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“Highlight of our month-long trip!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Elephant Plains Game Lodge

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Elephant Plains Game Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Healdsburg, CA
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Highlight of our month-long trip!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 May 2012

Just back from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Stayed at Elephant Plains 3 nights at the start of our trip--left wishing we'd stayed one more night. Our game drives were outstanding and our driver Morne Fouche was knowledgeable and intent on
having us see as many species as possible. Derrick, the tracker sat in an elevated seat watching for animal tracks and directed Morne which way to go. Because Elephant Plains is not a national park the drivers are not restricted to the roads. They can drive off road through the bush. That's how you get up close to the animals. We ended up with a page long list of animals including all of the big five. Drivers constantly communicated back and forth so vehicles could go to spots where animal activity was happening. On our first game drive we watched a leopard devouring an impala it dragged up in a tree. Hyaenas were gathering at the base of the tree. We were less than ten feet away!

We stayed at two other game camps in Botswana on our trip but Elephant Plains was the best when it comes to seeing game in the wild. Setting, food, accommodations were lovely
but seeing so many animals was the highlight.

Elephant Plains is a small lodge with a wonderful vibe. Typical day: Coffee/biscuits and in game vehicle at 5:30 a.m. Three hour game drive starting in the dark. You stop just after sunrise for coffee/biscuits and then continue the drive. Back to the lodge for a lovely breakfast. You could take a bush walk with the ranger if your wish -- we did this one morning for about an hour. Swim, relax till lunch around two. Late afternoon/evening game drive started at 4:30 and ended in the dark but included a stop to watch the sun go down and enjoy a sundowner. We were there during the first week of April. Hot days, cool nights, no rain -- it was autumn there! We cannot say enough good things about Elephant Plains. Thank you to our eagle-eyed tracker, Derrick, and ranger/driver Morne who provided all kinds of interesting information about the animals.

Room Tip: Elephant Plains lodging is in Rondavels which are "African cottages" -- it is a lovely, qu...
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank BabetteHealdsburg_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (179)
Date | Rating
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English first
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
19 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 May 2012

Nothing short of perfect! They have thought of everything and anticipated every comfort. The rooms are very well appointed and the entire lodge is designed with relaxation in mind. The bar is well stocked and the lounge area is full of big comfy couches, tons of reading materials and places to have cozy chats. The food is excellent, extremely well prepared and fresh. Three-course dinners are served outdoors around a roaring fire and are followed up with marsmellow roasts. My husband and I are gluten-free and we never had an issue with anythign they prepared for us. The Trackers and Rangers are personable and work hard to make sure that you get the most out of the game drives. I (quite litterally) can't find one thing to criticize about Elephant Plains. Absolutely worth every single penny.

Room Tip: All of the rooms are amazing. Only thing is, we had a sitting room and a very large bathroom. We had...
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Molly4747
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this review, 21 May 2012
Thank you very much for your very kind feedback! We are glad that you enjoyed your stay with us. It is always so nice to read that guests enjoyed their stay at EP. If you are ever in the vicinity again, please do come and visit us. Regards, Marlet Swart
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Salem, Oregon
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 May 2012

Elephant Plains was a great choice in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The staff at the lodge took care of everything and the attention to detail was amazing. The lodge overlooks an open field that has tons of grazing animals to view from the decks and some of the rooms. Open areas are somewhat rare for game reserves near Kruger as the terrain is very bushy and thick. I will point out that the head masseuse was equally amazing and I probably had the best back massage in my life. The massage room also overlooks the field, so it's an incredible place to relax and take in the scenery.

As for the game drives, this was somewhat disappointing. Our ranger (Richard) did not seem too enthusiastic or aggressive when looking for the big 5 and came off lazy. We lingered at many watering holes looking at impala and cape buffalo for way too long. Though the initial dialogue was informative, we would sit there for 10+ minutes in silence, nobody talking and nobody taking pictures. I would understand if there were camera's going off non-stop, but all the guests in the vehicle were just waiting to get moving. Most of the passengers have already been on 5+ game drives already, so we didn't really need to see anymore giraffes or zebras. Even after bringing this up, and mentioning that we were more interested in moving along to see other animals, the sense of urgency was just not there. There was little communication with other vehicles from what I could tell and we also were always the first vehicle to return to the lodge, often just circling the area near the lodge waiting to return (it is easy to get a bearing on the lodge since the lodge is next to a very tall cell tower). When we did encounter excitement, it felt like he was in a hurry to move on and in a direction to have morning coffee or a sundowner. On a couple occasions, when there were opportunities to see the action of a leopard or wild dogs, we would head in the opposite direction of other vehicles. I understand that other vehicles need to also get to see the actions, but it felt as if it was being avoided. There was little to no tracking of animals and the only time they got out of the vehicle was during the breaks. Overall, I wish we had a different ranger that was more in tune with what the guests in the vehicle was looking for.

If this is your first stop at a game reserve, then this may be a good way to ease into seeing animals, but after a few days at other reserves near Kruger, you will want a more "gung-ho" ranger to see the action.

Sorry for going on and on about this, but I feel like it's worth mentioning. Otherwise, the facilities are great. Food was really good and the staff like Mohamed and Remember were excellent.

Room Tip: Family Rondavel is great if you have kids but a bit further than other rooms.
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Joseph M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this review, 21 May 2012
Thank you for your feedback! We always value any and all feedback as this helps us to better our product for future customers. It seems like you really enjoyed the lodge, surroundings, our Spa as well as the food. You did, however, have a problem with the game drives and Richard, one of our rangers. As he is on leave at the moment, I haven't been able to talk to him about this, but be sure that he will be called in before the end of the week so that we can also hear his side of the story and take it from there. I can honeslty say that it is the first complaint of this nature that I've received about Richard in the four years that he has worked here. He has a genuine passion for the bush and the animals and whenever he goes on leave, you will always find him on some adventure being surrounded by nature. He has a laid back approach, definitely not aggressive, but working at Elephant Plains, there is no way that he can be lazy as that would not be tolerated here. We encourage our guides to have a "no rush" approach to game drives and they are not allowed to rush from one "Big 5" sighting to the next, ignoring all the other magnificent animals the bush has to offer. Most guests usually enjoy taking in the scenery and surrounding nature in a peaceful, quiet manner, without the continuous rambling of information. That is why our guides would give initial information through and then also leave the guests with some quiet time to reflect on the info and enjoy the sighting unhurriedly. For the most part we feel that there should never be anything urgent about finding animals in the bush - our guests are on holiday and most of them, I feel, would be annoyed if they were rushed and urgently hurried from one sighting to the next. I am sure that if you did ask Richard to move on, he would have definitely obliged. I am uncertain how you would be able to determine how much communication took place over the radio - we use earphones so as not to disturb guests with constant radio chatter - and Richard would obviously hear everything that was going on, but only talk when he was reporting or responding to a sighting. The same goes for your statement that he deliberately headed in an opposite direction from leopards and wild dog action. Again, because guests can not hear the radio, I am unsure of how you knew about these sightings and also that he was deliberately avoiding them. The only possible explanation for one of our guides not going to a specific sighting like this, would be that it is taking place on a property where we have no traversing rights. If you had requested to change guides and vehicles, we would have been happy to oblige. It is always easier to sort out a problem while guests are still at the lodge, rather than afterwards. For your next safari, it might not be a bad idea to consider the option of renting a Private Vehicle. In this way you would ensure that you and your family have the vehicle and guide for yourselves, and therefore you would be able to control your game drive in a manner not possible when other guests are with you on the same game drive. Please be assured of our best intentions at all times. I am sorry if you were disappointed with your ranger. We would have loved to be able to change rangers for you, if we had known about it sooner. If you have any other queries please feel free to contact me directly at marlet@elephantplains.co.za Regards, Marlet Swart
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Northampton
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 May 2012

My review is very late as we visited back in September 2009 but we had such an amazing time that I had to finally get round to it!!
We stayed in the one of the luxury suites as it was our honeymoon and boy were they luxurious!! I still have to pinch myself at just how perfect and amazing Elephant Plains was. We stayed for 3 nights and just had the best time. We had Richard as our Ranger and Clement as our Tracker and they did a grand job of finding us many game on each drive. The only thing I was a little sad about was that we didn't get lucky enough to see lions but that to me is just an excuse to come back again when our daughter is a bit older!
I had a couple of treatments in the spa and both were great. I can remember having a massage and being able to see out of the window and see baboons and elephants! Literally the stuff that dreams are made of! Magnificent!

  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Lauren-on-tour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this review, 21 May 2012
Thank you so much for your very kind feedback on Tripadvisor. Better late than never, as they say! We are delighted that you enjoyed your honeymoon at EP. Please do visit us again one day - maybe even for an anniversary!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Redlands, California
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 April 2012

Just returned from a memorable stay at Elephant Plains. Wonderful, helpful, personable, welcoming staff. Small enough so you get to know everyone. Beautiful grounds and rooms. Good food and vegetarian meals available. Flew into Hoedspruit and EP arranged transfers - everything went smoothly (arranged thru My Gr8 Safaris), driver was waiting and we were first out of the airport. Arrived to EP in time for lunch and the afternoon game drive. Our ranger (Richard) and tracker (Clement) were an excellent team - were able to see the Big 5 in 2 nights. I can definitely see the benefits of staying in Sabi Sand - we were only able to see the leopard and lions because we went off road. On the last night, Richard showed us the stars. It was a perfectly clear night and I've never seen more stars! There's internet available on the computer in the lobby. Small gift shop. Bar. Spa. Gym. Can send mail or exchange money at the front desk.

Pros: Terrific staff. Great food. Relaxing spa. Beautiful room - clean, comfortable, views of the animals. Quiet and peaceful. Lovely lodge with lots of character and special touches.

Con: Having to leave.

Truly a memorable stay. Thank you Elephant Plains! A friend recommended EP and I highly recommend others to stay at EP as well.

Room Tip: Luxury suites have private decks (without outdoor shower) overlooking the riverbed. Stayed in the B...
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Mobertoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EP2, Owner at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this review, 1 May 2012
Thank you for your kind feedback. It sounds like you had a lovely time. I am glad that you enjoyed the star gazing experiene! Please tell all your friends about us and do come and visit if you ever return to SA again! Marlet Swart
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Elephant Plains Game Lodge

Property: Elephant Plains Game Lodge
Address: Kruger National Park 1380, South Africa
Region: South Africa > Kruger National Park > Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 42 Speciality Lodging in Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Price range (per night): $662 - $1,051
Hotel Class:4 star — Elephant Plains Game Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Elephant Plains Game Lodge is situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. This owner-run lodge caters for the discerning traveller, with a variety of accommodation options including 5 Rondavels, 6 Luxury Suites and a Honeymoon Suite. Activities include two daily game drives and a bush walk. The lodge also offers a spa, gym, conference facility / TV room, games room, small library and two swimming pools. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Elephant Plains Game Hotel Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Elephant Plains Game Nelspruit

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