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“Beautiful place, completely let down by food on offer.”

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White Elephant Safari Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Beautiful place, completely let down by food on offer.”
Reviewed 29 April 2012

We stayed at White Elephant Safari lodge for two nights as a halfway stay on our way to our beach holiday, the rooms were stunning and our boat trip on Lake Jozini were a highlight. Unfortunately we were completely let down by the food. From our arrival to find a 'light lunch" of squared sandwiches with only crushed avocado and tomato and lettuce to the dinners which were far from 5star in taste- bread over breakfast which were still doughy, it almost seemed as they where on a strict food budget. I asked for a bit of mayonnaise the night before to add to my dinner which they provided me with, only find that they have ran out completely the morning after on our departure day (this seemed very strange.....).
We were planning on staying another night on our way back, but where glad that we didn't and tried it out first. It would have been to the lodge's advantage if they gave the consumer a feedback form or if they invited some from us. I would not recommend this to friends and hope that lodge management will take this review as a positive in improving the food on offer, 5 star should offer an experience as a whole and attend to each detail and I believe that food plays an important role in this.

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Linda R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, 8 May 2012
Dear White Elephant Friend

Thank you very much for your valuable comments, we will certainly take them to heart and use them as a tool to learn from.

Kind regards
White Elephant Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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109 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 (18)
Date | Rating
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English first
Edmonton, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 March 2012

Just got back from a perfect 2 night stay. Every single thing was thought off and no effort too much for the staff. Not only were they attentive and delivered a great service, but also did it with a smile. Was the best stay I had in a long time and will be sure to return soon.

  • Stayed March 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Pieter S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, 8 May 2012
Dear White Elephant Friend

Thank you very much for the comments and review of your stay at White Elephant. We are always grateful for positive feedback. We hope to see you back at White Elephant in the near future.

Kind regards
White Elephant Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco, California
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 December 2011

What a fantastic experience in a beautiful place! The permanent tents were very well appointed, while the service was attentive, and nicely relaxed and comfortable. The perfect compliment to the stunning landscape and view was the kind, engaging and accommodating staff members, who made our stay feel incredibly personal. We arrived very late the first night, and found dinner waiting for us on our personal stoop, after the manager personally introduced himself. Other activities were arranged on site and geared toward our interests. I wish we could have stayed for several more days!

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank TravelSfAf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WhiteElephantPongola, Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, 16 August 2012
Dear Valued White Elephant Guest

Thank you very much for the really nice review, we strive at White Elephant to rub our passion for the nature surrounding us off onto our guests. We loved having you at White Elephant and hope to see you again in the future!

Warmest White Elephant regards
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Northampton, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
43 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 September 2011

Finishing off a week in Zululand we stayed at the White Elephant Safari
Lodge. All over Africa the term colonial used but not too many lodges have
such a true colonial feel as here. The old restored farmhouse with its large
verandas has been beautifully restored. The furniture within, photographs
and paintings create a real atmosphere of times gone by. Breakfast is
plentiful and don't each too much from the cold selection as there will be
something more traditional to follow! High tea is served with sandwiches &
cakes prior to the afternoons activities. Dinner saw more fantastic food
served over 4 courses! What I really enjoyed here was that its not only game
drives that are on offer. There are game cruises to. I hadn't realised just
ho much water is within the reserve. On our evening cruise on the Pongola
River we saw crocodiles, two of which were well over 4 metres in length.
Several pods of hippos and loan bull hippos were also enjoying the water.
The river banks had game everywhere grazing and drinking. Waterbuck, impala,
reed buck & warthogs to name but some. The bird-life was as good as anywhere
I have previously been. Fish eagles, spoon bills, egrets, jacanas, marabou
storks, darters and several sorts of kingfisher are some of the birds on
show.
From my tent I could see the vast amount of water set to a back drop of
mountains. I could even hear hippos as darkness fell. The tent was pure
luxury. The bed draped in pure white linen was given pillows in shades of
red & orange to add a splash of warmth on a cool night. The mosquito net set
the room off perfectly. The adjoining bathroom looked amazing especially
after dark, lit by lanterns & candles.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank SafariKZN-Mark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, 24 November 2011
Dear Mark

Thank you very much for your review of White Elephant. It was a real pleasure to have you ate the lodge. We sincerly hope to see you come back to the lodge one day!

Warm regards
The White Elephant Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, Georgia
Level 5 Contributor
73 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 July 2011

We booked the honeymoon package and enjoyed the best service of our three month visit to Africa. We were greeted by a bucket of champagne in the room and a clawfoot tub with a bubble bath drawn. The food is top notch at every meal ( we enjoyed some meals in the lodge and some by candlelight in our tent). We visited White Elephant while researching an upcoming travel book ( Tango in Tahiti) and we'd highly recommend White Elephant for outstanding service, well appointed stylish tents, and an intimate, romantic feel.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank tangointahiti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, 24 November 2011
Dear Seth and Whitney

Thank you very much for your review of White Elephant. It was a real pleasure having you at the Lodge. We sincerly hope to see you return to the lodge one day.

Kind regards
The White Elephant Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hamburg, Germany
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 June 2011

The White Elephant Lodge can only be described as ones personal African Paradise. From being personally greeted with a drink after navigating the track to the lodge to getting a free carwash before leaving the service is immaculate and very personal. It is located within the Pongola Game Reserve and a reservation/booking is necessary to enter the Reserve.

We stayed there in May 2011 for (sadly) just one night on our way from Sodwana Bay back to Jo'burg and enjoyed every single minute. Our "Tent" was very luxurious with a double bed with moskito netting, writing desk, lounge chairs with fridge in front of the tent, bathroom with two washbasins, a free standing bathtub, and as a special feature and additional free standing shower outside. We felt like being in a five-star Safari camp. The Lodge has 8 of these tents and all a very nicely spread out so that each tent is in its own secluded area.

The main building is a very nicely preserved farm building complete with hunting trophies, memorabilia, and small library and with its open rooms and the veranda an ideal spot to lounge in between game drives or other activities. Depending on the weather the melas are served either in the big dining room or out on the veranda. The Pool is currently under renovation (it should be finished by now) and next to it is a additional wooded deck with lounge chairs and in the evening a small fire is lit there.

All meals are freshly prepared and beginning with the Breakfast one is tempted to stuff oneself with too much of the treats on offer. It definitely is a notch above the normal B&B offerings and they are more than happy to accommodate special wishes.
In the afternoon High Tea is served complete with a selection of teas, scones, pastries, and sandwiches - in most places this would be a full dinner buffet.
Dinner is a set meal with 5 courses and we were treated to fresh Kudu - simply outstanding and one of the best meals we had in SA on our entire trip.

To watch the wildlife they offer a range of guided drives and walks (no self driving allowed) around the Reserve and also highly recommended boat trips on the Pongolapoort Dam with their own boat. All trips are with a private Guide and can be pretty freely scheduled. Where else can one watch the sunset on a boat, with a family of Hippos coming by, Eagles soaring overhead, and a freshly made Gin Tonic in Hand? Just by driving to and from the Gate we saw Rhino, Giraffe, Kudu, Impala, Monkeys, and dozens of colorful birds.

Did we have a complaint? Yes, now we are spoiled... ;-)

Additional Info:
Give them a call before you make a booking - normally very attractive discounts are available that makes a stay there a very affordable treat.
It is a 6-8 hr. drive to/from Jo'burg depending on the traffic. A good 300km of the N2 is currently under construction and stoppages of up to 30 min. can occur on single lane stretches.
At the entrance gate the guards sell very good and homemade Biltong (similar to Beef Jerky) made out of Kudu or Impala (which has been legally shot in the Park).
If this is your first place where you stay on a trip around SA be prepared to be disappointed with other places...

Room Tip: Call them direct and ask for specials/discounts!
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Diggfrog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, 24 November 2011
Thank you very much for your excellent review of White Elephant. We loved having you at the lodge and hope next time your stay will be longer than one night!

Until then, warm regards
The White Elephant Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frankfurt, Germany
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 February 2011

We stayed for three nights at the White Elephant and had a perfect time! The Lodge has a wonderful location and is in very good shape. The best part, however, was the service! Everybody - including and especially the two managers Terry and Peter - created an incredible atmosphere. We stayed in several high quality lodges in South Africa, but none of them had such a warm and welcoming service.

We will never forget the safari trips with our ranger Freedom, who is also not only very knowledgeable but helpful and charming, too. We learned a lot about the wildlife, both about the big (especially the black rhinos were thrilling!) and the small animals.

Thanks again to all the staff of White Elephant for the great time we had with you!

  • Stayed January 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank DBremer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
WhiteElephantPongola, Guest Relations Manager at White Elephant Safari Lodge, responded to this review, 24 November 2011
Dear Mr. Bremer

Thank you very much for your excellent review of White Elephant. We really enjoyed having you at the lodge. We hope to see you again soon.

Warm regards
The White Elphant Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about White Elephant Safari Lodge

Property: White Elephant Safari Lodge
Address: Pongola Game Reserve (South) on Lake Jozini (Pongolapoort Dam) | P. O. Box 792, Pongola 3170, South Africa
Region: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand > Pongola
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 11 Speciality Lodging in Pongola
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:5 star — White Elephant Safari Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
White Elephant is the only lodge in South Africa to offer Kariba-like, water based safari activities (motorized and canoeing) as well as the traditional land based activities. This sets us apart from other safari destinations. We are passionate about conservation and offer a superb Black Rhino tracking experience (with an excellent chance of viewing Black Rhino on foot), as well as fascinating Elephant research activities. We also offer the conventional activities such as game drives, educational bush walks and incredible boat cruises on Lake Jozini. These varied activities as well as the chance of catching tiger fish and superb bird watching possibilities, make us a truly unique South African Safari experience. White Elephant is the perfect romantic retreat for newly weds and anniversary celebrations. White Elephant Safari Lodge (TGCSA 5 star) captures the history and romance of a bygone era. The deep verandah, sweeping views and tranquil setting provide the venue for a unique African experience. Eight luxurious safari tents, each with romantic ball and claw bath, outdoor canvas shower and private verandah provide an evocative safari in the Pongola Game Reserve Wilderness. ... more   less 
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