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“Amazing authentic Bush experience”

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Shindzela Tented Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Amazing authentic Bush experience”
Reviewed 28 September 2011

My wife and I recently visited Shindzela in early september and we couldn't have been more satisfied. Shindzela offers a unique experience. As a first timer... I think my wife and I realized how lucky we were when picking Shindzela after meeting 6 or so other couples. The couples we had the pleasure meeting had have been on many safaris and they all were extremely satisfied with the experience, most commenting it was the best or one of the best safaris they had been on.

The staff is very friendly, knowledgeable buy most importantly they are extremely passionate about what they do. Additionally, Mike, Dave and Sam go out of there way to ensure you have had a great experience.

Being in the bush is about the animals, and this camp has animals which come very close for you to observe. At camp we saw many elephants and water buffalo. This intimate camp has 6 or so tents on permanent wood structures with a comfortable beds, and bathroom. There is a small pool, a fire pit and a dinner area for 12. The food is exceptionally good.

A typical day consist of a morning drive starting around 6am . Around 930am you would have tea or coffee out in the bush by a lake. You would be back to camp close to 10 to am to have breakfast. After breakfast you have some downtime until 3pm when lunch is served. Most people relaxed, showered, took naps and read books in between the drives. After lunch you would go out for a drive until sunset. At sunset you'd have drinks out at the same lake out in the bush. There then would be a night drive for around an hour after sunset. Once back at camp you'd have dinner. There were instances of going back out again after dinner. Most nights the guest had drinks and talked at the dinning area or around the fire.

Overall some of the aspects this camp which differentiate it from others based on the veteran safari couples we met are as follows:
The plot of land is I believe 34km x34 km, no fences, and NO competition. There are two trucks a total of only 12 guest at a time. You have all the time in the world to observe any animal without interruption.
The staff are able to drive off road to approach any animal, providing the most up close and personal experience.
There aren't additional charges for night drives and night drives are conducted in an open roof landrover.
Staff go great lengths to do their best an make sure you see minimum big 5 and more.
The volume of animals might not be the same as much larger commercial camps, but then again it's quality not quantity. We were able to get less than 10 meters from watching 4 lions eat a wilderbeast. We sat there for as long as we'd like 30 or so minutes.
You can to Bush walks, which i completely recommend. Mike is very good at his job, and extremely qualified, studying at university for 4 years, taking additional certifications and having experience managing rangers at a much larger camp. He got back to what he loves, and his passion is very apparent. His walks are great.
Animals come withing a ruby field on camp. At 2am one night the camp was woke up by a huge male lion roaring. That is authentic. The next morning we tracked it.

I would recommend this experience to anyone.

- a very satisfied guest

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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
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2 Thank Grant G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
shindzela, Owner at Shindzela Tented Camp, responded to this review, 27 October 2011
Hi Grant,
Thank you for such a detailed response.
In particular, we are delighted that you enjoyed Mike's guiding knowledge and passion - we are lucky to have Mike as part of our team. (Although we believe that about everyone at Shindzela!) I know everyone enjoyed your visit to camp. Hope you had some wonderful memories to take home and hope to see you again. Laura
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Johannesburg, South Africa
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 20 September 2011

We spent 5 days at the camp and had an unforgetable time - on the first night we woke up to buffalo grazing around our tent and were lucky enough to see 4 leopard on the trip. The wildlife was abundant and we were even more lucky to enounter a herd of elephant where one had just given birth to a baby - he was, by the Dave's deductions, minutes old ! The resident hippo bachelor - whom we named "Charlie" after his namesake Charlie Sheen, gave rise to many a story at sundowners around the water. If you are looking for a real bush experience where the office doesnt even enter your mind - with friendly, organised and very informed staff, then this is the place to go. We are planning our next trip back to Shindzela !

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank UglyPig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
17 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 September 2011

Shindzela 29/08 - 02/09 - 4 Night Stay.

Shindzela is a basic Bush experience. The price includes all food and drink with the exception of drinks in the bar (the freezer and alcoholic drinks, canned drinks ECT) . The alcohol prices are listed and range from 120zar for can of larger to 750zar for a bottle of wine, you help yourself and pay your tab when you leave camp.

The accomodation is basic but functional, the bed was a superking size, the tent had a table and set of drawers inside (see pictures) the bathroom area had flushing toilet and shower with plentiful supply of hot water, which was supplied by Calor Gas boiler at rear of tent. The bathroom area had a cane wall all around for privacy, and was covered with canvas roof. The canes had a number of small gaps where u could see out a little and probably in from outside, this did nor cause us a problem as the footfall is small due to the camp only having approx 6/7 chalets. The tents have a front decked area complete with two chairs if u wish to sit outside and away from communal areas. The tent compartment was lit by one 9Watt energy saving lamp, this made navigation and reading in the tent very difficult in the dark. The bathroom was again lit with the same type lamp, yet visibility was better due to light entering the bathroom above the cane wall. The beds as mentioned were very large a d very comfortable and warm. Each tent came with 4 additional blankets.

The amentities included a swimming pool and 4 beach loungers. The pool even on hot days was exceptionally cold but bear in mind we stayed during winter with peak temperature of 35degrees. In summer it can reach 50.

The 4 beach loungers did mean that when the occupancy level was above 4, as it was for our entire stay, that sometimes loungers were limited. Though you would not come here if you just wanted to sunbathe.

The format of a typical day would involve being woken up by a wake up call at about 5:45 and having a cup of tea/coffee before commencing with morning game drive. We would come back and have brunch at about 9:40 to eat at a out 10am. After brunch we had the rest of the day until 3pm to do as we pleased (this usually included a nap, sunbathing or reading). After a light lunch at 3pm we would go on game drive which lasted until 7:30 (stopping for sundowner mid drive) the later part of the drive was in the dark. After dinner at about 8pm we would either go back out on another quick game drive if the rangers felt we were very close to a sighting or we would enjoy drinks around a camp fire.

All the food is inclusive of the price. The amount of food cooked often allowed for seconds and was served mainly as buffet style where u helped yourself to 4/5 main dishes. The food was more than adequate though i wouldn't say exceptional or amazing as other review posts have said. The real skill of Moleeta (the cook) is that she is able to cook for parties of up to 12 people on two gas hobs and no electricity!
The game drives: the real asset of this safari camp is the game drives. Mike and Dave (the owner) were excellent in finding the animals, they both have a real passion not only to find the animals but to watch and observe them. We had all of our game drives with mike whose knowledge was staggering, especially when backed up after telling about each bird sighted, he would show the info from the Roberts guide book to birds. Mike was persistently following tracks, listening out, and even putting his fingers in poo to find the animals for our enjoyment.

At this point it is probably worth mentioning there are plenty of game safaris but they have subtle differences. Some safaris have a fence around their land and as such have an inventory of what animals they have. Some camps even going as far as tagging the animals so they can track them via GPS. These safaris will ensure that you see the big 5, but probably raise the question: are the animals really wild and seen in their natural habitat? The Shindzela safari is unable to guarantee that u will see the big 5, and may even at times struggle to show you the rarer animals (lions, cheetahs and leopards) ie a family we overlapped our stay with overnight did not get to see any of the cats. The animals can only be seen if they are in shindela's land it owns (it is worth mentioning that private reserve owners are only allowed to traverse their own land and not that of their neighbours) and secondly if they can be tracked by the ranger. As Shindzela has no fences and does not tag its animals, the animals are very much in their natural habitat and can be observed as nature intended. It is also worth mentioning that we saw all of the big 5 (Lion, Elephant, White Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard), also saw Giraffe, Porcupine, Wilderbeast, Hippo, Jennet, Impala, Dyke, Kudu, Bush baby, Zebra to name but a few! The way and what we saw of the animals was excellent, as the rangers can go off the roads they got us really close to the animals, we saw 3 adult lionesses with a male cub, eating a buffalo, and they got us within 3-4metres of them-we Sat observing them for nearly an hour (in larger safari parks they often only let u stay max 15 mins with a sighting as they alert other rangers on the radio, to come have a look and you have to move on) a positive of the shindzela camp in that even with full occupancy of 12, they have two safari cars-(the two opentop landrovers with 3rows of seats) they are able to share the animal sightings without intimidating the animals.

We enjoyed 2 night safaris (wrap up warm-the temperature swings in winter from 0degrees to 35degrees) and one walking safari. We felt safe and secure under Mike's direction and he carried a rifle in case of extreme circumstances.

In conclusion, I would thoroughly recommend shindzela. The whole experience is centred around the animals; they have even installed a watering hole at the camp, which means that animals come directly to the camp. In our time there ws saw buffalo and elephant from our tent door! We certainly felt the experience to be authentic and although the camp is certainly not "polished" ( ie towels were not washed for our 4 days there, and they ran out of lager before the next delivery) the point of safari is to see animals in their natural habitat, and Shindzela gives the ideal Bush experience. Guests may comment that the tents are small (approx 15m square) or the amount of privacy is not as high as they would like, but if these are important to you, then this is not the camp for you. If you want to see animals in their natural habitat, and not baited/gps tracked ect, then this camp delivers. It is also worth noting that this reserve has Kruger as the boundary and as such, the animals do not have to go deep into the timbavati reserve to be seen, rather as there are no fences on shindzelas land, you will see more animals traversing through their land from Kruger.

A top tip would be to take an adequate amount of cash to the reserve. We were keen to tip Mike more than we did yet we gave him everything except what was needed for the Toll roads. Also if your driving from Johannesburg as we did then take the R36/ R37. We did both routes taking the R36/ R37 there and the Nelspruit way back. The R36 / R37 was by far the quicker route. The roads are adequate and the views are stunning.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Matt_StarAlliance
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 August 2011

We spent two nights at this private camp in the middle of a week we spent camping in Kruger- and it came as a welcome break to have a tent with wonderfully comfortable beds! If you are expecting five star luxury, this place is not for you, but for people who want comfort instead of luxury it is perfect- you aren't left wanting anything.

There aren't fences, so at night your guides escort you back to your tents after an evening of talking around the fire. The food was amazing- typical South African comfort food, again great for us but if you want a menu with a wide selection perhaps not what you are looking for. It is the kind of place that is small enough that you think if it became very well known it might spoil the charm- the owner Dave popped in after our first night and he was lovely and is full of great african stories, and our guide Mike was the most knowledgable ranger I've come across, who will go above and beyond to make your stay as perfect as possible.

As the camp was very busy we only managed to go on one walk and despite not seeing any 'big' wildlife Mike and Mark showed us lots of the 'little' bush details in the birds, spoor and flora.

I will definitely be returning and would recommend it heartily.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Savannah84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Berlin, Germany
Level Contributor
50 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2011

It was a really one of a kind experience to stay in this place!!!
Very romantic and pure nature feeling! You really are inside the bush, no fences around this camp, thats as close as one can get!
The food is great and very delisious, but best of all is the staff!
They are very freindly and experinced rangers, who really have a profound experience and take care of you the whole day!
Game drives and bush walkes were very educational and we learned a lot!
We really enjoyed our time with Dave, Mike and Sam!
We decided that they are part of our family now!
:)

Thanks for all guys you really were great!
Greetings, Andy and Niki from germany!
:)

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Skyliteee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
2 reviews
Reviewed 1 August 2011

Shindzela provides a very personalised and welcoming experience. Sam and Mike are dedicated trackers and guides and made sure that we could see as much as possible. Their understanding and care of the local wildlife was inspirational. Gertie looked after us all exceptionally well and we were all made to feel very welcome. We liked the relaxed atmosphere. This was by far better than value for money and we really hope to return some day.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Robairdrie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
UK-US-NO
Level Contributor
15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 July 2011

My husband and I stayed at Shindzela for 2 nights after a night in Kruger. The camp area is situated just along the border of the Timbavati Reserve and Kruger, making it an excellent area for sightings as the animals tend to cross back and forth. We wanted the true bush experience and that's what you will get here. If you're looking for caviar, butlers, and silk sheets head somewhere else. What makes this camp so magical is that you experience everything you would want to from being in the bush...with a little comfort thrown in of course. You get 2 safari drives/walks a day with fantastic guides who know their stuff (big 5: check, birds: check, vegetation: check, everything else you might be interested in: check), great food - thanks Gertie, comfortable tents, fantastic chats around the campfire and a night sky to melt away all those city life sorrows. It's small enough (12 visitors max), so you don't feel like you are being herded in with the rest of the cattle as you do in some of the big camps in Kruger. It's also quite a drive from the main road, so it's quiet, really quiet.

The staff are excellent and work around what you want to see and do. Mike and Sam, our guides, took us on foot to track some rhinos and we were even woken up at 3am to see if we could find the infamous leopard who kept on calling. It never made an appearance for us, but we ended the trip nicely by seeing a mother cheetah and her 3 cubs on our last safari drive...absolutely breathtaking!

Final tidbits:
-We felt like 2 nights was perfect, but you may want more if you just want to veg out
-Calculate in extra costs for the Timbavati entrance fee per person and car fee (if driving yourself), drinks and tips for the staff
-Bring lots of warm clothes in the winter
-Take some good reading material for the free time in the afternoons
-Look up honey badgers in your animal guide - you may come across some at night
-Bring binoculars
-Ask Dave to tell you his Mozambique stories
-Don't get so caught up with seeing the Big 5 that you miss out on everything else
-Don't pick up bones when you are on the safari walk, just ask Mike why
-If the truck is full, sit in the middle to avoid getting smacked in the head with tree branches

-Enjoy it! You'll want to visit this part of the world over and over again!

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank NevBe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Shindzela Tented Camp

Property: Shindzela Tented Camp
Address: Johnniesdale Farm | Hoedspruit, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 17 Speciality Lodging in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Shindzela Tented Camp 3*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Shindzela is an authentic tented bush camp situated in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, greater Kruger National Park. The camp accommodates a maximum of 16 guests and is unfenced, making it very much part of the wilderness. Shindzela is not built by an award winning architect, nor is it furnished by an interior designer. What you will find though, is a comfy bed, freshly laundered linen, and décor from local crafters and artists. Shindzela is a comfortable/rustic tented bush camp, where you can relax, enjoy our warm hospitality and immerse yourself in the African wilderness. We love our informal, relaxed atmosphere. Each safari tent is built on wooden decks, and has their own en-suite shower/toilet and hand basin. The camp also has a swimming pool and overlooks our little watering hole, from where you can watch animals come down to drink. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Shindzela Tented Safari Camp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Shindzela Tented Camp South Africa/Kruger National Park

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