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“The most amazing part of our trip”
Review of Pondoro Game Lodge

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Pondoro Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
23 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“The most amazing part of our trip”
Reviewed 12 November 2013

My partner and I stayed here for 3 nights and it was the most special experience we've literally ever had. Especially for 2 people who do not like getting up early (you get up pretty early for the morning game drives!) We had a magical time, and saw so many animals, including a cheetah and African wild dogs (both very endangered). Our first safari ride we were surrounded by a family of gentle elephants, my favorite animals. Midday, you can go on game walks - we went with Andres, who showed us elephant and hippo tracks from the night before, right by our hut where we were staying, as well as teaching us the birds that flew by and told some great stories! He sure does have a wealth of information in his brain - and is amazing at spotting animals. We had really nice massages, and the food was incredible. Lize (part owner) I believe is also the chef. The other owner Robbie was our ranger and driver with Andres assisting. Everyone who works at this lodge works very hard to make sure you are comfortable and having a great time. We stayed in the Rock suite which was beautiful and comfortable, and very romantic. Lize also let me hold one of the mongoose(s?) who also call Pondoro their home. It was such a wonderful place and we would go back in a heartbeat!

Room Tip: Rock is lovely and has a good wifi signal.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Cassandra M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, 25 November 2013
Dear cassandroid,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

It is wonderful to see how much you enjoyed your stay and that you rate it as the most special experience that you ever had. Hope to welcome you soon again.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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George, Western Cape
Level Contributor
38 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 November 2013

What a spoil staying at Pondoro Game Lodge. An oasis in the bush, I love the setting of the lodge overlooking the flowing river. The food was gourmet and the accommodation was luxury. We loved eating outside on the deck overlooking the river. I really liked the option to book a picnic lunch at the hide overlooking the waterhole - at no extra cost. It does not surprise me how many awards that Pondoro has received. Look no further, Pondoro stands out as an excellent lodge

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled on business
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Helpful?
1 Thank Gavin021
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, 25 November 2013
Dear Gavin021,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

Your opinion is highly valued and appreciated. Glad that you had great time. Yes the picnic lunch is a winner and very popular.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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Redwood City, California
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 November 2013

So many wonderful things to say about Pondoro! Put simply - you can believe all the great reviews and pictures you see! Pondoro really is wonderful. The property is beautiful and very well maintained. The staff are so sweet and eager to please. The owners, especially Lize, are very nice, hard working, and truly enjoy sharing their passion with their guest. We couldn't have been happier with the entire stay. It's a very special, well run place and we hope we get to return. You will not regret going. Promise.

We would completely recommend Pondoro without any hesitation. It's a fantastic place at any price, but even better for the price you'll pay! So worth it. We did a little comparing while there and concluded we made a very good decision in picking Pondoro. Other lodges in the area providing similar service levels are two and three times higher.

The rooms and the entire property are fantastic. As you can tell from the pictures, it's got a great "look". Our chalet was very roomy and well appointed - maybe a few too many pillows! Everything worked well. Very clean. Daily maid service. GREAT shower with full length window overlooking the river! Big comfortable bed. The best part was the eagle claw tub on the deck!! On one day while I was in the tub an elephant walked by! Truly one of the best moments of my life!!!! On another day when we returned the staff had lit candles all over the place, filled the tub with bubbles and flower petals, and put out a complimentary split of champagne for us to celebrate our honeymoon! It was so unexpected and so beautiful. That's what it like to stay here. (see pictures)

The game viewing is the best! It's shocking how close you get to the animals! The guides are amazing. We walked mere yards from a white rhino. Drove through a herd of elephants. Sat listening to the bones crunching while a leopard ate dinner. We could here the lion breathing! And one of the hippos let us know we'd gotten too close! ("time to go"). Having been to africa before, I'd have to say this was very up close and personal. There's not a bad seat in the rig either. Never was ours even full. The vehicles hold 9 people but most days we were 4 or 6. Each game drive has a stop with drinks or tea in the bush. The night game drives were unique and wonderful too. I had to switch to my shorter lenses to get the shots - we were too close! LOVED our game guides and trackers! They were so dedicated to finding the best animals. Once while we were there all big 5 were spotted in one afternoon and Pondoro broke out the champagne!

One thing we figured out while there is the land holdings around Kruger are a patchwork of private properties. If the owners don't get along or agree to give you access you're limited in where you can go. Pondoro's owners have good relations with their neighbors and that afforded us more area to go and view. We saw many vehicles that couldn't go where we could and we felt sorry for them. Even with that you still run up against electrified fences and boundaries which drives home the point. But at Pondoro there's plenty of space to roam for game viewing.

My only gentle criticism is the spa. It's a neat space but feels a little neglected. I'm sure it's hard to staff given the location, but my treatment wasn't all that great. I liked the room and ambiance but the massage was very average. Not bad. I get massages often so I'm kinda picky in that regard. I'm sure if you want a relaxing rub it'll be a treat. Just don't expect a really good deep tissue experience.

Every meal was so well planned and presented. The ladies that work the dining room are so sweet and will get anything you want. I had some dietary restrictions and they surpassed all expectation. You will not loose weight here! And all of it seems amazing at the time when you realize where you are. Eating in a "treehouse" deck above the river with elephants and mongoose while the monkeys try to steal you dinner roll. A grateful heart will surely appreciate the hospitality and abundance. We were constantly cheering our good fortune and smiling about the day. It's amazing. Also, the main lodge is so inviting to just relax and hang out in. Check to the pictures! It's for real.

If you stay at one of the rooms further from the main lodge it's a bit of a walk on the wooden boardwalks and you have to be escorted due to the wild animals. So keep that in mind.

Hope this helps anyone thinking about choosing Pondoro. We travel a lot - over 70 countries and have been in Africa a few of times. Pondoro is as advertised. We so grateful we had a chance to experience all it has to offer - animals, pampering, great food, fine wine, service, romance... And we'd go back in a heartbeat. Thank you to everyone there who made our trip the best one ever!

Room Tip: We loved the chalet rooms with the tub on the deck, but I don't think there's a bad room her...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank TravelCatII
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, 25 November 2013
Dear TravelCatll,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

It really looks like you had a fantastic time at Pondoro with some great close up animal sightings. How incredible to walk within meters of a white rhino? Thank you again for the comprehensive review and all points are noted.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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Rio de Janeiro, RJ
Level Contributor
36 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 October 2013

There are NO words to describe our experience in Pondoro. We were SO spoiled, we couldn't imagine how perfect our honeymoon could be. The lodge is very comfortable, very clean and has an incredible 'vibe'. The food is just perfect, we could see all the big 5 and other animals on the games. Resuming it, our stay was worth every penny and we had a marvellous time over there.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Felipe T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, 25 November 2013
Dear Felipe T,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

It makes me very happy to see how much you enjoyed your stay with us and that everything from the food to the safari drives were excellent.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Granby, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 27 October 2013

It was the first time in a safari experience. Wow, wow and wow! Pondoro is gorgeous.
Hospitality of Lize and Ronny make you feel as a part of that succesful great team.
Decoration (water and buffalo suite), food and wine, service, safari game are unbelievable.
I picked that lodge by reading trip advisor reviews and I recommand as a 8*.... game lodge.
You can't regret. The team work hard to give you that high quality standard.
4 canadians say again WOW to Pondoro team. You are a part of our wonderful trip in S.Africa

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank GlobeTrotter591001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, 29 October 2013
Dear GlobeTrotter591001,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

I am grateful that Pondoro could contribute in all of you having a wonderful time in South Africa. Glad that you enjoyed everything from the suites to the safari drives and our food and wine!

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Veurne, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 October 2013

Just been a couple of nights to Pondoro. It was stunning !!! The safaris were everything you would expect and beyond, the food was unbelievable, staff was amazing and owners make you feel at home from the first minute !!!! Recommendable to everyone !!!!

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Krist S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, 25 October 2013
Dear Krist S,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

I am glad that we could help in creating a wonderful safari experience at Pondoro and that everything were found to be to your liking.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Delhi
Level Contributor
60 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 156 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 October 2013

We spent 3 nights in Pondoro as a family of three and completely enjoyed each an every aspect of hospitality at the lodge. The rooms are beautiful, each one a separate cottage with a private bath at the back overlooking the river running behind the lodge. We had two rooms- one suite and one chalet and both were gorgeous. From the jacuzzi on our deck we saw 8 elephants walk right by! The staff is impeccable- the ever smiling Madeleine and the crisp Lize (owner) always took care of us. The game drives were really good- we saw the big 5 on our very first safari!! Rul - the ranger and Remson- the tracker were very good at tracking and took us off the land cruiser to walk right up to the animals. The experience is very personal and you get to see animals only a couple of feet away. The food was to die for! Each meal is a fixed menu but I wouldn't change a thing about it. You could be eating at a 3 hat restaurant for all you know! There was a special dinner by the river on the river bed and that was spectacular. However, we were the only young family there- it was mostly honeymooners! So if you aren't on a honeymoon, you may feel a little out of place :) The only downside was that our suite was far out and we had to be walked to the room at night and early morning. We couldn't just hang out with each other till we felt like and had to be walked to our room after dinner. Overall, an experience worth re-living!

Room Tip: We didn't really like the rock suite compared to the others- pick any of the others!
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank gypsicsoul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this review, 25 October 2013
Dear gypsicsoul,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

It looks like you had a fantastic time at Pondoro and that you saw and got very close to a lot of our friendly and not so friendly neighbors. Glad that we could live up to your expectations.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Pondoro Game Lodge

Property: Pondoro Game Lodge
Address: Balule Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Balule Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 19 Speciality Lodging in Balule Nature Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Pondoro Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set on the cool riverine banks of the Olifants River (largest in Kruger) in the 40 000 ha Big 5 Balule Private Game Reserve inside the greater Kruger National Park, Pondoro offers its visitors comfort, sophistication, elegance and a canvas on which to create a truly unforgettable African safari.In this small, very exclusive 16-bed lodge ( owner managed ) you will discover the only way to experience the African bush. In addition to luxurious accommodation and the caring attention from trained professionals, our visitors are lavished upon with international fare and humble African hospitality.Meals are an extraordinary culinary experience where Traditional African Cuisine fuse effortlessly with modern European trends.To compliment the food, select any of our fine wines from our extensive wine cellar. Vegetarians are specially catered for. All meals are served on a wooden deck high up in the tree canopy overlooking the Olifants River (weather permitting).Between game drives in open safari cruisers, nature walks and peaceful afternoon naps, enjoy a dip in the sparkling rock pool, a spot of sun bathing or browse through the library. The Pondoro bar is the ideal spot to quench your thirst and grab a snack. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pondoro Game Hotel Balule Private Game Reserve
Pondoro Game Lodge South Africa/Kruger National Park

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