Bongani Mountain Lodge is advertised as a 4 star establishment. The pictures look great on their website and they get good reviews on trip advisor but I’m a little perturbed by the reviews versus what I experienced. Maybe my standards are a little too high but there’s several things that I wasn’t impressed with. Firstly i called the lodge before making the booking. I asked if it was necessary to have a 4x4 to get to the lodge and was told there is a gravel road that’s about 7 kms long to get to the lodge. I asked for the shortest gravel road to the welcome centre and was told that I could call the lodge when I arrive in Nelspruit. Fast forward to the day before we check into the lodge when I receive a call from a lady saying that she will whats app me the directions to the welcome center. The day of check-in no directions were forthcoming. So we call the lodge when we are 90 kms outside of Nelspruit, someone there promises to call us back. We don’t receive a call back until we have now passed Nelspruit and are about 5 minutes away from the Matsulu off ramp. Eventually we get the call and get the directions, which are quite simple actually. All you have to do is stay on the N4 to Maputo and off ramp at the Matsulu off ramp before you get to the train bridge. We arrived at the welcome center and were picked up by the rangers. Going up to what we thought was a spectacular lodge perched on a mountain top. But alas it was not to be. We were welcomed to the lodge on arrival with a cold face cloth (very useful after that drive up) and a welcome drink. We were shown the important areas around the reception then escorted to our rooms. The rooms are a little dated and have musty rugs which gives the room a stale smell. Let me just also put a disclaimer - I have travelled far and wide locally and internationally so I am clear on what I expect from a 4 star domestic establishment that masquerades itself as such! I don’t give bad reviews unless the place is really awful. I will just list the pros and cons below: Pros 1. Great views from the rock and from the pool 2. Chefs really do go out of their way to provide vegetarian meals and for people who don’t eat red meat and pork. 3. The towels were nice, fluffy and white. There were nice fluffy gowns and new slippers in each room. 4. They have decent lighting for a thatch roof place ( and I have stayed in many where the lighting was horrible). 5. They have a turndown service with a chocolate and they leave a “interesting fact card” along with the chocolate. 6. The morning staff really bent over backwards to make us an early breakfast on the day we were leaving. We were really appreciative of the effort. 7. The lodge is really in a great position I just wish that they could update it a little. Yes it must still be a bush experience but a clean one! 8. They did keep my iPad safe until the courier collected it. Cons 1. There is absolutely NO CELLPHONE NETWORK unless you go to the Rock or the Pool or stand near the front of the bar facing the rock. 2. The Wi-Fi didn’t work for about 2 days and when it did work it didn’t reach the rooms, just reached reception area and the spa. 3. Some of the staff are, to some extent quite lethargic - and we noticed they were nice to the people they choose to be nice to. They were quite offish with us as we had multiple requests which were not unreasonable but I guess they are not used to people with exacting standards. 3 staff members who were really helpful were Pascal and Asia and mama Africa the 2 chefs. One of the waitresses was also quite nice to us, only from the day before we left. The barmen and some of the other kitchen staff were also helpful. 4. The welcome letter says “if you need anything during your stay dial 9 from your room phone” - the room phones don’t work so that welcome letter is just a joke! Also know that you can’t leave your room at night without security escorting you in case of wild animals lurking around. If anything happens in your room at night, you have no Wi-Fi and no network to call for help. 5. The condition of the rooms isn’t that great. They are dated with old dirty rugs which we asked them to remove in all 3 rooms. They folded them up and put them behind the sofa in the room which actually didn’t help much with the musty smell. The sofas are also quite filthy and leave much to be desired. The pillow cases and linen on the beds have seen better days - most of the pillows had black ink marks and some with threads hanging loose. The linen definitely needs to be changed, I really could have just stayed at my house and slept in my Egyptian cotton linen for free. 6. The mosquito nets also don’t seem to get washed often, neither do the curtains for that matter. When I was closing my curtains I was amazed by the amount of dirt that was on them from bottom to top. 7. The cleaning is below par to say the least. The only thing that was cleaned properly was the bathtub - which I never used and the basin and toilet. The cleaning ladies often didn’t take used towels. Opting to hang them back up even though they were left on the floor. 8. The fridges in 2 of the 3 rooms we booked were not working. They did try and fix or replace them the day we complained but I think the fridges are generally old. 9. The game drives are about 3.5 hours long. You might get lucky and see sum animals but we saw a few elephants and a chameleon 😂😂! 10. I inadvertently forgot my iPad on my bed and remembered when I was 30 mins away. I called exactly around 9:24 am to alert the reception and to try and get them to pack the iPad in a box for courier collection. It took the entire day for the lady to find a box and place the iPad in it which meant that the courier could only collect it on the 24th of December and ship it to me after Christmas. There was zero sense of urgency to be honest. I had to try and get hold of Pascal who started his shift in the middle of the day. to explain to him that this was urgent. 11. Also be aware if you need to leave the lodge early in the am theres a “ranger” who will tell you there’s an additional charge of R 300 to leave at 8 am because that means the game truck can’t go on the game drive at 5am. This is not official as reception didn’t tell us this when we went to request an early check out so I’m guessing it’s a scam. Same ranger told another family this on the day we went on game drive and they opted to wait around until 9 am instead of leaving early. 12. Finally ... from Pretoria it should take you about 4:5 hours with a 5 min bathroom break to get to the lodge welcome centre then another 30 odd mins to the lodge.…
Wonderful Mpumalanga getaway! I booked quickly and didn't read the description of services offered, I was shocked to find I get breakfast, lunch and supper inclusive of the price, I was so happy! I didn't even know we get to go on game drives everyday twice a day! Amazing! The beds were super comfy
Absolutely beautiful, staff are wonderful and views are magnificent. Accommodation is clean and inviting... nice relaxing place to get away too. Would recommend to anyone wanting to have a break from the busy lifestyle. Bush noises are music to your ears
Wonderful stay at a great lodge. The location was more remote than we are used to but that added to the experience of getting away.. Service was excellent. Really enjoyed the room with a view of the mountains and valley. Our game tracker and driver were outstanding. Can recommend.
We recently stayed at Bongani mountain lodge. The lodge is beautifully situated in the mountain. It is quite a drive to reach the lodge but it is worth the effort and luckily you get picked up by a driver at the welcome centre so you can enjoy the views on the way up the mountain. My husband and I enjoyed the game drives and it was very adventurous and informative. The food at the lodge was also delicious. A special thanks to Jabulani for his excellent service. We hope to return in the future.The lodge comes highly recommended.