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All reviews spa suite game drives safari experience the reserve river lodge south africa hoedspruit airport buffet style wonderful experience lunch and dinner kruger park wild animals per day out of this world wellness centre great safari morning and evening
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Reviewed 18 August 2009

Having come from a small, family-run safari camp to the Kapama river lodge, we were a little overwhelmed by the scale of the operation. It's a huge luxury camp, but that means it's a little impersonal at times. The accomodation is stunning, though the buffet food was a little cold at times, and the clientele could be a bit snobby. That said the safari rangers were excellent, and when we encountered a problem with our rental car, the staff could not have been more helpful.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank jimmyholly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 August 2009

Kapama River Lodge was the exact opposite of most people's concept of a safari bush camp. This was NOT rustic, or roughing-it by any means. This is a sophisticated, luxurious, extravagent resort. This resort can probably accomodate well over 100 people but it never felt crowded though. The common areas include open fireplaces with large sofas to relax. Between game drives, you can sit there and read a book or play some chess with pieces shaped like safari animals. There are two pools - one near the common lounge area and one at the spa. Only the spa pool is heated.

Our room (#28) was VERY large with a king bed, desk, two reading chairs and a table. Since it was located at the very end of the building, we were surrounded by open bush on three sides. We had a covered deck wrapping 2 sides plus large windows on the third side. The bathroom was large and luxurious with double bowl sinks, a huge bathtub next to full wall of windows that opened. The double shower was outdoors with one side open overlooking the bush (with a roll-down privacy screen if desired) . We often saw many nyala and other animals from our deck and shower. One note about the outdoor shower - since our visit was during the winter, we could only take midday showers so that the air temperature was warm enough to enjoy the shower. Otherwise our only indoor choice was the tub.

There are two game drives each day. The morning drive is between morning coffee and breakfast. The afternoon drive is between high tea and dinner. We liked being able to see the animals during the day and night. Beware in the winter, the game drives are VERY cold during the first hour of the morning and after sundown! So be prepared with fleece jackets, and gloves, it was also nice to have a hat and a scarf. Kapama has a great variety of animals - we saw three of the big-five on our FIRST drive!

The food was excellent - all served buffet style. There are 5 meals each day. 6am - Coffee & tea with fruit and danishes. 9:30am - full cooked breakfast. 1pm - full lunch. 3:30pm - high tea & desserts. 9:30PM - full dinner. At dinner you are assigned to sit at the same table with your game driver and other guests from your vehicle. All other meals are unassigned seating. Thankfully, there are no formal dress requirements. All of the food was excellent quality and a lot of variety. One day at lunch, the chef overheard my daughter mentioned the she really wanted some pizza so that night at dinner, when the chef saw us he announced that everyone would be served cheese pizza as appetizers. Just one example how even though this is a large resort, they still offer the personal touch.

My daughter and I each went to the spa. I had a body treatment and she had a facial. We both enjoyed our treatments very much. Everything was very professional and up to the same standards as in America. My massage room was beautiful with glass walls open to a view of the watering hole. I only wish that some elephants or giraffes would have wandered by during my massage. Note: Unlike other spas, the steam room was not is a common area for spa guest to use as they pleased. it was only available as part of a treatment. And, there was no jacuzzi or hot tub available at all. The locker room was rather small and if you wanted privacy, you had to change in the shower or toilet stall.

We all enjoyed our stay at Kapama VERY much and would recommend it highly. But only if you are willing to share your safari experience with a LOT of other guests.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled with family
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1  Thank TravelingTrish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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