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Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

Midlands
Level Contributor
9 posts
42 reviews
Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

Can any experts out there help with this query? We are trying to decide between Dulini and Exeter River. We are a couple, 40s/50s, been on a couple of safaris before, like luxury, prefer not to be around kids, and like having no more than 6 in a vehicle. Also like being beside water and having great views from the room. Do you have any thoughts as to which lodge is better?

Other lodges we have loved include Kings Pool in Botswana and Chitwa Chitwa in Sabi.

Gold Coast...
Level Contributor
5,593 posts
35 reviews
1. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

Hi there

Well we are no experts but have our third trip to KNP and Sabi Sand [Dulini} coming up soon, so hopefully can help a bit.

Have a look at our review for more detail on Dulini but I can tell you that we chose it for the same reasons that you have mentioned. We are a couple the same age as yourselves. like an occassional splurge on a bit of luxury but do not like over the top ostentatious style. On our two trips to Dulini there have been no children although they are allowed. Each room is a standalone lodge [apartment size] with a king size bed which I think can be made into 2 but there is no third bed so children would need a separate room. Not ideally set up for children unless they are older, plus small tots are generally not allowed on game drives.

Next and very important is the number of people in the vehicle, Dulini has max 6, whereas many others have 8+. we did not want to risk having a third person in the row with us. This would completely spoil the experience, not getting a full view of sightings, affecting the ability to take photos etc. Plus it is great fun having the whole seat to yourselves. I must say though I think they usually try to keep numbers to 8 meaning 4 rows of 2. You would only get 3 across if there is more then 8 in the vehicle, possibly at busy times.

When are you going ? from our room at Dulini there was a dry riverbed which had water in it on our first visit but not the second, so the first time we had heaps of animals around. Not a great water view but that did not worry us, you still overlook the bush, plus we saw enough on our game drives to keep us happy. Animals do wander through the camp and you have a guard to escort you to your room, there has been lions and elephants but usually just antelope and warthogs. Last time it was hot and we either spent our down time in the plunge pool or napping ! So you can see why we chose Dulini over Exeter River but apart from that they are both wonderful. The rangers are also fantastic, the manouvering our ranger did last time so that we witnessed a kill was amazing.

Have also stayed at Rattrays Mala Mala which was amazing, 4 to a vehicle and no children allowed under 16.

Next time we are also spending time in Timbavati which I see you are considering, have picked Kings Camp there, it gets great write ups plus we have booked the vehicle with max six people again..lol Will be doing 2 weeks KNp, and 4 days each Dulini and Kings Camp, got an excellent deal with Dulini, off peak rates, 4 nights for 3, plus discount for being a return customer.

Please do not hesitate to ask anything, as you can see we are hooked on the place.

Gold Coast...
Level Contributor
5,593 posts
35 reviews
2. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

Sorry just a correction to my last post.

I should have said 3 rows of 3 in the vehicles at some lodges, not four rows of 2. The vehicles at Exeter lodges only have 3 rows of seats so if there are more than 6 or 7 guests you would have 3 people across. Dulini has maximum of 6.

Hope that clarifies.

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Level Contributor
9,634 posts
65 reviews
3. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

If the 6 guests per vehicle is a must, then Dulini is your choice. When Exeter River is not full, then you wouldn't have more than 6 guests in the vehicle there, either. Same at Leadwood. If proximity to water is a must, then it's Exeter River. As for children, both lodges allow them - but there are no extra beds or cots for them.

Dave Patterson - Owner - The Africa Safari

Midlands
Level Contributor
9 posts
42 reviews
4. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

Thanks very much for your help, I think we are pretty much won over to Dulini, esp as the other camp we are going to on safari is Phinda Zuka so we have water (albeit only a waterhole) in front of that, so we get our water fix, and then we are finishing at Twsalu.

By the way, the Sandmans, sounds like you are into the same thing as us, you must must must try Birkenhead in Hermanus. Amazing.

Thanks.

Donna

Gold Coast...
Level Contributor
5,593 posts
35 reviews
5. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

Hi Donna,

I am sure you will be happy at Dulini, everything about the place is wonderful. I see you like the &Beyond lodges, it seems you can't go wrong with any of them, apparently Phinda is fantastic also.

Funny thing I do remember looking at Birkenhead when we were planning our first trip to SA, but we ended up staying in another gorgeous lodge in nearby De Kelders [Bwanadave above is a semi regular resident there].

Twsalu looks incredible, hope we will hear how you enjoy it. Kalahari is still on our wish list.

Vicki

SOUTH AFRICA
Level Contributor
2,603 posts
6 reviews
6. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

I wish we could give you the 2 lodges in combination! Exeter River has the great views of the river, but unfortunately they do allocate more than 6 guests per game viewing vehicle. Chances of encountering families with children are also bigger at River Lodge, so once again Dulini would be better for you.

Tanya * owner * Africa Direct

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Level Contributor
9,634 posts
65 reviews
7. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

I actually have guests who ARE splitting their 4 nights between the 2 camps for the reasons Tanya mentions about the river at Exeter.

EU
Level Contributor
28 posts
85 reviews
8. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

We have splitted our holiday between River Lodge and Duline after having seen this thread. We have came across a lot of people who were also in doubt.

There are a lot of similarities and also several differences between the two camps.

There are 6 lodges in Dulini, compared to 8 in River Lodge. In both camps there are two vehicles. In Dulini you will therefore pretty much always have a maximum of 6 people in the vehicle (two per row), while this can be a larger number in River Lodge.

Dulini feels like every lodge itself is located right in the bushes. Niala (impala's) are almost always present in the camp. At night also other animals (apart from elephants) will cross the camp. From the lodges at Dulini you can see a river, which was pretty much dried up at the moment we were there. River Lodge feels more like you are on a platform, overlooking the (big) river. Although animals (including lions etcetera) walk through the camp, you get less of the feeling you are in the middle of the bush. The first day we sas >35 elephants from our lodge, later on we saw a hippo and 2 giraffes.

The atmosphere is also different. In Dulini it is more personnal and warmer, although this is relative and the staff in River Lodge was also great. The difference lies in small things: when we arrived at Dulini we were welcomed by loads of staff, which gives this extra something.

The guides and trackers we had in both camps (Steve and Jack/Isaac and William) were very experienced, service minded and knowledgeable. The butlers we had (Reply/Christopher) were also great and very interested in all our stories (which they must have heard a lot of times).

If you are a birdy, we can certainly advise to arrange a private vehicle with William at River Lodge to get the maximum out or your stay and to prevent any annoyance with non birdy's (the great majority of the people - who come to see the big 5).

The lodge in Dulini was twice the size a the lodge in River Lodge. However, both had a bath, a plunge pool, a sitting area etcetera. The Dulini lodge appeared more 19th century colony era, River Lodge oozed the vibe of a modern lodge trying to replicate that atmosphere.

It is really hard to advise on or the other, and really depends on your preferences. It was very nice to have the opportunity to experience both.

Both lodges are not cheap, but bear in mind that you will get two game drives a day, three great meals (a two course breakfast, three course lunch and three course diner/bush diner/festive diner), open (mini)bar, snacks all the time, with top notch guides and rangers (who had lengthy courses from And Beyond and are selected on both their knowledge and soft skills), by a non-profit company that is very thoughtfull and respectfull about their impact on the wildlife, perfect service, very nice places to stay. Furthermore And Beyond invests a lot of money in housing and schools from local people. The rangers/guides have continously contact with the other rangers/guides in the area to ensure you get to see what you want. We saw the big 5 (white not black rhino though) within 24 hours and saw so much activity.

We booked our trip (including return flight) through Wildlife Africa Safaris (Ernest was our contact) who gave us a good deal, was very patient (despite our indecisiveness and enourmous amount of questions) and gave us so much information on these two lodges. We would definitely recommend him.

Edited: 06 December 2012, 12:34
9. Re: Exeter River Lodge or Dulini?

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