The ‘Guest from Hell’ Reviews Garonga

You know that segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live when celebrities willingly read aloud some of the ‘mean tweets’ that are written about them?

It made us think. The internet is both a wonderful and horrible place. It’s the go-to place for people to share their love and also their hate.

Insert TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor is an open journal for travellers. It’s probably the greatest form of user generated content there is, which is why we love it so much. It’s a place where our guests have their say. Even when that can be scary (mean tweets) or great (appraisal and awards), we encourage every Garonga guest to write a review about their stay with us.

Recently, we came across one TripAdvisor review in particular that took us on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Here it is, along with the wild thoughts in our head as we read it for the very first time.

(Disclaimer: to be read with a sense of humour)

The Review of a Lifetime… 

I must explain before I review this place that I am the customer from hell and can find fault in EVERYWHERE I STAY!

[Garonga: Oh no. This could take a bad turn…]

I did not want to go on safari and stay in a tent and this was not my idea of a relaxing holiday, until I found Garonga and Little Garonga!

[Garonga: Phew (smiles and giggles)!!!]

I am now converted. I could not fault this place, it is AMAZING. I am totally converted and LOVED every minute, no every second, of this holiday.

[Garonga: CONVERSION. Day is made.]

ALL of the staff are wonderful, thank you so much CJ, Richard, Phineus, Josiah, Loderick, Charlotte, Bernie and the lovely chef who made me mash potato because I am a fussy eater!

[Garonga: Mmm…mashed potatoes. Best comfort food ever!]

You are an example of how to do a job properly. This is hospitality at its best. Anyone who can find fault in this place, shame on you! If you don’t appreciate this lodge then don’t go on safari because it is not for you and perhaps you need to return to Benidorm where you can stay in a nice 3-star hotel!

[Garonga: Haha! So honest and full of personality. We must share this one with the Garonga fam.]

Thank you, guys. From not wanting to embrace a safari holiday, thanks to you I am totally hooked. You have given me memories to last me a lifetime (Julie’s corner!). I can’t wait to come back and see my elephant Lisette.

[Garonga: The customer from hell? No way! Little Lisette won’t go anywhere.]

Keep doing what you do, you are incredible! X

[Garonga: Guests like yourself make this job the best one in the world.]

Garonga TripAdvisor Review

Did you know….

  • We read every TripAdvisor review that you write. So far, we’ve read a total of 364 reviews.
  • We strive to reply to every single review. We know writing a review takes time and time is precious so we are grateful for the time spent giving us honest feedback.
  • Your review doesn’t only help us to improve our safari experience but future travellers who are researching where to go for their African safari of a lifetime.
  • You are clever! The tips and pointers you give to future guests are so…well…helpful. So valuable in fact that we share them on our Facebook page from time to time.
  • We were named a TripAdvisor 2017 Travellers’ Choice Award Winner in the top 25 Small Hotels in South Africa. Based on reviews and opinions from millions of travellers, Garonga is in the top 1% of hotels – all thanks to YOU!
  • If you’ve stayed with us before and haven’t wrote a review yet, why don’t you? We’d love to be defined by your opinion. Stop by our TripAdivsor page.

10 signs you may need to get back to Garonga

“Way over expectations.”
“The only way to do a safari!”
“Like a dream!”

A visit to Garonga in South Africa’s Makalali private conservancy bordering the Kruger National Park impacts our guests in the most magical ways. Luxurious bush life and all its unexpected perks stick with them when they go back home and inevitably make them want to return again and again for more. And we’re so glad it does.

If you’ve visited us before, here are 10 tell-tale signs that you are missing your Garonga experience and it’s time for another visit soon.

1. Slumbering under the South African stars, listening to the wild sounds of the bush below you on the private Sleep Out Deck ruined any other treehouse experience for you.

Sleep out deck

2. You now look for animal tracks on the ground and tails in the trees when you go for a walk in your local park.

bush walk

3. You can’t fall asleep at night without a teddy bear in your arms.

safari camp accommodation

4. You drop everything you’re doing to stop and appreciate the sunset that unfolds before you. It was mandatory when in the South African bush after all. Why not everywhere else?

African sunset at Garonga

5. You can’t walk into a New York restaurant and feel at one with nature like you do dining in a boma that has the coolest outdoor bar you’ve ever seen.

Bush bar and boma

6. Your bathtub at home, between the four walls just doesn’t quite manage to set the scene for a relaxing bubble session anymore.

Bush bath

7. And back rubs from your partner in front of the TV don’t cut it anymore either.

Massage sala

8. When you hear something that sounds like a falling tree branch you look outside to see if there’s an elephant nearby.

elephant in camp

9. You leave a little note for your spouse to read when they come home from work. Maybe not as creative as the ones you found left by Garonga staff on the small zen garden in your room, but it’s the thought that counts.

zen garden in room

10. You’re saving up your annual leave days because you’re ready to go back!

Game drive

3 Reasons to Visit Garonga

Nestled in a private concession in South Africa Garonga Safari Camp offers visitors a unique travel experience, or a ‘safari for the soul’ as the staff likes to describe it. From wildlife viewing to luxurious pampering, a stay at the camp is nothing less than an exceptional experience.

Here are three reasons to visit Garonga:

1. No Crowds

Spot a pride of lions or catch a glimpse of a leopard hiding in the bushveld as your game viewer slowly makes its way across the savannah. Makalali conservancy, a 22 000 hectare reserve situated west of the Kruger National Park, is home to an incredibly diverse range of wildlife.
Visitors can enjoy intimate wildlife encounters and a true Big Five safari experience without having to share the moments with hoards of tourists.

Game drive with Garonga Safari Camp in Makalali, South Africa

2. Sleep Out

Set deep in the African wilderness, the Garonga Sleep Out provides a safari experience of a uique kind. Sleep under the night sky on a deck out in the bush with nothing but the sounds of wildlife and the Milkyway keeping you company. Enjoy an intimate 3-course dinner in the bush, accompanied by a bottle of bubbly before letting nocturnal Africa lull you to sleep.

Garonga Sleep out, Makalali, South Africa

3. Bush Bath

Being on safari doesn’t always mean ‘roughing it’. A bush bath is an utterly unique way to enjoy nature whilst taking some time to relax and unwind. Set on a platform, overlooking the Makalali bushveld Garonga bush bath offers guests front row seats to enjoy the wonders of wilderness from the comfort of a lavish bubble bath.

Garonga bush bath, Makalali, South Africa

Exciting Elephant Encounters at Garonga

You don’t always have to trek deep into the heart of the African bushveld to see wildlife whilst on safari. Sometimes just staying at your safari camp provides you with plenty of wildlife excitement. Garonga Safari Camp’s guests were recently lucky enough to witness a very memorable occasion with their own eyes.

A bull elephant decided to come visit one of the safari tents when the guests were relaxing on the viewing deck. The impressive beast was certainly not shy to show off!

Watch how whole the spectacle unraveled:

How to Get to Garonga Safari Camp

Travel Options to Make Your Journey Even Easier

Travel options to get to Garonga Safari Camp in Makalali Conservancy, South Africa

‘Makalali’s bushveld, in contrast to those reserves directly adjacent to the Kruger, is a series of undulating hills that offer incredible viewpoints and panoramic views across the reserve.’ This is how SA Venues describes this wilderness area, situated just west of the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Garonga Safari Camp and Little Garonga, nestled in this 22000ha wildlife haven, provides an ideal location to seek out the Big Five and experience close-up wildlife encounters without the crowds. The name Makalali means “a place of rest” in Shangaan and it suggests that the reserve offers an utterly unique and intimate wildlife experience. Embark on a game drive and be mesmerized by the abundance of game, including lion, kudu, cheetah and anything in between.

The only question left is how do you get there?

Garonga is easily accessible by both air and car:

    • Direct chartered flight from Johannesburg

      Direct chartered flight from Johannesburg to Garonga with Fedair
      Take a direct chartered flight from Johannesburg to Garonga with Fedair
    • Flight and air-charter (Nelspruit KMIA)
      Take a commercial flight with Airlink to Nelspruit KMIA (from Johanesburg or Cape Town)
      Take a commercial flight with Airlink to Nelspruit KMIA (from Johanesburg or Cape Town)

      Take a private charter from Nelspruit KMIA to Garonga's airstrip with Odie Air
      Take a private charter from Nelspruit KMIA to Taronga’s airstrip with Odie Air
    • Flight and road transfer (Hoedspruit / Phalaborwa)
    • Self-drive (only 6 hours from Johannesburg)

Find out detailed travel instructions here.

Garonga Safari Camp – A Well-Kept Secret of South Africa

It has almost been six months since the grand reopening of Garonga Safari Camp, and the team is ecstatic with the positive response from guests. The Garonga staff are devoted to offering service that is nothing below excellent. There is nothing quite like beaming feedback from past visitors to make the Garonga team members’ hearts fill with delight, day after day.

Garonga Safari Camp, main lodge

This is how recent guests describe their stay at Garonga on TripAdvisor:

‘This “camp” is a well-kept secret of South Africa. Traveling off the main road for almost 45mins is your first clue that you are in for a taste of a vanishing Africa. The staff is as warm and welcoming as you could possibly want and try to anticipate your every need.’
– Cindi

‘Wow! Garonga is a great safari camp. We have been on safari numerous times and this place hit all the marks and then some. Only 6 “tents” so no more than 12 guests at a time. The tents are actually small, very posh concrete houses with mesh windows and front flap enclosures that make it feel like a luxury tent. Animals come right into the camp as there are two watering holes right below the rooms.’
– Nancy, the US

Garonga Safari Lodge tent

‘We stayed here for our honeymoon in September. Everything was such an incredible experience. The ‘tents’ are clean, spacious and luxurious along with the view. All of the staff are incredibly friendly and happy to assist with any need.’
– Louise, the UK

‘Our tent, number 5, was large and well located to view the water hole where a variety of animals could be seen refreshing themselves. We were able to watch the elephants as they came through the camp feeding and knocking down the trees for food.’
– David, Australia

‘The accommodation is quite simply superb – huge “tents”, super comfy beds, wonderful bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers and double sinks. We were in room six, which is furthest away from the waterhole and main lodge but great to feel you are away from it all watching the monkeys, mongoose and anything that wanders along the dry riverbed from the spacious deck (one night we spotted hyena as we were walked back from dinner).’
– CH London, the UK

Garonga Safari Lodge Accommodation

Wildlife Frenzy in Makalali

Life in the Makalali Nature Reserve, located only a stone’s throw away from the renowned Kruger National Park in South Africa, has been very eventful lately.

Garonga Safari Camp, nestled in the heart of the Makalali bushveld, has had a brilliant stint of wildlife sightings.

From the impressive elephants to round-eared wild dogs and fierce felines, the diverse selection of sightings has certainly impressed the recent Garonga guests. A Garonga guide took these beautiful shots during game drives in Makalali.

Cheetah in Makalali concession, South Africa Wild dogs in Makalali concession, South Africa Lion in Makalali concession, South Africa

Bush Dining at Garonga

It is not too often you get enjoy a bush breakfast, safari sundowners and boma dinners under the starlit African sky in one day. Garonga Safari Camp offers fine dining in an authentic African setting.

private-dining2

Wine lovers and food fanatics can now enjoy their passion in a truly unique way immersed in nature. Here are some of ways to take your dining experience to a new level at Garonga:

Bush Breakfast
Breakfast in the bush gives guests an opportunity to enjoy the first meal of the day surrounded by the sounds and scents of wilderness. From fresh fruit to scones and quiches, the selection of produce is guaranteed to keep your tummy satisfied until the next feast.

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Game Drives
Stop in a quiet spot in the heart of the bushveld and enjoy a bite to eat whilst you admire the untouched African wilderness. Garonga’s morning drives are replete with tea, coffee, biscuits, rusks and fruit whereas evening drives are equipped with light nibbles and your favourite sundowner drinks.

Boma Dinner
Complete with a fully stocked bar and a beautiful fire pit the Garonga boma certainly has the ‘wow’ factor. The boma provides the idea setting for sharing stories of the day’s game viewing experiences.
Indulge in the delicious wood-fired pizza and a glass of exquisite South African wine as you recall your favourite wildlife sightings of the day.

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Private Dining
Those looking to add a bit of romance into their safari can enjoy an intimate dinner in a private location near the camp accompanied with wonderful views of the bushveld. Whether you’re in need for some quality time with your partner or perhaps even planning to pop the big question, there is no place more adoring than right here, in the middle of wild Africa.

Praises for Garonga’s New Look

Garonga Safari Camp has had an incredibly interesting year so far. The camp reopened its doors on the 1st of June 2016 after a three-month long revamp. The Garonga team is delighted with the camp’s fresh new look and the colour scheme which they proudly refer to as ‘wet elephant’.

Garonga_mainLodgeWILDWEB198

The refurbished camp has only been open for just over a month but the recent Garonga guests have not been shy to compliment the camp on TripAdvisor.

Here are a few of our top picks from the review portal:

We had an absolutely fantastic time during our stay in the stunning Hambleden Suite at Little Garonga. We had our own pool on our deck which overlooked a watering hole, and every detail had been considered in our rooms – even down to our favourite drinks!
 – Nikkicsmith, the UK

Little Garongaaccommodation291_max1800x1200

‘Garonga is overwhelmingly beautiful. The accommodation is spa-like elegance with every attention to detail. The resort is small so the service is personalized. The staff and guides/trackers ensure all your needs are met.’
– DueNorthDragonflies, Canada

‘This camp has just been revamped and looks great! 
Super friendly staff and hosts who made our safari and stay as memorable as possible. Honestly – whoever wants to brunch together with elephants in the morning – just book your stay here. Super spacious tents with STUNNING views over the dry riverbed.’
– Weltenbummlerin06, Germany

Garonga_accommodationWILDWEB180

‘Totally “in awe” with the newly revamped Garonga!
 Luxurious tented rooms, spacious both inside and outside – what beautiful decks. Amazing bathrooms and oh the outdoor shower. 
The staff are so friendly and attentative to one’s needs, and the food outstanding.’
– shezpb, South Africa

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Bush Spa Delights at Garonga

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Calming massages, scent awakening aromatherapy and relaxed reflexology sessions surrounded by wild Africa. This is what awaits guests seeking a soul-soothing experience with the help of Garonga’s sala spa. A safari bush bath or a combination of some other pamper offerings is a welcome addition to the traditional safari experience.

Garonga Safari Camp offers a ‘safari for the soul’; a combination of thrilling wildlife viewing voyages and bush pampering. Nothing quite beats long, leisurely bath sessions under the African sky after a day filled with game drives.

Garonga’s thatch-roofed outdoor sala, where the spa treatments take place, is especially popular amongst honeymooners and couples looking for relaxation and rejuvenation during their safari getaway. Inhale the fresh air of the bushveld, listen to the serene sounds of wilderness and let your mind drift into a delightful daydream whilst you indulge in a calming massage or aromatherapy.

The bush spa takes the meaning of revitalisation to a whole different level. As a recent guest says: ‘I will never forget the bush bath nor seeing the baboons walking by as I had a back massage!’