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911prentonpark
United Kingdom

An amazing experience!

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 16 Oct 2022via mobile
We only left Makalali a couple of days ago and are already missing it! We stayed three nights at the main lodge. The bedroom blocks look a little incongruous in design from the outside given the setting but once inside they had everything needed for a comfy visit. Two showers (inside and outside) and a huge bed. Balcony and huge glass windows ensured we could see everything. The main lodge structure and common areas are beautiful. All open air with high ceilings and thatched roof. The pool area is also beautiful and we saw numerous animals just below us as we swam!

The food was ok - breakfast omelette was particularly good, and the staff were all very friendly. There were only 8/10 guests in total in the main lodge at the time of our stay so we had much attention. My wife was celebrating a special birthday and on our second evening the staff set up a romantic dinner for two complete with birthday cake and singing. Lovely! We especially enjoyed chatting with Yolanda and Kevin (the chef)

Of course we didn’t stay here to experience food and comfy bedrooms! The main event were the game drives. There are two per day and alarms need to be set for a 5.30am start (they ring at 5am to make sure you are up!) . The drives last at least three hours and during our trips we saw so many wonderful animals. We were really lucky with our guide and spotter team. I know all the other reports claim their teams are the best but in Wonderboy (yes honestly!) and Floyd we had the stars. Yes they were focussed on showing us the big 5 - which we did see (several of them on multiple occasions ) but equally keen to show us the huge variety of less renowned creatures at Makalali. We loved stopping for morning coffee and evening G&Ts in the bush too. We were only 6 guests who all got along well. 6 seemed to be an ideal number.

I’ve never been on a safari trip before and initially the cynic in me suspected that much of the experience was being choreographed. However on our second night drive we witnesses four lionesses kill an impala and Wonderboy managed to manoeuvre us to within 10 meters of them - scary, definitely very real and nature at its rawness. Nothing scripted at Makalali!

It wasn’t all perfect and we had issues with both our transfers on arrival and departure but these in no way detracted from a wonderful experience. Thank you Team Makalali!
Date of stay: October 2022
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Reviewed 4 October 2022 via mobile

We visited Makalali in June and stayed in their River Lodge.
These smaller lodges offer a more personalised experienced with just 6 rooms per camp and fewer guests on game drives.
The staff were just exceptional and provided us with delicious boma meals in the evenings and lovely breakfasts and lunches ion the verandahs. We were even treated to a private picnic at the pool for my partner’s birthday which was so lovely.
The fire was lit in our room on request as it was cold at night and this made the room feel even cozier. The rooms are huge with all the amenities you need and the private verandah allowed us to enjoy the game passing below in the river bed. Spotlessly clean and very well serviced daily.
Our exceptional ranger was Marvel and he took great care of us and was so full of knowledge that he was happy to share. He made my partner’s very first game experience the very best it could have been and our sightings over our 10 game drivers were exceptional.
Makalali offers all you need for a great game experience and I would recommend it to anyone.,

Date of stay: June 2022
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank KersCat
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 21 September 2022

Everything about this lodge is amazing, excellent service, food, friendly, helpfully, knowledgeable. Going out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable. Game ranger Weaver and Small are the best! A lodge to visit more than once.

Date of stay: September 2022
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Thank jacolienengelbrecht
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 28 August 2022

Amazing and fantastic place with lovely staff alway happy, sunny and available. During out stay every day sarvice has been perfect. Dinner near fire light and Safari experience unforfettable. To come back!

Date of stay: August 2022
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank ecervi2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 28 August 2022 via mobile

We stayed three days at the River Lodge and ended up having very mixed feelings about the place. The 11 km / 30 minute approach road is appalling, and the arrangements for transferring from the parking area to the main lodge and eventually to your suite took another 30 minutes.

The suites are very private with good views from the balcony, often of passing wildlife as the whole lodge area is unfenced. The room is vary large with a good shower, bath etc, indeed seemingly luxurious. However, there are no chairs or desk within the room – one had to bring some from the balcony if you wanted to sit indoors, and very little storage space. We had no rubbish bin on the first day, and no telephone at all during our stay, despite being told to ring for a guard to accompany you to the lodge during the dark hours. And, of course, no means of contact with the staff in an emergency.Our promise early morning call never materialised. The website photos show a minibar in the fridge and nice wine glasses, but the reality was two bottles of water and just two tooth mugs. On the plus side you can have a log fire, and there are electric blankets on the bed.

The food was varied and very adequate without being exceptional in any way, and the lodge staff unfailingly courteous, helpful and well-meaning. It was early days after Covid, so many were new and a touch hesitant, but with the right training will gain confidence and skill.

On the whole the game drives were disappointing, despite the wide variety of game. There was the usual comfortable specialist vehicles with blankets etc., and coffee/cocktail stops morning and evening. But one was very aware that is is a small game reserve and tightly fenced, full of imported animals that are at various stages of timidity or tameness. Our guard spent a great deal of time talking to each others to pin down the Big 5 and very little time explaining anything about the birds, small mammals or fauna. He had been there 22 years and had become rather blasé , preferring to leave all spotting to his colleague on the bonnet and drive at high speed ( up to 40 km/hr over dreadful tracks) and crash through the off-road vegetation to reach a prized spotting: unethical, uncomfortable and unprofessional. For many visitors seeing the Big 5 is perhaps their main priority, but the lodge should offer much more by way of caring for their environment and educating guests about every aspect of the reserve.

We were left with the impression that this was lodge in transition, and going the wrong way: downwards. Nearly all staff are desperate to learn and to please but they need more help and encouragement than the present invisible management seem to give. We are blessed with having spent much time in Africa and have much to compare Makalali with, and at present it is neither above average, nor good value for money for the overseas visitor who pays twice as much as a SA resident. We wish it well, but it will need to sort out the detail and refine its offer if it is to appeal to anybody other that the first time safari traveller.

Date of stay: August 2022
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
2  Thank JohnWilson
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 24 August 2022

Perhaps one of our most comfortable stays of all time. From the very moment we entered, the staff treated us with respect and love, making you feel like you were on an actual vacation. Lovedailya , Delight, Peace and our cook were exceptionally gracious, providing us with the best they could. The property itself is mesmerizing, and with such a staff, you are guaranteed to have one of the best experiences in your life.

Date of stay: August 2022
Trip type: Travelled with family
1  Thank Anajali1976
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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