We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Lowest prices for your stay
US$218
View deal
Free cancellation until 21/12/10
Reserve now, pay at stay
Hotels.com
Expedia.com
US$218
View deal
Free cancellation until 21/12/10
Reserve now, pay at stay
Orbitz.comUS$218
TravelocityUS$218
CheapTicketsUS$218
View all 13 deals
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.
Nearby Hotels
Reviews (141)
Filter reviews
141 results
Traveller rating
73
48
12
7
1
Traveller type
Time of year
LanguageAll languages
More languages
Traveller rating
73
48
12
7
1
Show reviews that mention
All reviews game drives mouth watering direct access friendly and welcoming staff a lovely stay tucked away worth a visit game reserve lodge bush park accommodation prince guide elephants safari fuel
Selected filters
Filter
Updating list...
32 - 37 of 141 reviews
Reviewed 3 October 2018 via mobile

We enjoyed our stay here but I can only give it 3 stars for a number of reasons. Let's start with the positives, very friendly and welcoming staff particularly Wendy and Sia. Thanks for being so accommodating and attentive. Food was mostly good and sometimes excellent although limited in choice - which was understandable given the low numbers of guests. The restaurant and bar area is  a beautiful well lit structure with a central fireplace - a great area for our group to hang out and  chat. The rooms were clean and well furnished with a comfortable king bed and mosquito net.  Although we arrived on a 102 degree day the room cooled down supprisingly well overnight. Our next two days were cooler and we found ourselves more comfortable overnight here than at some other lodges where we had a/c. The limited availability of power was not a major issue as were expecting it. It helped us to enjoy the sounds of the bush at night and to appreciate our conveniences back home!

And so on to where some more work is needed. The lack of WiFi is unacceptable if you want international guests. Most international travelers are not able to use cellular due to high roaming charges and locked phones preventing the use of local sims. The  cellular access was spotty and only available in the restaurant and reception areas for a few hours each day. The hot water system in the rooms is based on a on-demand propane gas tank which makes regulating the shower temperature very difficult. The terrain of the park is dense bush, making sightings difficult unless the animals were relatively close to the road. The roads were very narrow and there were frequent over-hanging branches which sidewiped the vehicles - these should be trimmed by park management before someone loses an eye. The drivers were careful navigating past these branches but even riding up on the far side of the road could not avoid the worst.The winding narrow sandy roads and dense bush meant that we sometimes rounded a corner to find animals unexpectedly very close to us, startling both the animals and us, leading us to be concerned about the potential for encounters turning dangerous, more so than in other parks we have visited with more open terrain where the animals could see us approaching from some distance away. The local guides need some development. Their English was heavily accented and very difficult to understand, or even hear past the front row of seats in the Safari vehicle. Gugu was the better driver and communicator. Some kind of speaker system for those in the back is needed.  Fortunately our own tour guide accompanied us on our next drive, during which our driver said very little. Drivers were friendly but on the inevitable days when there is not much game to see, they need to be prepared to show us birds, which are plentiful - more here than anywhere we have been in SA - or plants or something of interest - not just provide a taxi service. Also their information was sometimes incorrect for example telling us that we had just seen the only one wildebeest left in the park, only for us to happen across 3 wildebeest standing together the following day. 

Regardless, we enjoyed our stay very much and offer this feedback as constructive suggestions on where Royal Tonga needs to invest for their future success with international guests. 

Date of stay: October 2018
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
1  Thank sallygK2969YO
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cfrencken, Reservations at Royal Thonga Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 17 November 2018

Thank you for such a balanced review. Seldom do people take the time to be constructive about their feedback.

I have personally contacted the custodian manager of the park to give feedback about the roads, hopefully they will take some action.

Not much can be done to change the accent of the guides and I am sorry that understanding them was difficult. I think a speaker system is an interesting idea as this would probably help resolve part of the accent problem if you could hear more clearly, however the speaker system would possibly impact the animals and reduce your viewing experience. The animals are used to vehicle sounds but certainly not human voices on loud speaker. I do think it is something to think about however as you raise some good points about not being able to hear further back in the vehicle. I have sent your feedback to management for consideration, perhaps we could try it on 1 vehicle and see what difference/impact it has.

Your game drive should not have felt like a taxi service and I am disappointed the hear that. Vesi is actually a very keen birder and its a shame your game drive was inadequate. Perhaps there was a miscommunication about the wildebeest, it seems odd that the ranger would say that. The manager was informed so that the rangers could be addressed and have more training about their communication.

Thank you once again for the fair points you raised, most people don't realize this but we discuss every single review as a group and try understand what we are doing well and where we need to improve our service.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 September 2018 via mobile

This is a hidden five star lodge which was recommended by our tour company, Outdoor Africa. The lodging and food over exceeded our expectations. I simply cannot say enough good things about the people, the food, the accommodations and the private game drives through Tembe where we were treated to close encounters with some of the largest tuskers on the planet. Tembe is referred to as an elephant park but you'll be treated to the sights of much more. Lion prides, Cape buffalo, Dierkers, impalas, nyalas, giraffes and plenty of birds for you birders. The lodge has its own gate into Tembe and a first class 4x4 to take you throughout the Park. The lodge has no WiFi but simply bring your cell phone and create a hotspot for your iPad. BTW, did I mention the meals? I had the most incredible steak dinner. Hayden, our guide was good enough to send me back to America with some of the seasonings for the steak.

In summary, if you want to see some of the largest land critters on earth, go to Tembe and treat yourself to a three night stay at the Royal Thonga Safari Lodge!

Safe Travels!!

Date of stay: September 2018
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
1  Thank Dwnptrl
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cfrencken, Reservations at Royal Thonga Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 17 November 2018

Thank you so much for the great review. Hayden is an excellent guide and has been a long time visitor and friend to the lodge. We don't always get it right but when we get a review like this, I cannot tell you what a massive impact it makes to everyone's morale, we really do try very hard to make a success of every single visitor, our manager Wendy works tirelessly with boundless positivity and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing everyone's efforts pay off.

I hope you were successful with your steak back home :)

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 August 2018

this stay was interesting as it was a lovely accommodation but missing a lot of little things which we really felt were vital. The advertising promises the Big 5 but that is actually next door at the Tembe Elephant Park, which you cannot drive by yourself into the park unless you have 4x4 and you have to pay entrance fee every time you go in there. The electricity only coming on twice a day was not an issue but having no torch in the rooms was ! Tea and coffee making facility in rooms would have been really nice and even though there is no where to make your own meal, the dinner was extra. Why not include it in the price? There is no choice for the dinner (even for the main meal) and you have to book ahead if you are eating in ... there are no prices to be found anywhere - not in lobby, not in bar not in restaurant. Interesting and disappointing . BUT on a whole it is a nice place, the pool is lovely, the bar/restaurant area is really lovely with games and books etc but I think the advertising should really be a bit more accurate. I wanted to treat my sister to wild animal experience - and this is not what we had.

Date of stay: August 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel
2  Thank dbadge375219
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cfrencken, Reservations at Royal Thonga Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 17 November 2018

Thank you for the feedback. On our website and all marketing, we do say that we have our own private access into Tembe Elephant Park, I will endeavor to find out why that is not coming across as intended as we have never sought to advertise that we have the Big 5 on our property. This is the first time someone has said something like this so you make a great point, I need to make sure the marketing material is in alignment.

Almost every park requires an entrance fee, Kruger, Hluhluwe, Tembe etc...and sometimes it is a day permit, sometimes it is a once off permit depending on the park. Kruger is R83 and Hluhluwe is R95, Tembe is R50, it is something imposed by the custodians of the reserve and not something we are involved in. Having no torch in the room is poor service on our part, every single room should have a lantern, usually it is next to the front door on the wall.

Unfortunately, we cannot offer tea and coffee facilities on the rooms as we run on limited power, but there is a complimentary 24hour tea and coffee station with rusks and biscuits in the main Boma, I do apologize if this was not communicated to you, and it is something that has since been addressed, to make sure that guests are told when they arrive what facilities are available.

We are not a self catering lodge. Like most lodges, you can book *Bed & Breakfast* or *Dinner, Bed & Breakfast* or *Full Board*. If you book for Bed and Breakfast for example, dinner is not included and is an extra charge.

On the 5th of May (the same day you made the booking) I emailed a confirmation to you requesting dietary requirements, giving directions, notifying you about the electricity as well as all the prices. This is the opening line to our confirmation email

"Thank you for booking with us, your reservation is confirmed. Please see attached rate card should you wish to add extra meals or game drives to your stay."

I wonder if perhaps you didn't see the email as much of the issues above would have been resolved prior to arrival.

Regardless of my explanations above, I am disappointed that you were disappointed. We don't want guests to feel uninformed, we want you to have a true bush experience coupled with great service and that is clearly not what happened here. I am sorry we did not give you the holiday you were expecting. Your feedback was sent to senior management and was addressed in a performance review with all of the staff.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2018

My family and I had the most wonderful stay at Royal Thonga Safari Lodge. The staff treated us like family, going WAY out of their way to help us with a project that we were doing at a local school. The chalets and lodge are beautifully designed, blending traditional techniques with a modern sensibility, and built by local craftspeople. Our safari guide was highly knowledgable and skilled, as well as just the nicest person. We had excellent viewings of lions, elephants, giraffe, impala, cape buffalo, etc. I can't recommend Royal Thonga highly enough!

Date of stay: July 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel
2  Thank J2442VOlisa
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cfrencken, Reservations at Royal Thonga Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 17 November 2018

If I can respond on behalf of everyone at the lodge, we had such a blast with your group! It is so important to give back and when the project is community based, it really unifies people. This was the exact effect it had on us, it brought us closer as a family and everyone benefited. What a great initiative!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 July 2018

Friendly and inviting staff, attractive lodge and pool area with peaceful relaxed accommodation, excellent hearty dinners! Close to Tembe Elephant Park and Kosi Bay, so great for exploring, also a good stop off on the way to Mozambique.

Date of stay: July 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel
2  Thank Matthew O
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
cfrencken, Reservations at Royal Thonga Safari Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 17 November 2018

A lot of people don't know that we are an excellent choice for a stop over if you are traveling to Moz, especially when you are rushing to reach the border before it closes. I hope on your next trip you can stay a little longer :) Thanks for the great feedback!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
View more reviews