I'm a bit surprised by the other reviews of Tangala and therefore disappointed by my own trip there.
I am an experienced safari-goer over many years and in different parts of Africa, mainly South Africa; and like other reviewers have done everything from 'posh' lodges to week-long walking trips with fly-tents and long-drops. Each time we push ourselves a little further, to get the best experience, and Tangala was going to be our three days of being looked after and driven by an expert after a couple of weeks doing it all for ourselves.
Don't get me wrong - Jimmy was, as others have said, completely amazing - we did a lot on foot, walking into herds of buffalo for instance and literally talking our way out of danger, the same with lions. His attitude is amazing, and we clicked instantly. Liezl also could not be better - even guests turning up late before dinner and suddenly annoucing they were vegetarian didn't phase her (did they not read the forms? specify preferences? no electricity? everyone eats the same thing?) and Richard the chef was simply hilarious and food very good.
But two things to note.
One, Jimmy and Liezl have moved on in February. And with them goes most of the camp's uniqueness. They were too professional to say why; it was fairly obvious why they felt they had to go. Good luck to them - somewhere else will gain the benefit!
Second, our accommodation didn't hit the spot. I caught something from the bed, which from the outset was spongy and felt damp; the thatch leaked on our faces in the night and the bed was too heavy to move away from the drips; the bath was cracked and leaked all over the floor onto our things; the whole place was filthy and the shower pointed no higher than my thighs and it wasn't easy to get under it to get clean or refreshed. Oops I sound so moany!
I was absolutely not expecting luxury for that price, but where the boasted-about accommodation awards came from I have no idea. There's many another lodge in the bush at the same sort of price that can actually offer hygiene at least. And on our final day our much-anticipated trip out to find leopard, to be led by their expert tracker, was ruined at the last minute when the owners decided to send half the staff home on changed working shifts much to Jimmy's shock. And with an inexperienced tracker, no, we didn't see the leopard.
There are many, many things going for Tangala. The setting is fantastic, the communcal areas are generally fine (apart from the dangerous tiles round the pool but then, that was from buffalo coming down to drink regularly so let's forgive that one), there is game around and some of it is spectacular.
But just a couple of warnings - firstly, if you didn't know, Thornybush is fenced. And not huge. I still can't see how we missed that one (not apparently mentioned on the website) and it was disappointing after the windlerness we've had before - although in fairness, in three days we didn't quite see all of it.
And second, the best thing about the place was Liezl and Jimmy and they're not there any more.
I did write to Tangala by the way, to say that I'd love to recommend it to friends but felt I couldn't until the rooms were upgraded even a bit and they didn't bother to reply.
- 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
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- Also Known As:
- Tangala Safari Camp Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa