Our Rating
6.8
Overall

Tembe Elephant Lodge

South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Tembe Elephant Park

from R 1599 pp/night sharing

*Rates shown apply to South African residents only - discounted rates for overseas residents available on request.

Save
26%
Our Rating
6.8
Overall

Tembe Elephant Lodge

South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Tembe Elephant Park

from R 1599 pp/night sharing

*Rates shown apply to South African residents only - discounted rates for overseas residents available on request.

Save
26%
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Our Verdict

See the biggest elephants in the world (and the rest of the Big 5 too) at this simple tented lodge offering the warmest hospitality – and at great prices too!

Our Ratings

6.8
Overall
6.0
Luxury & style
6.0
Setting
8.0
Game Viewing
6.0
Romance

Our Ratings

6.8
Overall
6.0
Luxury & style
6.0
Setting
8.0
Game Viewing
6.0
Romance

What's Hot

  • Fancy seeing the biggest elephants in the world? Then look no further than Tembe, home to some legendary “Super Tuskers” over the years! But that’s not all you’ll see here, with the rest of the Big Five also present in the reserve
  • Wonderfully and genuinely warm service from the staff at the lodge who welcome guests to their “home” (the Tembe tribe part-owns the lodge) Overseas visitors frequently remark that Tembe provides the best hospitality in their travels around South Africa!
  • The newly re-furbished tents are simple but very spacious and attractively presented. The highlights have to be the massive outdoor showers which in turn lead through to your own dedicated massage sala set under the trees of the sand forest!
  • Truly excellent value for money – Tembe has the lowest price of any full service private lodge in a Big Five reserve in South Africa
  • Free transfers are provided down to the nearby waterhole at Mahlasela Pan (site of one of the popular Africam live streaming cameras) where you can see a near constant stream of ellies and other game coming down to drink


What's Not

  • No air-con in the tents, which could be an issue in the heat of the mid-summer months if you’re sensitive to high temperatures (although during the day you can always go and chill out in the lodge’s swimming pool)
  • Obviously doesn’t have the luxury or designer style of other lodges – then again you’re paying a fraction of the price
  • Pity that the lodge doesn’t enjoy any great views over a riverbed or waterhole for instance

Tembe Elephant Lodge

Tembe Elephant Lodgerecalling the atmosphere of old-time colonial safari camps, the canvas of the tented suites is attractively offset by dark hardwood cupboards and wicker furniture - for us the highlight has to be the outside showers off the back of the tents which in turn lead to your very own massage sala set discreetly under the trees

Lodge Profile

See the biggest elephants in the world (and the rest of the Big 5 too) at this simple tented lodge offering the warmest hospitality – and at great prices too!

Quick Overview

Location
Tembe Elephant Park
Drive Time
6-7 hours from Johannesburg 4 hours from Durban
Malaria
Yes - low risk area
Setting
Rooms
13 tented suites (6 tusker suites, 6 family suites & 1 tembe suite)
Aircon
No
Pool
Yes
Spa
In-room massages
Camp Fenced
Tracker
Off Road
Child Policy

THE ELEPHANTS OF TEMBE

The 30 000 hectare Tembe Elephant Park which lies in the far north of Zululand bordering Mozambique is perhaps one of the least known reserves in South Africa – we’d go so far as to say it’s one of the country’s best kept wildlife secrets which deserves far more attention! Visitors speak in awe of the close-up sightings of the reserve’s large population of elephants which are reputed to be the largest in the world – both in terms of tusk size as well as the sheer bulk of their massive frames. The reserve has boasted many “Super Tuskers” over the years which has seen individual bulls like the massive Isolo (who died of old age back in 2015) become celebrities in their own right.

PRIVILEGED VISITORS

There is just 1 lodge in this public reserve – the Tembe Safari Lodge – other than lodge guests, a limit of just 10 public vehicles are allowed into the reserve daily, which means that the lodge effectively has the scenic expanses of the reserve pretty much to itself. As you travel the sandy roads of the reserve it is noticeable how relaxed the elephants are to the presence of the game vehicles, walking past literally within touching distance on many occasions.

But whilst spotting elephant and buffalo is basically guaranteed, there’s a host of other game to be spotted with lion sightings also very common as well as a host of different antelope species (interestingly cheetah and hyena are the only notable absentees as they don’t enjoy the sandy soils) This is also home to some of the best birding in the country with over 340 species spotted here with the summer migrants a huge drawcard for twitchers.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

The guides’ knowledge of these animals – and their love and passion for the land – is immediately obvious which comes as no surprise as Tembe is their home. As the only community-owned full-service game lodge inside a proclaimed game reserve, Tembe is partly-owned and fully managed by the Tembe tribe. The guides and trackers who take you around the park grew up here and their enthusiasm is infectious and their knowledge comprehensive.

WATERHOLE HIDE ACTION

Whilst the game drives are hugely enjoyable, the good news is that during the day you can enjoy even more great game viewing by taking advantage of the lodge’s complimentary transfers down to the nearby hide at the very active waterhole at the Mahlasela Pan (well known as the site of one of the cameras on the live-streaming Africam website) Here, apart from the stream of ellies coming down to drink and bathe in the water, you’re also likely to see a host of other species including waterbuck, impala, giraffe and the ever-present nyala (the most populous species in the park)

SPACIOUS TENTED ACCOMMODATION

As far as the lodge itself is concerned, the 13 tented suites are located in a sand forest setting fairly close to the main gate of the reserve. Tembe offers 3 choices of tented accommodation and whilst they’re certainly not on the luxurious side of the spectrum like those found at other (much more expensive) tented lodges, they are all very spacious and comfortable (and unusually they all offer at 2 beds and a range of set-ups) For the single-child families out there, the 6 Tusker one-bedroom Suites are a suitable option, with one bedroom containing 2 ¾ beds and space to add an extra bed for a child. If you’re looking for something more spacious the 4 larger Family Suites are perfect for that little bit extra breathing room and with 2 queen size beds and the option of 2 extra single beds they’re great for larger families.

OUTSIDE SHOWER & YOUR OWN MASSAGE SALA

As you would expect at the very reasonable price (Tembe prides itself as being the lowest priced full service private lodge in a Big 5 reserve in South Africa) the tents are fairly simple but actually pretty attractive after they received a recent refurbishment. Recalling the atmosphere of old-time colonial safari camps, the canvas of the tented suites is attractively offset by dark hardwood cupboards and wicker furniture. For us the highlight has to be the outside showers off the back of the tents which in turn lead to your very own massage sala set discreetly under the trees where you can enjoy a pampering massage whilst enjoying the sound of the birds flitting through the forest.

HOMEGROWN PRIDE

Whilst the accommodation is decent for the price, what really elevates the experience of staying at Tembe has to be the wonderfully friendly staff at the lodge. From the welcoming song on arrival to the broad smiles at meal times, the genuine warmth of the staff of Tembe is consistently remarked upon by guests as some of the finest hospitality in the country!

Pricing

pp/night sharing