Zimanga Private Game Reserve

Zimanga Private Game Reserve

Zimanga Private Game Reserve
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  • twinkiebgood
    Tampa, Florida49 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Zimanga magic
    I stayed at Doornhoek Homestead with the Toons, who are an awesome couple. It was an incredible experience despite the cold weather and unseasonal rains, which slowed the animal activity. I can only imagine the possibilities later in the dry season. I LOVED photographing from the hides, especially at night. The walks with the cheetahs were unbelievable ❤️. The game drives, after being in Tanzania, were so-so, but I appreciate and admire the wildlife conservation efforts among the private reserves like Zimanga (and Mongena, where I went first) to manage populations and promote genetic diversity. All the staff at Doornhoek were stellar and made us feel welcome and at home. Calvin did a phenomenal job and clearly has a passion for wildlife and photography. A sincere thank you to Charl and the family for creating the magic that is Zimanga.
    HI Twinkiebgood, thank you for the positive review about your recent visit. The Toons really are an awesome couple and we are proud to host them and their guests every year. We are so sorry about the weather and the influence it had on your visit, as weather no doubt has a tremendous effect on wildlife photography. Our seasons were well and truly mixed up this year but still very happy that you had a great time despite this. Our cheetahs have really been doing great and we hope that the good fortune that followed them up to this point continues so that we can continue contributing to the larger Southern African population and help insure their future. Thank you for taking the time to visit and we really hope that the weather will play along should you ever choose to visit again. Kind regards from Zimanga, Charl
    Written 8 October 2023
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Written 29 July 2023
  • Gillian E
    4 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fabulous photographic safari
    Fabulous opportunities here for photography. The lodge is excellent. Accommodation was extremely comfortable, beautifully maintained and the food prepared by the chef was simply delicious. The gardens surrounding the lodge are stunning and while we were there home to dozens of sunbirds feeding on the aloes. Night hides are excellent for photography. So well set up. Opportunities to get very close to a number of cheetahs on game drives and lucky enough to find female with a kill on our last day. Only downside was being in a fenced reserve. We normally go on safari in unfenced areas in Kenya, South Africa, Botswana - so it felt a bit enclosed. That said - this is a beautiful place and perfect to get some different low angle shots.
    Hi Gilliane, thank you for the positive review and we are very happy that you enjoyed what we had to offer. The gardens around the Lodge is my mother's doing and I'll be sure to forward your compliments to her! The cheetah population has been doing well and it makes us really proud to be contributing animals for translocation towards other reserves in order to boost their numbers and genetic diversity. I agree that fences are an eyesore, and despite having in excess of 70km2 of range for wildlife fences are never a nice thing to see, but sadly very necessary in this area nowadays to keep humans and wildlife apart especially considering the ever present threat of poaching that has plagued Africa for the last decade. Thank you again and kind regards, Charl
    Written 8 October 2023
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 6 August 2023
  • beverley508
    Aberdeen, United Kingdom16 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Perfection
    Just back from a trip to Zimanga with some friends and a group led by Tracey Lund and Garry Jones. Zimanga was all I dreamt of. The place is absolutely amazing. The staff make you feel so welcome and you actually feel part of a family. Thank you to them all and in particular Patricia, Alice and Happiness, who would have done anything to make us feel at home. The place is spotlessly clean and the food is amazing, you have to try the ostrich steaks! five star and more! The game drives were absolutely perfect. Some times it was enough to just put down the camera and sit, watch and listen to Jono as he imparted his knowledge and showed his love of the animals. To have the privilege of walking with cheetahs as he looked on and seeing the big five is something I will never forget. The whole team went above and beyond to ensure we saw every species on the reserve. Mat, Henry, Calvin but especially our Jono who gave us many a laugh as he drove us places we never knew were possible to access! The hides are amazing with so many different animal and bird to see. One of my highlights was meeting the beautiful Cooper! He made my day when he came to visit. If you are looking to go on Safari then you will find it hard to choose better. With only three vehicles allowed out on the reserve at a time you feel like you are the only people there. Alone with only the calls of the birds and wildlife. What would I change, nothing.. It really is perfect. Zimanga a massive thank you, I really hope I will have the opportunity to return some day.
    Hi Beverley Thank you so much for this beautiful review of the place we love so much. Your group were simply a magnificent collection of people and we were just as sad to see you all leave, but also thankful that our team could showcase you a small piece of Africa, leaving you with lasting memories. We would love to see all of you over here again. Kind regards from the Zimanga team
    Written 15 December 2023
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 5 December 2023
  • Anne R
    1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Go to Zimanga, real wildlife.
    This was the most fantastic trip, organised by Tracey Lund, supported by Gary Jones. We forgot all about everyday ordinary life, just enjoyed the sunshine, the warmth and the fantastic wildlife. Everything was taken care of. Hides for unbelievably birds, drives for animals and night time watching of buffalos and lions. Wonderful!
    Hi Anne, we appreciate your review and are always happy to hear that our guests had such a great time. We cannot wait to host Tracey and her groups again this year and really hope that you can come along again? Kind regards from the Zimanga team!
    Written 6 March 2024
    This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 6 March 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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5.0
5.0 of 5 bubbles54 reviews
Excellent
50
Very good
2
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1
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1
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Jeremyabingdon
Crewe, UK9 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
Zimanga may have some excellent photography opportunities, but in my view the lodge operation is poorly run and disorganised. This ultimately made my stay here stressful rather than the relaxing experience I had hoped for. Note that I was a single traveller: the majority of guests appear to stay as part of a group, and these may well receive better treatment than individuals.

Even before my stay, issues with locating my payment (which has to be made in full before arrival) made for some stress. In my six nights at Zimanga, I ended up moving between three different rooms, due to complaints about insects in the bed. This may have been the result of my northern European squeamishness, but I didn’t have this issue elsewhere in South Africa, and neither did I have any other reason to complain elsewhere on this trip.

The management were always apologetic, but it sometimes took excessive complaining to get the issues resolved, and ultimately I would have preferred them to resolve them at the outset. On one occasion, my possessions were removed from my room whilst I was out on a game drive, without my knowledge or consent. I regard this as a gross invasion of my privacy: clothes and personal items were taken out of the wardrobe, for example, and delicate electronics unplugged.

Compared to the other two Safari Lodges I stayed on this trip, the service was somewhat erratic, and the food quality, though often good, was inconsistent, for example being served cold on some occasions, and it was never as outstanding as the cost might lead you to expect. The service could be also erratic: I didn’t always get what I ordered, for example. Having said that, the waiting staff were invariably friendly.

The main reason I was drawn to Zimanga was for the photography. My guide Jono was passionate about the wildlife, and I will remember the interaction with their cheetahs fondly for a long time to come. I’d suggest though that the most of the hides are will be of greatest interest to keen birders. My success with the two overnight hides was mixed. If your main interest is in game drives, the value for money of Zimanga is more questionable.

Overall, I consider Zimanga to be overpriced, and the guest experience for me left a lot to be desired.
Written 19 August 2022
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.
Thank you for the review Jeremy. It is with regret that I notice you only rated us 2 out of 5 stars, which is a tad below the average 2.1 stars per establishment which you've given in your Tripadvisor ratings for the first 10 establishments you've reviewed to date, including this review of Zimanga. I took the time to find out about your concerns as they seem to be myriad and really concerning to all of us. I will try respond in sequence with your concerns raised. Firstly regarding the lack of notification of incoming payment which for whatever reason did not appear as an incoming deposit on our online banking. In extremely infrequent and unusual circumstances it can happen that these have to be cleared manually, as was the case here. We can imagine your stress in this regard and I guarantee the stress was similar from our side as we also prefer bookings to run like clockwork as they should. Luckily this was manually cleared well in advance before your stay, and as soon as we became aware of the holdup. A big problem undoubtedly stemmed from sugar ants you encountered during your first night's stay in the single room you booked. We appreciate you making us aware of these, which really posed a problem as there is likely a colony that have moved into the vicinity of that particular single room as can sometimes happens in the middle of the bush. We've found that, especially on days before rainy weather like you experienced, these ants evacuate their nests to seek shelter on higher ground, including up walls as we've seen so many times after 24 years of living here. Upon your mention of ants your room was immediately tended to to remove them, and again upon later mention to your ranger that there were still ants present, we understand our guest relations manager moved and upgraded you to a luxury double suite to give us time to sort out the ant problem in said initially booked single room. As it turned out, despite treatment, ants were still present a few days later, though fortunately you were unaware of it as you were moved to a larger room. It was actually due to newly arriving guests (and not ants) you were moved from your first upgraded double suite into an adjacent double suite, as we all agree we could not place you back in the single room with ants still present despite it having been treated. We assume here the mention of the upgrade to the luxury double suites for the remainder of your stay and on the other side of the pathway was simply an omission on your part in the above review. We apologise for the inconvenience this rooming movements and upgrades caused. I have to add that from your review it can appear to an uninformed reader that you had to be moved to three rooms due to insects, whereas only the first single room you were in contained said ants. We are therefore at this point very confident that you enjoyed the additional space the upgrade to the larger double suites provided you despite the two-star rating but feel it important to clarify this point. Despite Zimanga being "fully" booked during your stay, we actually view it as a feather in our caps (as opposed to being used in a negative manner against us) that during emergencies like these we have the capacity to move guests between rooms if needed, including upgrading guests to larger rooms if need be as the Lodge was designed and built with unforeseen emergencies top of our expectations list. We never fully book the reserve exactly due to the curveballs mother nature can and will throw at us. That being said, the movement of your personal belongings is definitely of concern, as you were initially asked if you required help and rightfully declined. Unfortunately the housekeeper responsible for the second room you stayed did not enquire if you required assistance and took it upon herself to move your belongings, which I guarantee you was done in nothing but good faith and with your convenience in mind. We all agree she should have asked and we will be having a training session with all our staff to emphasise always enquiring first before attempting to help with a move. We unreservedly apologise for this misplaced attempt to assist, especially considering your first declination of the offer. We are happy to hear you had good service at the other lodges you stayed at, and you will at least have some positive memories to take home from there. Sadly, according to our Lodge Manager, Head Chef, and your Ranger, no mention was made to them regarding the above mentioned levels of service during your stay, which could have at least offered us an opportunity to rectify any shortcomings immediately, but we will simply take the feedback from this post-visit Tripadvisor review and counsel our service staff about the standards that management and our guests expect of our service levels. It is a tad more vague and difficult but I am sure can be done. At this point there is no clear explanation of misplaced orders and right now we are at a loss, but we will be enquiring with all of this week's service staff as to cold meals and misplaced orders that the Head Chef who was on duty every night until after guests left, was unaware of. Your suggestion that most of the hides are focused on birds is spot-on, seven out of nine hides to be exact focus on birds (as per our website). We are proud that your memories of the cheetahs on game drives will be remembered so fondly. We truly hope the cheetah kill, the leopard sightings on game drives, plus the lion and rhino amongst other members of the Big 5 plus plains animals (also on game drive) could maybe in the log run also count on that list, as the photographs we saw from other occupants you shared the vehicle with were simply magnificent in our opinion... Any lodge's pricing is always a minefield of subjectivity, as the feedback I personally got yesterday (and from many other recent and historical guests) was how affordable we were, especially considering the variety of activities and photographic opportunities on offer. This being extremely subjective we simply are what we are, and carry our heads high through our variety of legs from hospitality, conservation work, reserve security, ecological management and community support projects to sustain a significant tract of land to be kept under conservation. Lastly, we truly do hope and trust that you might one day have an enjoyable holiday somewhere, and apologise unreservedly for the stress this ordeal has caused. Nonetheless we would like to thank you for your support and the unfortunate realization that Zimanga was perhaps not the place for you. We will nonetheless keep fighting the good fight and attempt to keep improving on everything we do Kind regards, Charl
Written 20 August 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

MsDeboo
ex pat in Ct112 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021
Our third visit to this amazing place and as wonderful as the previous two. Zimanga is a conservation labor of love which is combined with state of the art photographic facilities. All the ranger guides are keen photographers as well as naturalists, on this trip Jono was our ranger who went above and beyond to take care of us and enable some stunning photographic opportunities.

The lodge has been designed with comfort in mind, the extra large rooms extremely are luxuriously appointed. The staff are wonderful and go out of their way to ensure that everything is done to maximize your comfort and enjoyment.

Thank you all for a wonderful 10 days!
Written 22 August 2021
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.

Lenka D
Beroun, Czech Republic23 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021 • Couples
You sit and they prepare opportunities for taking pictures of animals and birds and viewing wildlife only a couple of centimetres or metres in front of you. The making of the hides is perfect and considered with all the details, we never saw such perfect photo hides in Africa. The lodge is super clean and built in modern african style. Spacious cottages and an excellent cook. My friend is a photographer and I am a non-photograpger and our holiday was amazing.
Written 5 November 2021
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.

Moira G
Burntisland, UK99 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2022
This is a fantastic place for photographers and non photographers. There is a mix of game drives and sitting in hides including, overnight hides where the animals come to floodlit waterholes. The latter being a very special experience. There are plenty of birds and animals to see.
Staff are helpful, friendly and aim to please with many learning your name. I was lucky enough to upgraded to one of the luxury larger rooms. It was stunning and with a king sized bed, very comfortable. Rangers are very knowledgeable and helpful.

Thsepo, the chef supplies you with high quality, very tasty meals. He speaks to everyone to ensure you are satisfied with the food and will do requests. I have food intolerances and this was no problem. Vegetarians also have a great choice of food.

This is a very special place where all staff make you feel welcome.
I intend to return.
Written 22 July 2022
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.
Thank you very much Moira, we appreciate you taking the time to write such a positive review and we would love to see you here again! Kind regards from Zimanga
Written 26 July 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Peter Jones
Bilsthorpe, UK6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
We enjoyed all the hides most of all, re the game drives to much time was spent looking for Black Rhino, Cheetah, Leopard and Lion which are on the short side.
The night hides were very interesting and we were able to get some excellent photographs, and the day hides were the same. If you enjoy staying in hides it's one of the best places to stay. The lodge and staff are the best one could get.
Overall we can recommend Zimamga is the place to stay and has the best photographic hides in Africa.
Written 12 July 2022
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.
Hi Peter, thank you so much for the fantastic review! Game drives can always be hit and miss as sometimes you stumble upon animals by chance and early on the drive, and at other times they can make us work very hard for sightings when they disappear somewhere within thousands of hectares of African bush. For us it is part of the allure that you never know what you are going to get. We will carry your positive message across to our staff, and thank you for taking the time to write such a lovely review! Hope to see you here again soon and for better luck on drives next time! Kind regards from Zimanga
Written 26 July 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

beverley508
Aberdeen, UK16 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2023 • Friends
Just back from a trip to Zimanga with some friends and a group led by Tracey Lund and Garry Jones.
Zimanga was all I dreamt of. The place is absolutely amazing.
The staff make you feel so welcome and you actually feel part of a family. Thank you to them all and in particular Patricia, Alice and Happiness, who would have done anything to make us feel at home. The place is spotlessly clean and the food is amazing, you have to try the ostrich steaks! five star and more!
The game drives were absolutely perfect. Some times it was enough to just put down the camera and sit, watch and listen to Jono as he imparted his knowledge and showed his love of the animals. To have the privilege of walking with cheetahs as he looked on and seeing the big five is something I will never forget.
The whole team went above and beyond to ensure we saw every species on the reserve. Mat, Henry, Calvin but especially our Jono who gave us many a laugh as he drove us places we never knew were possible to access!
The hides are amazing with so many different animal and bird to see.
One of my highlights was meeting the beautiful Cooper! He made my day when he came to visit.
If you are looking to go on Safari then you will find it hard to choose better. With only three vehicles allowed out on the reserve at a time you feel like you are the only people there. Alone with only the calls of the birds and wildlife.
What would I change, nothing.. It really is perfect.
Zimanga a massive thank you, I really hope I will have the opportunity to return some day.

Written 5 December 2023
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.
Hi Beverley Thank you so much for this beautiful review of the place we love so much. Your group were simply a magnificent collection of people and we were just as sad to see you all leave, but also thankful that our team could showcase you a small piece of Africa, leaving you with lasting memories. We would love to see all of you over here again. Kind regards from the Zimanga team
Written 16 December 2023
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Gillian E
4 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Friends
Fabulous opportunities here for photography. The lodge is excellent. Accommodation was extremely comfortable, beautifully maintained and the food prepared by the chef was simply delicious. The gardens surrounding the lodge are stunning and while we were there home to dozens of sunbirds feeding on the aloes. Night hides are excellent for photography. So well set up. Opportunities to get very close to a number of cheetahs on game drives and lucky enough to find female with a kill on our last day. Only downside was being in a fenced reserve. We normally go on safari in unfenced areas in Kenya, South Africa, Botswana - so it felt a bit enclosed. That said - this is a beautiful place and perfect to get some different low angle shots.
Written 6 August 2023
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.
Hi Gilliane, thank you for the positive review and we are very happy that you enjoyed what we had to offer. The gardens around the Lodge is my mother's doing and I'll be sure to forward your compliments to her! The cheetah population has been doing well and it makes us really proud to be contributing animals for translocation towards other reserves in order to boost their numbers and genetic diversity. I agree that fences are an eyesore, and despite having in excess of 70km2 of range for wildlife fences are never a nice thing to see, but sadly very necessary in this area nowadays to keep humans and wildlife apart especially considering the ever present threat of poaching that has plagued Africa for the last decade. Thank you again and kind regards, Charl
Written 9 October 2023
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

twinkiebgood
Tampa, FL49 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023
I stayed at Doornhoek Homestead with the Toons, who are an awesome couple. It was an incredible experience despite the cold weather and unseasonal rains, which slowed the animal activity. I can only imagine the possibilities later in the dry season.
I LOVED photographing from the hides, especially at night. The walks with the cheetahs were unbelievable ❤️. The game drives, after being in Tanzania, were so-so, but I appreciate and admire the wildlife conservation efforts among the private reserves like Zimanga (and Mongena, where I went first) to manage populations and promote genetic diversity.
All the staff at Doornhoek were stellar and made us feel welcome and at home. Calvin did a phenomenal job and clearly has a passion for wildlife and photography.

A sincere thank you to Charl and the family for creating the magic that is Zimanga.
Written 29 July 2023
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.
HI Twinkiebgood, thank you for the positive review about your recent visit. The Toons really are an awesome couple and we are proud to host them and their guests every year. We are so sorry about the weather and the influence it had on your visit, as weather no doubt has a tremendous effect on wildlife photography. Our seasons were well and truly mixed up this year but still very happy that you had a great time despite this. Our cheetahs have really been doing great and we hope that the good fortune that followed them up to this point continues so that we can continue contributing to the larger Southern African population and help insure their future. Thank you for taking the time to visit and we really hope that the weather will play along should you ever choose to visit again. Kind regards from Zimanga, Charl
Written 9 October 2023
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Anne R
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2023 • Friends
This was the most fantastic trip, organised by Tracey Lund, supported by Gary Jones. We forgot all about everyday ordinary life, just enjoyed the sunshine, the warmth and the fantastic wildlife. Everything was taken care of. Hides for unbelievably birds, drives for animals and night time watching of buffalos and lions. Wonderful!
Written 6 March 2024
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.
Hi Anne, we appreciate your review and are always happy to hear that our guests had such a great time. We cannot wait to host Tracey and her groups again this year and really hope that you can come along again? Kind regards from the Zimanga team!
Written 7 March 2024
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Christine K
Richards Bay14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2021 • Couples
We have wanted to visit Zimanga for a long time. All I can say is it exceeded our expectations. As keen photographers were were excited to see the many carefully crafted hides and we were not disappointed. To be allowed free rein where things like light direction and reflections have already been thought about and catered for gives so much more opportunity to experiment and improve, the results almost guaranteed. The spaces are also well equipped and comfortable.

Add to this the excellent service from the lodge staff and guides. The food was amazing, the staff attentive and friendly. Our guide Jono was a perfect companion on our drives, excellent knowledge and also a talented and enthusiastic photographer. Who could ask for more.

It was our first visit but will definately not be our last. Thanks Mariska and Charl for your vision and attention to detail. It is much appreciated.
Written 21 January 2021
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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ZIMANGA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE (2024) All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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