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Elephant Plains Game Lodge
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Reviewed 5 January 2013

We stayed at Elephant plains for 3 days and what an incredible time we had there. Right from the first welcome the staff were incredibly helpful and professional with a real sense that they went beyond expectations to ensure we enjoyed ourselves. It was my first safari experience and my husbands 2nd, our thoughts were as follows

1) Game driving - we saw the big 5 within 3 drives and really good quality viewings, we even saw a leopard with cubs, wild dogs and a herd of elephants in the watering hole having a great time. Our ranger Willie and tracker Connie were excellent, they was very knowledgeable about all the animals we saw and went out of his way to get us to good positions for sightings whilst remaining unobtrusive to the animals, We were particularly impressed with some driving skills he showed whilst getting us to the leopard with her cubs! The area did seem quite densely packed and there was a lot of off roading to get to sightings, this added to our enjoyment.

2) The accomodation - Our Rondavel was lovely, really spacious and clean, we arrived to rose petals on the bed - it was out honeymoon and they continued to go beyond the normal by running us a bath with petals and a bottle of fizz as a surprise which was such a lovely touch.

3) The food - We loved the food, in particular the breakfast served on the deck near the swimming pool with monkeys in the tree canopy above! The evening meals alternate between buffet and plated, all delicious, considering location and how difficult obtaining food must be a really wide selection and gave a sense of traditional african food which we liked.

4) The staff - Excellent, they were all without fail incredibly friendly and attentive, we used the spa facilities which were lovely particularly with the view from the open window, don't think i've had a massage in such a beautiful setting.

In short, we were delighted with our stay and couldn't recommend here strongly enough, we will definitely be coming back!

Room Tip: We had room 5 I think which was one of the rondavel, it had the best view as our deck was directly opened onto the plains.
  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank ElleC80
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 reviewResponded 16 January 2013

Thank you for your very kind and thorough feedback. We are glad that you enjoyed your honeymoon with us! Please do visit again in the future! Regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed 4 January 2013

Everything is perfect: location, staff, food, Game-drives, animals sighting,...an absolute must if you're planning to visit the Krüger Park! Even the small fitness room is not superfluous since the game-drives in the morning and in the afternoon last 3 hours each!

  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank rerob69
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 reviewResponded 16 January 2013

Thank you for your kind feedback and for choosing EP as your safari destination. We are glad that you enjoyed your stay with us. Please do visit again! Regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed 3 January 2013

My experience at the elephant plains lodge was incredible! My husband and went to south africa on our honey in march 2012 and the safari was one of the top things to do on our list. We spent hours short listing resorts but we could not make up our mind. We were scared and a little bit hesitant as we had never been or experienced such an adventure. But luckily we chose elephant plains and lets just say we made an incredible decision.

We drove about 8hours from jo'burg to sabi sand game reserve and when it started getting dark the staff at elephant plains kept calling us to check up on us. Once we arrived the resort was beautiful, cosy and very personalised. It was a world of its own. Our room was spacious, clean and well equipped. The bed was covered with roses and and net(as it was our honeymoon). The main area had a reception, dining room, a small pool where you could order drinks and have your meals. Every morning before the game drive we were served tea/coffee, followed by a good breakfast, a bush walk and then some rest time. A game drive took place in the afternoon too and lasted about 2-3hrs. We were lucky to spot the big 5.

On our departure we had to leave early morning as we had a flight to catch..the staff at elephant plains was so courteous that they packed up breakfast for us. A special thanks to loius our driver for being so careful and friendly!! Thank you for an awesome adventure of a lifetime. With love, all the way from Pakistan!!

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Mehreen 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 reviewResponded 16 January 2013

Thank you so much for your kind review. We are delighted that you enjoyed your stay with us. Please do come and visit again one day - maybe for an anniversary! Regards, Marlet Swart

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Reviewed 1 January 2013

The high rating at this lodge is well earned and it is a highly recommended lodge for anyone who is looking for a quality experience in the Kruger Park / Sabi Sands area. I agree with and echo all the comments in the review from previous reviewers, and would like to add on a few details below:-

1. Game drive: As repeated by many people already, the animals you get to see at this lodge is incredible. We were able to see all of the Big 5 during our 2 day trip. The entire game drive experience was incredible. The rangers knew how to track animals and the different vehicles of the lodge use radio to radio sightings to each other. The two big highlights for us were to see hyenas eating an impala in the night, and elephants fighting with each other and even coming up onto the game drive vehicles as well (the rangers were very professional and knew exactly how to react). There was also an occasion where we were surrounded by at least a herd of 12+ elephants… incredible! You can never get something like this driving by yourself in Kruger National Park. Finally, the rangers and staff are super friendly – they get to know you well and would make the effort to find an animal you haven’t yet seen or would like to see. Blankets and bottled water are provided during the game drives and each game drive has a break where you stop and stretch for tea/coffee and snacks.

2. Value: Elephant Plains was priced at R2,070 incl taxes per night, which is about $250. While it may look steep at first, the value you get was great (although you have to pre-pay for everything before you arrive). The rooms are clean, large, and well decorated. All 3 meals are included, and 2 game-drive snacks, and so are general beverages such as tea and coffee. Also included is 2 game-drives (one in early morning and one in afternoon/evening) which lasts around 3+ hours each, as well as a bush-walk in the wild. Alcohol, beer and soft drinks are not included, but are priced very reasonably. The experience and thrill you get from seeing the animals in the wild is priceless – and I think the price point is just right. Anything higher priced such as those at more premium lodges may be a bit much. Overall, the price point is worth it and definitely we are glad we did not do our own trip in Kruger at SANparks.

3. Room: Me and my high school friend (in our mid 20s) were able to get two single beds (or twin beds) as requested. The room is large and well appointed – almost like 5 star hotels – but in rondavels! Rooms appear to be cleaned by staff at least twice a day and there is also turn-down service as well which was great after a day out in the wild. The air conditioner worked very well for us. There was a mosquito mesh in the room but not one mosquito was to be heard or found! We did not take malaria tablets as it is known the risk is low, but we still used mosquito repellent. There is also a fridge in the room which you can store your own drinks, or have the lodge fill it in for you with drinks you would like to order.

4. Laundry: I had the opportunity to use the laundry service and it is incredible value. One laundry load (no matter the amount of clothes, as long as it fits in the laundry basket in the room) is about R120 or $15, which is excellent value. If you are travelling from abroad, my recommendation is to schedule your trip to Elephant Plains in the middle of your journey as opposed to the start, so that any necessary laundry can be done before you move on (all travellers know how difficult and expensive laundry can be!).

5. Spa: I also had the opportunity to make use of the Spa services and again it was incredible value – the rates are lower than what you would find abroad. The massage services provided are in a tranquil environment and you definitely will be able to relax here. The room has an incredible view of the field behind the lodge and during my massage session there was an elephant grazing in the far field – highly tranquil. The spa doesn’t seem to be busy at all, but is very professional and highly recommended if you plan to go to Elephant Plains.

6. Areas of improvement (all very minor).
A) Internet was lacking – no wi-fi facilities and they charge you to use the computer in the office. With internet prices coming down in South Africa, hopefully this will change soon. Having said that, there was so much going on during the day and night that we never found the need to use the internet, except to check-in online for our next trip. Note that MTN had good cellphone + data coverage in the lodge area and we were able to use our own blackberry to surf the web, check emails and do the majority of our errands in our room.

B) No TV in the room that we were in, but again, we never got bored, didn’t have time for TV, and thus TV was not required.

C) There is a library facility which was very nice as it had great views. But unfortunately no internet access in the library. Perhaps the computer can be moved to the library? Or a small router added for wifi? Again, we found this not to be a big loss, but we are young travellers in our mid 20s and we do love our internet!

D) I believe a better map can be designed instead of a non-scaled map, as we got a little anxious/concerned along the way (after Acornhoek) and even stopped by the traffic police to double check and confirm directions. Hopefully someone with good graphic skills in the lodge can design a better driving map to the lodge!

Overall, Elephant Plains is a high quality and well polished experience – and is a high recommend. I sincerely hope to be able to return again in the near future.

Room Tip: If travelling with a friend, you can ask for two twin beds
  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled with friends
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    • Sleep Quality
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6  Thank coolioblob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EP2, Manager at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 2 January 2013

Good day.
Wow! i was so glad to read your feedback. We can clearly see, that you had a fantastic stay with us at Elephant Plains. The way you laid down all the imformation is fantastic. I do hope that one day you will retern to our lodge. keep well, and thanks for your brilliant feedback. i will pass it on to our staff.
Kind regards Wayne Dovey

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Reviewed 22 December 2012

With so many safari options in the Greater Kruger Area it can get intimidating to make the right decision - with Elephant Plains you can't go wrong!

If you are considering Elephant Plains to see the Big Five - you are almost 100% guaranteed to see them within a 2 days stay, and so much more... This is one of the few safari lodges that can almost guarantee leopard sightings, so this alone makes it worth comming here.

We stayed here during our honeymoon, our expectations were very high and were easily met..

We very much enjoyed out stay here. We stayed in the Honeymoon Suite and it was just amazing, so was the staff and the game drives. It kind of feels weird to break up the experience into a review, but after that much research I have made to find the right lodge and paying almost an average German month's salary for a 3 days stay, I wished someone had done it for us.

The Amazing things:

Leopard sightings - really, I have been on safari a couple of times before, but never saw them. Here you get incredibly close to them. WOW!

The Manyeleti Honeymoon Suite - If you are on a honeymoon, and even when you are not, this room is worth the extra cost. Huge private veranda with private plunge pool overlooking a plain where game passes by every now and then.

The Great things:

Staff - very welcoming and cordial. The minute you step in, they will make the upmost to make this a stay of a life time. The level of professionalism is high, without feeling stuffy.

Game drives - as said before you are almost guaranteed to see all the Big Five in 2 days. The rangers and the trackers do everything to satisfy the guests' wishes. In summer this can be quite challenging, because Elephant Plains lies in a dense bush area, not a savanna type of area like in the Masai Mara, Chobe or other parts of Kruger. Still the game drives are very productive.

Spa - Very good experience, well worth it after a morning game drive this was a very nice variety.

The Good:

Food - saw a lot of comments about the food in Elephant Plains. How should I put it... We really enjoyed the meals here. The food was good, but if you are a serious foodie or a gourmet restaurant regular, you might want to look somewhere else. No colonial candle light dinners with flown in Norwegian salmon with French Champgne, but rather buffet style meals of a higher than average hotel standard. That said, there are lodges that do gourmet dining - and, to be frank, this adds a lot to the whole experience. I feel that Elephant plains misses a chance here for that little extra wow experience. The boma dining was nice, but somehow it misses that wow-factor that makes the difference. The food is surely good enough to gain some pounds and we were certainly not disappointed!

The game area:

The concession area within Sabi Sand that Elephant Plains owns is rather small, but they do have traversing rights to other areas, so it is okay. Still, you feel, that the area they cover is not that big. You will see a lot of game, but I found that they miss a river or a natural waterhole. There is a man made waterhole with hippos and other game passing by on their compound, but nothing like the Sabi or Olifant river inside Kruger. If you have nothing to compare it with, it is still amazing. Also, having transvering rights is a double-edged sword. Often we had up to three vehicles (but never more) at sightings. This doesn't make the sightings not worthwhile, but takes away a certain degree of exclusivity, but certainly nothing like in Kenya where you have half a dozen vehicle blocking a male lion's path.

You will see a lot of animals and get very, very close to them, which makes the experience at Elephant Plains unique and breathtaking. However, the area is very densely grown bush field which makes the sightings difficult in summer, but the rangers and trackers do a good job. After driving through Kruger National Park from Orpen to Kruger Gate ( We hereby courteously thank Richard, our ranger for this tip) we realized how diverse the area is (dense bush veld, savanna, dried and wet rivers, mountains and hills etc.), and that the Elephant Plains concession area is somewhat monotonous. I know this an unfair comparison, since it is a 5000 acre concession vs. a national park the size of Israel, but this something to take into consideration. Having said that, they make the absolute maximum from their concession!

One last thing about the game area. The way there is an adventure in its own right. The northern part of Sabi Sand is kind of hard to reach, you need to drive over a public gravel road, which is in a so-so condition. You can certainly do it with a small car, but you need to keep your eyes on the track and watch out for stones and potholes. We drove over a stone and lost a hub cap, consequently after 100 km we had puncture. I am not saying it is Elephant Plains fault, just drive carefully.

Conclusion:

No two ways about it, you will pay a lot of money for the privilege to stay in Sabi Sand. Is Sabi Sand worth it?

Yes, because there is no other area where your chance to see leopards is higher.

Is Elephant Plains worth it?

Without a doubt!

They make the absolute maximum of their potentialities. The value is amazing in Sabi Sand terms, the honeymoon suite is stupendous, the staff is cordially professional and the game drive are stunning. It is very close to perfect. However, with a maximum of 24 guests it is not as intimate as some other lodges, but way off of being crowded. The lodge is very comfortable, but not the most luxurious out there. The same is true for the food, it is good, but not the best in the industry.

In essence, if your emphasis is on a highly comfortable and rewarding safari experience without breaking the bank, Elephant Plains it is!

2 last tips

First, try to go in the South African winter, weather is drier, cooler and animal sightings are better.

Second, in retrospective I would recommend 2-3 days in Elephant Plains, and 2-3 days self drive after EP in KNP. Different scenery, different experience, both very worth while.

Room Tip: Any room with a view to the dry river bank would be amazing. The Honeymoon Suite is Gorgeous.
  • Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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9  Thank Dudel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
EP2, Manager at Elephant Plains Game Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 2 January 2013

Good day
I trust that you are back home and safe. I am glad to see that you enjoyed your stay with us at Elephant Plains. As always, we appreciate every bit of feedback we get, in trying to make guests stay a comfortable one. The food that we serve at lodge is traditional South African food, people come to Afdrica, to view the African wildlife, and try out the local cosine. we have tryed in the past to move away from it though, the result was, people want traditional food. So, we do try our best to please everyone, as much as we can. we do appreciate your feedback. Thanks again for staying at Elephant Plains. Hope to see you again soon. Kind regards Wayne Dovey

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