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“The most amazing honeymoon”

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Garonga Safari Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 1 November 2011

As the first part of our honeymoon we couldn't have got off to a better start. Everything about Garonga is quality, but in particular every single member of staff we encountered had a service ethic we have never experienced before, nothing is too much trouble and every effort is made to ensure a truly memorable stay. The food is outstanding and the game drives extensive with a feeling of sharing and respecting the animals' habitat. We have travelled extensively but Garonga stands out as the most extraordinary place we have been, even after we had left the service continued with staff rearranging our flights whilst we were trying to get to the airport by road as our private plane transfer couldn't take off due to the weather. They changed our flights to ensure we didn't get to Cape Town any later than planned for the next portion of our honeymoon! Amazing.

Room Tip: October is mating season for the frogs which can be a little noisy if you're a light sleeper.
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  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Lysa H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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277 - 283 of 385 reviews

Reviewed 30 October 2011

We stayed here in May 2011 on honeymoon and was our first safari and we seemed to have landed on our feet.
It was a fantastic place to reach after our slightly scary flight from Kruger International Airport ( i am not a big fan of small planes) although our flight gave us our first view of wildlife.
We actually hadn’t realised that we were staying in Little Gargona ( clearly i left new husband to book honeymoon) which is 3 huts above the main camp. Our room was lovely however my only issue was that the amazing windows which let in the fantastic views also left me feeling a bit exposed in the bathroom as there was not screen on the floor to ceiling windows next to the shower and bath and the path down to the main camp was by our window so never felt quite comfortable.
We also had the camp to ourselves which was fantastic for our honeymoon but the owner also recognised that we may feel lonely so asked if we would like to eat at main camp one night with other guests which was a lovely touch and we really enjoyed it.
The food up at little Garonga was amazing we had dinner, afternoon tea and breakfast. The house wine was also lovely so there was no need to buy any of their premium wines. They had a good selection of spirits and mixers which are included.
On the trip we saw all we could hope for apart form may be some more elephants we saw, lions- male, female and cubs, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, hyenas, wild dogs, monkeys, baboons, all sorts of birds and deer like animals. Our driver and guide CJ was fantastic and was clearly determined that we should have a fantastic trip and see what we wanted to see. His driving ability in the Land Rover is to be commended as he managed to get the vehicles places we were convinced were not possible.
We also stayed out on the ‘sleep out’ platform one night which fantastic if a little scary. The picnic they pack you is amazing and eating it watching the sun going down over the waterhole was amazing. We were lucky and it didn’t rain during the night and we got to listen the night life and what sounded like hyenas at the bottom of the tree. Watching the sun rise from bed was beautiful. Definitely an experience to try if you have good weather.
Overall and amazing place which seems to have making the guests stay amazing at the heart of what they do, can’t wait to visit again once we have saved up.

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank travelbug300
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 October 2011

My first safari! What a place. I sort of did not know what to expect from a safari lodge, never having been to one. But this was utterly amazing.
We spent the first four nights in the tented lodges and then the last night in the brick built rooms at Little Garonga just up from the main lodge. We loved the tented lodges but if you prefer air-con and brick and doors then you have the choice at least, and both choices are just as good as each other. You don't miss out on the whole experience by being in one and not the other.
We were unsure originally how long we should stay for, my husband having been to many safaris before. He thought that five nights would be too long. But our travel agent Ben at Imagine Africa persuaded us to go for the five nights as there was so much more to do between game drives, he said. Well, we did do so much more or at least it felt like it. There was the bush bath one evening, then a picnic in the tree one day, then a massage with Janine who'll unknot your back in no time!, then there was the sleep out on a platform in the middle of nowhere with all sorts of sounds of the bush keeping you company (not awake though), and then we decided to give microliting a go over the whole reserve - a bit of a bumpy ride but very fun. We still had time each day for a snooze after breakfast or a dip in the pool whilst watching the animals at the watering hole, with an obligatory drink in hand of course.

But Garonga stands out for me on the personal service that you get: Bernie, the owner and host, is there at all the right times to make sure it's all going smoothly; Reineth the chef (and Margaret at Little Garonga) are there to make sure every mouthful you take and no doubt pile on those calories is absolutely worth it with no regrets and you want more because it just tastes so good (My first taste of warthog was probably the most memorable meal); but our guide Josiaya and our tracker Patrick, with whom we spent six hours a day on game drives, made it all so much fun! If you go, ask for those two - they're the best because they're the A-team!

We don't tend to go back to the same place for our holidays, but we may have to break the habit of a lifetime soon! I hope.

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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41  Thank Vilma C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2011

Anyone reading these reviews and thinking they are too good to be true as we were before we visited Garonga then we can say they definitely aren't! Whilst well travelled this was our first Safari (and South African) experience and it really was truly amazing. The level of service across the whole camp was exceptional and we were definitely made to feel special by all employees. Our trip was planned many months in advance and there were numerous questions to Vanessa/Bernie which they responded to promptly and without making us feel a nuisance despite the fact that this sometimes resulted in a change of plan to our special trip. All the game drives were great and the guides gave information and tried really hard to make sure that you saw something different each time where possible. It's hard to describe the feeling when you get so close to these beautiful animals and then track them as we did numerous times. The whole set-up at the camp is so personal but pitched at just the right level so that things happen that you really appreciate but they are arranged in a quiet, unassuming way almost so that you don't notice until they happen. We loved the way that Bernie gets all the staff involved and this really makes you appreciate just what a team effort goes on at Garonga to make it all work so smoothly. The food was absolutely wonderful and we enjoyed the variety of dining options either in a group or as a couple. The sleep out is a must and it's worth getting up early to see the sun rise out in the bush on your own. We also really enjoyed the bush bath and lunch time picnic up in the tree. We stayed five nights which we felt was just right and we also took in some treatments with Janine which again are a must. We have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this camp to anyone looking for a safari experience and we definitely plan to return one day.

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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16  Thank Nomatez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2011

Having just returned from a visit to Garonga I can see now how they won the Tripadvisor Award for 2010. I could not fault it once. The facilities, staff, and game viewing was top-class. I was fortunate to be there to witness two weddings, and both were special events. If anyone wants to get married in South Africa or have a safari honeymoon, or both, this is the place to visit.

Room Tip: The monkeys have preferred tents for stealing food. Just check with the staff to see where their lat...
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  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled solo
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6  Thank siobhaneIreland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 September 2011

If you are looking to be spoilt and would like a truly African safari experience, visit Makalali. What a wonderful place with excellent game drives, food, staff, game vehicles, amazing rooms and furnishings and just the best feeling of relaxation and enjoyment. The game drives were fantastic and we saw all of the big 5 except leopard. I will go back again and again, the perfect place for our honeymoon. Thank you Makalali.

Room Tip: Choose the room in lodge 3 next to the reception building for great sitings (leopard which we missed...
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  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Terry C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BernieHoedspruit, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 22 September 2011

Thanks very much for your review. Can you confirm if you stayed at Garonga or Makalali, as you state Makalali.
best Regards
Bernie

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Reviewed 15 July 2011

We chose Garonga as the final stop on our honeymooning tour of South Africa and we saved the best 'til last. We stayed for 5 nights at the beginning of June. The weather was sunny every day with temperatures reaching around 24degC during the day and dropping to around 5degC at night. This was perfect for us and the season meant that we didn't see a single mosquito during our stay. The Camp is run and owned by Bernie, a former Officer in British Army. Bernie is clearly passionate about the safari camp and the reserve. He was simply a fantastic host - he is hands on and would always be around during the day and at drinks in the evening to chat and to make sure everything was going well with our stay. Neither of us had been on safari before and so we don't have anything to compare Garonga with - however I can say that our short stay was absolutely incredible. The Our guide and tracker (Josiah and Patrick) were great fun and gave us so many close up wildlife encounters. We were awoken each morning at 0615 to be ready to go out on a morning drive at 0645. This might sound early but it was winter and we had eaten and had gone to bed by 2200 each night and we were never tired - you also get a 4 hour window for rest/swim/sunbathe over lunchtime before your evening drive. Our lodgings were luxurious and our bed very comfortable - all rooms have a balcony over looking the dry river bed with hammock and an outdoor shower. Dinner was a great experience and varied each night - most times we would dine at private tables but on one night we all ate together and had a bbq. The food was outstanding and we loved how Bernie would bring the chef from the kitchen to announce menu options for the evening and to take our choices. If you feel adventurous you can stay out in the bush on a platform over night. The platform is 20 mins drive from the camp and you are left with dinner and a radio and advice not to leave the platform after dark. Didn't get much sleep as the lions were making quite a lot of noise!

To sum up, our stay at Garonga was incredible. We saw all the animals except for the Buffalo which they don't have on the reserve and the lodgings and service were simplt outstanding!

  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank culzean
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BernieHoedspruit, Owner at Garonga Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 9 September 2011

Thanks very much indeed for your very kind review. We al hope to see you back on an anniversary?
Keep well and all the best
Bernie

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Additional Information about Garonga Safari Camp

Address: Selati Portion 12, KT 143, Phalaborwa, 1390, Makalali Private Game Reserve 1380, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Limpopo Province > Makalali Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Makalali Private Game Reserve
Price Range: £244 - £919 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Garonga Safari Camp 4*
Number of rooms: 9
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Also Known As:
Garonga Safari Camp Hotel Makalali Private Game Reserve
Garonga Safari Camp South Africa/Makalali Private Game Reserve

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