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“Unbelievable--seeing the animals and Tangala itself”

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Tangala Safari Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 10 October 2013

Spent 5 wonderful days at Tangala in September. It is an amazing place. on the drive in, via shuttle, saw my first couple of giraffe's! Couldn't believe how tall and beautiful they are! then arrived and Louw welcomedus with a drink, news that we'd soon have high tea and to our chalets. I had #4.
They are large and lovely. The mosquito netting gives a beautiful presentation. Had a very nice bathroom. lovely deck on the chalet facing a meadow, or what in bush language, with wildlife, antelope family, eating and resting.

so reported to the main area. It's a wonderful large open living room, just as you'd see in the movies Louw was taking drink orders for the sundowner on the evening run and Margaret had cooked up sumptuous trats for us and we could have tea or coffee or a drink as the bar was right there.

the bar prices were like $2 US. great drinksand sodas, water.
so we had our high tea and then awaiting us was this beautiful green land rover with elevated rows of seats. met the amazing Phillip our tracker who rides on a seat on the hood of the land rover and he and Louw track.

so we set off across the beautiful field, is it veld, sunny, blue sky. first met the Thornybushes and they are thorny Tangala goes off the road and that is a wild adventure. on our first run we came first upon the elephants. I was in love. They are magnificent, sweet, wise, huge, amazing and they were eating branches as it was early spring and the trees and shrubs had not blossomed into green food. Then rhinos, a buffalo, and then LIONS, wow!! couldn't believe their beauty. also a leopard, which is a hugely special sighting.

We turned 8ish to the camp and Alex awaited us with hot towels and brandy. at the drum we came for dinner. what an event that is. we are all seated around a huge fire. first alex delivers Margaret's home made bread and asks if we'd like some--of course!! and then Margaret addresses the group with the evening's menu: a butternut soup, a main course, steak, or chops or pot roast with vegetables, something special for the one vegetarian, (me) and then some fabulous dessert. After that, it's sleep time.

Morning comes and Alex knocks at 5:30 am and we find a fabulous fire going and can have coffee, tea, I had rooibus and love it, and some biscotti like south African biscuits. then we are off for the morning run.

the trees are silver now as they are dormant and the african sky in early morning is the most wonderful blue, not turquoise, but a blue that is warm but so goes with silver and the tan of the ground. We soon find elephants, a cheeta, lions and they are are stunning. we even saw a honey badger.

My friend Lisa counted 35 animals.

Tangala has a large amount of land and 5 chalets. There is comfortable lodge with sofa, an open deck, a bar, inside and outside eating areas, the dinner, morning coffee fire pt and then the icing on the cake is the large water hole in front looking forward from the deck. We were thinking of reading or napping but it was wonderful watching animals walking by, in the distance but were visible--baboons, wildebeest, giraffes, all kinds of antelope, special birds, those darling warthogs.

oh we'd have one of Margaret's wonderful breakfasts after the morning run, high tea and then the game run. on the morning run we'd stop for coffee, tea and the biscotti treat and then had the Sundowner in the evening. There is nothing quite like a drink and snacks with new friends as the sun sets in the bush. Then we'd be off to find a lipid or a cheetah.

I was in awe of the animals my entire time. I couldn't believe how wonderful they were. I must return to see them. I missed Tangala so terribly on my return. It is a magic place. They are so attuned to visitors, so attentive, so well run--definitely 5 star.

Thanks to Louw, Chanel, Margaret, Phillip, Alex and Karin for all you did to make my trip so wonderful. And thank you as stewards of this special amazing piece of the African bush for all you do to maintain and care for it and the people who live there.

On last thing. I loved also our fellow travelers, Maria,Luis, Nico, Julie and Gary and the rest. we were such a fun group.

I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to visit Tangala. Karin P. was so helpful in trip preparation as I wanted to study a lot about South Africa before going there. still have more to do.

Oh and my friends love the animal pictures and are amazed at what you took us to see. Not off in the distance but right there, a lion maybe passing by at 6 feet, the huge herd of elephants maybe the closest 10 feet. and those crazy driver through the thornybushs--perfect excitement with the reward of a cheetah, lipid (leopard) sighting or whichever beautiful animal.
thanks so much!
Joan xo

Room Tip: Not sure how a fitness center fits in a safari camp except you need to be fit to climb into a land r...
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Joan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 13 October 2013

Ah, Joan, we are so delighted that Tangala - and Africa - lived up to your expectations. We know how much planning and research went into your trip.
We know you will be back: once Africa has spoken to your soul in such a profound way, she never leaves you. Fond regards to you from all at the camp.

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58 - 64 of 133 reviews

Reviewed 8 October 2013

We stayed for 3 nights in chalet number 4.

The reserve in general is very nice, quiet, situated in the heart of the bush. Clean, spacious rooms. Fantastic cleaning & catering staff who were friendly and always helpful. The game drives were quite incredible since we saw the whole big 5 in one drive! It is truly such a peaceful and relaxing space.

However, there are a couple of issues I would like to mention. Firstly, the pool was filthy for our whole stay, and besides the pool there is nothing else to do so I was quite disappointed that we were unable to use it. Secondly, the service from the manager Louw was terrible. I called and emailed Tangala a couple of days beforehand to let them know we would be arriving late and that they should be ready for us. We arrived at a locked gate and had to call numerous persons before someone finally opened up the gate for us. Once we arrived at reception we once more had to literally wake up Louw to take us to our chalet. Then on our last night we spoke to Louw on various occasions regarding our check out. We had to leave at a specific time as we had a very long drive back home. He kept on saying "just now", so we finally decided to just get our wallet to settle and when we came back he had disappeared. The next morning we went to the staff available - Louw was on a game drive - and they told us that nothing had been arranged in regards to our check out. Now, we paid our bill but the problem was that we needed Louw's signature on a permit to let us out. We felt this was incredibly unprofessional as we said to him we wanted to leave early and this now would force us to wait until he got back from his game drive - 2 hours later than we wanted to leave. In the end we faked his signature and left.

Then, just so one is aware: 1) you have no option regarding the food and you have to eat what is served, (2) if you come from South Africa be prepared to be treated like a second class citizen compared to the visitors from abroad - who were treated so well whereas we felt quite left out. (3) you will be woken up for the morning game drive even if you SPECIFICALLY asked not to be woken up

Overall not a bad place, just the management that needs serious revamping.

Room Tip: There are only 6 chalets, but number 5 has been newly renovated and should therefore be the better o...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank MSwanepoel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 10 October 2013

Thanks for writing a review and we are truly pleased that you had such great game viewing.

Regarding your late arrival - yes, the camp was advised but it is generally not permitted in any game reserves in South Africa, to allow guests in late at night, for security reasons. Unfortunately your late arrival was almost near midnight, which made it difficult to respond timeously. Perhaps next time you will remember to build travel time in that will allow a more manageable arrival time? That will make things more comfortable for you.

The pool issue is being looked into: a buffalo fell into the pool a week before and messed it up and it was emptied and thoroughly cleaned afterwards, so I am truly surprised to hear that you couldn't use it along with the other guests who were enjoying the good weather, at the same time.

May I assure you that we draw no distinctions between local and foreign guests. Each guest is treated as a valued client and a unique individual and treated accordingly.

Your disappointment is regrettable.

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Reviewed 30 September 2013

We have just had the pleasure of spending 3 wonderful days at Tangala with our four teenage children. The game viewing was some of the best we have ever experienced. The food was tasty, homely and more than enough for 3 hungry teenage boys. The staff were all welcoming and made sure that our experience was one that we will never forget. We can't wait to go back!

Room Tip: If you are a couple ask for the room with the king size bed.
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank Janine B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 3 October 2013

Thanks for taking the time to write the review - this information is so valuable to both us and to intended visitors.
We are delighted that the bush treated you so well and, of course, look forward to welcoming you and your teenage boys (and all their friends) back again, soon. Keep in touch with us via Facebook if you'd like a peek into what is going on at Tangala, while you are away: https://www.facebook.com/TangalaThornybush?ref=hl and please share some of your pics with the Tangala family.

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Reviewed 29 September 2013

My wife and I spent four nights at Tangala Private Camp in March 2013. The manager then was Stephen Smith, but he left that post soon after our visit. The majority of the staff, however, seems to remain at Tangala Private Camp even when its ownership changes, so I'm sure the game drives, food, and everything else is just as good as ever. There are about a dozen places to stay in Thornybush Reserve, some quite expensive, but as our guide noted, everyone sees the same animals. And we saw just about everything we could have hoped for, except for the elusive leopard -- though not for lack of trying by our guide and tracker. Just watching these guys track leopards was a treat!

But, back to the camp. I'll try to be brief, because the other reviews on this site already go into detail about the accommodations. I didn't mind the lack of Wi-Fi (it was nice to be off the grid for a few days), but I didn't love the lack of electricity. Not because I wanted to plug stuff in (the camp can charge cameras with its solar panels), but because I got tired of breathing kerosene fumes from the lanterns. The food is kept refrigerated using gas generators, so there's no environmental benefit to the no-electric thing. And, of course, it was dark in our room (it looks bright in my flash photos, but those are deceiving), which is why my wife didn't initially see the Mozambique spitting cobra that slithered (we presume) through one of the unscreened windows for a cool afternoon nap on our bathroom floor. On my wife's way back from the loo, the snake hissed and assumed his defensive posture, erect with hood out. My wife (who has a thing about snakes) froze, and I went and fetched Stephen. He was expecting a garden-variety snake but not this rarely seen species, which he immediately identified. He stood between the snake and my wife and she summoned her courage to move; then he returned with goggles, the ranger and a snake-catching device, and they bagged the serpent. My wife got a lot of mileage out of this story back home in New York, but she will be staying at places with lights and screens from now on! The staff assured us that this kind of thing is exceedingly rare. Otherwise, it's nice to have animals roaming through the camp, especially as you enjoy an afternoon drink or a wholesome breakfast (see photos of the food).

Overall, we had a fabulous time. It was my first safari since 1982 and my wife's first ever, and she was thrilled to get so close to so many animals. The camp is small; all the guests fit in one Land Rover for the twice-daily game drives. Once, there was just the two of us!

To get to Tangala, we rented a car in Hatfield, a suburb of Pretoria (a short Gautrain ride got us to Hatfield), then drove the 5+ hours to the camp, which is just south of Hoedspruit. The route recommended to us had one stretch of nasty potholes on R36, one of which dented our tire rim (I fetched the hubcap from the roadside), but we found a better route on the way home (switching to R540). It's a much nicer drive during the day -- beautiful mountains. But it's possible to get stuck behind slow-moving trucks on the mountain passes, so budget time for that. Other folks take the southern route through Nelspruit, spending more time on R4. Probably less scenic but a more predictable drive.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Erik E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 3 October 2013

Wow - good to hear from you after all this time and so brilliant that your memories of your time at Tangala are as sharp as if it were yesterday!
They staff are correct - snakes abound in the bush but it is REALLY unusual to find them lurking around the accommodation area. This has happened once in the time that we have been associated with Tangala and the previous owners seemed equally surprised: what an experience for you!
There have been quite a few staff changes since you were here, but as you will see from the latest reviews, all good!
Thanks especially for the advice to other travellers on the scenic road route you took: very helpful.
If you aren't on our Facebook page already - see you there! https://www.facebook.com/TangalaThornybush?ref=hl

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Reviewed 28 September 2013

having spent 3 nights at this camp last year seeing wild dogs with pups we woundered if this time could match up
but I have to say it not only matched but bettered the experience
the game viewing was quite spectacular either in the camp at the waterhole or on game drives
and with food and service of 5 star quality we never wanted to leave nothing was to much trouble for the staff and when we asked to stay on for an extra night due to the lion kill in camp it was all sorted out with no fuss even at such short notice
so its a big thank you to Lowu and staff for a fantastic time the best 5 days ever spent on safari
will certainly be back next year
gary and Julie

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank gap_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 29 September 2013

SO glad that Tangala surpassed your expectations: it certainly was an exciting week in camp, wasn't it. Look forward to your next visit! Meantime, keep in touch on Facebook and please share some of your pics?

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Reviewed 26 September 2013

We spent three nights at this intimate private lodge. Louw and his team make you feel at home from the moment your arrive. The lodge only caters for 10 guests in 5 rooms. Animals visit the waterhole throughout the day and we were fortunate to see a male lion visit the waterhole. The absence of electricity adds to the ambiance. Margaret's cooking is exceptional and the afternoon high tea was a treat.The game drives were exciting and Louw took us right up to the animals.We saw the big 5 within our first two game drives. We arrived as strangers and left as friends.

Room Tip: Room 6 has a king size bed and a huge private deck. This room however has a bathtub and not a shower...
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank EtrRsa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 29 September 2013

Thanks for taking the time to write a good, descriptive review. We are sure that it will assist other travellers in making their decisions about how long to stay at Tangala.

We do, however, like our service to be 100%. If you would like to drop us a note, explaining what was lacking during your time with us, it would be sincerely appreciated.

karinp@tangalathornybush.co.za

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Reviewed 25 September 2013

What Tangala lacks in electricity, wifi and mod cons, it more than makes up for with its friendliness, fabulous food (courtesy of Margaret), and its amazing waterhole.

With Louw providing excellent game drives early in the morning, and in the evening, it was lovely to sit on the deck during the day, and watch the various animals come down to the waterhole to drink. With the numerous nyala roaming the camp, and the resident porcupines and side-striped jackal, wildlife was always close at hand.

The rooms, whilst rustic, offer extremely comfortable beds, and the paraffin lamps add to the ambience.

If you're looking for an impersonal, high-end lodge, from which to see your Big Five (which we did in Thornybush Reserve - where Tangala is located), then Tangala is not for you. However, if you're looking for a communal, friendly lodge, with an excellent guide, great food, and the waterhole to die for, then this is definitely the place for you.

Linda & Chris, UK

Room Tip: The veranda for room 6 offers good views over wildlife-rich grasslands.
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Chris C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Karin P, Owner at Tangala Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 26 September 2013

Such a well-written description of what Tangala is, and isn't. Thank you for that.
I think you may have left just before the gentle wildlife you encountered in the camp was replaced by both a buffalo falling into the swimming pool and a large pride of lion killing a giraffe right outside room 6! They then settled in for a couple of days, much to the delight of our guests from the US.
It would be lovely to welcome you back again and thanks so much for taking the trouble to write the review.
If you would like to elaborate on why the service was only rated as a 4, we would really like that. You can send your comments to karinp@tangalathornybush.co.za - we can't always guarantee good sightings and a solid sleep but we should be offering 5* service at every encounter.

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Additional Information about Tangala Safari Camp

Address: Thornybush reserve | Hoedspruit, Kruger National Park 1240, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 12 Speciality Lodging in Thornybush Private Game Reserve
Price Range: £171 - £1,316 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Tangala Safari Camp 3*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An intimate and personal experience awaits you at Tangala Safari Camp which is located in the heart of the world renowned Thornybush big 5 Game Reserve bordering the Greater Kruger. The camp boasts sweeping views overlooking an expansive and active waterhole, with the majestic Drakensberg Mountain Range forming an impressive backdrop. With our eco-friendly camp, great hosting, comfortable accommodation and thrilling game drives, guests are assured an unforgettable experience. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tangala Safari Camp Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa

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