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“Amazing: 11/10!”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Pondoro Game Lodge

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Pondoro Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Sydney, Australia
1 review
“Amazing: 11/10!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 May 2014

Pondoro… WOW! Pondoro went above and beyond my expectations. Every detail is well thought out to ensure the customers are happy and comfortable (hot cloths upon arrival after a chilly night safari, weather reports each day…). The 2 daily safaris never disappoint. The food is DIVINE and the rooms are exquisite. A special mention should go out to the staff- Lize, Vanessa, Anchenn, the safari drivers, and the many other beautiful people that work there. My partner and I had some terrible luck when visiting SA- our credit card was taken by an ATM machine and we were ripped off by AVIS in PMB. Lize, Vanessa and Anchenn were so lovely, thoughtful, and helpful in assisting us with our difficulties. We are SO appreciative of the help they gave us. It's clear they know what customer service is- they go above and beyond for their customers. Thank you to all the staff that work at Pondoro- you have really made our time in Kruger SO memorable xxxx

Room Tip: The chalets are gorgeous- bath overlooking the wilderness, monkeys tree hopping from your balcony...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Deon L
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Deon L,

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

I am elated to see that we could live up to your expectations. Glad that you enjoyed your stay with us and that we managed to turn your luck around and that you ended your African holiday on a high note.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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682 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (160)
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English first
Level Contributor
15 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 May 2014

We had a magical 2 nights experience at Pondoro Game Lodge. Beautifully decorated rooms overlooking the Oliphants River and artistically presented and delicious meals added to our enjoyment. Welcoming hostesses and smiling faces greeted us. Our ranger, Rul, and tracker, Andries, worked so hard to locate animals, especially tracking on foot, the elusive rhino. We saw the Big 5 plus so many more. Our experience watching 3 lionesses on the hunt take down a waterbuck and then lead their 9, yes, 9 cubs to the kill was unforgettable! Rul explained what the lionesses were doing and then they did what he described. Both men are excellent guides! Thank you, Pondoro owners and staff!!

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Bill P
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Bill P,

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

Wow you were fortunate to see how a pride of lions take down a waterbuck! Yes, Rul and Andries have got 50 years of bush experience between the 2 of them and it is uncanny how well they can predict animal behavior.

Greetings form the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 May 2014

My husband and I are seasoned world travelers, but this was our first trip to Africa. We stayed at two game lodges, Pondoro and another one. The second one was very nice, but it was no comparison to Pondoro. The difference was in the details, and also in the warmth of every single person involved in the operation. We felt happy and pampered the whole time we were there. The setting, right on the river where hippos live, is wonderful. You may see monkeys playing in the trees as you eat breakfast on the deck. And, oh yes! We saw plenty of amazing animals on the game drives too, which was a huge thrill, much more than I expected, actually. If you are considering a trip to a game lodge, don't hesitate. Just go to Pondoro. You won't regret it.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Elizabeth v
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Elizabeth v,

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

Thank you very much for the review and noticing the details and warmth of our service. Looks like you had a wonderful safari experience as well.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
142 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 May 2014

For the Lodge :
* Wonderful lodge with nice African decor and outdoor Jacuzzi overseeing nature and the river
* Great warm staff with sincere and service (Vanessa + Lize is great)
* Nicely prepared food with efforts in presentation as well
* Memorable rosemary-scented towels on arrival

For the Game Drives :
* Highly experienced trackers to seek out the elusive mammals (Ramson actually hunted on foot into the fields for quite a long time with no rifle in hand, whilst everyone else stayed on the truck)
* The game reserve here is huge with pasture that seemed to attract more of the key animals (compared to a different lodge I was staying 2 nights before, also in Balule Game Reserve area).

For the Reserve :
It is confusing for first timers about Kruger vs Greater Kruger, it is essentially almost the same as fences between the two have been removed so animals are free to roam about. Note : Kruger NPk only allows driving on designated roads, whereas private reserves can drive you closer to the animals if they are spotted. Also, the Wild Card is for Kruger and other govt owned parks, Not applicable for Balule, so don't waste money buying it in advance.

Room Tip: I booked the Water Suite that had a bath facing out. The lodges offer elevated view of the riverbank...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Mei O
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Mei O,

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

It is great to see how much you enjoyed your stay with us. It is always nice when guests notice all the small things we do to enhance their stay and make it unforgettable.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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Mumbai (Bombay), India
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 May 2014

We came to South Africa for our honeymoon and Pondoro was our first stop in SA. These guys are experts and have got everything right! Right from the beautiful villas overlooking the river to the terrific food and safaris. Lize went out of her way to organize something special every night as we were on Honeymoon - a private candlelit dinner by the pool, candlelit dinner in the middle of the forest. All of it was stupendously organized and well planned. Thank You Pondoro! We will be back for sure!

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank ShagunSeth
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, 11 June 2014
Dear ShagunSeth,

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

It is an honor to be chosen as part of your honeymoon travels. Glad that we could live up to your expectations and that we could help you celebrate such a milestone event in your lives. Cannot wait for your return visit.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Level Contributor
17 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 May 2014

My family and I have spent two nights at the lodge and I can absolutely say that Pondoro Game Lodge was the best place I have ever stayed in. We arrived the Saturday before Easter, after a really long flight from Brazil, and were greeted by Lize, the adorable lodge manager. She told us all about the lodge and took us to our rooms (Buffalo and Water suites), which were right by the Olifant river. The lodge is located in the middle of the reserve (no fences!), and as a result we often had interesting visitors around our rooms, such as monkeys, crocodiles, hippos and even an elephant! The rooms were incredible and the lodge’s website photos do them justice. Beautifully decorated rooms with great open spaces, very confortable beds, beautiful views, a private patio and an outside Jacuzzi provided the perfect place to relax and overlook the bush and the river. After freshing up, we were provided a light lunch, which was followed by our first game drive. The drives would take place each morning and afternoon, and thanks to the highly skilled rangers (with amazing animal tracking skills), we could see every animal we were hoping to see. The food of the lodge is also amazing: we had the chance to try some local food (impala pie, for instance), as well as great deserts and an incredibly good breakfast. The facilities of the lodge were excellent (some of my family members had great massages at the spa), but its main feature is, without a doubt, the remarkable service. Everyone who works at the lodge is always doing their best to make us feel at home and have the best possible experience. They were so thoughtful that they have surprised us twice on Easter: for breakfast, we were given a chocolate egg with a “Happy Easter” note, and during the evening game drive we were surprised by a lovely basked, hanging from a tree in the middle of the bush, with chocolate treats inside! Hence, Pondoro Game Lodge is the perfect place to experience the bush and the south African natural life, and I can’t way to go back!

Room Tip: The suites we stayed in (Water and Buffalo) were a bit further away from the main area of the lodge...
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Luiza 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, 11 June 2014
Dear LTC1987,

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

Great to read that Pondoro is the best place that you have ever stayed in. It is a huge compliment and we will certainly strive to be even better when welcoming you for your second visit.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family
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Vail, Colorado
Level Contributor
137 reviews
66 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 May 2014

Wow. Robbie and Lize really know how to get it right. Their love and reverence for the bush just bleeds through everything at Pondoro—from the structures to the decor, the staff and the dining, and of course, the game drives.

Each unit is thoughtfully built and decorated using as many found objects and natural materials as possible. And with Lize's art background earlier in her life, she has brilliantly crafted magical spaces throughout the property. And her food—wow! Not only is it brilliant but it is also always served in a gorgeous, artful presentation, even if it's just the jam on the table at breakfast.

A part of me would like to write a dissertation about every little thing I loved about my 3 nights at Pondoro (I actually was only booked for 2 but loved it so much I canceled another place to stay an extra night!), but I don't have the time, nor do you probably want to read long and verbose reviews. ;)

Having been to a few of the most spectacular game lodges in South Africa, I can wholeheartedly say that Pondoro is now at the top of my list, even though the game viewing in the Balule isn't quite as prolific as the Sabi Sand due to the density of the bush. But it is not about quantity—it's about quality.

Oh, and one of the best things is the value. Pondoro is less than half the price of a lot of the Sabi Sand reserves and every bit as spectacular and even though it is not all-inclusive of drinks, the drinks are extremely low priced so not to worry. Spending $25-50/day (total—not PP) on wine and drinks for two people is certainly a bargain compared to spending an extra $400-500/day PP for an all-inclusive property!

Room Tip: The Buffalo and Water Suites are at the far end of the property and the elephants often frequent on...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Nemophilist
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, 11 June 2014
Dear Nemophilist,

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

It has been a pleasure to host you at Pondoro. It is always nice when the small extras that we do make peoples' stay unforgettable gets noticed. Yes half the price of some of our more illustrious cousins and that at a small, intimate, owner run lodge. Looking forward to your next visit.

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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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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