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“Safari Experience done Right”

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Tanda Tula Safari Camp
Certificate of Excellence
1 review
“Safari Experience done Right”
Reviewed 30 July 2014

We left Tanda Tula just 3 days ago (7/27/14) and are still basking in the glow. The people at "TT" are its best feature. To a person everyone is extraordinarily pleasant and friendly - not patronizing. Our Guide for the 4 days we stayed is a very nice, very knowledgable, and talented bushman. Civilized (that's his name) had us well in hand and took us surprisingly close to the spectrum of animals. He clearly has an appreciation and respect for his land and it shows in his knowledge and ability. Tracker Jack likewise spent the entire 4 days with us. He's a man of few words and many big smiles. I may be projecting here but to me Jack has that bushman 'magic' in that he knows where to find the beasts. These 2 guys are terrific!
Dale and the rest of the crew do a great job on the campus. Everything is well thought out, well cared for and easy. Right out of a Hemingway scene. It is comfortable and rustic, better than I could have hoped for. Wife and I are 45yrs and we had our daughter of 12yrs too. Fabulous trip for all. Check the web site for facilities stuff, I'll not bore you with it here.
Want a teaser? Breakfast in the bush is a 'picnic' not to be missed! All meals outstanding, Chef Ryan is to be congratulated!

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
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Thank Dave B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Seattle, Washington
Level 6 Contributor
126 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 July 2014 via mobile

On our second trip to Africa we ended our 2 weeks with 4 days at Tanda Tula from June 13th to June 17th.

The trip into the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve where Tanda Tula is located was a precurser to things to come. The main road through the Reserve is a paved road and as we made our way to the turn off to Tanda Tula we saw 6-8 giraffe in one group walking the roadway. Shortly there after we saw 10-12 elephants crossing the roadway. We saw several other animals including impala's and nyala's, but the number of giraffes and elephants traveling together was impressive.

We arrived around 3:00pm and were promply met by Thabo with all the rules and regulations for our stay and the threat that if we don't follow them we will be fed to the lions. Thabo was one of the smaller individuals working at the camp and always wanted to carry the luggage to your tent. As part of his routinue, he would always try and balance one of the suitcases on his head. Even though I realized it was somewhat of a staged event, I got use to watching the new arrivels and him going through his routine and loved watching how he would deal with many of the odd shapped heavy suitcases.

Although lunch was officially over, we were immediately served a lunch before the afternoon game drive began. The lunch was way more food than two people could or should eat, but was tasty.

Our guide was called Civilized and the tracker was Jack. Some of the other staff members had more unusal names like Pinky and Smiling. Over the four days it became clear to me the Civilized knew a considerable amount about the animals and the plants. We would ask questions about animals we saw in other parts of South Africa and he would know exactly what we were describing. He was very friendly, outgoing and the tallest of all of the staff members. Jack on the otherhand spoke very little. During meals or stops he would walk off by himself or sit away from the group. But in the 20 +/- hours we spent in the Range Rover looking for wildlife, it was clear Jack could read the tracks even if we were going 20-30 miles per hour down some of the dirt roads. There is not question my first siteing in two years of a leopard was due to his sharp eyes see the tracks crossing the road.

I believe there are a total of 12 tents. 4 tents on one side of the lodge and 8 tents on the other. Tent number 4 was closest to the lodge and had the benefit of having wifi access in the tent. Tent 3 was probably dependent one where you were sitting, but our tent 2 and all the other tents had no wifi at them. Unknown at the time to us, but tent 1 is called the honeymoon tent. The couple staying there on our 3rd and 4th night weren't technically on their honeymoon, but they were newly married and were having a great time.

I didn't know whether my wife was going to like the tent idea. While they were nice enough, actually a combination of a constructed bathroom with an attached tent, they definitely had temperature swings that coincided with the outside temperature. The first night we were there is was just above 32F or 0C at its coldest and probably was in the upper 70's or low 80's at the warmest. What it was outside, it became inside. The heating blanket on the bed kept it comfortable at night. In fact ours was so warm I had to turn it down to the lowest setting. It was so cold in the morning that we took our showers in the afternoon instead of at 5:30am before the morning game drive. Since we were there in South Africa's winter, I don't know if I would like the tents in their summers as they must be very hot.

The main chef was chef Ryan Mullettt. He would normally describe what we were having for lunch, which was normally a buffet meal and what we would have for dinner, which sometimes was a bufffet and others a served meal. Most the food was very tasty and properly prepared. The breads I understood were baked on site and very good. In fact, I wished they would have had extra's available during the meal for bread lovers like me. My wife likes deserts and the deserts were also very well done.

The are a number of differant individuals that you will interact with during your stay, but the two that you probably have the most contact with are brothers Harry and Smiling Ubisi. They are the bartenders. Whether its alcohol or pop or water or juice. Its all included in the cost of staying there and it all comes from the bar. If you talk to Harry and or Smiling, you will be informed about a charity they established about 20 years ago to help increase opptunities for children and others in their community. They love to tell there stories and they are collaborated by seaching the internet.

But, now for the real reason everyone one visits is to see the animals. As previously advised, we were quite happy with our drive into the reserve and the number of animals we saw along the paved road. Our first evening drive on the day of our arrival was more subdued. We saw the normal impala's, nyala's, water buffalo, etc. What we want to see were leopards, male lions and if at all fortunate a white lion.

On our later excursions, we saw leopards in four differant drives. Twice in trees with there kill, once on the ground with their kill and once on the ground with babies. We were unfortunate in that we did not see a white lion during our visit, but we did see a mail lion during our final night drive. We were on the opposite side of the reserve 20-30 minutes away when another guide advised our guide of the male lion siteing. I was amazed our fast Civilized could drive that range rover on dirt roads in the black of night, but we got there and saw our lion. We parked about 20 feet away and were able to observe him for about 10 minutes before he starting roaring to let everyone know where he was and who was boss. He started to walk toward the range rover and the back seat where we were sitting all the time roaring and then about 10 feet from us he turned and headed into the bush. It was a couple of tense moments there. Even more so than our first trip to South Africa when an elephant charged our range rover and hit the side right where I was sitting.

Excluding the first night, each drive had one or more rewarding sightings. On one trip across a dry river bed, we were surrounded by 100's of water buffalo. While water buffalo don't excite me much any more since you see them so offen, being in the middle of a herd of 200-300 does.

On another trip we heard about a sighing of wild dogs. That ride was faster and more exciting than the ride for the male lion. Primarly because it was during the day and Civilized could drive faster, we could see where we were going and also where we didn't think we should be going. At one point we crossed a dry riverbed and had to climb out of the riverbed in the range rover on a slope that was at least a 45% grade. Being in the back seat of a range rover pointed to the sky and thinking your going to tip over makes the heart beat a litter faster.

All in all it was a very exciting and interesting 4 days. The camp is unfenced except for an electric wire that is about 8 feet up and goes all around the camp. Its suppose to keep the elephants out, although it one is moving fast enough, I don't imagine it is going to stop them. Because of the open nature of the camp, after dark you have to be escorted to and from your tent by one of the armed staff members. I thought it might be a little bit of show for the visitors, but the second night a lion came into the camp on the other side of where our tent was located and had to be escorted back to the bush by one of the rangers. All was well, but it does show you that it can be dangerous.



Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank 19Mark55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
new hampshire
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 July 2014

This was the second game camp we stayed at. We absolutely loved them both, but would have to say Tanda Tula was our favorite because we really love the olf 'romance' of staying in a tented camp. Fabulous accommodations- bed/pillows extremely comfortable, electric mattress pad to keep the chill off on these cold winter nights, wonderful outdoor shower (even though it was chilly out, we used the outdoor shower with no discomfort- plenty of hot, hot water, and big fluffy towels for afterward. Bathroom also had a huge tub had we not wanted to venture out. Large verandah right outside our tent with lounges to sip coffee in the am or wine in the pm and view any game there may be in the river bed the tents overlook. The property also has a large open air main lodge where you can watch warthogs and nyalas roam on the lawn and down toward the river/waterhole. There is a swimming pool on the property that looked lovely had it been warmer out (two of the younger guests were brave enough to go swimming and said it wasn't too cold).

Days started with a 6:00am wake up and delivery of a tray with hot water and coffee, tea, hot chocolate. Game drives left at 6:30 and went until about 9:30, after which breakfast was served at an outdoor spot by the river (dry in July, but very interesting anyway due to all the prints to be seen). A lavish buffet of fruits, cereals, yogurt, muesli, cheese, juices, etc was set up. The three mornings we were there, different hot items were available- always eggs of some type, sausage/meat of some kind, beans, porridge... All delicious. Following breakfast, you have the option to be driven back to camp in your jeep or you can go on a walk back to camp with a guide (about a 10-20 minute walk). The walks were quite informative, the guides very knowledgeable, and their senses of humor became quite apparent on the walks. Lunch was served at 1:00ish, with tea at 3:00 followed by the afternoon/evening game drive. Our tracker and guide on the drives were Foreman (sp?) and Jeffrey. They were excellent at finding animals, very helpful in helping me when I had a problem with my camera (is there anything these rangers don't know or can't do???), and what most impressed me was their obvious respect for the animals as well as their care for our safety. A leopard in the area had cubs, and the guides all worked together to ensure that they were not stressed by too many people. If you saw the cub one day, other jeeps had the opportunity the next day. We learned a great deal about the flora and fauna, and also about the relationships between different animals and also between animals and plants. Around sundown, your driver finds a spot with a nice view of the setting sun and sundowners and snacks are served. One night as we were standing around with our glasses of wine, giraffes milled about not too far away. Upon return to camp, you had enough time to shower and walk back to the main lodge for dinner (you were free to walk about camp during daylight hours, but at dark you are always walked back and forth between your tent and the main lodge). The chef (wish I could remember his name- he was excellent) would explain the nights appetizer, choice of entree, and dessert. I can't say enough about the food- gourmet food in an open air setting at one long table where you mixed and chatted with other guests. You quickly develop 'safari friendships' as everyone has had a common experience during the day to discuss at night.
We saw the big 5 every day during out stay, had many good laughs, ate incredible food, and had a very hard time leaving Tanda Tula. The best word to describe our stay at Tanda Tula would be 'magical'.

Room Tip: wifi in main lodge
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank divetravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TandaTula, Owner at Tanda Tula Safari Camp, responded to this review, 25 August 2014
Thank you for letting us know of your 'magical' experience. Seeing the big five on each of your days is certainly a treat! Our rangers are indeed dynamic - perhaps you even heard of Formen's guitar skills?

We hope you had a pleasant journey home.

All the best,
Don, Nina and the Tanda Tula family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Roswell, Georgia, United States
1 review
Reviewed 26 July 2014

The rooms/tents give you a luxurious camping experience, the food is amazing, the rangers are great (Foremen was awesome!) but most importantly, the staff makes you feel like family. Absolutely glad we made this camp a stop on our trip.

  • Stayed July 2014
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Helpful?
Thank JPWill250
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 July 2014 via mobile

Incredible game drives, luxurious accommodations, warm and loving staff, Gourmet cuisine by a Master Chef. Each meal was a culinary adventure! We took a walking safari with our guide, Civilized, which was an amazing experience! We came comfortably close to a lion! And saw so much up close and personally. We fell in love with the entire experience due to the way the Tanda Tula "family" made us feel! Very rare experience.

Stayed October 2013
Helpful?
Thank Debbie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sarasota, Florida
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 July 2014

I recently took my niece and nephew (25 & 27 years old) to South Africa and our first stop in the Bush was Tanda Tula. It couldn't have been any better--they both thought it was perfect. The tents are lovely and comfortable, with deep bathtubs, electric blankets (in winter it was a trifle chilly at night!), outdoor showers, and a view over the riverbed. We saw a Warthog and Antelope the minute we walked out to have lunch on day one--and the game watching was terrific--both on the drives morning and night and sitting by the pool watching elephants across the nearby watering hole. Food was very good and they worked hard to accommodate my Vegan diet. After game drives in the morning, breakfast at the riverbed and a walk back to camp were wonderful! Best of all, the staff is really unbelievable--primarily drawn from the local Shagaan people, the owners and managers have empowered the team to run the camp, make decisions and socially spend time with guests at the communal dinners. This is a wonderful place--not as posh as the well known camps, but makes up for it in service, warmth and an atmosphere suitable for either couples of families. We thought it was just right as the first Africa experience for my two mid 20's travelers--and also great for me!

Room Tip: We were in Tents 1.2.3 and they were a little away from common areas, but still very convenient. Wi...
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank aswesaid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TandaTula, Owner at Tanda Tula Safari Camp, responded to this review, 25 August 2014
It was fantastic welcoming you, your nephew and your niece to our camp. As a vegan it must be challenging at times travelling so we are pleased that Chef Ryan looked after you!

The team takes great pride in welcoming guests as extended family so we are pleased to hear you felt this. Hopefully we will see you in camp again in the future.

All the best,
Don, Nina and the Tanda Tula family
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 July 2014

Another wonderful African experience. The luxurious tents were very comfortable and those thin canvas walls made the night animal noises seem ever so close. Staff were very helpful and with only 9 tents on offer it was a very intimate camp. We lived and ate like kings. The animals were fantastic and big 5 in first 24 hrs. So many animal encounters from leopard with kill up a tree surrounded by hyena, to mating lions, two day old elephant trying to control his legs and trunk, hyena fighting over a stolen leopard kill and so much more.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Kerrin D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Tanda Tula Safari Camp

Property: Tanda Tula Safari Camp
Address: Timbavati Private Nature Reserve | Limpopo, 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 Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 17 Speciality Lodging in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:4 star — Tanda Tula Safari Camp 4*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tanda Tula Safari Camp in the heart of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve bordering the Kruger National Park, offers a five-star personal wilderness experience in ultimate luxury. Here, in your own private piece of Africa, you will come face to face with nature as it always was, with not a fence in sight to inhibit your freedom. Set on the banks of the Nharalumi riverbed, Tanda Tula is shaded by stately trees and overlooks a water hole that attracts a wide variety of game from dawn to dusk. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tanda Tula Safari Camp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Tanda Tula Safari Camp South Africa/Kruger National Park

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