A stylish girl's guide to a South African safari with a perfect score for Ezulwini:
The Animals (because that's what you're there for, right!):
Saw the BIG FIVE in less than 48 hours! Couldn't believe it...Elephants everywhere, several leopard and lion sightings including 9 adorable and playful lion cubs, herds of of Cape buffalo and one elusive, rare black rhino that we stumbled upon. But that was just the beginning. We also spotted monkeys, jackals, wildebeest, hyenas (and pups), zebras, kudu, buzzards, waterbuck, warthogs and impala (of course!). And as if that wasn't enough, we witnessed a hippo fight, broke up a giraffe fight and almost had a front row seat for a leopard kill! These are not far off visuals. In many cases, you are mere feet away from the wildlife! A huge thank you to Lorence and Richard (River Lodge) and Conrad and France (Billy's Lodge) for their amazing tracking abilities. I seriously believe these guys want to find animals MORE than you want to find animals. And they don't give up until they exceed expectations! Another big thanks to the owner of Ezulwini who keeps the roof on all Ezulwini vehicles. We pitied guests at other lodges with roof-less vehicles who were left to bake in the sweltering mid-day sun and soaking wet with sad little ponchos on the rainy game drives. We were cool in the heat and dry in the rain! Style Tip: While I was forced to abandon my slim fitting dresses and skirts, there's no need to leave your heels at home. As long as you can climb in and out of the vehicle, feel free to look fabulous! Closed toed heels, dresses and skirts with full hemlines and plenty of animal print is a MUST! I admit that I had one uncomfortably long gaze from a leopard, where I took a split second to pray that he knew the difference between my zebra print jacket and a real zebra, but other than that, I enjoyed every minute of my stylish safari.
River Lodge vs. Billy's Lodge:
First and foremost, regardless of the lodge you prefer, spring for the room upgrade. Showering outside and watching elephants from the comfort of your private pool can't be beat! I actually witnessed an impala fight while shampooing...dead serious! Billy's Lodge is arguably the "nicer lodge", but I preferred the coziness of River Lodge. River Lodge: Josh, Abby and Glory are AMAZING! Probably some of the best people on earth. They MADE our trip. Abby and Glory provided 5 star service ALL THE TIME. Josh joined us for several meals and entertained us with some awesome stories. They went above and beyond 24 hours a day including surprising us with a private, champagne brunch on our anniversary. I don't even remember telling them we were celebrating our anniversary! Pools were perfectly clean (don't believe past reviews that say differently). River view was stunning. Animals were spotted under the sky walk almost every day. Meals were not only beautifully presented, but also delicious. And I even teared up during the BBQ song and dance...what was the matter with me?!?! It's just so rare in life for something to live up to high expectations you set and in this case, I was overcome with the beauty, romance, kindness and spirit by both the Ezulwini lodge and staff. I cannot thank them enough and I WILL see them soon. On to Billy's Lodge: Everything is larger, newer and nicer, but somehow I still preferred the charm of River Lodge. The staff is incredible (as expected) and experiencing the wine cave with Ezulwini's owner was a wonderful treat. We booked 3 nights at River and 4 nights at Billy's. Most wouldn't agree, but next time I'll do the opposite. Bonus points for the maids who kept our room spotless. I know what you're thinking...isn't that what all maids do, but NO! This team organized every item you brought every day to make sure you were completely comfortable. My lipsticks were literally lined up by color!
Wake up knock came at 5:30 a.m with coffee and biscuits served before the 6 a.m. morning game drive. Animal sightings will begin almost immediately. It's shocking how fast you stumble upon something awesome! It was a welcome break to stretch your legs and enjoy another cup of coffee or hot chocolate in the bush before the second half of your drive. "Cold breakfast" is ready upon your return...yogurt, cereal, an array of fresh fruit (some I didn't even recognize) and the most delicious muffins I've ever put in my mouth! But you're not done yet. Oh no! You'll still have the chance to order "hot breakfast" which includes eggs any way you want, sausage, bacon and toast with locally made jams. After breakfast (typically 10:30 a.m), it's your free time until 2:30 when lunch is served. Lay out at your pool, read a book, take a nap, admire animals from the sky walk, shower, get a massage...whatever you want. Lunch is on the lighter side, but after that big breakfast, you'll be grateful--wonderful salads, veggie pizzas, unusual cheeses, sandwiches, quiche, etc. The evening game drive starts at 4:30 p.m. Finding the perfect spot to exit the vehicle and watch the sunset with a glass of wine or cocktail in the bush was one of my favorite experiences. You'll return around 7:30 and freshen up for dinner at 8:00. Prepare yourself for a few choices in appetizers, entrees and desserts. We loved the 2 BBQ nights and the chance to try impala chops!
This was the trip of a lifetime and we WILL be back. Sure we could try other lodges, but why would we when Ezulwini was exceptional. Luxury for a bargain! I'm still in awe and will forever be thankful to the Ezulwini team for creating the PERFECT South African safari experience for us. Thanks again to Josh, Abbie, Aubrey, Lorence and the rest of the team. Be sure to check out my pictures!
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Ezulwini Game Hotel Balule Private Game Reserve
- Ezulwini Game Lodges South Africa/Kruger National Park