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“A real holiday...”

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Ezulwini Game Lodges
Certificate of Excellence
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“A real holiday...”
Reviewed 3 March 2014

I recently went to Ezulwini Billy's lodge and really felt the need to express how much I enjoyed my stay and I also really wanted to communicate my gratitude and thanks to all the staff involved in making the experience truly unforgettable and enjoyable. In fact, it was an all rounded incredible experience, from the cleanliness, food (the beef poitjie stew was amazing!), facilities, hospitality and importantly for me the absolute sincerity and high standards of the place as a whole. It is an authentic bush experience, and I haven't relaxed so much on a holiday in years!! It is impossible not to. The surroundings are absolutely exquisite, you can relax at the swimming pool if you like and there is an incredible sky walk that leads you into the bush away from everything where you can comfortably sit and read a book or immerse yourself in the amazing view and the nature all around you. The game drives were an adventure with the tracker in the front of the vehicle looking for prints and the game-ranger who opened a world of incredible facts and stories about this magical place. Thank you Ezulwini for such a memorable time, and I Can't wait to come back.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank pumpkinpip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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271 reviews from our community

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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (74)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
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English first
Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 March 2014

We spent 5 nights at Ezulwini Billy's Lodge and I find it difficult to find the words to describe our experience. I chose 'Unexpected' because no matter what I thought I was walking into, my wildest dreams could not have come up with this amazing location. Beautiful, luxurious, wild, and pristine. The accommodations were as good as any I've ever stayed at around the World. Then the staff made the entire experience 'Unforgettable'. Billy's Lodge has what I can only describe as an extended family at the helm. I miss our hostess Glory's smile and voice already, and Aubrey's exuberant greeting and laugh echoes easily in my memories. Tracker Frans, in addition to his amazing talents with the animals in the bush, makes a very welcoming cup of coffee each morning, and along with Rex, our veteran guide in the bush, made each and every safari outing unforgettable and FUN. The accolades could go on and on, but the bottom lines is simply GO!

Room Tip: The Ultra Luxury Suites really are worth the upgrade.
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Allison B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boulder, Colorado
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 January 2014

We spent 4 days at Ezulwini and our experience was outstanding. Billy's Lodge is charming and luxurious (esp considering it's out in the bush), Lauren and her staff are attentive and welcoming and the safari drives are exhilarating and peaceful depending on whether you are discovering magnificent African animals or simply enjoying the fresh air and beautiful land, birds and company. Our trackers were very knowledgeable and made every effort to show us a good time and find the Big 5 (we did). The food and wine were delicious...Billy's Lodge has a beautiful wine cellar and one evening we were entertained by the staff with local song, dance and traditional BBQ. Animals come right up to the lodge...it's magical. We hope to return again with our children next time (suggested age over 12).

Room Tip: Deluxe suites are beautiful and include outdoor shower & small private pool. There is also a la...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank toughbutterfly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wellington, Florida
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
Reviewed 20 January 2014

While we have traveled extensively throughout the world this was our first trip to Africa and we didn't really know what to expect in the Bush as they say. The first thing i would say is that the Ezulwini accommodations far exceeded what i thought we would have to deal with in the bush. We are talking 5 star here. We stayed in the deluxe rooms which i would highly recommend. The beds were especially comfortable and the rooms very large with indoor and outdoor showers. The rooms are very quiet and secluded.
The service was Ritz-Carlton like in terms of attention to detail and genuine desire to make sure we had everything we ever needed. The food was excellent and frankly probably too much. They had a barbecue night with the staff singing and dancing. We were blown away... Oh and for those of you into fine wines - they have a fantastic wine cellar and wine tasting night.

We also had the good fortune to have the best tracker with us for most of the trip and we were able to see the big 5 - eElephants, Rhino's, Giraffe, Leopard and Lions. They even took us on a nature walk and taught us how to "track." Every night when we returned from the safari we were greeted with a hot towel and a night cap. Very easy to get accustomed.

We will surely return to theKruger and i can't imagine staying anywhere else.

Room Tip: they have two types of rooms - standard and deluxe. The deluxe are the way to go if you can afford i...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Andy L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, Washington
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 January 2014

Ezulwini totally exceeded my expectations in so many ways; the staff, the lodges, the food and of course, the wildlife.

I consider myself pretty well traveled, and this is definitely on my top 5 list of places I have visited.

Some highlights:

Both lodges are 5 star for bush accomodations; very quiet and comfortable, beautiful thatched buildings and the communal spaces for eating :many wonderful decks also for hanging out & reading and watching passing wildlife.

The people! I can't say enough good things about everyone working at Ezulwini: the service is prompt, personalized and friendly: we were treated like royalty! Some standouts: Joe, who went above and beyond at all times: even to the point of going to the trouble to organize a special dinner in the bush for our last night. Eddie was one step ahead of us and always had a cold beer ready at just the right moment. Then, of course Gloria, the hostess with the mostess, made us feel right at home at Billy's lodge even when we were already missing our new friend's from River Lodge! The owner, Lawrence, also was extremely generous with his unique wine cellar!

The wildlife: breathtaking! Our ranger & trackers were truly unbelievable getting us up close and personal with a variety of animals, whilst totally being in tune with the animals so it was a good experience for everyone. A special shout out to Greg & Richard here, they made each drive unique and less about "just the big five" which allowed us to spot some really rare species.

The week at Ezulwini, was the most relaxing experience I can imagine, combined with sheer joy at observing magnificent wildlife in their native environment. Go there now!

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank seattle_brit_helen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
london
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 January 2014

I don't know what happened here as all the other guests were also complaining bitterly. It is difficult to see how it can have deteriorated so much since the other reviews were written.
The management was almost never in evidence.
Rangers were surly and spoke very little English. They did not answer direct questions about the game we saw and nor offer any spontaneous comments. They also refused to stop when we saw things that interested us such as birds even though we often saw little else. They drove too fast to spot wildlife and often fast enough to risk damaging cameras. After everyone in the lodge complained, the manager did start driving the game drives and he was knowledgable and engaging but he was not around apart from the drives.
The food was so basic as to be embarrassing- a choice of vegetable or beef stew for Christmas Eve dinner, a choice of jelly or ice cream for dessert. Food was incredibly slow to arrive and individually plated which meant you ate alone as if you waited for the whole table to be served the food would have been cold and congealed. On Christmas Day they managed a very limited buffet saying the meat choices were chicken, lamb or goat! Goat in fact appeared to be ham which was probably slightly better except for all the Jewish guests who were understandably upset.
There was no wine list and they promptly sold the entire stock of wine which we had enjoyed to departing guests even though it was Christmas and there was no chance of replacing.
Smoking was allowed anywhere which meant that much of the lodge was out of bounds for non-smokers whilst a party of chain smokers set up residence.
I could go on but I think this gives the flavour of it.
We discovered that almost everyone who stays there has bought the trip by charity auction which means they may not have researched beforehand. If you have done and can change, I suggest you do so.

Room Tip: The suites are very nice but the wifi only reaches the standard rooms. No cell reception in any room...
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
15 Thank LondonCarla69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EzulwiniLodges, Owner at Ezulwini Game Lodges, responded to this review, 18 January 2014
Dear LondonCarla,

We are so sorry and shocked to hear of your experience at Ezulwini!

We are addressing all your concerns as we take this extremely seriously.

We would love the opportunity of hosting you again and ensure you that your experience will be greatly enhanced!

Kind Regards
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 January 2014

This review combines my feelings about safari and Ezulwini River Lodge. It’s difficult to separate the two because I think the lodge inflects one’s experience of safari. The other thing I should mention upfront is that I was on safari in December, which is the rainy season. The rainy season is not an ideal time to glimpse animals because the trees are in full leaf and because the abundance of water means that beasties are not forced to congregate at watering holes.

At Ezulwini River Lodge there are two activities: morning safari and evening safari. When it rains, there is no safari. Safari in this case means piling into a Land Rover and cruising the narrow paths through the bush stopping occasionally when animals appear. Each drive lasts about 3-4 hours.

Some things I did not expect:

1. Aside from safari, there’s not much to do. There is a pool, but it was so milky that I was afraid to swim in it.
2. Bear in mind that once you’re in the game park, you really can’t go anywhere since you are in the middle of the bush. Also, you can’t leave the lodge other than by car. I was beginning to feel a bit trapped and under-exercised. There is no fitness facility. There is no gift shop. There are no TVs in the lodges (although you may be able to request one, I think). There are no snacks. Yeah, I know I’m here for the animals, but still…
3. The food was fine. I was happy that they accommodated my vegetarianism.
4. The service was fine too. We were a bit surprised that the recommended tip amount was 75 to 200 USD per room per day! Like I said, the service was fine, but not worth the recommended gratuity amount-- not by a long shot. Our fellow guests agreed with this assessment too.
5. Your experience will also be shaped by your fellow guests, since you’ll be sharing long rides in the Range Rover with them, as well as sharing communal meals. Some of the guests were charming; some were dreadful.

The isolation and limited activity I describe above means an inordinate amount of focus is placed on spotting animals. It can become an obsession. Can I see the Big 5 before my stay is over? While I was there I really cared that I did not glimpse a big cat or a rhino. Now that I am back home, I don’t care so much. What came over me?

There may be other kinds of safari lodges out there that offer you more than just two safari drives a day. I think some offer walks. Others might have more amenities, like clean pools, spas and workout rooms. If so, I would seek those out before booking at Ezulwini.

Room Tip: Try to get a room with an outdoor shower. They are exhilarating. (Plus our indoor shower did not w...
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
11 Thank greypalmer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Ezulwini Game Lodges

Property: Ezulwini Game Lodges
Address: Ezulwini Billy's & River Lodge | Olifants West Section, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Balule Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 21 Speciality Lodging in Balule Nature Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:3 star — Ezulwini Game Lodges 3*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ezulwini, the Zulu word for 'Place of Paradise', is situated in the centre of the Greater Kruger National Park, Balule Nature Reserve section, where Africa remains unspoiled. Ezulwini prides itself on being able to offer an exceptional African setting, indigenous fauna and flora as well as unique character and charm, to provide you with an authentic experience. Ezulwini Billy's Lodge nestles deep in the heart of lion country and offers three standard chalets as well as three new luxury suites with their own lounge area, private deck and plunge pool, indoor and outdoor shower and super King-Size beds. Ezulwini River Lodge is on the famous Olifants River, with large riverine trees and wonderful sightings of elephant, hippo and crocodile. River Lodge offers 4 standard rooms and 4 Ultra Luxury Suites. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ezulwini Game Hotel Balule Private Game Reserve
Ezulwini Game Lodges South Africa/Kruger National Park

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