South African trip using recommendations from Trip Advisor, and the stellar reviews on Toro Yaka were not only on par, but exceeded our expectations.

The staff were so gracious and attentive to our every need, from the evening turn down service to giving our rental car a quick wash to get the dust off before we left, there was nothing to worry about while on vacation.

Nicole -- lodge owner -- made us feel like her lodge was our home from the moment we walked in the door. Her gracious hospitality, and delicious cooking truly made it hard to leave. As a same sex couple we often worry about how we will be perceived, but this was a non-issue at Toro Yaka, Nicole and her team truly made us feel at home.

The game drives were magical and unlike anything these city boys from American had ever seen in our lives. Stacey our guide did a fantastic job of not only giving us information about the larger animals we saw, but we learned so much about the environment in general. We even saw a honey badger!

We stayed for three nights, and I think our only regret is that we didn't stay longer. Toro Yaka is an amazing place, and while it's the only game lodge we've ever stayed in, if your deciding between Toro Yaka and another accommodations, pick Toro Yaka!

Tip: We flew into Hoedspruit (HDS) airport (from JNB), and rented a car to drive to Toro Yaka. Instead of flying back to JNB, we drove, and we're glad we did as there are some amazing natural sites to be seen as you travel through the Blyde River Canyon.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Joshgwu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
47 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
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...
See more room tips
  • Stayed November 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank colettelh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stockholm, Sweden
Level Contributor
48 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
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...
See more room tips
  • Stayed November 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Hoya91
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Veronique C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hotels you might also like...
Also consider these accommodations in or near Balule Nature Reserve
21.0 mi away
Kapama Buffalo Camp
Kapama Buffalo Camp
#2 of 4 in Kapama Private Game Reserve
5.0 of 5 bubbles 380 reviews
3.5 mi away
Kurhula Wildlife Lodge
Kurhula Wildlife Lodge
#2 of 2 in Balule Nature Reserve
5.0 of 5 bubbles 253 reviews
18.0 mi away
Kapama River Lodge
Kapama River Lodge
#4 of 4 in Kapama Private Game Reserve
5.0 of 5 bubbles 1,628 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
22.6 mi away
Kapama Karula
Kapama Karula
#1 of 4 in Kapama Private Game Reserve
5.0 of 5 bubbles 426 reviews
21.5 mi away
Kapama Southern Camp
Kapama Southern Camp
#3 of 4 in Kapama Private Game Reserve
5.0 of 5 bubbles 566 reviews
1.1 mi away
Sausage Tree Safari Camp
Sausage Tree Safari Camp
#1 of 19 in Balule Nature Reserve
5.0 of 5 bubbles 628 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to Toro Yaka Bush Lodge? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Toro Yaka Bush Lodge

Property: 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 (Based on Average Rates): £££
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 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with South African Hotels so you can book your Toro Yaka Bush 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:
Toro Yaka Bush Lodge South Africa/Kruger National Park

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing