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“Wow! The best holiday in one of the very best safari lodges in South Africa.”

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Ulusaba Safari Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 18 May 2013

My wife and I stayed for 7 days/6 nights at this wonderful lodge on our very first safari. On our first day of game drive, we saw 4 of the big 5 and more!!. It could not get any better but each drive brought a new surprise.
We stayed at the “Treehouse Suite” which was a bit of a walk from the main lodge, but it was located right next to a dam so we saw hippos, crocodiles, elephants, lions etc. all within sight from our lodge. We could not fault the accommodation and the treehouse was clean, large and very comfortable. It had air-conditioning and a large bathroom/toilet with plenty of hot water! A huge and very comfortable bed with a turn down service each night with our mosquito net securely placed made this a super 5 star service that is unparalleled. An extremely well stocked bar and some 12 bottles of wine available all inclusive together with coffee and tea making facilities made this an extremely comfortable stay.
In the evening, we were totally surprised that we had a guard who accompanied us each time we left the tree house and back and stayed with us in the adjacent viewing deck till 6.00am each day. (I was told that this was for our safety) It was little touches like this that I felt makes Richard Branson’s lodge one of the very best.
The game rides (2 each day) were in very comfortable open top vehicles and our ranger Rico and tracker Sam did not disappoint with their expert knowledge and they seem to always “find” what we wanted to see each day. Ulusaba together with a few other private parks sits adjacent to Kruger National park and through cooperation between each of the parks, the rangers are in constant contact with each other which made looking for certain animals easier. This sharing of information saved us countless of hours looking for animals of this I am sure. This was one of the strengths of staying at a private game reserve. Morning coffee/tea and evening drinks were provided in a nice scenic spot each day and one morning they surprised us with a pancake picnic where they brought the chef out to cook for us with champagne and drinks and all this before breakfast!! After each of our evening rides we were greeted with nice warm towels which was a very nice touch and much appreciated.
Food was plentiful and Chef Ian created his magic each night, we could not ask for anything more. What impressed me most was the way the menu changed every night. We had breakfast each morning after our morning game ride with our same allocated ranger and guests on the vehicle which allowed us to get to know each other better. Lunch was left to our own devices where we could order off a reasonably comprehensive menu and drinks and dinner was held in the dining room where all the guests ate together in a long table. I thought this was a wonderful way to allow us to mingle and meet other people, talk about the day and share stories .What a wonderful atmosphere and for the solo traveler a great way not to dine alone!
In between drives, we enjoyed the heated pool, spa treatment and lunches at Rock lodge which had a magnificent view overlooking part of the vast reserve. We had the choice of splitting our stay between the Safari Lodge and Rock Lodge but chose to stay “closer” to the animals at ground level but it was easy commuting between the 2 lodges as they provided drivers to take us whenever we needed to go.
I cannot praise the staff enough for their friendliness and nothing was too difficult for them. Having travelled to a fair few countries and stayed in some very good hotels, this holiday and lodge is right up amongst the very best that I have ever experienced. Everything from the game rides, animal viewing, staff, rangers, trackers, chef ,food and accommodation was world class, I will certainly be coming back, this time with my family.
As we travelled from Australia and made the booking through a South African travel agency in Cape Town, we were not told that there was a direct flight (through Federal Air) from Johannesburg to Ulusaba which had its own private air strip. Instead we had a flight to Nelspruit and then a 3 hour taxi ride to the lodge. The car ride was long and there was really nothing much to see for the 3 or so hours of the ride. Please fly!!!

Room Tip: We stayed at the Treehouse Suite which was a fair hike from the main complex (0.5km). Connecting the...
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  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank BunburyTim61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 May 2013

I have just returned from my second visit to Ulusaba in 6 months, I took a friend with me as it was my birthday whilst there and she had never been on a safari adventure before.
I again booked an Elephant room at safari lodge, the staff were as happy and as accommodating as before, they seriously cannot do enough for you without being overbearing in any way.
The whole game drive experience was as brilliant as it was the first time but very different, our ranger before was Greg who has sadly left but this time we had Sean and our tracker was James, I cannot speak highly enough of them, we went on a bush walk one day and even managed to track and see a male leopard about 20 feet in front of us but turned back as the bush was getting too thick, talk about heart stopping, the adrenalin was pumping I can tell you.
On the morning of my birthday we had pancakes and champagne in the bush as part of our game drive, lunchtime we had a private picnic at the treehouse viewing deck and then in the evening the staff had made the most glorious cake with the staff coming out singing in African...I was overwhelmed.
We went out on the community tour again which is so heartwarming to see the little children being given the opportunity of education along with a computer block at the school allowing women to come in from the village to learn computer skills.
Pride n purpose is an incredible charity and I urge anyone staying at Ulusaba to take the community tour.
I cannot speak of any one particular highlight from this trip but I really wanted to see the very rare African wild dogs, I knew they had been seen in the Sabi Sands area lately but didn't know if we would see them before they moved themselves again...on our first game drive walking along the road were a pack of about 10 of them, I couldn't believe my eyes...we never saw them again in the 6 days we stayed.
We also saw a male and female leopard mating, a very rare experience we're told.
The staff at Ulusaba are the most wonderful people in the world, far too many names to mention but a huge thanks to the beautiful Blair who is a general assistant, she is the most genuinely lovely lady with a heart of gold, she couldn't do enough for us.
Knox, the acting general manager...such fun and organised us a private dinner in the lounge in front of the roaring log fire on our last evening at very late notice from us..thank you.
Ernest, Ian the chef, and all the other staff...just wonderful..and not forgetting Chris.
We also had the most luxurious massage at the Aroma Boma spa with Mel, on the open deck with the sounds of Hippo grunting, baboons and rutting impala in the background.
The massage was the signature one, an hour and a half long !
Because we had the luxury of time on our side our game drives were not rushed, I don't mean time wise (they never are) but we didn't feel that we had to rush to see the big 5 and more over a couple of days.
We also got to see the leopard cub that I saw back in December when she was 3 months old (still with blue eyes) and now growing up, she was playing with her mum and it was a beautiful sight.
Also saw the lion cubs that had just been born in December that are now about 6 months old.
Returning to Ulusaba was like a continuing story...another chapter...and for that reason I am returning again in November this year.
I can see myself returning to Ulusaba and the Ulusaba "family" year after year.
A place I can and will never tire of.
Thank you all once again
Annee.

Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
5  Thank anneeSussex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 May 2013 via mobile

What separates ulusaba from others. The grounds and rooms are of a very good standard. So why wow. The staff are incredible. Rangers and trackers are knowledgeable and care about what you see. Their knowledge of animal behaviour leaves you on the edge of your seat. The hotel staff treat you like family. And the food divine. This review could easily become a novel so i will end by saying thank you ulu. If you want vistas stay in rock lodge. If you want to wake up and see antelope as you eat breakfast stay at safari lodge. My favourite ever holiday in a very long list (already booked for next year)

  • Stayed: February 2013
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1  Thank mattsal1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2013

Having travelled a great deal for work, and sometimes staying in top hotels, I can say from my experience nothing quite prepares you for Ulusaba. We were lucky to be able to stay in both lodges over the course of our stay- which is something I'd recommend to anyone going there- and they are both magical and unique. The rooms have understated luxury but the real highlight is the warmth and attention shown to you by all the staff. We really loved the relaxed and friendly vibe- and the service they offer is exceptional.

The Bush itself is a stunning place, and the game drives are wonderful. We had two great guides- ranger Calvin and tracker John- who were both really good fun as well as being enthusiastic, passionate and incredibly knowledgeable about the bush.

Things I'd recommend: A treatment outside with Mel, the ulusaba breakfast special (with pancakes), a visit to the Treehouse viewing point to watch the hippos and definitely go on all the Game drives.

Hopefully it won't be just once in a lifetime for us!

Room Tip: If you stay in River 4, you might see an Elephant walk by...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Jonathan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2013

What a place- what an experience! It is so beautiful and we were glad we chose the Safari Lodge over the Rock Lodge as were felt closer and more involved in the whole unique experience.The welcome and service is exceptional at all times- you feel at home and pampered by staff, who really care. about you and who want you to have the most wonderful time of your life. The game drives are so exciting, even if it's wet and the ponchos leak !!!, and you never forget chocolate and Amarula on the early drive and the sundowners at night.! Hopefully ,next time ,they'll have miniature Remy Martin in the car !!! We saw the big 5 almost immediately, thanks to our superb tracker and Calvin , our awesome driver . He knew so much and entertained us with a cool sense of humour , which was much appreciated. Lock your doors there tho, as the baboons like to visit the mini bar, if you're not careful!

Room Tip: If you can , upgrade from the safari rooms , which are small ,to an Elephant room. River rooms are e...
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with family
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Thank jvan186298
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 April 2013

I have wanted to stay at Ulusaba for many years having read excellent reviews about the lodge.
From the moment our guide, Steve met us at the airstrip and offered us a glass of champagne I knew we had chosen the right place. As experienced safari goers we have high expectations of our game drives. Ulusaba did not disappoint. We had excellent viewings including lion cubs, several leopards including a cub, rhino, elephants etc. Steve was an excellent guide and we had a great time one morning tracking a male leopard through dense bush.
Safari Lodge is lovely. Our river room was beautiful with views over the dry river bed where we saw vervets, impala, nyala and baboons. It was very well equipped including well stocked mini bar. The gym is small but adequate and my massage was good and reasonably priced. As our trip was a special occasion I made a few requests in advance and these were all met and even surpassed.
The food was generally of a very high standard,
Downsides... Because of the high density of lodges in Sabi Sands some animal viewings were shorter than we would have liked as the guides from different lodges share their sightings. However this did mean that we saw some wonderful things. Bush dinner one evening marred the whole experience. On this occasion the food was poor, a shame given the calibre of Ian the chef and the excellent tasting menu we had had the night before. The way the evening was organised it was not possible for guests to opt out which did not fit the "what ever you would like " service attitude we experienced the rest of our stay.
Would we return... Yes but only after making sure bush dinner would not be inflicted on us.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Lucyleopard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 March 2013

We got married here in 2012 and cannot recommend the place any higher. Service, location, staff and the safaris all top class. We stayed 3 nights in a River room with plunge pool down in the Safari lodge and 2 nights in one of the Makwela suites in the rock lodge. Both was amazing and a totally different experience but if we had to choose one, we would probably pick the safari lodge as we was a lot closer to the bigger wildlife and it seemed a little more relaxed, more to do with the clientele than the environment (costs a lot more to stay at the top). However, both was amazing and would recommend doing both if you can afford too (i'm still paying for it).
I could go on for ages about the safaris, but they are one of the best things to you could do in your lifetime, especially when taken by such knowledgeable guides and trackers.
Overall i think this is the best place on earth i've had the pleasure of visiting and only wish i could afford to visit more often.
We have just come back from Morocco, where we visited another one of Richard Branson's Properties, and the service and quality was equally as good in it's own unique way. Seems the guy has really got his hospitality game down to a tee!

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank exmouthsharris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VLELondon, General Manager at Ulusaba Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 15 April 2013

Thank you so much for your comments. It was lovely to read your feedback following your visit last April with us, weddings at Ulusaba are really very special and so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you again for choosing Ulusaba as the venue for your special day.

Congratulations must be in order for your 1 year wedding anniversary, perhaps another visit to celebrate your wedding anniversary in the future could be planned!

All the best
Karl Langdon
General Manager of Ulusaba

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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 Ulusaba Safari Lodge

Address: Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve > Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Speciality Lodging in Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Ulusaba Safari Lodge 4.5*
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Safari Lodge is built along the banks of the dry Mabrak riverbed. The 11 rooms at Safari Lodge include a Treehouse Suite overlooking the nearby Xikwenga Dam as well as three other room types: Safari, Elephant and River Rooms, some of which have private plunge pools. Kids over the age of 12 are welcome to stay at Safari Lodge. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Ulusaba Safari Hotel Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

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