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Reviewed 20 April 2016

After coming across an online discounted deal, we were thrilled to be visiting Welgevonden Private Game Reserve for the first time. Shibula's setting is one of the prettiest I have ever seen, with magnificent views from the main dining deck of a rocky outcrop and far-stretching bushveld. The buildings are old but still exude a sense of charm and still feel rightly in step with their location. Our room was well appointed with a giant, comfy bed, in-room coffee station and mini bar (although I felt that the selection of drinks and snacks could be stepped up slightly). The star of the room was the bathroom though. An ample space incorporating a giant tub, indoor shower as well as a beautiful outdoor shower. Who does not love an outdoor shower?!? Again, the furnishings and equipment looked well worn in but nothing a revamp can't fix. Meals were delicious and portions generous but do not expect fine dining or gourmet offerings. This is not necessarily a bad thing though. Instead you will be served what I can describe as "hearty" and "home-tasting" meals. Think soul-soothing pastas and satisfyingly warm puddings. There was a steak offering on the second evening which was also very good. Dinner that night was made extra special thanks to the staff setting up a private dining experience on our room's deck. The reserve itself is by far one of the prettiest I have seen with diverse landscapes. I am always hesitant when commenting on game viewing. Whilst we saw a number of species the mantra of the animal sightings should never be forgotten: "right place, right time". Our guide was superb and highly knowledgeable of all living things - not just the big and scaries. Shibula's greatest asset though is its staff. Everyone was engaging, helpful and just lovely! To sum it up: Shibula does its best with what it has. That's the sense I got from our stay. Some of the structures, furnishings etc. are tired, but they make it work. Do not go in expecting a high-end, super-posh lodge though because that is not what you will get. You will however find a home you never thought you had.

  • Stayed: January 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Barry K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 February 2016 via mobile

Visited this place in January 2014. It was really nice and beautiful. The staff was amazing! The food was good and the service was terrific! This safari location was spot on. Our guide new everything about every animal, even the bugs. We saw everything from a dung beetle to elephants.

Stayed: March 2015, travelled with family
1  Thank Linnea K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Shibula L, General Manager at Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 30 March 2016

Dear Linnea K

Thank you for your kind words and compliments, it is always wonderful to hear that guests have thoroughly enjoyed their stay.

Hope to see you soon!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2016 via mobile

We stayed at Shibula after purchasing a fabulous discounted deal online and visited the Welgevonden Game Reserve for the first time. After having experienced a number of game lodges, our Shibula stay was a mixed experience. Our experience of the game drives and the game reserve itself was outstanding, but the lodge itself was pretty average.

We were very grateful for Shibula's accommodation of our need to change our booking dates and they were super kind to provide us with a room that had an outdoor jacuzzi. The lodge manager, ranger and waiting staff were also very friendly. Our room and bathroom was luxurious and beautiful and well-equipped with anything we might need. We thoroughly enjoyed our rest and relax time in our room. The downside of our experience was the general ambiance at the main lodge and the quality of the food. The main lodge is completely desserted when guests are not having their meals there and it feels empty and abandoned. It doesn't feel inviting or entice you to stay and relax on the patio. There is a small pool for use but we didn't get to use it. The food options are quite basic and a little hit-and-miss. For example, lunch consisted of a hearty chicken schnitzel and salad, then followed by a horrible gelatine-moulded strawberry yoghurt which they called a strawberry pannacotta. The evening dessert was a cup of chopped orange melon, which was drowned in a mass of a sticky brown substance which was meant to be a caramel sauce. We couldn't eat more than a spoonful. The second night included kudu which we were advised to eat medium rare but arrived well done and unchewable. The rusks offered with early morning coffee and again on the game drive was tasteless and not pleasant to eat. Shibula is most certainly not serving up a standard of food to match it's accommodation or game drives. We weren't expecting fine dining, and were disappointed that even simple meals were not cooked well. Breakfasts were however pretty standard and we enjoyed them.

Having recently visited a national game park in Kwa-Zulu Natal, it was nice to compare the two and to have experienced a completely different climate and terrain. Whilst the game viewing at Welgevonden is not prolific, the game reserve is one of the most beautiful we have experienced. The many water pools and the river that runs through it makes it an incredibly peaceful and romantic place to visit. The terrain changes as you visit different areas of the park and if you're happy to take it all in and not be disappointed by not seeing the Big 5, then you're in for a treat.

Stayed: January 2016, travelled as a couple
2  Thank MeerkatV
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 February 2016

What a great place! Most friendly Staff - great service ! rangers are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. We learnt so much about the bush and outdoors. Felt very safe even though chalets are not fenced. Great getaway!

Room Tip: Choose a room with a jacuzzi or private pool
  • Stayed: February 2016, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Hurwi1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 January 2016

My wife (a South African) and I stayed recently. We had high expectations, especially as my wife had heard great things from professionals (lawyers) who had stayed there in the past. We just stayed 3 days in another lodge in the same preserve, Nedile. So we had a lot to compare. Nedile was up to date, food, drives, service, excellent. Shibula was disappointing. The food was fair, the rooms are dated, and the game driver was horrible and dangerous. The service, the staff were great, doing their best with what they had. For a holiday period it was surprising that they were running out of drinks on site. Our choice of something to drink kept diminishing as they ran out. There are too many other game lodges to ever think about staying here again.

  • Stayed: December 2015, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank Bruce G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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