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Rhian L
Solihull, United Kingdom

You have to experience Kariega

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 27 May 2024via mobile
It was our second time visiting Kariega (thanks to an Instagram competition win!) - last time we stayed and Settlers Drift and this time we were at the Ukhozi Lodge… and it was just as spectacular as our first stay!
The staff and service was great and the food was exceptional. We particularly enjoyed the braai night - fab food (and atmosphere with the singing also).
The accommodation was incredibly clean and the decor is great. Huge comfy beds! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t warm enough for us to brave the plunge pool on our balcony or the communal pool. We had an issue with our shower one night but it was fixed within 15 mins of reporting the problem to reception. The cleaning of the room while you are on the morning drive and the turn down service when you are on the evening drive are lovely touches.
Obviously a very special mention is needed for our guide - Melissa. She had it all - amazing knowledge of the animals (and plants and stars!), great chatting away with us all, fab bartender / barrista(!), lovely to spend time with at breakfast/dinner, not to mention the driving skills. Her determination was second to none in ensuring we saw the lions - not only did we find the 2 male lions, but also the female lion with her 3 cubs - wow. Also, the rain was pretty epic one day - hats off to her to keep smiling, driving & talking! She also took us on a walking guided tour one day in-between both safari drives. Feeling very lucky to have had so many amazing encounters with the animals.
I feel so lucky to have experienced Kariega twice now and would love to make it three!
Date of stay: May 2024
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Kariega Marketing, Marketing at Kariega Game Reserve - Ukhozi Lodge, responded to this review
Responded 2 weeks ago
Thank you so much for your wonderful review and congratulations on winning the Instagram video competition!! We are delighted that you experienced another visit to Kariega and that you were so well looked after by our staff and in particular your Guide, Melissa. We would love for you to return for a third visit sometime in the future. With warm regards from the Kariega Team.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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Reviewed 18 May 2024

Ukhozi (= eagle in one of the local languages) is a lodge perched on a hill that gives you a bird's eye view of the plains and green hills below. It includes a beautiful main lodge/dining area with rustic décor and roaring fireplaces in the evening. It gives off a sense of coziness and rustic luxury. There are several chalets, in groups of 2 so if you're travelling with more than 1 person, you can be close to each other yet have your own rooms. Each chalet is a large, clean, beautiful room with African style décor that blends seamlessly with the bathroom. The toilet is separated by a door. Each chalet has its own plunge pool. There is a fully stocked mini fridge, which you can use at no additional cost. The staff, service, and attention to detail are wonderful. The food is excellent and equivalent to dining at a fine restaurant. There is a main infinity pool, a spa, and a curio (gift) shop that are shared with the Main Lodge. Now for the safari...

The lodge offers guided safaris only in open 4x4 jeeps that seat up to 10 people, not including the driver. There are 2 safaris per day: 6 to 9 am, but usually ending close to 10am, and 3 to 6 pm, but usually ending closer to 7 pm. Breakfast and dinner are after the safari drives. I don't recommend this type of safari to those who cannot adhere to the schedule, or who have major back, knee, and/or hip issues that limits their mobility. You have to be able to climb in and out of the jeep, and tolerate being exposed to sun, wind, and/or possibly rain for 6 to 8 hrs a day. The rides can get veery bumpy as you go over up and down valleys and steep hills on the gravel/dirt roads. Please hold on to the thick metal bars in front of you, and watch out for thorny bushes. Sometimes you have to duck to dodge these bushes. Make sure you bring a good pair of binoculars so you can see animals that are further away and to observe those around the watering hole that can be seen from the balcony of some of the chalets. If you come in the shoulder seasons esp. early spring and fall, bring winter clothing unless you want to be like us- frozen icicles! Definitely bring a winter hat. The game drives can be freezing!

A safari at Kariega in the Eastern Cape is very different than a safari at a massive, national wilderness reserve such as Kruger, Etosha, or the Serengeti to name a few. The Cape is very green and very hilly, with a lot of thick bushes/vegetation. A reserve the size of Kariega, about 12 000 hectares or over 100 square km or so cannot support large prides of lions, massive herds of grazing animals, large clans of hyenas etc. What you see on National Geographic or Animal Planet is not what your safari will be like. I don't know why so many people can't understand that. Sightings of the big five, like anywhere on safari, are not guaranteed, but if you stay for 3 nights and have 6 game drives, you will most likely see 4 out of the big 5 and have a wonderful safari. If you're really looking forward to seeing a leopard, this is not the reserve for you. Leopard sightings here are extremely rare, and some of the rangers who have worked here for years have never seen one. The guides are wonderful and will do their best to track the animals that you want to see, especially popular ones like elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. You will come across many grazing animals such as giraffes, zebra, impala, nyala, wildebeest, bush buck, water buck, kudu, eland, ostrich, warthogs etc. We were lucky to see hippos out of the water (from a distance), a couple of jackals, and got a glimpse of a cerval. The reserve has 2 male lions, a lioness and her 3 almost grown cubs, and 2 male cheetahs. There are decent sized herds of elephants and buffalo, and several rhinos. There are only a few hyenas, which are rarely seen. There are no African painted dogs or some of the antelope that prefer more arid environments such as the oryx. During each game drive, there will be time for a hot drink in the morning, or sundowner drinks in the evening at sunset. I loved after coming from the 4 hr game drive, freezing, with my hair all over the place, to be greeted by the smiling staff with a warm face cloth and a refreshing or hot drink. I felt so spoiled! I wish I would be treated like this every day. This lodge does not disappoint, and I'd love to return in the future. A special shout out to our wonderful guide Amber for making our safari so memorable! Thanks Amber!

Date of stay: May 2024
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
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Thank Bby85
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.
Kariega Marketing, Marketing at Kariega Game Reserve - Ukhozi Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

WOW!! Thank you so much for taking the time to post this awesome review, it is very much appreciated. We are delighted that you had such a wonderful experience and that you were so well taken care of by our staff and your Guide, Amber. We truly hope that you are able to return sometime in the future. With warm regards from the Kariega Team.

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Reviewed 25 March 2024

From arrival to departure the staff were wonderful, the luxury room was clean and beautiful.
The view itself stunning.
Food excellent, room and surroundings spectacular.
A special thanks to JJ our safari guide who was amazing. Very knowledgable and great safari experience.

Date of stay: March 2024
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Thank Explorer32919511999
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.
Kariega Marketing, Marketing at Kariega Game Reserve - Ukhozi Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 19 April 2024

Thank you so much for your wonderful review. We are delighted that you enjoyed a fabulous stay and a spectacular safari experience and that you were so well looked after by our staff and in particular your Guide, JJ. With warm regards from the Kariega Team.

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Reviewed 6 March 2024 via mobile

An absolutely fabulous few days at Kariega. Stunning location immaculate public areas and beautiful rooms/suites. Zukos and her team could not do enough for us and ensured our every need was catered for. The whole staff were exceptional helpful, efficient and extremely good at their jobs. Tandos looked after us at meal teams and ensured we were looked after from the moment we walked through the door. Mabhuti & Pam entertained us with traditional songs and dance which was throughly entertaining. Then they both reverted back to their front of house jobs. The game runs with JJ our ranger were outstanding and he went the extra mile to ensure we were safe, & well informed on the different aspects of the landscape and the animals roaming on it. One not to forget

Date of stay: March 2024
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank Elaine D
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.
Kariega Marketing, Marketing at Kariega Game Reserve - Ukhozi Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 18 March 2024

Wow, thank you so much for wonderful review. We are delighted that you had a fabulous few days at Kariega and that you were so well looked after by our staff and your Guide, JJ. With warm regards from the Kariega Team.

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Reviewed 19 February 2024

This lodge is more adult themed as no children under 12 are permitted. Exceptional service (you are met after each drive with warm towels and a drink) The food and wine are up a notch from Main Lodge and the bar, dining room are superb with open fires roaring in the evenings. Ben, our guide was great. Fantastically knowledgable, skilful and with a great sense of humour. Kariega has such varied topography so it is a pleasure to drive around.

Date of stay: February 2024
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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Thank Huwwilliams12345
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.
Kariega Marketing, Marketing at Kariega Game Reserve - Ukhozi Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 23 February 2024

Thank you for your wonderful review. We are delighted that you enjoyed your stay and that you were so well looked after by our staff and your Guide, Ben. With warm regards from the Kariega Team.

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Reviewed 1 February 2024

This place is a dream. We had 3 nights at this beautiful resort as part of our honeymoon. The individual lodges are stunning with their views over the reserve and individual plunge pools. Staff and food are amazing! The main lodge is beautifully decorated and cosy in the evenings. Our guide JJ was fabulous - so knowledgeable and made our game drives so much fun. This place is phenomenal and if you get the chance I urge you to go! Thanks for having us Ukhozi lodge :)

Date of stay: January 2024
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Thank RachF81
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.
Kariega Marketing, Marketing at Kariega Game Reserve - Ukhozi Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 23 February 2024

Thank you so much for your wonderful review. We are delighted that you enjoyed your honeymoon and that you were so well looked after by our staff and in particular your Guide, JJ. Thank you for your recommendation, it is very much appreciated. With warm regards from the Kariega Team.

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