What People are saying
More game sightings please!!
U7017JLstevew on 04/11/2017 11:46
The Lodge was nice.
The only real issue we had was that we would have liked to have seen more animals ( after all that's the main reason we were there )
The other ranger/vehicle that was there as well always came back with stories of all the animals they had seen!!!
Wonderfull first time Safari
Mansionman1 on 01/11/2017 11:55
We stayed for three nights total. A completed the full 6 game drives. The welcome was warm and friendly. The staff courteous and helpful to a fault. The food is brilliant and the lodges are warm and well equipped. I particular enjoyed the outside showers. Animals frequent the lodges regularly and we spotted Elephants right outside our window early one morning. The game drives are excellent. Our guide Johnno was brilliant, knowledgeable and friendly. The staff tended to our every need, and ample food and drink from start to finish. Top tip. Warm jackets required for early morning game drives. if I had one criticism it would be that the bed in our lodge was not very comfortable. However that was a small thing. After a busy trip across the garden route this was the perfect relaxing finish. Highly recommended and well worth a visit. Close driving distance to PE.
What a wonderful setting.
scotbrit1 on 24/10/2017 10:03
We occupied a more formal lodge rather than the canvas offering. It is beautifully appointed and set in the bush with wild life all around. We experienced four safari trips both early morning and mid-afternoon and saw almost everything on offer with the exception of the lions. They had probably made a kill and were sleeping it off away from prying eyes. The central dining, lounge and pool facilities are very comfortable with breakfast, snacks and dinners all of excellent quality. The scenery in the reserve is wonderfull as it includes open grassland, an escarpment, a river and lots of bush. Be prepared to wrap up for the safaris as the open top land cruisers are very draughty.
Simply a wonderful place to stay
Neil T on 22/10/2017 20:12
I must confess at the outset to a bias on this review! That said, it won’t really change what I write. It’ll just mean there are even more complementary comments.
The bias is due to the fact that the Amakhala Reserve will forever be the place where I proposed to my girlfriend and Bukela Lodge is the place we were staying at the time, and the staff there helped me hatch the surprise and make it happen. She said yes by the way (thankfully).
We stayed for 3 nights and made sure we got there to fit in the afternoon game drive on the day of check in, which meant we got 6 drives in total. It’s an open lodge, which means animals can freely wander in. We saw a bushbuck, some monkeys and saw the pictures some other guests took of a late night elephant visitor. It very thoughtfully stepped over the raised boardwalks, spreading it’s weight by kneeling and stepping over rather than simply treading on them and breaking them.
We stayed in one of the suites (as opposed the tents), which was huge. We had a very large king bed, a separate lounge area, a real fire in the centre of it, toilet, jacuzzi bath and both an indoor and outdoor shower. The room has tea and coffee facilities, a stocked mini bar, a safe and plenty of wardrobe space. There’s also an outdoor veranda where you can sit and admire the world. We watched some monkeys catching termites one day but sadly didn’t get the company of an elephant, which did regularly visit the lodge and had created a nice space for itself right outside our suite. If I have one criticism, it’s that the fire wasn’t lit for us when we arrived, which made the room a bit cold, but I am reaching here. Once lit and left to burn for a bit the room heated up nicely. It’s worth noting that the ceiling is a thatched style so the heat rises up quite quickly and whilst it’s beautifully atmospheric, it doesn’t contain the heat that well. That said, the room style and it’s contents are all entirely in-keeping with the lodge and its setting. And, whilst this is 5 star in terms of lodge style hotels, don’t expect the same as you’d get in a 5 star in Dubai or other places as you won’t get that here but that’s not what it’s about, and nor should it be in our opinion.
The food was plentiful and really nice. There’s a light snack plus tea and coffee before the game drives (5.30 AM in our case) with a full breakfast after the drive (around 9.30). There’s no lunch as such but there is a high tea around 3.30 before the afternoon game drive leaves at 4. A full 4 course dinner is then from 7.30 onwards. All protea wines (which were all really good) and spirits are included in the price so you will end each day very well fed and absolutely hammered on wine should you choose to. We avoided the latter as late night drinking, a 5.00 AM wake up followed by 3 hours bumping around in a 4x4 vehicle are not that compatible for us. If you do that then the time after breakfast and before the afternoon game drive is entirely at your leisure.
We only had one all out sunny day when we stayed so we didn’t test the pool. There’s also a large tent structure near the main building, which overlooks a large watering hole. Whilst we didn’t see anything from there we did see an elephant wander up to it and start drinking one day but we did that from our 4x4 rather than the lodge itself.
The reality is, visiting a game reserve is not about where you stay, it’s about the safari experience and we weren’t let down there at all. Our ranger was Wonga, and he did his job superbly finding us 4 of the big 5 (the leopard was missing but no one has seen it for 18 months so our expectation was non-existent on that one), plus giraffe, zebras, cheetah, jackals and numerous types of antelope. The good thing about Amakhala is it’s big enough to not really cover the same ground multiple times but small enough to cover nearly all of it and, as with other reserves, the rangers from numerous lodges keep in touch on radios sharing sightings of the animals (except for the rhino as they’re the biggest target for poachers) so there is a good chance of seeing pretty much all the things you’d hope for. Still, it’s nature so there are no guarantees.
Even without the animals, the scenery is spectacular but it is sometimes a little odd to be able to hear and see the N2 highway running alongside the reserve. It just serves as a reminder that we’ve encroached on the animals’ territory and not the other way round. The eastern cape was once one of the richest areas in terms of wildlife diversity and quantity and it was only the non-stop hunting that led to the endangerment of so many wonderful creatures. That’s why reserves like Amakhala spend a lot of time and effort on conservation, and they have to be applauded for that.
If you choose to arrange them, there other activities you can do - night drives, walking safaris etc. Bukela kindly organised an early departure for our afternoon safari on the day of my planned proposal so we had our high tea on a little boat on the Bushman River, followed by our normal game drive. It was my partner’s birthday that day so the 4 other guests that also benefited from the gift from the management team to her just took it as a nice birthday treat, not realising what was to come later. A birthday cake had also been made for my partner, and she loved the surprise and the thought that went in to it. She thought I’d planned it all but I have to give thanks and credit to the team at Bukela who came up with the suggestions. I’d simply told them about the birthday and the planned proposal and they did everything else.
I was entirely reliant upon Wonga to pick a good spot for the proposal, which was to coincide with a the break for a leg stretch and refreshment midway through the evening game drive. He assured me he knew the place and he wasn’t wrong. It’s called God’s Eye view, which sits on the ridge overlooking the vast plain and the river below. Question asked and answer given (plus tears from my new fiancée and the 2 other female guests) we toasted the occasion with a bottle of champagne that’d been packed for the occasion. Once we’d all gathered our collective breaths (and drunk as much champagne as we could between the 6 of us - Wonga declined as he was driving) we headed back to the lodge pausing for some time to watch the 5 Cheetahs do nothing but laying and finding a place to spend the night. We didn’t care as we’d seen them trying to hunt down some antelope the previous day. Besides, we had other things on our mind at that point.
We can’t recommend Bukela highly enough. The experience and location are amazing but it was the staff that made it for us. They were all so friendly and helpful and truly went the extra mile for me and what I wanted to do whilst staying. It might take a few years but, we will go back.
Lost for words
ButlersKD on 06/10/2017 09:23
We stayed 4 nights at Bukela for our wedding anniversary and loved every minute of it. We had never experienced a safari so had no idea what to expect. All the staff were so welcoming and could not do enough for you with lots of lovely, thoughtful touches. The food was superb but watch the wine ...... they are not shy filling your glass with the most fabulous South African wines but just remember the 5 am start !!!
Game drives lasted about 3 hours, morning and evening in the most beautiful landscape (it is colder than you think due to wind chill at this time of year so wrap up for the drives!). On day 1 we saw a rhino with a week old baby and cheetah with her 4 cubs and so it went on !!! We saw everything in the game reserve except the leopard (Which I believe you would be very fortunate to view). It was the most incredible experience and our game ranger, Johno was just brilliant. What he did not know about the game reserve was not worth knowing. Thank you so much for the most fabulous 4 days and keep up the good work Bukela !!