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Reviewed 13 August 2009

We spent 3 nights in Kapama River Lodge and really loved it. The rooms were luxurious and African style furnished. The whole lodge area was also same style and really nice. The staff was friendly and helpfull all the time. The game drives were fantastic, it was best time of the day when the game drive was about to start, you never know what you are going to see this time. We also never forget the dinners outside around the bonfire and under the million stars. It was really what we had expected and made our honeymoon just perfect.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank maarittoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 July 2009

My fiancé and I had a 5 night safari and stayed at two different lodges. The first one was Kapama River Lodge where we stayed for two nights. Our tour operator (African Sky) had made all our arrangements for us including flights, airport pick ups and all transfers. Everything was perfectly timed and executed, not once did we worry about our trip.

As mentioned in previous reviews, Kapama is a private game reserve and has 13,000 hectares and is situated between the Drakensberg mountains and the Greater Kruger National Park. It is a smaller area than that of the well-known Kruger area but the game is just as good. Each drive varies, you can have one drive where you see all the ‘Big 5’ and another drive where not much is happening. The rangers and trackers try their best to make sure you see as much as you can, but I felt that on some drives, we rushed in to see an animal and then rushed out so others can have a look. This may be because there were about 15 jeeps in a small area, so I can understand the need to ‘share’.

Regarding the accommodation itself, the Kapama River Lodge has wonderful hotel facilities. Spacious rooms, large bathroom with tub, comfy beds, spa services, gym, two swimming pools and internet access via two stations which is free of charge (but we noted that some guests didn’t share very well and so at times it was hard to get on). The hardware was really top-notch.

Meals were served buffet style and here is where I felt that improvements could be made. The food quality was very good but when guests came back from the morning drive for breakfast, I felt like it was a cattle-call to the feeding trough! Most guests had children with them and so you can imagine that with 120 guests all coming back at the same time, there would be long lines at the buffet and you had to be quick! Dinner was similar but location and seating was much nicer.

One thing that struck us was that both lodges gave fairly detailed instructions in the Guest Folder on how much tipping they thought appropriate for the ranger and tracker. We believe that tips should be a reward for great service, and not based on a formula of how many in your party multiplied by the number of nights stayed. We felt this was too standardized and expected, no matter what level of service was delivered.

Overall, we were happy with our stay at Kapama River Lodge. Just be aware that the River Lodge has 120 guest capacity and will lack the cosiness and intimacy of some other lodges. They are not in the Kruger area which quite a few guests believed when they booked. Note however, that Kapama is only a 15 minute drive from Hoedspruit Airport (code HDS) which is serviced twice a day by SAA from Johannesburg so those wishing to get in and out without losing much time, may find this a compelling reason to choose Kapama.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank AnnPerth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 July 2009

We visited Kapama the year after visiting Kenya (our first experience in Africa).
We were traveling with our extended family and picked a plane-based trip in South Africa over the long drives in Kenya/Tanzania due to (probably silly) concerns that the ill grandfather might get sicker and need to go back home fast.
We were looking forward to share with them the wonders we had seen the previous year..
Well turns out Kapama (don't know about the actual Kruger reserve) is nothing like the Kenyan parks.
Kapama is a quite small reserve and inevitably you will be bumping into the reserve's fences once or twice per safari. If you stay a couple of days you end up passing the same places various times and having the sundowners in the same places - really makes you feel that you're going round in circles inside a fenced area waiting to catch a glimpse of the few animals they have.
Since the bush in the reserve is quite thick you basically have no landscape to enjoy. They have a very handsome male lion and the group is quite easy to trek. They also have elephants and giraffes that are quite easy to spot. We never got to see the leopard and after 2 safaris going round the reserve just trying to trek the leopard and not even seeing that many other animals we were disappointed.

The lodge in itself is great. They have very beautiful rooms, a really charming deck to chill out by the river, nice pool and grounds.
The food was based on a set menu and really tasted home-made, no buffets which i personally appreciated but it does limit your choice. The dinners in the terrace by the fire are very nice (it gets chilly in there!) and your ranger sits with you for dinner.

So basically if you have never been to other parks/reserves and have never seen these animals in the "wild" i believe you will enjoy this reserve and lodge - the lodge is great and the animals although few are amazing and trek-able.
If you have been to Samburu, Mara, etc etc you really should keep in mind the reserve is much smaller and the animals fewer before you pick it as to avoid disappointment.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled with family
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1  Thank orangetraveller_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2009

the hotel was great..
its important for anyone going here to know that its a private game reserve part of the greater kruger reserve. they have around 16000 acres of land, and have 14 lions/lionesses, 50 elephants, 50-70 giraffes. as compared to the main kruger, the number of animals they have is low. however, that said, they do have all the animals and the chances of seeing the big five is higher in something like this.
we were there for 2 days and had 4 game drives. we managed to see the big five the elephants being the hardest to track down. we had frikkie as our guide and he was very very knowledgeable and was very good at answering our questions and if he didnt know the answer to anything he would get back to us at dinner. Enok was his tracker and he was also very good at spotting animals.. its amazing how they would spot movement deep in the bush..
the animals are not controlled as someone has mentioned.. the guides have a general idea as to where they are since they are out on drives morning and evening.. so if they know the general area from there they track them. it was quite an adventure to track the elephants as he would see where they went and then quickly turn around to go cut them off on the other side and thats exactly what happened.
the rooms were really good.. we had the spa suites and so had a balcony overlooking the bush and we had deers and giraffes amble along..
i faced a problem with my room key on the first day and had to get it changed 3 times before it started working. and the spa suites are located a good 5 min walk from the reception so it got irritating..
the person who welcomed us on the first day.. i dont know his name but he seemed like the main manager.. he could have been better.. he seemed like a headmaster ticking off his students in the way he was telling us about everything... he could have put a joke or two in and made it easier for everyone..
the food was alright.. we had joel looking after us at the restaurant and he was very good.. on the first meal we asked for chillies and for every meal after that they were already on our table.
the guide used to sit down with us for dinner which was a very good touch as we could ask them as many questions as we wanted.. frikkie was quite entertaining in that department and kept us entertained with stories with the right amount of humour put into them.
it was also quite amazing to see them drive those range rovers into the bush and over trees.. to spot the leopard we really got into the bush and over trees and avoiding branches and thorns.. worth the experience..
also the bar area was very nice with a fire in the evening which was quite needed after the windy game drive..
the internet sucked..

  • Stayed: June 2009
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Thank pappy_28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 June 2009

Just perfect.

The staff taking you to the game reserve are knowledgable and understand your preferences very quickly. Super animal sightings over the four days we were here.

The spa is simply stunning. Secluded and serene, it doesnt allow children.

The rooms overlook the vast expanse of jungle and you will sometimes find animals come as close as below your window at night.

The food however left much to be desired. Very greasy, a bit repetitive and the meats weren't great.

The biltong bar snacks though were super. The bartender is a gem and Sarah is super to take you on the game drives. She ensured we got the great 5 even if it meant crashing through the bush!

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled with friends
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1  Thank MumbaiK-9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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