Exeter River Lodge – ☆☆☆☆☆
Date of Travel: May 2009
After spending 2 nights at the exquisite Dulini Lodge, we loaded up our rental car and headed over to River Lodge. We were greeted warmly by staff, as they had been alerted by Dulini staff that we were on our way. The main house has a majestic, open, airy feel with panoramic views of the savanna, river, and wooded areas. At no point was there any lack of fauna grazing, playing, fighting, bathing or relaxing. Dozens of monkeys inhabited the surrounding tree’s and would provide constant entertainment as they galavanted in playful farce. Never a dull moment at this place.
Our room was beautiful. Everything was very clean, nicely designed, comfortable bed and furnishings. A nice spacious layout. Our deck and dunk pool looked like it might have been a nice relaxing area, but with all of the monkey/baboon commotion, we had to use the inside bed to achieve any real relaxation.. but that was an experience in itself! Like I said.. never a dull moment amongst those mischievous tree dwellers.
River Lodge has a great family atmosphere. It seemed like a great resort to bring kids, yet adults are still able to have an incredible 5 star safari experience. With 8 guest rooms on the premises, it had a bit more of a busy feeling than our prior resort.
The food was incredible. Breakfast was boma (buffet) style, with the option to order hot breakfast. I especially enjoyed the lunch at River Lodge. Tables were set up on a deck down beside the river. The chef’s prepared a great selection of dishes that were just utterly amazing. Normally when we communicate our dietary specifications to a resort (even in advance), they have a very limited selection of vegetarian options for us. This was not the case at River Lodge; they had such an abundance of options for us to choose from. I don’t know what it is, but every restaurant we’ve visited in South Africa has had a wonderful chef who could prepare an outstanding vegetarian feast. No bland boiled potatoes and steamed broccoli like you would usually experience in the midwest or Europe.
Dinner was lovely. First night was a moonlit buffet/family style set up, followed by traditional African singing and dancing. Second night was a private dining experience on our personal deck. Our butler timed the 4 course meal perfectly. It was a special occasion, so the staff decked our room out with fragrant flowers and candles.
The game drives were amazing as well. Our tracker would always inquire with us as to which specific creature we would like to see next. I think his name was Nelson? Can’t remember. But he ended up finding every animal we asked for.. besides my beloved Pangolin. next time.. I’ll just keep saying that. Our driver Ryan was friendly and informative. There’s nothing worse than an arrogant, cheeky driver (have had a few bad experiences at other resorts more recently), so Ryan passed my “good attitude safari guide” assessment. Our truck was a little crowded, but that was because they happened to be at full occupancy. We were greeted with a tasty beverage and hot soup immediately following our evening drives which was very nice after a brisk open air drive through the night.
Our charming butler “Return” and driver Ryan gathered to bid us a warm farewell – Even waving to us until our rickety old rental car was out of sight.
My apologies for the poor photo quality. Most were taken with our camcorder (set on picture mode) and a few with the little Canon powershot.