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Reviewed 15 August 2018

We stayed 2 nights at the Makakatana Bay Lodge - a place with a very long history. They are uniquely positioned within the Wetlands because of that (there are no others !). The drive to the lodge is easy, and fun, and already offers a lot of wildlife and nature spotting opportunities. A welcome committee awaited us with refreshing towels and drinks, and our luggage quickly taken away. After some basic formalities we were given a tour of the Lodge by the lady of the house (Leigh-Ann), and taken to our rooms. So a very efficient and warm welcome. Our unit overlooked a broad open section towards the lake, and we saw quite some animals there. The lodge is not fenced off, so the wildlife does come onto the grounds - that just makes it more appealing, just don't leave any of the elevated decks at nights ! As we have come to expect and appreciate, the lodge is not big, making it much more personal and intimate. We arrived in time for lunch, at which point our ranger (JD) joined us and explained the program to us. He is quite a character, young, full of stories, amiable and last but not least very in touch with nature. We enjoyed the drives a lot, and especially, to learn more about this really unique area, that seems to have changed so much since the drought (no worries, it is still wet enough in places). The second day was even better, as they offer a boat tour on a part of the estuary that only they have access to, i.e. no other boats. The drive to and from the boat are through the reserve, i.e. always great. The boat itself is very safe and comfortable, skipper was (uncle) Warwick, a real gentleman, a true local, very knowledgeable, a great story teller and wonderful guide - he made a wonderful boat tour even better. The environment is stunningly beautiful and unspoiled, the hippo and crocodile viewing is breathtaking. Add to that the birdlife (we saw an African Fish Eagle make a catch close to the boat) and the day is complete. Drinking coffee and eating freshly baked cookies on deck whilst admiring a family of hippos onshore, fantastic experience. Following the boat tour, our ranger JD prepared us a wonderful lunch in the bush, complete with comfy chairs and sipping cold beer or wine. Nice ! During the evening drive we tracked a group (pack?) of spotted hyenas for quite a long time, great viewing. All four of us enjoyed the food as well. Breakfast was nice, a combination of buffet and orders taken at the table. Cookies and coffee in the early morning. Dinner was especially nice when served outside around a big fire. Staff are helpful and friendly. We did not try the swimming pool (too cold in winter) but the area around the pool is great; you can walk towards the lake area (not at night !!),knowing you are really smack in the middle of the "wild". Last but not least I was very pleasantly surprised by the very generous mini-bar policy - actually the best we had in the 8 lodges we visited this vacation. I mention this because I read some negative comments about that and I totally disagree. Maybe we booked under a different board option or something. I also appreciated the very reasonable pricing. I'm a big fan of the SA wines now !
Anyway, Makakatana is unique, and a bush/nature experience that is different from the typical game lodges because of the variety in biotopes offered by the Wetlands NP.
We really liked our stay, and would love to come back one day !

Date of stay: August 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Nitti M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leigh-Ann M, Owner at Makakatana Bay Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 19 August 2018

Oh wow!! What great comments! Thank you so much for taking the time to post your review. It is most appreciated and we do hope you return.

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Reviewed 14 July 2018

We loved our four nights at Makakatana Bay Lodge. Here are some of the things we liked best, followed by some tips that might be useful in planning a visit.

Above all, we enjoyed the peaceful, secluded atmosphere of this lovely boutique lodge. It would make a great honeymoon spot. We felt very pampered by the wonderful staff. The room was beautiful.

We loved the variety of activities offered. There were some traditional morning and evening game drives, but we also enjoyed a pontoon boat trip on Lake St. Lucia, a short tour of the town of St. Lucia, birding from a hide, an aerial boardwalk, and a trip to the beach. The boat trip was remarkable because we got such a good look at numerous hippos sunning themselves on the shore.

The beach trip made use of MBL’s private access road. The beach is public, but it is difficult to access if you don’t own a road concession. It was like having our own private beach; we saw no one else there. And what a beach! One of the best we’ve ever seen, it is miles long, very wide, and the soft, pale gold sand is perfect for walking. The surf was too rough for us to really swim, but it was exciting to take a dip in the Indian Ocean for the first time. We spent several hours on this gorgeous beach, and were sorry when it was time to leave.

We loved the food. Every morning, we were served a cold continental plate (cheese, fruit, yogurt, muesli, pastry, cold cuts), followed by a hot breakfast made to order. The house-made croissants were the best I’ve ever had. Excursions included a lovely picnic lunch buffet with our choice of beverages. Every afternoon, there was a different delicious cake for tea.

The dinner menu was posted on a chalkboard every day, so you could ask the chef about any concerns. (They also asked about diet issues when we checked in.) Before dinner, there was a casual cocktail gathering hosted by staff members. (Other than premium spirits, all beer, wine, and cocktails were complimentary during excursions, this happy hour, dinner, and from the room minibar.) Dinner every evening was at our private table in the firelit boma. The food was excellent! For example, one menu we particularly enjoyed was garlic wine mussels, chicken piccata with vegetable ragout & polenta, and wine poached pears in puff pastry. Delicious!

Game viewing was fun. There are no lions in the area, but we had several fantastic hyena sightings, including a long observation of cubs frolicking. There are elephants and at least one leopard, but we weren’t lucky enough to see them. The zebra and giraffe sightings were great; those animals were more relaxed here than at Kruger. And the birding was fantastic! Our ranger Henry was super knowledgeable and helpful.

A few FYIs if you plan to visit:
- The radio wifi is fine for checking email and web surfing, but don’t plan on streaming, downloading, or even loading picture-heavy pages.
- There is same-day laundry service. It is not included, but prices are reasonable (e.g. pants R20, t-shirt R15).
- In addition to the included excursions, there are many optional activities in the area which can be arranged by MBL. I will post a picture of the list.

Hope this helps! We really enjoyed our stay and would recommmend MBL very highly!

Date of stay: June 2018
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
2  Thank CoralReef
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leigh-Ann M, Owner at Makakatana Bay Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 18 July 2018

Thank you for your response and comments.

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Reviewed 12 July 2018

This was our final destination on a two week safari adventure. The lodge was lovely, the food plentiful and of good quality and the staff helpful, polite and eager to make our stay as wonderful as possible. Our guide, Shaun was a delight, knowledgable, enthusiastic and willing to go that extra mile to make our stay great. So why only an average overall score. It was the extras that we had to pay for... the two shots of Amarula on our first game drive, the gin on our second, everything screamed penny pinching and controlled. It did not feel like a luxury experience, given the cost of our stay, more that the owners were attempting to give as little as possible away with the price of the room, preferring to make more money on extras. The minibar provided in the lodge was pitiful and it just went on from there. Our picnic lunches were lovely but there was not much to them and it felt like this was dictated by management rather than the chef, one loaf of bread, limited choice of meats, salad and desert. We had just come from a lodge that yes was a little more expensive but where everything was included, bucks fizz at breakfast, cocktails with a wonderful 3 course lunch, any drinks in an evening including champagne and a mini bar with snacks to rival anything I have ever experienced before. The difference in price did not allow for the huge gap in what was offered by each lodge. Unfortunately, I would not recommend this lodge to other travellers, despite the Wetlands being amazing.

Date of stay: July 2018
Thank TeacherEngland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leigh-Ann M, Owner at Makakatana Bay Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 18 July 2018

Your comments are noted. Thank you.

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Reviewed 29 April 2018 via mobile

Honeymoon suite just lovely. Food very good ambience very good..staff friendly. Water safari was really good fun. Henry the ranger charming and we had a fun evening drive with him..sunset spectacular.

Date of stay: April 2018
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank MrsG431
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Makakatana L, Owner at Makakatana Bay Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 1 May 2018

Thanks for your comments.

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Reviewed 21 April 2018

Wonderful location - peaceful - very clean - great and friendly service - my son and I are coeliac and the cook really went her way to accomodate us - we stayed 3 nights one of the family rooms which was tastefully decorated - the lobby and lounge areas are great places to relax after the drives - the rangers were great as well - giving us a lot of information, we saw loads of hippos, hyenas, wilderbeasts, lots of birds, giraffes, zebras etc...really what we all liked the most about this lodge is that this is in the middle of the reserve with no fencing. It all felt very genuine and respectful of nature, away from the crowds. We felt priviledged like we had found a wonderful secret place (it’s the only lodge in the reserve), a wonderful retreat. The owner does not want to extend and does not want to fence and that’s the way it should be! It’s really worth staying 3-4 nights and we are all dreaming of going back!

Date of stay: April 2018
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel
1  Thank 487david123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Makakatana L, Owner at Makakatana Bay Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 22 April 2018

Thank you so much for your comments. We look forward to having you stay with us again in the future!

Kind regards,
Leigh-Ann

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