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“This is South Africa and its finest.”
Review of Umlani Bushcamp

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Umlani Bushcamp
Certificate of Excellence
Memphis, Tennessee
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“This is South Africa and its finest.”
Reviewed 16 August 2014

If you want the real feeling of experiencing what South Africa has to offer, this is it! Immersed in the wildlife habitat around you, you're left with no electricity, campfires, good drinks and all around peacefulness. My first time here to South Africa in may 2011 was definitely one I will remember. We saw the big five, had great safaris throughout the day and truly felt "alive". I started missing South Africa and hadn't even left yet! Now, two years later, I'm ready for round two at Umlani. Truly a hidden treasure in the bush. Except, watch out for geckos in your rooms! :)

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank awingardh89
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, 31 August 2014
Thank you for review and description of the Umlani experience on Tripadvisor we appreciate it. We look forward to your third visit .

best regards Marco
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428 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (76)
Date | Rating
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English first
Farnham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 11 August 2014

Our 3 days here were magical - wish we could have stayed longer to enjoy the quite peaceful setting. Although you are only 40 minutes from the modern hurly burly world once you arrive at the camp within 24 hours you feel a million miles away! The no electricity in guest rooms is a charming touch along with no wifi & mobile coverage except in unexpected parts of the reserve.

The early morning game drives were cold but made cosy with blankets & hot water bottles. Equally well in the evening when we retired for the night the cold bed was made welcoming with hot water bottles which we collected on our way.

Our guides for the game drives were Sincleh & Ifram who were very professional & knowledgeable & absolutely brilliant at tracking & spotting all of the big 5 & more! We saw everything except for crocodile, cheetah & T-Rex! Go for a bush walk - analysing all the droppings was very entertaining.

Great service was provided by ALL the staff at Umlani who were friendly & couldn't do enough to make our stay great or share their extensive knowledge of the animals & the bush. The food was delicious - even the 2 vegetarians were impressed! For me personally one of the best bits was being able to cuddle baby Declan :-)

Room Tip: If you are travelling alone or are nervous than ask for a room near the central area as walking from...
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Casson-Gentry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, 28 August 2014
Thank you for your review of Umlani we appreciate it . Happy to hear that you enjoyed the hot water bottles and cuddling Declan . best regards Marco
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Carlsbad, California
Level Contributor
397 reviews
80 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 158 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 August 2014

It took five years to return to South Africa; this time we took friends to enjoy the down-to-earth, in-the-bush feel of Umlani. We had the best of times. Under the always skillful, often witty care of guide Elvis, we spotted lions, leopards, wild dog, and much, much, more. The camp is collection of thatched rondavals, ensuite, with beautiful landscaping. It is open to the bush and kerosene lantern
lit. Food is very good, served family style. Walks, optional, are included mid day--take advantage of the opportunity. Over all, Umlani's experience feels real rather than luxurious--that is one reason we returned.

The only hiccup in our three-day stay was the inclusion of a family with a toddler on our jeep--children that young can not be blamed for being noisy (and in our case throwing up), but should be on a separate vehicle, if allowed at all. The child spooked the rhinos on one occasion, and changed the lions' behavior on another. The guide did his best, but had to leave the site on two occasions. It was only one drive, but be sure to state your preference when booking. We wish the hostess had had a less defensive attitude when we spoke to her.

Don't take this review the wrong way! Umlani is a terrific destination and should not be missed.

Room Tip: We and our friends were in double rondovals--our favorite was the farthest from the bona (fire) on t...
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Bruce M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, 5 August 2014
Thank you for returning to Umlani for another visit and for your review on tripadvisor. I apologise for for the inconvenience caused to you. I hear you and I will put contingency plans in place to prevent a similar re occurance.

Umlani accepts children as a matter of principle as I feel strongly having grown up visiting Timbavati from a very early age that it is important to expose children to the wilderness . Over the years many children that have visited Umlani and have gone on to become champions and embasorders for nature and our environment and few have dedicated their lives to conservation and the environment .

There are many camps & lodges that do not accept children under 12 which I feel could be a missed opportunity.
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London
Level Contributor
39 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 July 2014

We were delighted to be part of the Umlani family for 3 nights from July16th 2014. From the first moment in the camp, we felt welcomed and were able to enjoy the hospitality offered.

The game drives were incredible, we saw the Big 5 (Rhino, Lion, Leopard, Buffalo & Elephant) but also zebra, giraffe, hippo and so many other animals and birds. The setting is wonderful, the food delicious and the staff all go out of their way to ensure that your stay is magical.

I could go on for ever, but just book and experience it for yourselves.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank madsw6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, 5 August 2014
thank you for the great review we appreciate it and I am especially happy to hear you felt welcome and the experience magical

best regards Marco
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Sydney, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 25 July 2014

Wow, we're just back from three days at Umlani Bushcamp. Huge thanks to the Schiess family for sharing their piece of paradise. I loved the laid back atmosphere and nothing was too much trouble. No mobile phone reception; no power but you can charge camera batteries should you need to. It's a break from technology. This is my second visit to Umlani and it's well worth the visit.

Room Tip: This is a bush camp - all the rooms are fantastic!!
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with friends
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank Renee K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, 5 August 2014
Thank you for your review I appreciate the kind words hope to see you back for a third visit
all the best Marco
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Parkville, Missouri
Level Contributor
22 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 June 2014

My husband and I just visited Umlani for the first time to celebrate our 30th anniversary. What an amazing trip! There is nothing that I would have changed. We saw so many animals and got so very close to them. Every game drive was a new experience and brought new excitement. We saw the big five by the end of the third game drive and saw so many more animals than I could have imagined. Sinhle our ranger was awesome. He found so many sightings and was very knowledgeable about all the animals. We especially enjoyed our afternoon walk with him one day as he taught us about tracking animals. Andrew was our tracker and he has great eyes!! He found so many animals even in the dark!

The accommodations were very comfortable. Rustic yet elegant. Even though we were there during the winter and it was chilly the blankets were more than enough for a comfortable nights sleep. Eating dinner by oil lamps was wonderful especially since the food was so good and fresh.

The entire staff at Umlani was so helpful and hospitable. They think of everything to make your stay comfortable and memorable. The blankets and hot water bottles for the chilly morning game drives were wonderful! We totally enjoyed our 6 nights. Will definitely recommend Umlani for anyone looking for an awesome safari experience.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank debwelsch5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, 27 June 2014
wow.... thank you .... we are happy you chose Umlani to celebrate your 30th wedding anniversary 'Congratulations". We the Umlani team are super pleased you had an amazing experience and we truely appreciate your recommendation of Umlani to others. Best wishes for the future and we hope to host you for your 40th wedding anniversary . regards Marco
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Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 26 June 2014

Wow, we're just back from three days at Umlani Bushcamp. Such thanks to the Schiess family for sharing their gem of a place. I loved the chilled-out family feel. Some private game lodges tend towards the plush, insulated-from-the bush 5-star feel - this is not that. No cell reception; no power (though you can charge phones/cameras on a multi plug linked up to a power line.) You're in an ungated part of the reserve, so animals wander past at night (fall asleep to yowling hyenas and other crazy noises) - if you're feeling intrepid, you can sleep in a treehouse and look out for nighttime prowlers.

We had 2 kids with us - 6-year-old and baby, and the staff went out of their way to help with the children.

The accommodation is rustic but lovely - your hut is lit by little paraffin lamps at night, as there's no electricity. We were glad to have head torches and a camping light (as advised when we made our booking), although with the early game drives and early winter sunsets, we were asleep pretty early anyway.

Special moments for us included trailing a leopard, and lazing at the pretty rock pool near the riverbed. I also loved the communal fire before breakfast and after dinner... and the view of the stars.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank littlelisaZA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Schiess, Owner at Umlani Bushcamp, responded to this review, 5 August 2014
thank you .... I appreciatte your review and happy to hear it worked out well and you were able to enjoy your stay
Report response as inappropriate
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Additional Information about Umlani Bushcamp

Property: Umlani Bushcamp
Address: Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, 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 Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 17 Speciality Lodging in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:3 star — Umlani Bushcamp 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Umlani Bushcamp, a rustic yet exclusive lodge, accommodates guests in cozy en-suite reed and thatch rondavels. Early morning and evening game drives are in open four wheel drive vehicles accompanied by experienced rangers and trackers offers exceptional game viewing opportunitys. Umlani makes the whole event personalized and specializes in escorted walks into this unspoiled wilderness. Umlani, meaning Place of Rest, was established in 1990 by Marco and Marie-Louise Schiess, in the central section of the Timbavati Nature Reserve, which is part of the greater Kruger National Park. Umlani is the perfect nature lovers choice. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Umlani Bushcamp Hotel Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Umlani Bushcamp South Africa/Kruger National Park

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