James has kindly given us some great feedback on his Kruger honeymoon.
PONDORO Lodge (Klaserie Nature Reserve which is northern Kruger Park).
It was unbelievable, but it may depend on what the people are looking for. So ill put it like this:
– Game viewing was very good, and the drivers (in our case, we had the owner of the farm) are excellent in trying to get as close as possible. The fact that it is a private farm means they can go off roads and into the bush to try and see things better. They also have a nice variety of game, so you are able to see big 5. Having said that though, its not the best area in Kruger for game, as its slightly dryer and a little less vegetation than more south. We were able to see big 5 while there, so was fine for us. But im not sure you can be guaranteed of it happening.
– That first bit is the only thing to say that doesn’t sound positive, but in saying that, I found it AWESOME about the place, because they tried to track game and find things for you rather than just turning every corner to show you what a different driver had found. Often, a group of lodges within a farm will team up and keep in radio contact about what game they have found. This is nice, and Pondoro did the same thing to make sure you weren’t missing out on something spectacular, but it can then sometimes turn into a bit of a farm/zoo where you just drive from sighting to sighting so that you can see everything. So for those who are desperate just to see big 5 for example, I would then say go to one of the major lodges within Kruger, or in the areas where you can be more guaranteed of seeing everything. (As an example, we did a game drive in very expensive farm in early 2005 – Thornybush Reserve – and in about 4 hrs, we saw big 5. Because we weren’t staying there and just did the one drive, it was awesome, but it felt like we were being driven from one sighting to the next just to get as many animals under the belt rather than taking it all in). For someone who wants to just enjoy being in the wild and feel like they are in the wild, and having the excitement of trying to find game, this is amazing. And as I say, we were still able to see big 5, as well as loads and loads of other stuff.
– Only 12 guests can stay at one time, so really makes it feel exclusive. And since it was honeymoon, we stayed in more luxurious room. So I don’t want to comment on the normal rooms, but our room was awesome.
– Food: For a lodge/hotel, this is the best food I’ve ever eaten. ever…’nough said. And more than enough to eat.
– Location: From the game point of view, not the best in Kruger. But the lodge itself is on the Olifants River, and has monkeys running around. Apparently in summer, hippos hang around the river right in front of the lodge. It was winter when we were there, so we didn’t see this.
– Price: I found some places with comparable prices, but didn’t look as nice. So I would say that their prices are very competitive. And there are quite a lot of places that charge way more…
– Since we were there – they have a little spa, with massage bed, little fitness area and Jacuzzi. So that’s an added attraction (maybe means prices will be higher now though).
– Cannot say a bad thing about the place
– From a honeymoon point of view: You don’t ever feel forced to go on game drives or anything, and can spend time by yourself if you want. Only thing that some may not like is that the luxury rooms don’t have curtains, so always wonder who’s peeking at you! But they are fairly secluded rooms, so we never felt like this. And they went out of their way for – rose petals on the bed first night, bottle of champers, private dinner on our last night.
– Would I go back there: We are trying to work out when the best time to go would be!
The only thing that I would say is that if its people that want to go and drive around and see game just because they want to see a lion and a cheetah and a leopard etc, then maybe go somewhere that can guarantee you seeing these (which you will probably find will charge a lot more). If this is not important, I would recommend it without a doubt. Note my enthusiasm in the email – that’s how awesome we found it.
UK (South African)