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Jackalberry Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 12 January 2014

I went to Jackalberry on a Site Inspection and although a very long drive ot was well worth it! There were a few times we had gotten lost but, we never had to phone Karlien(the General Manager) she had phoned us to see if we were okay and would explain to us step by step how to get there, HA she could give a garmin a few lessons!!

But, that is what had amde the experience so amazing because we ha not even arrived and we received not even a 5* service but 7*!!

Then the rooms were impressive...(im am not one for the bush, but wow did i feel at home) beautifully laid out, comfortable, decor amazing - I tell you words cannot descirbe it! And I was there with amazing friends too...so taht made it even better!!

THEN let me et to the food....wine...BOMA FIRE oh and ELEPHANTS soooo close to us...but we still felt safe! Our Ranger - was wonderful, funny and service was fantastic!!!

I will most definately go back! I will reccommend Jackalberry lodge to all my friends and family as well as colleagues - BEST EVER!!! And Karlien is a wonderful manager, with great experience and her service is impeccable!!

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled on business
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1  Thank Jeannet A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 9 January 2014

We stayed here over Christmas for 5 nights and had a lovely time. We have been on safari before, so we felt no pressue to see the big 5. The game drives (we had Rees) were excellent, and we stopped and heard animals and watched mating displays and saw things that you wouldn't have seen if we had been chasing around after the big 5. We did see the big 5.. On one occassion we saw something like 9 different rhino in one day!!

On to the lodge.. I thought the maximum number of guests was 16... 7 rooms in total. 6 sleep 2 people and one sleeps 4... Not the case. There were 18 when we stayed. Not a major issue, but not what we had thought.. Also I had read reviews about the food, and I have to say I was bitterly dissapointed! Not sure if the chef was off when we were there, but I spent the first two days hungry! Breakfast was ok, but nothing to shout about. Lunch was average at best.. Everything was so sweet.. We had some kind of burger one day and the bun was a donught?! The meat itself was sweet as well, and there wasn't much of an option. Dinners were ok. To be fair, Christmas dinner was wonderful, but the rest of it was just ok.. As an example, we had one evening when we were the only guests. They did a lovely romantic meal for us at our room. Starter was a single slice of aubergene (not properly cooked), a single slice of raw tomato with some melted cheese on top (melted, not browned off). There was then a VERY sweet sauce around the rest of the plate. They only had to cook for 2 people! Another bug bear was the lack of staff during the day. After breakfast, the staff disapear. We tried calling room service on one day, and no one answered.. Previously we stayed at Serondella and the food really was amazing then, as was the service.

The rooms were nice. They had everything you could have wanted. It was nice to have a fridge, and we did indulge in the bath watching out... Sadly the room (we were in room 4) looked into the camp rather than out of the camp, and you can't see the watering hole clearly, unless you go up to the massage room.. Aren't you here to watch the animals? Anyway, the rooms were nice and clean and secure.

Jackalberry is good, but certainly not excellent.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank HongKongCathy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 January 2014

We stayed at the Jackalberry Lodge in early October 2013 (only now getting around to submitting our review). We booked a tour through Lion Word Travel, a deal we found on the site "Travel Zoo," so we did not select the Jackalberry Lodge ourselves. Through "dumb luck" we ended up with this unbelievable, unforgettable experience.

First, the accommodations could not have been better. Small, luxuriously comfortable without being pretentious, delicious meals and drinks, friendly accommodating staff, air-conditioned individual casitas. You will read people's reviews (including this one), see the pictures, but being there is something quite indescribable. They truly do have everything just right.

But having said all of this, you are there to see the animals, right? And in this, you will not be disappointed. More "dumb luck." Did you know that when you go to Kruger, you can't go off-road? Your Jackalberry Lodge guides know where the animals are, and they will take you there, wherever "there" is. We saw the big 5 (lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) numerous times, and that was great, but it was the many more animals, birds, sunrises, sunsets, trees, plants that made our outings so fabulous. Sitting safely in your jeep, off-road, positioned first in front of and then behind 20 elephants as they forage in and around you is indescribable. Listening to the myriad of bird calls. Watching the graceful movements of the many varieties of antelope. Seeing Dumbo for real (really!). What about those majestic giraffes? Truly, you will not be disappointed. Doesn't matter if you don't see all the big 5 on your outing (maybe the leopard just isn't there that week); you will see and experience so much more. You will be comfortable, safe, eat good food, be with wonderful people -- what more can you ask for?

  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank SeattleBea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 January 2014

Just returned from Jackalberry Lodge after another great visit. The lodges have been upgraded and rooms are super comfortable. The size of the reserve has recently increased by about 20% as well. Rangers (Reece!) are tops; great game viewing in pristine African bush.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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2  Thank Dave1q
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 December 2013

The lodge was outstanding, from all of the staff to the rooms and the location. The staff paid attention to each guest's needs and desires. They even made gluten free meals for one of the guests, and special meals for vegetarians. The "cook" was exceptional and very friendly. When the weather permitted, dinner was served around a beautiful fire and the natural sounds of Africa in the evening. At each dinner one of the rangers joined the guests and participated in the conversations and answered any questions from the days adventures. The "host" of the lodge. Atasha was wonderful. After each safari, she awaited the guests arrival with fresh hand towels, and inquired about each experience with great enthusiasm. About the safaris: one must understand that this is on a private game reserve, but you never get the feeling that it is one very large zoo, because it is not. It is the wilderness and the animals are wild. If you want to see the "big five", go with any ranger (some have called them guides) and take your photos. If you want to experience Africa and all that it has to offer, request Willie. With Willie as your ranger, you will quickly learn it is not about a check list of the animals you saw. It is about becoming one with this part of Africa, all of the sounds, smells, sights, and animal behaviors. Yes, as others have said, Willie is passionate about his craft, and he does spend time on foot, rifle in hand, searching for fresh kills and elusive wild animals, and each time he returns, you learn more about Africa, and for that I can not thank him enough. One time out, we were driving along the dirt road, and Willie stops the jeep and says, "do you smell that?"; none of us did, but we soon learned how to identify the smell of a day old leopard kill, and soon after, all of the other jeeps came to see. Of note, there are other lodges on this private reserve, and you do see other jeeps, but they have a "rule" that no more than two jeeps can be at any one sighting, which is really admirable. I would highly recommend Jackalberry Lodge, and Willie to anyone who wants to experience something beyond a safari.

Room Tip: All room are excellent. Two rooms have views of the small watering hole and are open to the bush (6...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank OCinnamon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 November 2013

An unbelievable three night stay at Jackalberry Lodge exceeded my expectations 1000 fold. The rooms were clean and spacious with great air conditioning, the food was excellent, and the staff could not be more accommodating. Now the game drives....we were a group of 12, so we were 6 per jeep. Although I can honestly say I had a remarkable experience seeing "The Big Five" and more, unfortunately our ranger was not as passionate and informative as what we heard from ALL of the other 6 passengers in the other vehicle. While all 12 of us seemed to have viewed the same animals (sometimes on different days), we learned more from our traveling companions about the animals than from our ranger. They heard all and more, from their ranger, Willie, and sang his praises during, and after we left Jackalberry, leaving us to feel that our experience could have been a better one, had we had Willie as our ranger. I absolutely loved every minute of my time at Jackalberry, but found myself a little perturbed that my ranger was more interested in hooking up with his buddies for beers at night, than taking the time to make our experience equal to that of our traveling companions. I absolutely recommend Jackalberry Lodge without a doubt, but try to get Willie.

Stayed: November 2013, travelled with friends
2  Thank Osolemio1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 November 2013

A Very nice facility. The guides are excellent and there is reasonably good access to all the animals you will want to see. We saw all the big 5 but the only negative there was we had the more experienced guide (Willie) and we spent a good amount of time simply searching for the ever-elusive leopard. To their credit, Willie and Timba did finally track one down to complete our big 5 experience but we did lose a fair amount of potential game viewing time to that search while the other group got to see more animals since they let us do the "leopard hunting" and than got to take advantage of our success (all units are in radio contact). But it was still definitely a great overall experience. The food is actually quite good and you will not be disappointed, but it is NOT as over the top pure 5 star great as some posters have indicated. Also if you are getting up in years, the rooms are not particularly well lit, so reading anything at night can be somewhat of a challenge. Admittedly small negatives, but simply want to point out some areas that others have chosen to ignore. I would still be more than happy to go back.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank EPBUCKY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Jackalberry Lodge

Address: Guernsey Road | Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 2128, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 12 Speciality Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range: £526 - £665 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Jackalberry Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Jackalberry Lodge is a small, intimate establishment set deep in the Thornybush Nature Reserve, on the edge of the Kruger National Park. With just 7 rooms, all en-suite and tastefully furnished - you are guaranteed peace and tranquility during your stay. Locally sourced and expertly made meals are served outside under the stars, or pool-side depending on how you feel that day. Morning and evening game drives take you exploring in open vehicles with professional rangers and trackers, as you experience the abundance in wildlife, fauna and flora that that the African bush has to offer. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Jackalberry Hotel Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Jackalberry Lodge Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa

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