The Vuyani Safari Lodge
What We Love
- Jetsetter 2014 Best of the Best Finalist: Best All-Inclusive
- Rate includes three meals per day (breakfast, high tea, dinner), all drinks including wine and spirits and two game drives daily (weather permitting) led by an experienced ranger and expert trackers
- Elegant, eco-friendly base for exploring the South African bush
- Only seven guestrooms; the small size makes for privacy and personalized attention
What To Know
- Game drives depart twice daily in a 10-person vehicle with a tracker and a ranger (request a private vehicle and ranger for an extra $242)
- Gratuities are not included in the rate; the suggested amount is $50 per couple, per day
- Round-trip transfers to/from Hoedspruit Airport are included in the rate and can be arranged by the property
- Children 11 and under are not permitted
- Free WiFi
- Eco friendly
- Free WiFi
- Room Service
The Vuyani Safari Lodge is a charming, intimate base for a South African safari adventure. Brown leather armchairs, modern table lamps and cream-colored rugs add warmth to living spaces. Lantern-strewn dark wood decks overlook the 36,000-acre Blaubank Conservancy and vast Kruger National Park, a stunning area below the Drakensberg Mountains. Designed with a focus on the surrounding ecosystem, the lodge shrinks its carbon footprint by using energy-saving lights and a sophisticated water treatment system that returns cleaned wastewater to nature.
Bed & Bath
Spacious rooms are outfitted with netted four-poster beds, African art and artifacts. Earth-toned stone floors and vaulted rattan ceilings set off white furniture upholstered in playful prints. Although the rooms are without such mod cons as TVs and iPod docks, you won’t miss them when you’re watching nyala antelope graze just beyond your private deck. Soak in the deep tub in the marble bathroom or embrace the elements in the Honeymoon Suite’s outdoor shower.
Twice a day you’ll hop into an open, 10-seat four-by-four to explore with rangers who know this vast land like the back of their hand. You can see rhinos, elephants, lions, cheetahs and leopards roaming freely, and more than 300 species of bird flitting about. Drives leave at approximately 6 a.m. and 4 p.m., perfect times for viewing the wildlife either sleeping or hunting. Cool off in the infinity pool before heading back to your room for a candlelit dinner served on your private deck. Afterward, the lodge’s telescope showcases the unrivaled African starscape.
How to Get There
We stayed at the Vuyani Lodge in mid January and it was our first Safari. We were a family of six (kids of 23,19,17,14) and we had three Honeymoon lodges between us.
We flew to Jo’Berg and were collected in a mini van by Juan (Yan, Jan, not sure) and driven for the 5 hours to Vuyani, this is included 2 stops en route.
Out/In bound Travel
We had a BA night flight and landed around 0530 and Juan was waiting for us in arrivals, he was charming and helpful and within a few moments we were in the van and travelling to the lodge. At 5 hours long, the kids all fell asleep as we rattled along. The miles were eaten up and the roads were generally clear, Juan chatted away and with two pit stops at decent service stations, we were soon there.
The return journey was much the same, pitstops and a hail storm the likes of which we had never experienced before. Hailstones literally as big as golf balls.
We were met at the door by staff who welcomed us and ensured our bags were collected and taken to our rooms. The main reception/lodge is beautiful and the staff very welcoming.
We were in the Honeymoon suites and the rooms were well appointed, very clean and had a feeling of luxury without being stuffy.
The children all had the same suite but the staff separated the beds into one double and a single and we let them argue over who got what.
The ‘grounds’ are the very much the same bush that we drove around over the next few days and as such there are elevated walkways which cross-cross the whole area. You can walk around freely all day (0600-1800) but need to escorted beyond these hours.
The safari’s start around 0530 each day and you send around 3 hours out, the guide and tracker were first rate. We had Onyi (?) and Chris and they proved excellent at their job, very knowledgable and never seemed to tire of the endless questions.
On day one we saw three of the big 5 (as well as the secret 5 and ugly 5) and it had the slight feel of being as if the animals were there just for us. However, the following day we only saw one of them and then the sheer size of the reserve became apparent. The Land Rover we were in was comfortable and it never felt unsafe albeit you did get bounced around.
The proximity to the animals was great but again it never felt unsafe and the two guys looking after us appeared to read every situation perfectly.
I think everyone I met prior to the holiday had told me how cold it was, we went mid-early Jan and I wore a T-shirt even on the morning drives. The rest of the family had a hoodie or sweater but that was about it.
Coffee was served on the morning drive and drinks of your choice on the afternoon drive (1630-1930).
There is much more I could say, both about the wonderful wildlife we saw, the scenery and the guides but it would take too long. Suffice to say, with the different age groups in our party, no one wanted to miss the morning drive even if it did mean a 0450 morning call.
We were encouraged to visit the Kruger National Park and did so on an excursion courtesy of the Reserve for half a day. The conclusion of my family was that this was not worth doing, we didn’t see anything we couldn’t have seen on the Reserve, it was a very hot day and you aren’t allowed off-road. There was nothing wrong with the day, it just wasn’t for us when we had so much on our door step.
The food was excellent, staff thoughtful and considerate, we have extra challenges with regard to food fussiness and the lodge managed it all with aplomb. I tried food I have never eaten before, and it was plentiful as was the drink.
All in all, we loved the place, the people and the experience.
We would go back if we wanted to do another safari or just wanted a break somewhere different.
Fly or drive from Jo’berg to the Reserve, we would have to think about that nearer the time and factor in the costs.
I've always been a bit negative over safaris. An extremely expensive way of seeing animals that I've seen all before right? I mean, I've been lucky enough to have hand fed big cats in protection and breeding centres, visited the world's best zoos and had private warden tours in some great safari parks, getting up close and personal to all the big ones right?
Wrong. A safari has been on my wife's bucket list for a while now and when we had the right combination of availability on TripAdvisor dates and flight availability, we took the plunge and booked a break with 5 nights at Vuyani and 6 in and around Cape Town. An overnight flight to Joburg and a short internal to Hoedspruit where the Warthog family running around beside the plane as we taxied to the 'terminal building' was an early indicator. Isaac from Vuyani who collected us was great and keen for us to appreciate his country. We were a little confused with his pointing out the Marula trees on the roadside and explaining excitedly how the fruits of said tree created the famous Amarula liqueur and caused the baboons to get drunk and fight. We were significantly more impressed by the adult giraffe viewing us from beside the tree I mean hellooo? Bu***r the fruit tree, that's a WILD GIRAFFE right there!!!. Funny.
On arrival at the lodge early afternoon we were met by staff with drinks and refreshing towels. Luggage was swept away to our room whilst we were introduced to the lodge and how everything worked. Being told that we need to be accompanied to and from our lodge when it’s dark and being advised not to nod off alone on the lodge balcony was a reminder of the fact that the lodge is not fenced in. The week before a lioness had wandered through the camp and one afternoon our neighbours opened their curtains to see two elephants taking a drink out of their hot tub… We had numerous monkeys and a few impalas wander by and one particular Nyala regularly gave us a start by appearing right outside our front door.
I assumed that we wouldn’t go on every single of the 10 game drives available to us on our 5 night stay, I mean, you gotta lie in sometimes right? Again, wrong (well for us anyway), the fear of missing out on what each drive would bring was just too great. One couple we became friendly with and who had been with us on two very long trips out to a corner of the reserve to (unsuccessfully) see cheetahs baled one morning. Guess what we saw that morning? Yup, cheetahs, up close and personal and stalking a young zebra. The risk is too high of missing out on a highlight! So, up each morning at 4:45 (in fact 3:45 the day we visited Kruger!) was the routine for us.
So many, but… in the truck pottering down a jungle track with half a dozen or so lions right alongside for 20 minutes or so, then about 15m in front of us seeing an adult giraffe bursting out of the brush with two lions in hot pursuit, one leaping and taking a swipe at his hind quarters. Lasted all of 2 seconds but wow... as someone else said, Disney this ain’t… Me spotting an elephant in the brush, the truck stopping and over the next couple of minutes a sizeable herd coming wandering around us doing their thing, one adolescent male becoming a little curious and getting up close and personal with our spotter Mbilo on his perch at the front of the truck, the truck edging backwards to keep at least a little distance… baby rhino with his mum mooching about right next to us …. Sundowner G&T’s alongside a small lake with a family of Hippos larking about… The face of John our driver after eventually finding those elusive cheetahs, as well as the two lionesses and the truly huge adult male in the same morning drive the list goes on. And on. And on.
We did the Blyde River trip which was a peaceful and truly beautiful couple of hours, We couldn’t walk to the falls because they were closed, as the Australian edition of ‘I’m a Celebrity’ was filming there. We opted to do the full day at Kruger also and didn’t regret it at all. It’s a reeeeaaaallly long day, up at 3:45am and not back till after 7pm, but great to see things a little differently. Buffalo and leopard there for a start (completing our #Big 5’!) and seeing herds of maybe a hundred impala or 50 zebra and wildebeest alongside the roadway was great. Plus very cheeky baboons and a family of hyena right alongside us. Seeing a black mamba in a tree at our breakfast stop, an abundance of beautiful birdlife etc. Just a different take on things than in Moditlo (the reserve in which Vuyani sits) and well worth the day out.
Back to my original comment about having seen it all before at zoos and safari parks etc. I can’t really convey how different it is seeing the animals in the wild proper. They’re at home. Nobody is feeding them, they are existing as nature intended. Us in our truck are the ones ‘in the cage’ if you like and that makes more difference that I could ever have believed. The unspoilt way that a stay at Vuyani gives such special access to this experience cannot be undervalued.
I’ve had friends who have spent many times what we did on the safari experience. I can’t really see how it could be done any better that at Vuyani whose team not only bring you ‘into Africa’ they do it whilst accommodating you in style, feeding you extremely well and just generally looking after your every single need with huge friendliness and a ‘nothing is too much trouble’ attitude. When you’re there you feel like family. The small lodge size and the ‘family seating’ at meals mean you get to meet lots of people who are similarly enthusiastic about the experience. The competitive ‘you’ll never guess what we’ve just seen’ post-drive comparisons is fun too.
Anyway, a fragmented review and I could go on and on for ages but I won’t.
If you’re thinking about it just do it. I fail to see how anyone could be anything less than delighted with the Vuyani experience. This coupled with a few days in Cape Town (a popular combination it seems) gave us what we easily agree to have been our best holiday. Ever. And we travel quite a lot….
This small safari lodge provided an ideal venue to see lions, elephants, cheetahs, etc. The lodge was beautifully furnished, provided excellent food and was staffed by a myriad of smiling and efficient people. This was a high quality resort, but provided incredible value.
I would like to say thank you to you and your team for the most amazing holiday experience we have ever had, the lodge is first class and the service second to none, special thanks to Kelly, Izzy, Conclive, Kelvin, Stephen, Justine and Jannie, but all the staff were exceptional, the food was fantastic and we will definitely be returning, we shall also book this for our Son’s forthcoming honeymoon.
Thank You again
Lee & Michelle
We started our honeymoon at Vuyani at the beginning of January and we couldn't have asked for a better start.
We were taken away with the lodge - the food and service. We were made to feel so welcome from arrival and nothing was too much for any of the staff. The rooms were beautiful and immaculate, as were the grounds. We stayed in one of the honeymoon chalets with a plunge pool, which was just amazing!
The food is served family style which we loved. Breakfast was a particular highlight everyday, cooked to perfection! There was a delicious fresh lunch everyday and a wonderful selection for dinner, including a BBQ, which was really special!
We did two game drives a day and we were so lucky to be in a car with an amazing group of people led bu Chad and Aggy! The reserve is vast and stunning and the animals simply incredible. Aggy and Chad really know their stuff and every game drive was different and exciting and we managed to see a huge variety of wildlife, including two amazing drives with the male lion and elephants! Thank you both for everything!
I think the main thing with Vuyani is that it feels like home, we met amazing people who we hope will be friends for life and have so many amazing memories to cherish.
Thank you xx