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!
- 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
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- Also Known As:
- Toro Yaka Bush Lodge South Africa/Kruger National Park