First of all, I am surprised there are only 2 reviews (prior to mine) written about this place. Either the property is new, or people are getting it confused with lodges of a similar name within Kruger National Park. For clarification, Boulders Safari Lodge is on a private reserve OUTSIDE of Kruger - southeast of the Malelane gate. If I understood correctly, it used to be a private game reserve used for hunting, but has since been converted to a tourist reserve. That being said, the animals are still ingrained to fear vehicles and people it seems. For, as we were driving in, we stumbled upon some wildebeest and warthogs who panicked and ran like crazy to get away. It is actually interesting to see, as animals in Kruger National Park (which is a completely wild area and not a private game reserve) don’t think twice about the multitude of vehicles passing through on a daily basis (and those are animals that are arguably more wild than those born within a private reserve).
Anyway, my dad and I stayed at the Boulders Safari Lodge for one night (on the second night of our 3-day/2-night tour package booked through Nhongo Safaris (separate review)). Our Nhongo guides had never stayed at Boulders before, so it was a new adventure for all of us. After passing the wildlife on the road to the parking lot outside of the accommodations area, we were greeted with signs making sure we knew wild animals lived on the (unfenced) property. After disembarking from our vehicles, the 8 of us (2 guides and 6 guests) made our way along the path to the dining area where there was a person to give us a hot towel at the start of the path, and another one to pick it up on a tray at the end of the path. We were then given welcome drinks (some kind of fruit juice I think? - not sure what kind of drink it was exactly), some release forms to sign (a mere formality I’m sure), and keys to our rooms. If I read correctly, there are only 26 rooms total on the property, so it was quite intimate. Furthermore, we were one of only two groups who had booked rooms for the evening. So it was almost as if we had the place to ourselves.
The dining/reception area where we received our drinks/forms was open to the outside and included a bar, dining area (with buffet station), outdoor seating for drinks, a small reception desk, and a loft up above (which I didn’t explore, but was told had couches and a TV). On our way to our rooms we followed a path that took us past a large, outdoor fire pit, some picnic areas, and a pool (very small, but nice looking). We then crossed a bridge over a ravine area which led to the various rooms.
The standard rooms included a patio with a sliding glass door to the inside. Nicely decorated, thatched-roof accommodations with two twin beds, nightstands on each side, a toilet, sink, shower, and small coffee station. A very nice touch was that the towels were folded into various animals on each bed (we had elephants, others had swans). One thing I will say though is that, while the toilet area had a door that could be closed off, the shower was right in the room (with no hooks or benches for a changing area inside of it). So if you are traveling with people you don’t want to be naked in front of, they will have to either turn away or go into the closed off toilet area for a little bit. lol!
Once we set our stuff down and got settled, I started to read through the release forms that we had to sign before dinner. Now, if you read any of my other South Africa reviews on TripAdvisor, you will know by now that I am deathly afraid of deadly snakes and creepy crawlies. So it definitely didn’t go over well when the release form made sure to inform all guests that there were snakes and scorpions all over the property - as well as wild animals since the rooms were not fenced off. Now, I’m sure they just have to put all of that stuff in there because, well, it’s nature. Technically, snakes could be anywhere. But it definitely didn’t calm my nerves, and I proceeded to check the whole entire room (and between the bedsheets) with a flashlight. I didn’t find anything except a gecko on the wall close to the ceiling (which, while I didn’t like it being in there, I was ultimately ok with because a) it wasn’t poisonous and b) it eats the bugs).
Shortly before dinner (7pm), we started to head back to the dining area (make sure you have a flashlight)! Upon turning in our forms at reception, I asked the girl at the desk for more details about the “wild animals” on the property. She said they included things like wildebeest and buffalo and the like - not predators (sigh of relief). However, she then went on to say that there was rumor that a leopard was seen on the property as well (relief gone). I asked how true that rumor was, and she then admitted to me that she herself had seen it. I started to have terrible visions of me walking back to my room at night after dinner and being pounced on by a leopard, but she reminded me that the private reserve property was huge, and that the actual accommodations only took up a small part of it. But, she did reiterate that there were snakes everywhere on the property. I, again paranoid, asked about the possibility of them being in the room, and she informed me that she had a boomslang (tree snake) on her bookshelf just a few days prior. I went white I’m sure, but she said that, as long as we kept our doors and windows closed, we would be fine. And, that said, once again not a single snake, spider, or scorpion was seen (by me) either in the room or on the property itself. It really was a nice place, I just feel the need to include my fears for anybody else who might possibly have paranoia problems like me - because I lived! lol!
Our group of 8 all sat down at a long, set table together for dinner. Dinner was a buffet which included salad, soup, bread, rice, vegetables, (beef I think?), and chicken. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the dinner. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t as good as I was expecting compared to the upscale feel and service of the rest of the place. A South African dessert (a type of cake?) was included at the end as well. The bar was open the whole time if drinks wanted to be ordered, and coffee/tea was free.
After dinner, we all retired to our rooms for the night (again, make sure you have a flashlight for the walk back). We were told that breakfast would be bright and early at 5am. I don’t know how breakfast times are set at this place, but I am pretty sure it was only that early for us because the staff assumed we would want to get going early to start our morning game drive in Kruger when the gates opened (which we did). Again, breakfast wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be, but it was a lot better than dinner (to me at least - but I enjoy breakfast food more anyway). It included eggs, tomatoes, bacon, and homemade bread. I will first say that the bread is awesome. I also enjoyed the bacon quite a bit. The scrambled eggs were pretty runny, but I still ate them all and they weren’t that bad. Again, coffee/tea/juice was included. After breakfast we packed up and left shortly before 6am (as it was the last day of our safari).
As a side note (for those who care), I never noticed a wifi signal my phone, so I am assume this property does not have wifi (though I didn't actually ask). Also, my room at least, didn't have any outlets near the bed, so I plugged my phone in (SA outlet) near the coffee maker (across the room from the bed). Finally, there are plenty of phone numbers under the animal warning in the lodge booklet in the room in case you want to report something or just need something else during your stay, but there is no phone in the room. So if you don't have a working cell phone with you, you will have to walk to the main building/reception area to take care of any needs during your stay. None of this applied to us during our stay, but I just wanted to keep everyone informed.
Overall I would say this was a very upscale place, though still very much “outdoors.” And, compared to the place we stayed the night before (Pretoriuskop), a huge step up. Now, the only reason I don’t give it 5 stars (which I am sure it probably deserves compared to several other accommodations in and around Kruger), is because I have to save 5 star reviews for places that completely blow me away. And maybe my creepy crawly paranoia took away from this place being able to do so (you have to understand, I am not super outdoorsy, and also come from a place with not many creepy crawlies and NOTHING that can kill you). And I suppose if nothing was poisonous/venomous/deadly, I would have no concerns and would have enjoyed my stay a lot more. But again, keep in mind that I did not see ANYTHING harmful - not just at Boulders Safari Lodge - but throughout my whole South African trip. Chances are, you won’t either, but the reality of the situation is that you are in their home - not the other way around. So maybe it is unfair of me to let my own issues affect my score of this lodge, but again, I can only compare it to other experiences (and 5 star reviews) that I have had/(made). Also, it’s nice that this lodge is on its own private game reserve, but I enjoyed the thrill of actually staying inside of Kruger National Park - not outside of it (which I know seems hypocritical, but it’s true). So, long story short, if you don’t mind staying outside of the park and want something more upscale (but to still have a nature experience), then you really can’t go wrong with Boulders Safari Lodge. Every staff member was friendly and helpful, and it definitely seems as if they want to make sure your stay is as enjoyable as possible.
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