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“Worth the money”
Review of Pondoro Game Lodge

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Pondoro Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 23 May 2017

We recently stayed at Pondoro for 3 nights. It exceeded every expectation we had. From the pick up at the airport by Raymond we knew we had made a wise choice. We stayed in the tree suite which was beautiful and clean. Not even a single bug! We had an amazing view of the Oliphant river and woke up to the sights and sounds of hippos every morning. Our ranger and tracker were fabulous and stopped at nothing to make sure we saw every animal. The service staff went above and beyond at every meal! On mother's day we had dinner river side and they performed a music and drum show for us. The best part was watching them have fun while entertaining their guests. The food was incredible!!!! The best food we had in all of South Africa. They also had wonderful bottles of wine at a very reasonable price. I cannot say enough about our wonderful experience. BOOK THIS PLACE! You will not be disappointed. Thank you Robbie, Raymond, Michele and the rest of the staff at pondoro for making us feel pampered and comfortable.

Room Tip: Tree suite for view of hippos!
  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Julie C
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 15 June 2017

Dear Julie C,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review and staying with us at Pondoro during your safari holiday.

We try our best to exceed guest expectations and to add little extras to enhance the experience. Thank you for noticing.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 22 May 2017

Everyting was excellent! I highly recommend Pondoro! Staff was friendly, foods and drinks were great, room was really beautiful, clean and well maintained and safari was amazing! It´s perfect if you are in your honeymoon!

  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled as a couple
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
1  Thank Fabio S
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 15 June 2017

Dear Fabio S,

Thank you for staying at Pondoro and great to see that you had a wonderful safari experience.

Safari greetings,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 21 May 2017

The Good: The service and friendliness of Pondoro are excellent. The dining and bar area has a lovely setting. Hippos are on the riverbanks as well as giraffes across the river. Having been a guest at several safari camps, Pondoro has THE best cuisine. It is 5 star. Truly unmatched by other camps.
The Not so good: Difficult to get to individual cottages/poor lighting and uneven Boardwalk. The pool was dirty/full of algae thus an eye sore. Cottage porches needed to be mopped; leaves needed to be removed from outside tub. (Many leaves in tub; not a few). The guide and tracker were very experienced and found the animals however their English had heavy African accent so couldn't understand their comments. Nonetheless, they were successful at finding game.

  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Edistocreekgirl
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 24 May 2017

Dear Edistocreekgirl,

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

Good to read that you enjoyed our cuisine and service.

Pondoro is different from most hotels around the world. Our rooms are each individually decorated with their own theme. Not colonial as most African lodges are, but different and really unique. Some of our rooms have outside baths and others outside Jacuzzis, instead of the small swimming pools you would find on most chalet patios. We think this is romantic and you can also fill a Jacuzzi with hot water, so it even works in winter, where small plunge pools on a patio do not.

We love our setting, where the lodge is hidden away under a canopy of century old trees on the banks of the Olifants river. This makes us unique among a plethora of lodges. The downside is that leaves sometimes fall onto the decks or inside the outside baths or Jacuzzis. We clean this twice daily, but when the wind blows or in autumn (like now) it can be a struggle to keep up. Guests usually understand and just scoop the few leaves out themselves. We will also do this anytime when requested as well.

Our swimming pool is a rock pool made to look as natural as possible. The marbelite is light brown giving the pool a greenish natural look, but the water is crystal clear as it should be.

There is a path light at 10 meters intervals on the way to your chalets. The paths are made of wood and I am not sure why you feel that they are uneven. Every step has a light as well. I agree that the paths are not lit up like 5th Avenue, but that would spoil the bush atmosphere that we try to create.

I am not sure what to do regarding our guides accents. They are from Africa after all. They are friendly, love their work and will do everything to keep their guests happy. Many years of experience in the bush have given them a sixth sense, not just in finding the animals, but also with an uncanny knack to always put their vehicles in the best position for capturing that great once in a lifetime photo. They do not just know animals, but understand their language.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 21 May 2017 via mobile

This place is wonderful. My wife and I spent 3 nights for our honeymoon. The staff is extremely welcoming and fulfills all your needs. "The devil is in the details": that's what I mentioned to Lize (one of the owners) while she was kindly transporting us to eastgate (HDS) airport. I was explaining her how the lodge and its staff brilliantly illustrated this. I wasn't expecting it, but this getaway was also a culinary experience. The food was perfectly executed and delicious.
The game drives: amazing. Sam the ranger and Erick the spotter allowed us to luckily see the big five in no time. They are attentive to your every needs, they stop anytime you want for a picture and they have a full knowledge of every animal.
You easily understand that all the staff at Pondoro really love their job. The owners are also passionate people. I strongly recommand this place.

Stayed: May 2017, travelled as a couple
1  Thank wagner542016
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 15 June 2017

Dear wagner542016,

Thank you for choosing Pondoro as your safari destination and for a wonderful review. Glad you enjoyed your stay with us. I will also thank Sam and Eric on your behalf for the work they did.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 15 May 2017

We had an amazing experience. The place is beautiful, the food is fantastic, everyone is very attentive.The trackers are fantastic, they foun all the big five. The room was very good, I hope to come back one day.

  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled with family
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank Caroline Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 May 2017 via mobile

We visited Pondoro for our anniversary, and we could not have been more pleased!!!

The reception staff, Michelle and Licia, were both extremely welcoming. They made sure we felt like home (just a million times better) through our stay. They were always there to help and answer our questions.

The food was incredible!!! Every morning we were greeted with pastries, juices and hot beverages before the first safari. Upon our return we were served a scrumptious breakfast composed of fresh squeezed juice, smoothie, fresh fruits, yogurt and homemade granola, daily freshly baked muffin, and our choice between two warm meals that changed daily. The food is made to order and they are super flexible with the guests' demands. Lunch is one warm item (freshly made African meals, quiches, pizza, etc.) and a salad, completed with a dessert bar, and hot and cold coffee or tea. Dinner allows the choice between three options (an African inspired one such as Impala pie, ostrich that was soooo delicious, etc.), a safe bet (chicken, the best beef filet ever, etc.) and a vegetarian option. The meal is completed with a mise-en-bouche, appetizer, and delicious dessert. The service is on point and the waitresses are all nice and friendly! The meals are served on a large terasse overlooking the river which allows for animal sightings and a beautiful view.

The safaris were by far the most amazing experience ever. Sam was our ranger and he was super fun to interact with, extremely knowledgeable about the bush and the animals, and always tried his best to please everyone. We started off with Eric as a tracker and later on were switched to America. They were both excellent in their role and made our experience super enjoyable. They made the extra effort to allow us to see everything we wanted and were always super fun and interesting. I would highly recommend staying four nights like we did. First off because that gives you decent opportunity to get sightings of most animals (we were lucky enough to see everything, including the leopard, cheetah, hyenas and wild dogs) and also because it allowed us to become really close with the staff and have the most amazing time.

We picked the Water suite which was nicely decorated and all the little things were thought of (awesome bath and shower, nice waterfall behind the bed, living room area, free brandy and water bottles, hair dryer, robes, insect repellent, nice patio overlooking the river with a hot tub). The housekeeping staff was on point, always going the extra mile to make sure we were comfortable. Our room was perfect and we would highly recommend it (the outside bath is amazing for lazy mid-day laying around) but if you can't afford it I would say it is STILL worth visiting with the regular rooms!

All the way through our stay we were treated like family by everyone. There was always someone to walk us to our room in the dark whenever we needed. They would open the bar for us at any time even if we were the only ones there. We had the most amazing experience at the picnic. Super romantic spot, the drive to and from there by Ramsen was almost like a private mini-safari. We were even treated to a romantic dinner for 2 in the cellar for our anniversary which was so thoughtful. The dinner on the beach was nice, though we couldn't really see much in the dark which made me think maybe a breakfast on the beach should be considered? The owners came to ask us personally if we were enjoying ourselves on several occasions. We always felt safe and cared about.

We had the most amazing time and we will definitely be back in the future. An experience like no other.

Stayed: April 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank ScotchAndSuits
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 13 May 2017

Dear ScotchAndSuits,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write such a detailed and wonderful review.

I am elated to see how much you enjoyed your stay and look forward to your return. I will make sure to relay your appreciation through to everyone.

Greetings from the bush,

Robbie and Pondoro family

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Reviewed 11 May 2017

Pondoro provides a fantastic experience. From the game drives (limited to six guests per vehicle) to the gourmet quality food, it is a five star experience in every respect. There is maid service twice a day and an excellent spa at reasonable prices. Rul our Ranger and Andris our Tracker were knowledgable and engaging. Their expertise set this experience apart and put this four days of safari game drives ahead of my prior safari experience, which itself was amazing. Well worth the premium.

  • Stayed: April 2017, travelled with family
    • Location
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Thank Traknut1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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: $928 - $1,480 (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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