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Viva Safaris/Tremisana Lodge -- Conflicting Feedback

atlanta
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11 posts
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Viva Safaris/Tremisana Lodge -- Conflicting Feedback

My friend and I are about to book a four day safari with Viva, staying at Tremisana Lodge. From what we've read, it seems just about perfect for our needs, and just about every reviewer who has actually used Viva or stayed at Tremisana has positive things to say. However, the feedback from the local experts on this forum, as well as some South African acquaintances, is mostly discouraging. Is it only an issue of the location (a bit far from the Kruger gate) and the fact that it is not a luxurious place? If so, we are fine with that. We just want to have a good chance to see lots of game and other flora/fauna. Does anyone have any specific reasons why Viva and/or Tremisana are not a good deal, for those of us who don't want to go it on our own and don't want to spend $1,000/day?

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Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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65 reviews
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1. Re: Viva Safaris/Tremisana Lodge -- Conflicting Feedback

For $1,000 total per person, it looks pretty decent to me. The transportation from Johannesburg and back would eat up some $$ if you did it yourself. But it might be worth checking. 5 day car rental - JNB airport and back - should run about $300USD plus the cost of gasoline (petrol) about another $80 - $100. That leaves you almost $1700 for a 3-night safari. You'd be better off spending those 3 nights at Elephant Plains in the Sabi Sand reserve, if a Rondavel was available for your dates.

http://www.elephantplains.co.za

Dave Patterson - Owner - The Africa Safari

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Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Greater Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg Intl Airport
Johannesburg Intl Airport
Johannesburg, South Africa
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Kruger National Park, South Africa
2. Re: Viva Safaris/Tremisana Lodge -- Conflicting Feedback

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Removed on: 04 February 2011, 22:35
Norwich, United...
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3. Re: Viva Safaris/Tremisana Lodge -- Conflicting Feedback

I have just returned from a two week trip. The first week was spent at Tremisana Lodge. This was my second trip to the Kruger area. The first time, I travelled with family and we hired a car and stayed in the Kruger Park itself at the rest camps. I chose Tremisana (Viva) this time because I didn't want to drive on my own and didn't want to fork out he big bucks on sabi sand.. The cost was £580 for 5 nights and included pick up from Joburg and drop off at Joburg on the last day..

The itinery this time was:

9th pick up 9.30 and drive to Tremisana. sunset drive in Balule (uneventful). About Balule: Balule used to be a hunting concession therefore the animals are quite skittish. It does not appear to be particularly game-rich, as I expected given the cost. They do not off-road but drive along the dirt tracks. There are very few vehicles (the most we saw was one other). Leopard is seen, but rarely (I did not see any). Elephants pass through the area approx every 2 to 3 weeks. I did not see any in Balule. Animals can roam into Balule from Kruger.

10th early morning game walk in Balule we found two 4-5 week old lion cubs before starting our walk. We did not see any game on our walk at all but had the usual explanations of bush signs, use of plants, trees and appreciation of the smaller insects etc). On the way back we found the lions including mum and the two cubs in dense scrub.

Afternoon sunset drive in Tshokudu nature reserve. This reserve is down the road from Balule. They have some rehabilitated animals. Including 3 cheetahs that roam the lodge grounds. Which you can pet. Then it's off for a sunset game drive to see wild animals. Highlights were several sad looking white rhinos with their horns removed to protect them from poachers, a male lion who roared in front of our car and a small spotted genet.

11th left Tremisana lodge after breakfast drive to Kruger via the Orpen gate arriving around 9.30 am. By 09.30 you have missed the best part of the morning so the time is spent watching the eles, giraffe, zebbies, buffalo etc. Lunch is at Satara and this gives the guide time to get the latest gen on where to find lions. We spent some time watching them in the early part of the afternoon and also had sightings of rare sable antelope. Then made our way back out along the orpen road. We were incredibly lucky to see wild dogs just as the light was fading on our way out! I have been to africa 3 times previously including Kenya, Botswana and Kruger and had not seen dogs before. We were at the gate just in time for closing. A wonderful day!

12th was as 11th but we did not race for the gate- we were out by 17.30 (sadly). Highlight was lions.

13th Cheekily got an addtional early morning game drive in Balule (they do a short one hour drive for departing guests) it was fairly uneventful, we saw Jackals but nothing else of note.. Then after breakfast had another trip into Kruger. Same sort of game as on the 12th, including lions again.

14th short 1 hour game drive, which was uneventful then drive back via the 3 rondavells lookout point. Overnight at the Life Hotel OR Tambo (excluded).

The staff were very friendly and the lodge was very nice and comfortable though not as fancy as Elephant plains. They have a very small waterhole which is overlooked by the Lapa in which Breakfast is served. The food is tasty and dining is more informal than at ele plains. The staff are lovely and friendly and it is possible to choose to spend a day in Kruger instead of e.g. going to the rehabilitation centre if so desired. Thee are some nice sunbirds that frequent the lodge and a troupe of vervet monkeys provide entertainment while having breakfast.

The vehicles they used are all safari trucks but the expereince vried. One particular truck had a canvas window at the front, which was not that good for game viewing. others were more open. The number of people per vehicle also vaired and I didn't like the fact that they crammed in 10 people into one vehicle for a day trip into Kruger (icluding one passenger in the front passenger side). Other days were much better, sometimes I had a row to myself.

Last year I spent one night at Elephant Plains- that was £170 PPPN not including the cost of getting there. But there is a much greater chance of seeing leopard than at Tremisana. We saw two there. I did not get leopard this trip. But I didn't expect to. I was overjoyed to get the dogs. I was also surprised we saw lions in Balule, Tshokudu and every day in Kruger. Last year we spent a lot longer in Kruger and visited more different areas. We saw 4 leopards in total (2 in Kruger and 2 at EP), and hyenas several times (saw none this time). Both times I had mutliple lion sightings and the rest of the big 5 (rhino, eles, buffalo). I didn't see wild cheetahs on either trip. I didn't see sable or genets on the previous trip. So i think for a budget trip I did well.

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Hoedspruit...
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4. Re: Viva Safaris/Tremisana Lodge -- Conflicting Feedback

We often outsorce our game-drives to Tremisana (as we are in the same game-reserve). Accommodation is worth the money, only negative is that this lodge is located close to the main Hoedspruit-Phalaborwa road.

Otherwise, Tremisana also do bushwalks (yesterday guests of us walked along the Olifants river), and full day Kruger safaris. You will be transported to Orpen and from there on an game-vehicle.

Price you cannot compare with the more expensive lodges, as you often pay at least 3 or 4 times more.

Regards from the bush,

Corné.

-Owner/manager Amukela Game Lodge-

-Balule Nature Reserve Greater Kruger Park-

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Hoedspruit
Hoedspruit
Limpopo Province, South Africa
Phalaborwa
Phalaborwa
Limpopo Province, South Africa
Thornybush Game Lodge
Thornybush Game Lodge
411 Reviews
Thornybush Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Balule Nature Reserve
Balule Nature Reserve
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Norwich, United...
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11 posts
5 reviews
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5. Re: Viva Safaris/Tremisana Lodge -- Conflicting Feedback

I'd agree that the road noise does hinder the feeling of being "in the bush". When I mention uneventful, this means for me I didn't see any of the big 5 or any interesting predators/smaller rarer mammals.

One night they put on a wonderful evening of entertainment by a bunch of traditional shongaan dancers, and everyone got the chance to participate (whether or not they wanted to!). Many people only stay one night before moving to the treehouse. I met a lot of people who had been in cape town for a space conference and who were just out for a basic safari experience.

Pretty seemed surprised that I wanted to visit Kruger every day.

One other thing, Viva provide you with a little leaflet in which they recommend that you tip each guide/driver around R50 for service, and then you also have all the wonderful lodge staff. this works out at around £4.50 per activity. As a single traveller and as they have so many drivers I really felt very awkward with that as I couldn't really afford to tip everyone. So I only tipped a couple of the guides when I had either had an exceptional drive (the dogs for example) or who had dome more than one activity. I noticed that a lot of the europeans didn't tip at all.

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6. Re: Viva Safaris/Tremisana Lodge -- Conflicting Feedback

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Removed on: 28 October 2012, 16:28