About Pondoro Game Lodge
Pondoro Game Lodge is an owner Managed Lodge which has been operating as a commercial lodge for the past 14 years. The lodge consists of eight chalets catering for only 16 people, which offers the privacy and exclusivity of a real African bush experience.
Pondoro is set on the banks of the Olifants River inside the 40,000 ha Balule Nature Reserve, which is situated inside the greater Kruger National Park. There are no fences between Balule Nature Reserve and the Kruger National Park, which means all the animals can move freely between Balule and the Kruger National Park. Balule is a Big 5 game reserve.
Pondoro has three architecturally designed luxury chalets overlooking the Olifants River. Each chalet has been beautifully decorated with an African theme. All chalets have en-suite bathrooms (with a bath and shower overlooking the river), air-conditioning, mosquito nets and a wooden deck.
At Pondoro you are invited to indulge in the ultimate luxury when selecting anyone of our five luxury suites during your stay. All our suites are air-conditioned and architecturally designed offering modern comforts in an ancient setting. Each suite is provided with a private wooden deck, lounge area and an outside shower for those who are adventurous at heart.
Meals are an extraordinary culinary experience where Traditional African Cuisine fuse effortlessly with modern European trends. To compliment the food wine can be selected from our extensive wine cellar. Vegetarians are specially catered for. All meals are served on a wooden deck high up in the tree canopy overlooking the Olifants River.
Pondoro Game Lodge is situated in Balule Private Nature reserve inside the greater Kruger National Park. Regular Big 5 sightings (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard) are encountered during game drives. A reintroduction of African wild dogs has also been done in the Pondoro traversing area. Morning and evening game drives are done in open game drive vehicles. All guides have more than 5 years experience. Pondoro has rights to traverse on more than 9,000 ha that includes a network of more than 350 km of bush roads.
All game drive vehicles are four wheel drive and this means that the Big 5 can be followed off road into the bush to get a closer view if necessary. Pondoro vehicles are in radio contact with two other lodges and close cooperation ensure good game viewing. The vehicles in the traversing area are restricted to six to ensure that the bush ambience is never lost.
Pondoro is one of the few private lodges in South Africa situated on a perennial river (Olifants River). Because of this, hippos and crocodiles are regularly seen during bushwalks with an armed guide. Three bush hides overlooking waterholes can also be visited.
The lodge is situated near Hoedspruit and is easily accessible by car and in close proximity of Phalaborwa, Hoedspruit (Eastgate) and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. We provide transfers to and from the airports.
Awards and Nominations
Pondoro was voted as one of five finalists in the category “Luxury Game Lodges” in the prestigious World Luxury Hotel Awards in 2008 and again in 2009. It was voted as the Most Romantic Luxury Hotel in South Africa in 2010 and as the Best Luxury Lodge in South Africa in 2011 and 2012. The World Luxury Hotel Awards are the world’s most prestigious awards exclusive to the luxury hotel industry & recognize the best facilities and service excellence the industry has to offer. The World Luxury Hotel Awards utilise a panel of 50 leading tour operators and travel industry consultants. They receive constant feedback from guests that have stayed at the hotels at any given time. Voting is cast by these travel industry role players once a year. The Awards judging criteria is based upon facilities and service excellence provided by hotels.
Pondoro has also been nominated for a Good Safari Guide Award in the following categories:
• Best Safari Property, South Africa
• Best Lodge Guiding Team
• Best Safari Cuisine
• Travellers’ Choice category
In 2011 it was a finalist in the category:
• Best Safari Spa
Nominations are accepted only from experienced African travel specialists (operators, agents, travel journalists). Shortlists in each award category are then produced purely from numbers of votes. A judges' panel of highly respected independent operators score the shortlists in April and these scores produce the winners.
Pondoro has also won a Diners Club PLATINUM award for its wine list in 2009 and 2011 which is highly regarded for two decades now by both the restaurant and wine industries.
Pondoro was awarded a National Award by South Africa's Wine List Awards 2012, powered by food 24, as having South Africa's Best Medium Sized Wine List. This is South Africa's first independent wine list awards and the very best restaurants in South Africa competed for the honours.