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Reviewed 6 January 2014

We visited Ulusaba Rock Lodge mid December for 4 nights....immediately on arrival before even seeing our rooms we booked an extra night. The whole wonderful atmosphere began with champagne expertly served by Sean our Ranger just after disembarking on the private airstrip. Personal, friendly, customer service is excellent all round...as is the food and plenty of it too. Superb fine high quality food and menu choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner with as much as we could eat. Fine wines, champagnes and all spirits etc are very plentiful. Food and drinks on game drives too with several lovely surprises ! Our Ranger and Tracker for the first 3 days were Sean and James, our last day Brandon and Jack... all were excellent, great fun and very professional and knowledgeable...we had some brilliant sightings of animals too all thanks to their expertise. The big 5 all close up and many others too.
Highly recommended is the spa high up in Rock lodge with fantastic views....we had several treatments all first class by the lovely Esther...Thank you Esther you were fab!
Our rooms were huge, luxurious,very comfortable, great amenities, always clean and well serviced and stunning views. The plunge pool and decking with sun loungers very lovely to use in the afternoons. Wifi is available along with full use of pc...very good service.
We were married here at Ulusaba...obviously our highlight of the trip. Everything for our wedding from start to finish was expertly organised for us both from Erica and Gill in the reservations office to everybody at Ulusaba...big thank you to Knox for anticipating our every need and delivering the very best for us...Thank you, you made our day and whole stay very special.
We have travelled extensively world wide and taken many safaris in Africa ...Ulusaba for us has a special quality about it, we have found new friends and will definitely return....Thank you all.

Room tip: All Rock lodge rooms are lovely with great views, we had Rock Cliff room 3 and Makwela Dusk suite.
Date of stay: December 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
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Thank Brownsawayagain
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VLELondon, General Manager at Ulusaba Rock Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 17 January 2014

Thank you for choosing Ulusaba to share in your special day and congratulations again on your big day. We always appreciate when our guests share their experiences with us and I’ll circulate your lovely comments to the entire team.
We look forward to welcoming you back to our Ulusaba family in the future.
Best wishes
Karl Langdon
General Manager of Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 January 2014

Great location with great views overlooking bush. Rooms very good and spacious with balcony view like a james bond film and even had a small plunge pool. Flying in direct from joburg after long flight is excellent as some other safaris don't. Game drives are very well organised early morning and late afternoon and they try and avoid numbers of vehicles crowding animals. Saw all the big 5 and more. Guides and trackers excellent. Tourist may feel very sanitised safari but unfortunately one tracker who was on foot for our vehicle got gored by a Cape buffalo . Very rare occurrence and everyone was shocked but brings home that this is still the wild! The days can be a bit long esp after 24 hr lack of sleep to arrive and the evening drives tend to be extended unnecessarily for late drinks, star gazing at observatory to see white smudges thru telescope- would be better to have it as a separate trip after dinner for those who want it. Breakfast and lunch were satisfactory but dinner was major disappointment and no where near the standard of the resort but closer to school dinners eg meatballs and pasta or veg moussaka and bland sponge cake for dessert. Would expect more at this level of resort. (Every other hotel we stayed in south africa the food and quality of ingredients was amazing) Service generally was good other than restaurant which was friendly but inefficient. They try and get group to eat dinner but we were not prepared to wait as many we're late so we ordered and ate as by this time we were very hungry and not interested in pre dinner drinks. If you wish as we did you can ask for separate table, being friendly doesn't mean you also have to conform to this forced friendliness. Gym was good with amazing views. Overall great safari and location but very disappointing as a hotel restaurant.

Room tip: We visited safari lodges but think its better to be on the rock
Date of stay: December 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Thank Paul S
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VLELondon, General Manager at Ulusaba Rock Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 10 January 2014

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your feedback with us; I’ve shared your comments with the team which will help us to improve in areas where we fell short on this occasion. Whilst I was pleased to hear that you enjoyed your overall experience at Ulusaba especially the safari experience, I was sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the food.

Regarding the comment about the tracker, we are happy to report that he is recovering well which I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear.

Once again thank you for taking the time to write and I hope that we have the chance to welcome you back to Ulusaba or a different Virgin Limited Edition property in the future.

Karl Langdon
General Manager
Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

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Reviewed 3 January 2014

Our friends suggested a safari and we thought OK that would be fun! Little did we know what real treat we were in for !!

When we arrived a guest who was just leaving told me it was their 8th visit !!

I have no safari experience to compare this with but I would say if you want to see the Big 5 Close up and heart stopping and have a safari experience with amazing views then this is the place. all the recent reports list what you see in terms of amazing wildlife, what you get us a unique location, amazing staff, food and quality accommodation and the there is Ricoh and Orange our ranger and guide, we left with a heavy heart, they were huge fun, immensely knowledgable and thank goodness they knew where they were going !! It was like leaving good friends, all the staff were great.
New Year's Eve was fantastic, very special attention had been paid to the event and it was a magical evening, the staff were so involved and enthusiastic the sign of a great team.

Now I understand why the guy was on his 8th visit!

Well done Ricoh and orange, well done Ulusaba, superb, we will be back!!

Room tip: We had rock lodge room 1which had a lovely double aspect balcony
Date of stay: December 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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Thank smith025
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 January 2014

My husband and I were fortunate enough to experience Ulusaba in early December. Unlike most guests who fly directly into Ulusaba airstrip, we decided to drive from Johannesburg - an experience in itself. Upon arrival at Ulusaba, we were met by Michelle who took us to Rock Lodge and so began the most amazing 44 hours of our lives!

Knox took us to our room (Rock 2) and we quickly got into our safari gear and headed back to Michelle in the jeep. She took us to meet our ranger (Calvin) and tracker (John). Within minutes we were at a leopard kill! Amazing! We proceeded that evening to see white rhino with a baby. We enjoyed sundowner drinks on the side of a river with hippos.

After an excellent meal with fellow guests, we retired to our room. Next morning we were up bright and early ready for our 5am wake-up call, followed by a 5:30am departure to experience the bush again. Elephants, lions, termite mounds, large snails.....and then.....a surprise pancake with champagne breakfast - outstanding.

Our final safari drive was on a rainy morning, but it was possibly the best one of all because we saw a leopard up a tree being stalked by a lion and then Calvin and John pulled out all the stops to get us to see zebras, which I had said were one of the animals I really wanted to see (along with leopards). Wow!

Our room was great and the bathroom was also fantastic. I especially liked the shower gel/shampoo/body lotion that were provided. You really don't need to take your own as they are very nice quality. In addition, mosquito spray was provided. We didn't really take advantage of the mini-bar that was in the room, nor the laundry service that is included. The swimming pool was lovely too. Comfortable sun loungers that you could fall asleep on (and I did!).

You spend a lot of time with your Ranger/Tracker and the other guests assigned to your jeep (approx 7 hours a day). We had a lovely group of people in our vehicle. John made us feel so safe and his ability to spot animals (including insects) in the dark is phenomenal. Calvin is excellent - very knowledgeable about the bush as a whole ecosystem. They make a terrific team and we would definitely request them again.

I cannot express how impressed we were by Ulusaba and Rock Lodge. It truly is a magical place. The staff are more like friends there to ensure you are well looked after. The 44 hours we spent at Ulusaba were amazing and we are already talking about returning. A huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who made our visit so memorable - a great team.

Date of stay: December 2013
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank FairLady80
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
VLELondon, General Manager at Ulusaba Rock Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 17 January 2014

“The most amazing 44 hours of our lives” that’s quite a statement and thank you for sharing your experience with us. We think Safari Lodge is truly a remarkable place and we couldn’t be happier to share its magic with you. We hope to welcome you home again soon.
Best wishes
Karl Langdon
General Manager of Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 December 2013

My husband and I just returned from a 4-night stay at the Rock Lodge as part of our honeymoon. Here are some of our thoughts on it...

What we loved:-
(1) Great staff - Staff were very friendly throughout the lodge and our ranger (Ricoh) and tracker (Orange) were immensely entertaining and answered all our questions very patiently.

(2) Game Drives - We got paired with another 4 people (1 jeep sits 6) for all the game drives and they were lovely people. Thanks to Ricoh and Orange, we spotted the Big 5 within 2 days and saw them repeatedly after as well. It is great that they go off-track to spot the Big 5 and the proximity between us (i.e. the jeep) and the animals are quite nerve wrecking. For example, we could have just reached our hand down and touch the leopard! For someone who's only seen leopards behind huge cages, high walls and electric fences in the zoo, it's really quite amazing. On our 3rd day, they started taking an order list of whatever animals we wanted to see. One of the guests in our jeep mentioned she wanted to see a zebra and they looked high and low during the evening game drive (apparently zebras are a rare sight in the game reserve), and they found a bunch of them! Just spectacular. It is great that the rangers are in touch with each other through their walkie talkies and they buzz the station with news of animal sightings. We also love the fact that they control 2 jeeps to each sighting spot so as not to crowd the animals - so no one hogs the view and we all get a turn to see the animals.

(3) Rooms & location - We were upgraded to the Master Suite at the lodge and it was beautiful! It was so huge, with a small dipping pool, our own deck and a living room with floor to ceiling sliding glass doors so we get great views of the bush. With our binoculars, we spotted hippos and once even an elephant drinking at the waterhole.

(4) Food - Amazing. The reviews here are very accurate. They feed you oh so much and you can't help trying everything and stuffing yourself because the food (and wine) is amazing! Though I must say, for couples looking to spend some alone time together, it may be quite challenging at Ulusaba. Game drives and meals are done on a group basis - you barely get any alone time together unless you skip the game drives (***Not recommended! You may just miss spotting the rare animals, which defeats the whole purpose of going on a safari). Also, they wait for the whole group (i.e. everyone staying at Cliff Lodge and Rock Lodge) to gather before they start dinner, so if you're starving and a group has not returned from their game drive, you will just have to wait till they're back - which we felt was quite unnecessary and inconsiderate.

Some room for improvement:-
(1) Lighting in the room - During the day, it's fine, but at night it was pretty dim. My husband was using a torch light to search for stuff in our bags and in the cupboard.

(2) Housekeeping - Could be more meticulous. One night, there were a couple of 8-inch millipedes wandering around our room. The next night, there were a cluster of eggs (not sure whether they're from an insect or a reptile) on a rack and there were an army of ants having a go at it. The following morning, we saw some droppings around (they may already have been there at night but given that lighting was dim, we probably missed it) before we left for our game drive. When we got back after breakfast, which is also after housekeeping has came in, the animal droppings were still there - untouched. We took note after these few incidents that whenever housekeeping came in, they leave the door wide open - perhaps it doesn't happen every time, but that could be one of the contributing factors. We understand that we are in the bush and the animals / reptiles / insects will come... but perhaps steps should be taken to minimize that.

All in all, we had a great time despite the above! Definitely an experience of a lifetime and we look forward to our next safari!

Room tip: Master suite is beautiful. I love the little living area downstairs... great reading area during the day.
Date of stay: December 2013
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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1  Thank SMYong
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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