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Off R40, Kruger National Park 1380 South Africa
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Prices above are provided by partners for one room, with variable occupancy rules as provided by the property, and do not include all taxes and fees. Please see our partners for full details.
Traveller (1107)
Room & Suite (217)
Dining (69)


#2 of 17 Speciality lodging in Balule Nature Reserve
Travellers' Choice
Set on the cool riverine banks of the Olifants River (largest in Kruger) in the 40 000 ha Big 5 Balule Private Game Reserve inside the greater Kruger National Park, Pondoro offers its visitors comfort, sophistication, elegance and a canvas on which to create a truly unforgettable African safari.In this small, very exclusive 16-bed lodge ( owner managed ) you will discover the only way to experience the African bush. In addition to luxurious accommodation and the caring attention from trained professionals, our visitors are lavished upon with international fare and humble African hospitality.Meals are an extraordinary culinary experience where Traditional African Cuisine fuse effortlessly with modern European trends.To compliment the food, select any of our fine wines from our extensive wine cellar. Vegetarians are specially catered for. All meals are served on a wooden deck high up in the tree canopy overlooking the Olifants River (weather permitting).Between game drives in open safari cruisers, nature walks and peaceful afternoon naps, enjoy a dip in the sparkling rock pool, a spot of sun bathing or browse through the library. The Pondoro bar is the ideal spot to quench your thirst and grab a snack.
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Property amenities
Free parking
Free High Speed Internet (WiFi)
Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room
Free breakfast
Airport transportation
Baggage storage
Hot bath
Pool / beach towels
Outdoor pool
Bar / lounge
Coffee shop
Special diet menus
Full body massage
Gift shop
Mosquito net
Non-smoking hotel
Sun loungers / beach chairs
Dry cleaning
Laundry service
Ironing service
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Room features
Air conditioning
Private balcony
Room service
Coffee / tea maker
Bath / shower
Seating area
Wake-up service / alarm clock
Complimentary toiletries
Hair dryer
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Room types
Non-smoking rooms
Family rooms
Good to know
River View
Great View
Languages Spoken
English, Afrikaans


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Off R40, Kruger National Park 1380 South Africa
Getting there
Hoedspruit Airport25 kmSee all flights
Ngala Airfield47 kmSee all flights
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934Reviews26Q+A100Room tips
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Popular mentions
Les P wrote a review Feb 2021
Johannesburg, South Africa512 contributions125 helpful votes
Pondoro Game Lodge is a 16-bed 5+ star luxury owner managed lodge in the 40,000 Balule game reserve which is open to Kruger National Park and situated on the banks of the Oifants river. Owners, Robbie and Lize have owned this lodge for over 20 years and built it into an award winning lodge based on service and attention to detail. I don't think I have ever stayed at a lodge with more awards, including most romantic lodge for the past 12 years! The lodge comprises 5 suites and 3 chalets, so a maximum of 16 guests at any time, allowing for a very personal service. The individual room are decorated according to the named theme - I stayed in the "Rock" suite which has that theme. The suites are larger than the chalets and have an outside shower and jacuzzi. There is a treehouse hide where you can stay overnight, but we did not visit it on this trip. For the energetic there is a onsite gym and for those that want to be pampered there is a spa. The wifi is very good, both around the lodge and in the rooms. Mobile signal is poor or non-existent at the lodge itself due to being low down on the banks the Olifants River. Signal varies on game drives, so messages can come through. Clearly the highlight is the actual game drives, where guide Marius and tracker Andries excelled. The reserve built its reputation on lion sightings, but we were fortunate to see more leopards than lions on this trip. The ability to drive off-road is a big plus, as is the low density of vehicles on the reserve which allows you to spend a long time at sightings if you want. The food was superb, a mix of African meals and International / European cuisine. A safari experience is based on many meals over the course of the day - with the 3 traditional meals plus snacks etc before both the morning and afternoon game drives and more snacks with the morning coffee stop and afternoon sundowner stop. Meals are served on the deck alongside the river, in the dining area or in the cellar. You will not go wrong in choosing Pondoro (which means lion in one of the Mocambique dialects) for your next safari
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Date of stay: February 2021
Sleep Quality
Room Tip: All rooms are great so try them all
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vannormanalan1 wrote a review Jan 2021
1 contribution
Fantastic intimate safari experience. Many of the big cats were extremely tolerant of the vehicles and allowed very tolerant of the vehicles. The elephants too. It is a far more intimate experience with the big five than could possibly be achieved in a national park.
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Date of stay: January 2021
Sleep Quality
nigeltraveltheworld wrote a review Jan 2021
London, United Kingdom1 contribution
Luxury boutique safari experience at a price that doesn’t bankrupt you! Second time we have spent time as a family at Pondoro. First time in summer. Met all our expectations. The Lodge and rooms are lovely with a great safari feel, Christmas Eve dinner was a fabulous treat and Rey and Dion - our guides were friendly, knowledgeable and did everything possible to give us the best game viewing experience.
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Date of stay: December 2020
Sleep Quality
SirTripsALot wrote a review Apr 2020
Trevose, Pennsylvania74 contributions19 helpful votes
We stayed at the Pondoro in Feb 2020 for our honeymoon and it was a trip of a lifetime. I am including the lengthy review below to try and convey how amazing this trip was. Location: Located in the Balule Private Game reserve about a 60 min drive from Hoedspruit airport. This game reserve borders the Greater Kruger National park and does not have fences, which means that animals can roam freely between Kruger and this nature reserves. The advantage of being in a private reserve is that there are less crowds and very few other safari vehicles so you get an authentic experience in the bush. Also, you have the ability to go off-road and hence you can get more access and proximity to the animals. Property/Amenities: The property is absolutely breathtaking. It resides on the banks of the beautiful Olifants river which has resident hippos/crocs and a lot of wildlife that frequent. This lodge has all 5 star luxury amenities and architected very well to blend into the environment around it. Amenities include a spa (which was well worth it), a beautiful pool, gym, an onsite restaurant and a fully stocked bar and much more. It’s very well maintained and decorated very tastefully and charmingly. The main reception, pool, spa, restaurant, and health club lie within an electric fence. Rooms: There are a total of 8 chalets/suites. 3 chalets are within electric fence and the larger suites are outside the fence. We got upgraded to the buffalo suite because it was our honeymoon. My wife was nervous at first being outside of the fence but we got personally escorted by an armed ranger to and from our rooms. Amerika, who was the ranger that escorted us to the room, always made us feel safe and also engaged in great conversation with us during our walks. The room itself was very spacious and tastefully decorated. We also had a panoramic deck with a hot tub and shower. The bathroom was huge with a soak in tub. Our king bed was very comfortable with a mosquito net covering it. Giving that you are in the middle of the bush, you are bound to see some harmless moths around the room but Alice our housekeeper did a great job always turning down the room to minimize their presence in our room. The best thing is the view! Waking up to the panoramic view of the bush and the river is unparalleled. I still think about that view. Service: This is where Pondoro excels! From the very moment we were picked up at the airport to the moment we got dropped; we were treated like royalty. There were so many amazing surprises throughout our stay. From Lize (one of the owners) picking us up with a surprise bottle of sparkling wine and to the romantic dinner in the wine cellar to the bush dinner on the river banks, we kept getting blown away by how thoughtful the service was at this amazing lodge. The managerial staff, Armand, Kelly, Charissa, made sure everthing went smoothly throughout our stay. They were extremely detail oriented, thoughtful and attentive to all of our needs. They were professional while also being personable. They pulled out all the stops and you could tell that everyone in the staff Is passionate about providing the highest level of service. Safari: This is what you are here for after all right? The safari was truly the highlight of our experience. Pondoro has THE best trekkers! Our safari trekkers Rul and Andres had very experienced and had a wealth of knowledge. They kept us laughing throughout our safari while providing us with amazing anecdotes. You could tell that they really had passion for what they do but also a tremendous amount of respect for the animals. We always felt safe! We saw the Big 5 and then some. Rul and Andres are masters at their craft. It was fascinating to see and learn how they tracked these animals. We saw lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, leopards and other big game almost every day. The safari jeeps are comfortable with cushioned seats, binoculars, blankets and water. There are 3 rows of 2 seats so you will never end up in a middle seat. We tried all 3 rows but preferred the front and middle rows. The last and highest row provides a great vantage point but it also is the bumpiest and if you have motion sickness, it’s not that best. The 5:45 am safari sounds brutal but you get used it very quick. You get a personal wake up call and when you see that beautiful African sunrise and the landscape, you really forget about anything else. You truly get used to it. And we always took a nap afterwards so it’s not that bad. Completely worth it because you see a lot of animals! Food/Bar: We felt like we were eating nonstop on this trip. There are 6 meals a day. At 5:15, you pre-safari snacks and beverages then midway through the safari you have another meal with snacks and beverages in the middle of the bush. You comeback to have a full sit down multiple course breakfast with fresh juices and coffee. In the afternoon, you rinse and repeat lol. Before the safari you have a full lunch, happy hour in the bush and a full multi course dinner. Quality and the creativity of food was excellent. We were blown away by the fine dining quality of food that the amazing chefs churned out in the middle of the bush. The chefs, Percy and Tsakani, are truly In a league of their own. We did NOT have a single bad meal and they catered to All of our requests and dietary restrictions. The wait staff was very attentive. They were always smiling and always took care of us. Our waitresses, Kgomotso, Nozzy and Ivonne took care of throughout our stay and we will dearly miss their hospitality. The bar is also amazing. They are full stacked and offer some very delicious cocktails. My favorite thing to do was to come back from the evening safari and catching up with the guests and the hotel staff, while sharing anecdotes from the safari as well as life in general. Overall: I did an extensive amount of research for my trip. I did a lot of comparisons and considerations before landing on Pondoro. Let me tell you, look no further, Pondoro safari lodge is the place where you want to stay! You get high end luxury experience while maintaining the authenticity of the south African bush. Because of its boutique nature, you get an opportunity to feel part of the pondoro family and also get a chance to interact with your fellow guests. We missed Pondoro the moment we left it and are already planning a trip to return. It was truly a trip of a lifetime and thanks to everyone at Pondoro for making our Honeymoon unforgettable.
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Date of stay: February 2020
Room Tip: Highly recommend the buffalo suite. It's the furthest away and offers a very raw experience...
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3 Helpful votes
Carly H wrote a review Mar 2020
Wausau, Wisconsin3 contributions1 helpful vote
Every aspect of this trip was amazing! We flew into Johannesburg and drove 6 hours to the lodge. We were greeted by Kelly who gave us a warm welcome and a tour of the lodge. We stayed in the Rock Suite, and had a beautiful view of the river. From the deck we could see 3 giraffes, a bunch of zebras playing, impala, and water buck right when we arrived. The lodge is a gem, way out in the middle of the bush. Very peaceful and close to nature, but with every amenity to make you feel at home. Rooms and common areas were all clean and comfortable. The shady bar area is a perfect place to relax and watch the wildlife with a glass of wine. The days are very well planned with enough to do, but still have time to enjoy the pool, bar, spa, and amazing rooms. Since it is located on a reserve, there are some areas where you need to be escorted at night (outside the fenced in area) but we always felt safe. The food is spectacular! 5 stars for every meal!! I even asked them to send me a recipe to try at home (it's just not the same :) )You have the option to pick a red meat, white meat, or vegetarian dish for dinner each day. They even pack snacks and drinks for the game drives. I enjoyed trying new foods that normally would be outside my comfort zone (ostrich, impala) and they were so delicious. The staff is amazing. Everyone was very friendly and made us feel so welcome. Thank you to Lily, Ivonne, Liza, and Kelly for the hospitality! Our guides for the game drives, Andreis and Rul, were knowledgeable and experienced. We had no expectation going into the game drives and had no idea how much we would see. On our 6 drives we saw a leopard, elephants, male and female lions, white and black rhinos, wildebeest, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, hyenas, hippos, among others. So awesome to be so close to the animals in their habitat! Even if we wouldn't have seen anything, the off-road adventure was a lot of fun! I don't normally write reviews, but I was so impressed with everything that I wanted to share. I can't say enough good things about Pondoro!! The only Big 5 animal we didn't see was the buffalo, so we plan to return in the future to finish this bucket list, and will definitely stay at Pondoro again!
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Date of stay: January 2020
Sleep Quality
1 Helpful vote
US$538 - US$1 244 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
pondoro game hotel balule private game reserve
South AfricaKruger National ParkBalule Nature Reserve
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Frequently Asked Questions about Pondoro Game Lodge
What are some of the property amenities at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Some of the more popular amenities offered include free wifi, free breakfast, and a pool.
Which room amenities are available at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Top room amenities include a minibar, air conditioning, and a mosquito net.
What food & drink options are available at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Guests can enjoy free breakfast, an on-site restaurant, and a lounge during their stay.
Is parking available at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Yes, free parking is available to guests.
Are there opportunities to exercise at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Yes, guests have access to a pool and a fitness centre during their stay.
Does Pondoro Game Lodge have an airport shuttle?
Yes, Pondoro Game Lodge offers an airport shuttle for guests. We recommend calling ahead to confirm details.
Are any cleaning services offered at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Yes, dry cleaning and laundry service are offered to guests.
Which languages are spoken by the staff at Pondoro Game Lodge?
The staff speaks multiple languages, including English and Afrikaans.
Does Pondoro Game Lodge have any great views?
Yes, guests often enjoy the river view available here.