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Simbavati River Lodge
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68 - 73 of 518 reviews
Reviewed 11 October 2016

At least once a year my wife and i like to get away from it all and go to the Kruger Park whether it be in the government side or the private reserves. This time we decided to get the bigger wallet out and go private. We have not been to Timbavati before and decided on Simbavati river reserve. After a 7 hour journey from Johannesburg by car we arrived at the reserve. After a drink and information by staff we were shown to our "tent". Not the boy scout type but something that accommodates a king size bed a toilet and shower (inside and out). It was the last one and furthest away from the main building and was overlooking a bush! We expected to be overlooking the river bed so this was a disappointment. The better half put her foot down with management and we were moved to one that was overlooking the river bed. I should point out that the river is dry and has been for some years and unless there is some type of biblical flood is likely to stay that way. The main restaurant and bar area overlook the river bed and directly in front of this is a water hole for hopefully animals to use while you are there. We unpacked and went to get some lunch and a beer before heading out on the first of the game drives. Lunch was not so great if I'm honest. Off then to the first of the game drives. You will be on an open land-rover with others and a guide and tracker. You are pretty much guaranteed to see game as the guides are in touch with each other, even from different lodges, and this being the case with us. We saw all the main characters with the exception of Rhino. I hope it was not a taste of the effects of poaching. The park was very dry having not had rain for about 7 months and non on the way. Toward the end of the drive you get to stop and stretch your legs and have a gin an tonic or whatever and chat with the other passengers. Ours came from the Netherlands and Germany and were good company. Time for a shower and then on to dinner. Hopefully it would be better than lunch. There is no menu so the staff tell you what is on offer. This was a case of "Chicken or Kudu?" I asked what it came with but my waiter didn't know so we opted for Kudu a type of buck. It was seriously overcooked and consequently well tough. Pudding was jelly and a canned peach and something indescribable in a shot glass. Probably the worst sweet I have had anywhere! Off to bed and aware that you are going to get a wake up at 05.30.
and then off on another game drive after a quick cup of coffee.
Back for breakfast after this and what was the best of the meals. I found myself filling up on breakfast as the meals at other times didn't improve. We managed to get a spa treatment during our 2 night stay and was very good.
The highlight of the evenings was a braai under the stars in the middle of the bush somewhere straight after a game drive. There was a big fire to sit round and the smells of the barbecue. Better than the other meals I should point out. This was our last day here and now off to the Hilltop lodge. I won't review this as one day is not really enough but suffice to say that the "tents" are very much bigger and also have a bath. Food here also of the same standard!
So to sum up then not much to complain about if you discount the food and make sure you ask for a tent overlooking the riverbed. I won't be back though unless something drastic changes re the quality of the food. 2 star fare in a 4 star lodge!

Room Tip: ask for a tent overlooking the river bed or you will have no view.
  • Stayed: September 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank jerryban
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Simbavati, Online Marketing Manager at Simbavati River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 October 2016

Dear jerryban

Thank you for your detailed review it is greatly appreciated. I am sorry you felt that our lodge did not meet your expectations.

The Nharalumi river in front of the lodge is a seasonal river and mainly flows in the rainy season. It is unfortunate that South Africa is experiencing a drought at the moment so everything is dry and this is impacting the environment. That is one of the main reasons why we built the waterhole. To provide water for the animals which in turn provides our guests with great sighting opportunities.

I have passed on your review to Management so that they are aware that you were not happy with the meals that we provided. We value constructive criticism and we will definitely look into this matter. We pride ourselves on our service and quality of our meals and want to ensure that our standards exceed our guests expectations at all times.

We do hope that one day you will give us an opportunity to change your perceptions of our lodge by visiting us again.

Regards Nadine

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 October 2016

We were two parents and a teenage child who spent 3 nights at the River Lodge. Our stay was fantastic and exceeded our expectations by far. Accomodation was very nice in a hut with two separate double rooms and balcony overlooking the now dried out river and all the animal life passing by. Food and service was excellent and very friendly throughout, from the moment we arrived until we had to leave. Staff were fantastic in all aspects. Our guide and tracker were truly excellent and gave us unforgettable game experiences, by no means limited to the Big Five. We were also able to see a hyena pack with young, African wild dogs, rhino with baby and elephant herds with young babies. Absolutely unconditionally recommended!

Room Tip: Try staying in one of the tent huts (airconditioned) if you don't mind the nightly sounds of animals moving right up to your hut.
  • Stayed: October 2016, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank bgjestvang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Simbavati, Online Marketing Manager at Simbavati River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 October 2016

Dear bgjestvang

Thank you for recommending our lodge, we really appreciate it!

We are glad to hear that your family had an enjoyable stay with us, that you love your accommodation, food and our service and your game drives. You all had some pretty amazing sightings.

We hope you will come back and visit us again.

Keep well, regards Nadine

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Reviewed 9 October 2016

My wife and I spent 5 days at the Simbavati river lodge on the first week of October 2016, and we had a really amazing stay there which exceeded even what we hoped to have.

I'll start with the entire staff being very kind, honestly willing to do everything for the guests pleasure and always with a smile. This starts with the person in charge of email correspondence and to the last cleaner.

We had a quick and pleasant pick up from Hoedspruit airport and arrived about 1 hour later to the river lodge, which is a beautiful place. After a warm welcome,
we attended our luxury tent, which was indeed luxurious; AC, warming bed, indoor and outdoor showers, everything looking very nice and well designed.
The lodge is not fenced, which means you get to see all sorts of animals in and around the lodge. baboons, antelopes and such are very common. hogs and elephants often come drinking from the water hole right in front of the porch where guests dine, and many other.

Regarding the game drives - we booked up in advance a photography safari, which means we were only 4 photographer in a special vehicle with swivel chairs and the works - awesome experience and awesome guides. This is operated by Africa Photography Services and I highly recommend it! worth any dime. my wife wasn't a photographer but tagged along.

We were lucky to see lions, leopards, wild dogs, hyenas, wild dogs fight hyenas, rhinos, hyenas fighting rhinos, crocs, honey badgers, elephants, giraffes, zebras, vultures, scorpions and what not.. perhaps luck is a part of it, but also having a great guide and a great photography guide who knows where and when to do what.
All the guides are very nice, very informative and one should take advantage and learn as much as possible from their knowledge and experience of the area.
The bush walks are also very interesting!

Room Tip: Get a room with a view to the river
  • Stayed: October 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank amitliber
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Simbavati, Online Marketing Manager at Simbavati River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 20 October 2016

Dear amitliber

We are thrilled to hear that you had an amazing photography safari with us. Hopefully your wife enjoyed it as much as you? We would love to see the photos that you took.

We are happy to hear that we exceeded your expectations, it was our pleasure to give you an unforgettable safari.

Thank you for the detailed review, it is greatly appreciated.

We hope you will both come back and visit us again.

Regards Nadine

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 September 2016 via mobile

We stayed here for three nights , Lodge was very well sign posted and easy find , upon arrival we were greeted with a cool drink and a brief introduction to facilities , accommodation was comfortable and contained all the expected trimmings , you are given an early morning wake up call at 5:30 for a 6 o'clock game drive, coffee, tea, and fruit are provided before heading off , The Ranger and tracker are in touch via radio with all other vehicles is the area so knowledge of sitings and animal locations is shared . We were lucky enough to see Wild Dogs , Leopards ,Hyena, Rhino , & Buffalo , Kyle and Daniel (our tracker and ranger ) were very knowledgeable and had most of the answers to the questions that were asked .
Breakfast was served after morning game drive at 9 , there was cereals,toast ,fruit ,yoghurt and hot breakfast , lunch was a Buffett style with an assortment of salads lasagna quiches etc
Dinner is an entree , and a choice of 2 mains , and also dessert , Dinner on the first night was lovely , after that the meals seemed to deteriorate 2nd night was a braai (BBQ ) , and not sure what happened on the last night but dessert consisted of packet jelly that had been frozen , half a canned apricot and a slush that was called a sorbet ( it was unlike any sorbet I have ever eaten ) it was rather unpleasant , and for a lodge of this caliber we were rather disappointed ,
If meals were of a more consistent standard would Lodge would be 5 star ,

Stayed: September 2016, travelled as a couple
Thank Sue B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 September 2016

There were 5 of us, mother, father, grown daughter and two grandsons, 7,9. We had a great time!! The accomadatioms were very good, food was good, staff very pleasant and helpful and our tracker and guide excellent. We had 4 very successful drives. The staff was especially accommodating to our grandkids. We saw all of the big 5 and many others. We found based on many conversations on our trip that these private game reserves in Greater Kruger allow you to see many more animals and much closer up as compared to the Kruger park itself.

  • Stayed: August 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank donandbobbi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Simbavati, Online Marketing Manager at Simbavati River Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 26 September 2016

Dear donandbobbi

We are so happy to hear that your family enjoyed their stay at our lodge.
Hopefully we have created future game rangers out of your grand children :)

We offer the best game drives if I do say so myself. Our staff are very knowledgeable and our trackers are the best at finding all that nature has to offer.

We hope you will come and visit us again.

Keep well, regards Nadine

Regards Nadine

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