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“Homely hospitality with no fuss, just packed with adventure.”
Review of Jackalberry Lodge

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Jackalberry Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 19 March 2014

As seasoned travelers my husband and I know the difference between authentic caring hospitality and the pretenders. This is the real deal! No doubt about that. When you leave you will feel like you just left favorite family or friends.
From the arrival where the greetings are informal and friendly, through the amazing homely stay to the last wave as you sadly leave this place is amazing.
With just a few rooms you feel you can stretch out on the property.
Their attention to detail includes a huge African styled bowl of bath salts, sewing kit, bath slippers, robes and other away-from-home necessities. I needed dental floss which I did not expect them to have, but they had it fetched from town! Miles away on flood ridden muddy roads to the nearest village. And they did not want me to pay for it!!
The staff learnt our names and never faltered to remember who was who. Then they remembered what we liked to drink and eat as well as our likes and dislikes. I do not like vegetables whilst my husband does. I was compensated with larger portions of starch and protein and my husband was given more veg. Pure heaven in their wilderness. If it is the big five you are after that's all you will see here. Maybe the odd antelope, giraffe or smaller mammals but this is Big 5 country. Unashamedly. By our first game drive we had seen the Big 5 and saw a variety of gatherings and behavior of the Big 5. Bloodied cubs after a feed, In excess of 100 Buffalo in a pond and around nervous and twitching before a storm. Elephant bull in must (!) chasing cows who were carefully evading his attentions. The female Lion we found was not so lucky and mating Lions then added to our sighting over the years. Many firsts for us.
The rangers, trackers, cooks and bar staff all worked so well as a team. Will avoid mentioning any by name as the team is what we remember.
Thinking back we find ourselves wondering what each are doing and will do and realize we think of them as friends and family.

As I said we are seasoned travelers and collect experiences and this was definitely a very unique experience.

Often these lodges get one chance to Wow guests. They made excellent use of their one chance impress us and we suspect if we returned will find all the same. I suspect their brand of hospitality is natural borne from a passion for what they do. So I do not think their great hosting of us was a lucky break for us, but just the way they roll in the their special corner of the world.

So happy I was allowed into their world and showed their wonders. Thank You Jackalberry - You all Rock!!!!

Room Tip: Does not matter really. All good. We stayed in Room 7 and loved it. Could not see any better or less...
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank CapeTownBear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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124 - 130 of 285 reviews

Reviewed 20 February 2014

We flew into Hoedspruit on Dec 24 and arranged a transfer to Jackalberry lodge, approx 40 min away. From the moment we arrived, the staff were attentive and friendly. We travelled with our good friends from Canada who had 2 children, ages 13 and 11. They were given a lovely family suite and we had a comfortable separate unit close by. The staff all made an effort to learn our first names - impressive. We saw all the big 5 plus plus while in the bush and got quite close to a few animals. It was a magical Christmas experience that will always be in our memories. Thank you!

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank SusanW51
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 February 2014

We spent the New Year's holiday at this magnificent lodge. On every measure, it surpassed our expectations! We can't say enough about the hospitality of everyone at the lodge. From Atasha's warm welcome back after each game drive, to the chef and servers and most certainly ranger Willie and John, our spotter, it was very personal and we were made to feel welcome and at home. The lodges were beautifully decorated and felt like a five star resort in the bush. The home cooked meals were delicious with the New Year's eve bbq of African cuisine a highlight. But what made the trip extraordinary was Willie, our ranger whose knowledge, expertise and professionalism made our games drives an experience none of us will ever forget. We really learned about the 'circle of life' in the bush and learned to appreciate the role that even the insects play in this web of life. Willie went over and above to make sure that we not only saw the 'magnificent 7' but experienced them upfront and personal! Everyone who works at the lodge is dedicated and passionate about what they do and their pride shines through to all who visit. We would highly recommend this to anyone who wants a top notch safari experience. We hope to return the next time we are in Africa.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
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Thank lindjess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 February 2014

We recently spent four nights at this lodge, and this place is nothing short of amazing. Rooms, food, service, and game drives were fantastic. Brad, and Lucas took a great deal of interest in making sure that we saw the "Magnificient Seven". We had arrived from having done three safaris in Botswana where we had seen a lot of wildlife. This was the place to see the Big Five, plus Cheetah, and wild dogs. Where else would you find a Spa which overlooks a watering hole where wild animals hang out? Thank you all for a most memorable stay.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Don B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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
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Additional Information about Jackalberry Lodge

Address: Guernsey Road | Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, 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: £644 - £731 (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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