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Reviewed 4 August 2018 via mobile

Our family of five spent two nights in this beautiful camp and would happily have spent many more. Full of heart, hospitality and ambience, and with all the sounds and smells of the African bush surrounding you, the Pungwe bush camp was a perfect way to experience safari life!

Date of stay: August 2018
Trip type: Travelled with family
3  Thank astrima
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 July 2018

My wife and I enjoyed a 2 night stay in late June which for us perfectly rounded off what was an extended stay at various lodges in the greater Kruger area. Finding affordable, authentic bush camps in prime game viewing areas is I my experience akin to searching for hen’s teeth. In this respect discovering both Pungwe and the wider Manyeleti reserve proved to be very fruitful indeed as both in my opinion can be considered hidden gems.

As I researched the history of the reserve itself I found that it has had a colourful past and due to the unsavoury politics of the time was for many years somewhat neglected or even shunned as a safari destination. It has certainly never been afforded the level of marketing or exposure to the international tourist trade as its more illustrious and well known neighbours. This is despite the fact the Manyeleti reserve enjoys an enviable geographical position between and unfenced to the KNP, northern Sabi Sands and southern Timbavati.

Another major advantage to visitors is the relative low density of game lodges currently operating in the reserve. This often means that you rarely see another game vehicle when out on drive which in turn means that longer can be spent at sightings in comparison to areas or reserves where there is a high lodge/vehicle ratio. Furthermore the internal squabbles of landowners does not seem to have surfaced as yet or if so not to the extent of sections in the neighbouring Sabi Sands. This means currently each lodge regardless of price point can traverse the whole reserve rather than be confined to a specific traverse within a larger area. To have the degree of land access to explore at Pungwe’s nightly room rate is serious value for money in game viewing terms.

The landscape in the Manyeleti is also noticeably more open and plains driven in places than other areas. It might be a stretch but to me there were vistas in the Manyeleti that we passed through that were more East Africa Savannah than South African bushveld. We enjoyed the topography of the reserve very much. Over our 4 game drives we saw 4 of the big five (no buffalo) but with Lions on every drive and Leopard on 3 out of 4 drives including one particular sighting which proved to be an extremely close shave for a very fortunate Impala

Pungwe itself is my type of bush experience. The camp is rustic yet luxurious. How can this be as surely this is a contradiction in terms? Well not necessarily because for me luxury is in the eye of the beholder. Is the camp materialistically luxurious? Perhaps not yet it certainly is perfectly comfortable for all but those with the most fragile of sensibilities. Spoiler alert… Pungwe is not for you if you are bound by butler service, spas, massages, splash pools and an unhealthy predilection to be ‘online’ at all times.

However in terms what I deem to be the important safari prerequisites then Pungwe is first class. It has modern glamping tents, comfortable beds and a warm shower. The price is in relative terms affordable yet the camp is very exclusive. (4 tents/ 8 guests max) The food is seriously delicious and plentiful, the service on the whole is friendly and attentive and most importantly the game viewing experience will certainly not disappoint.

Not to end on a sour note but it should be noted that there was at times a laissez-faire attitude adopted by our guide not in keeping with the rest of the staff; particularly so when Michel the boss was not around. Both mornings our guide slept in and so the expected camp wake up calls never came and thus we were quite late in departing on the morning drives. Similarly we were instructed that it was bedtime on our last night despite us all being still engaged and sat around the communal area after dinner with our nightcaps. Maybe he was having a bad couple of days but it is the only time we encountered these type of situations at any camp we have stayed at.

I have put these discrepancies to the back of my mind as the overriding feeling from our time at Pungwe was satisfaction and a hope that Pungwe change very little else about the camp so we can find it just where we left it on our next visit which will hopefully be sooner rather than later.

Date of stay: June 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank roeboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 July 2018

We came here for three days during our honeymoon and it was the highlite of our entire trip. So incredibly intimate and personal, it was so nice to unplug from the outside world and just get up close to all the animals, get to know the amazing staff and other guests and have some quiet time in the bush. We will be back!

Date of stay: June 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank mdavis509358
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 July 2018

Pungwe exceeded all our expectations: the location, the camp, the tents, the food, the game drives and the staff. Having no fences added to the atmosphere and authenticity of Pungwe - buffalo were chased away as we walked to our tents safely escorted by our ranger.
The game vehicle drives (complete with tracker) were exciting and even warm after dark due to the blankets provided. Game was abundant: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra to name but a few. Birds too many to name and a real life-time privilege was the sighting of a pangolin. We even got off the truck for a closer look at this most unusual creature.
Meals were home cooked and plentiful. On the menu was delicious bread and cakes baked on site, South African specialities and filling breakfasts.
The tents were clean and spacious, the beds were very comfortable complete with a hot water bottle - a second pillow would be nice.
The only inconvenience was the lack of hot water on our first night but this was rectified on day two.
On reflection, a really excellent bush camp experience at affordable rates - we'd love to return in the near future.

Date of stay: June 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Richardsons1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 June 2018

First of all let me say DO NOT try to find this place with google maps as it will get you totally lost. We used the directions given by the camp manager by email and wanted to use google maps as a back up but we quickly realised that google maps was going to take us up dodgy dirt roads far far away from the camp so we abandoned that idea pretty quickly. Also important is to make sure you arrive before or at the requested arrival time of 2pm or you'll miss the evening game drive. The camp itself is not as basic as some reviews make it sound and in fact the tents and common areas as actually quite good and a lot more comfortable than we had expected. There's a solar powered charging station in the main sitting area so you can charge your mobile phones and cameras during the day however note that there is no WIFI (which we personally loved!). They offer a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at very reasonable rates which will need to be paid for at the end of your stay in CASH (so bring plenty of it). Make sure to zip up all your bags in the tents and leave nothing lying around as we had a monkey visitor who managed to pulled out and eat some plastic bags I had in my suitcase in search of food. After dinner you are escorted to your tent where you have to stay until wake up call in the morning as all sorts of wild animals wander around during the night (we had hyenas right outside our tent both nights) and it's great to listen to all the noises. During the day you can walk around the camp by yourself. We did 2 morning and 2 evening drives and saw the Big 5 during this time. We also saw hippos, lots of different types of antelopes and small animals like chameleon, bushbaby, squirrel, different birds and vultures etc. The guides were excellent at finding us new things every time we went out! I was especially happy with the effort they went through to accommodate my request for vegan food. Last but not least... bring lots of insect repellent! Highly recommended if you are looking for a (comfortable) outdoor experience.

Date of stay: May 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank Carolin A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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