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“Fantastic stay in an unbelievable location”
Review of Pondoro Game Lodge

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Pondoro Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 14 February 2017

Not sure how they ever managed to build such a unique property in this remote location, but we are certainly glad they somehow managed. Overlooking the free-flowing Oliphant River, this property was everything we hoped it would be. The staff was extremely friendly, service was great, food was very good (and plentiful), spa treatments were very good as well. We were particularly very impressed with Rul and Andres - they were a tremendous tracking team and they were able to find the animals nearly every time before other guides could do so (saw all the Big 5 plus much more within the first 24 hours).

It is worth pointing out that the Balule Reserve is higher, drier and more hilly than a number of the more southern Kruger private reserves, so if you are looking for the wide open plains and huge herds of animals more common in Central/East Africa this may not be what you have in mind. The property itself also has more of an "integrated with nature" rather than traditional luxury feel to it (i.e. resident monkey population and animals crossing the property throughout the day). However, we loved every minute of our time spent there, and the beauty of the river and related abundance of wildlife below the bar/dining area blows away the watering holes or seasonal streams featured by most game lodges.

Big props to owners Robbie and Lize - a great overall first experience in the African bush and we already can't wait to get back!

Room Tip: All the suites we saw were great, but the big specialty suites have larger decks with integrated hot...
  • Stayed: February 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank RM_LiveAloha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Robbie_Prehn, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 21 February 2017

Dear RM_LiveAloha,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

We are glad to read how much you enjoyed your stay with us. I will inform Rul and Andries of your appreciation and am sure that they will be delighted.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 18 January 2017

Pondoro was an amazing experience. The lodging is along a river and there many animals that you could see from your room or the dining area. The rooms were spacious, beautifully decorated, and very welcoming. There was a deck off of our room with a little private jacuzzi. There were two game drives each day that lasted around 3 hours. Our ranger was amazing in making sure we saw animals each time. He would drive the jeep/rover through the bushes and trees and sometimes we were very close to lions, and elephants and other animals. We were very fortunate to see a female leopard hunt a baby impala and then take it up a tree. The staff was extremely friendly, welcoming and made you feel at home. The food was delicious and the chef introduced themselves to each of the guests. Overall an amazing stay.

  • Stayed: December 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Eric B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 19 January 2017

Dear Eric B,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

We are delighted to read how much you enjoyed your stay with us. Good to know that you were happy with the room, safaris, guide and cuisine.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 17 January 2017

A good Safari has everything to do with good trackers and rangers. And that we didn't found in Pondoro. They were constantly talking with each other in there one language and often forgot that there is more to see than a Lion. No attention for the small five, birds, trees, plants etc,
The rooms and the food were good

  • Stayed: December 2016, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank Hennie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 19 January 2017

Dear Hennie P,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

Sorry to hear that you were not happy with your guide and tracker. Unfortunately we can only address issues when we are aware of a problem and it is such a pity that you did not inform us during your stay as we would have gladly rectified it immediately.

We trust that you enjoyed the extra mile that we went through during Christmas to make your stay even more memorable.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 15 January 2017 via mobile

An early 25th anniversary present to ourselves, we had an amazing stay , everything perfect, staff , food, lovely safari guides , they found the big 5 in our first 24 hours! We stayed in the water suite which was beautiful with amazing views down to the river. Would love to come back one day. Thank you .

Stayed: December 2016, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Tracey P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 19 January 2017

Dear Tracey and Gary,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

Congratulations on your 25th anniversary and we are delighted that we could help in making it an unforgettable stay.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 15 January 2017

I can't say enough great things about our stay at Pondoro Game Lodge. The location is amazing. The guides were very knowledgable and helped us meet our goals for viewing wildlife and birds. We enjoyed the food, and the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. If you are looking for a top notch safari experience, we recommend Pondoro Game Lodge.

  • Stayed: December 2016, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank cwildwest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 19 January 2017

Dear cwildwest,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

Good to see you had a fabulous time at Pondoro. Glad you found our guides knowledgeable and eager to show you all the wildlife and birds.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 12 January 2017

I spent 3 nights at Pondoro Lodge and could not better the experience in any way. The highlight of course are the safaris, the driver and spotter I was with - Rul and Andres were the best - they want you to have the best experience and they do not disappoint. I saw the big 5 in the first 3 safaris - however there is no guarantee here, some outings were full of wildlife, some less so. The accommodations are incredible as are the food. Typical day when I was there in Sept: 5:15am coffee and snack and 5:30am on Safari. There is nothing like an African sunrise. We are out until about 8:45am or so, stopping for a coffee/tea with snack break mid way thru. At 9:30 a wonderful multi-course breakfast on the wonderful deck overlooking the river, just watch out for the small cheeky monkeys that want to get your muffins. At 11:00-noon a ranger led walk. Noon - 3:00 is down time for everyone including the animals and a time to enjoy your fabulous accommodation. 3:00pm is a lovely lunch on the deck and 3:30 cake and coffee. 4:00 back in the vehicles until 7:30 or so with a wine/beer break with appetizers half way thru. Drinks around 8:00 followed by a multi course fabulous dinner. If you are only there a few days, I wouldn't consider any side trips - enjoy this incredible place - I'm so glad I didn't venture out. Thanks to all the staff especially Rul and Andres for an incredible time.
Something I better understood upon getting there is that I feel this is better than going thru Kruger itself. Pondoro adjoins Kruger and like many (but not all) private reserves that adjoin Kruger there are no fences so the animals roam freely between the park and these private reserves. With Pondoro you can go off-road and follow the animals and travel after dark, things I don't think you can do in Kruger. The vehicles at Pondoro are open, seating is tiered and all great seats - niceties like blanket ponchos for the cold mornings etc.

Stayed: September 2016
Thank jenaraz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 19 January 2017

Dear jenaraz,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

Glad that we could add to your bucket list and most of all not disappoint. I will rely your appreciation to all the staff, especially Rul and Andries.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 9 January 2017 via mobile

There are not enough words of praise and thanks to express the wonderful holiday our friends at Pondoro created for my family and me during our early December four night visit.

Our arrival and reception by Lize at the lodge was so warm we felt like family returning home to a place we'd been before. Every small detail was considered to make us feel like Pondoro's most special guests. The menu offered great cuisine choices and was also adjusted in small ways if we had special favorite items.

Our guide Rul and tracker Andreas became like family immediately with their warm inviting smile. Early in our stay during our first few game drives we sensed both their personal friendship and overwhelming passion for their work. Their communication and amazing spotting and tracking skills energized me and my family as we became active participants learning everything they would teach and show us.

We will never forget Rul and Andreas excitedly spotting tracks in the sand saying "buffalo running....five lions chasing" then using all their years of experience to locate the buffalo kill....and the young male lion concealed nearby on security watch over their kill. The photos we took are breathtaking and all possible because of Rul and Andreas caring so greatly for our experience! This was just one encounter, we had MANY stunning encounters including witnessing giraffes fighting, a dozen young hyenas playfully mauling their Mom at sunset, a Mom and baby black rhino competing in a little dance to collapse and feast on a termite nest (which the guides even filmed) and an elusive cheetah showing herself two days in a row (again, thanks to Rul and Andreas as they worked hard to locate her).

Robbie (the owner) was a joy to speak with as was Lize. (My wife wondered if we could adopt Lize and bring her back to London with us!). Robbie clearly creates a family environment for all staff and that is felt by guests.

Also, I don't want to spoil the story or excitement of experiencing it but learning about

Stayed: December 2016, travelled with family
Thank patricksQ2068ET
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pondoro, Owner at Pondoro Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 10 January 2017

Dear patricksQ2068ET,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write a review.

We are grateful that we could live up to your expectations and that you had a wonderful time. Rul, Andries and Lize, off course, will be elated about your kind words. And no...she is not available for adoption!

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Additional Information about Pondoro Game Lodge

Address: Balule Private Nature Reserve, Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Phone Number:
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Balule Nature Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 21 Speciality Lodging in Balule Nature Reserve
Price Range: $934 - $1,483 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Pondoro Game Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set on the cool riverine banks of the Olifants River (largest in Kruger) in the 40 000 ha Big 5 Balule Private Game Reserve inside the greater Kruger National Park, Pondoro offers its visitors comfort, sophistication, elegance and a canvas on which to create a truly unforgettable African safari.In this small, very exclusive 16-bed lodge ( owner managed ) you will discover the only way to experience the African bush. In addition to luxurious accommodation and the caring attention from trained professionals, our visitors are lavished upon with international fare and humble African hospitality.Meals are an extraordinary culinary experience where Traditional African Cuisine fuse effortlessly with modern European trends.To compliment the food, select any of our fine wines from our extensive wine cellar. Vegetarians are specially catered for. All meals are served on a wooden deck high up in the tree canopy overlooking the Olifants River (weather permitting).Between game drives in open safari cruisers, nature walks and peaceful afternoon naps, enjoy a dip in the sparkling rock pool, a spot of sun bathing or browse through the library. The Pondoro bar is the ideal spot to quench your thirst and grab a snack. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pondoro Game Hotel Balule Private Game Reserve
Pondoro Game Lodge South Africa/Balule Nature Reserve

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