&Beyond Dulini Lodge – ☆☆☆☆☆
Date of Travel: May 2009
Driving from the Johannesburg airport to the reserve gate was about a 5 hour drive. Some friends advised us to stop at the ‘Bagdad Cafe’, so you could probably make it to the gate in 4 hours without a lunch stop. The Bagdad Cafe is on the left just before the R37 and R40 split (as you’re leaving Nelspruit). They had great quality food in a relaxed atmosphere. Great staff, and clean restrooms. The cafe is among a variety of other shops that sell authentic African furniture, woodwork etc. Just don’t linger at the shopping center too long if it’s late in the day.. driving through the reserve at night dodging elephants might be a little spooky in your tin can of a rental car.
Once we were through the reserve gate, it took about 45 minutes to arrive at the Dulini. If you don’t run into any “wildlife traffic jams” on the way, you should be able to make it in 25 or 30ish. When we pulled up to the Lodge, we were greeted by a member of the Dulini family. She had us sign our liability forms, and offered us cold towels and a delicious fruit tea beverage. She then filled us in on how last nights guest (in our bungalow’s outdoor shower) had been visited by a female leopard.
We were then given a tour of our private bungalow, situated on the far corner of the property (no neighbor to the right). The exterior looked rather quaint, but once the door is opened, you are in the most amazing, chic, comfortable standard of luxury you would expect for a top notch 5 star accommodation. You arrive into a sitting area stocked with snacks, sherry and a selection of wines. The sitting area leads to the bedroom, and onto the spacious bathroom. We took immediate notice of the pristine cleanliness of all areas as well. Floor to ceiling windows look out onto the lanai/deck/dunk pool area. Beyond that is a dry river bed where we would often times see impala and springbuck. The exclusivity, and sense of relaxation was incomparable. The 5 other bungalows on the property were nowhere in sight, and the peace and quiet was uninterrupted throughout our stay. *With the exception of monkey’s jumping on the roof during lunch hours, and lions roaring in the evening.
The main house has an open layout, furnished with a selection of plush, inviting seating areas and a cozy, yet spacious library. Everything is designed beautifully. Our game drives were amazing! We saw tons of wildlife and our driver and tracker were both friendly and informative. After cool evening game drives, we were greeted back at the Dulini with blue wine or some form of heated beverage (the moment we stepped off the vehicle). The trucks were equipped with blankets and hot water bottles for early morning drives. Hot water bottles are key!
We stayed 2 nights at the Dulini. One night we had a wonderful boma style barbecue/buffet dinner under the stars with singing and dancing performed by some of the staff. The second night was a surprise 4 course dining experience set up on our private deck area. Our personal butler had perfect timing between each course, never leaving us too long, but no rush either. The breakfasts were exquisite. Lots of fresh choices on the buffet table, and gourmet hot selections were offered to be made fresh in the kitchen.
All of the staff at Dulini Lodge went above and beyond to make our stay memorable. Warm, kind energy is all you’ll feel from the staff.
A second visit to Dulini the following year was also very pleasant. We were however in a bungalow very close to the main lodge area, so the solitude factor was slightly compromised this second time. *Remember to tip all staff members who make your stay enjoyable. They really were an amazing group of people!
Photo’s from both our 2008 & 2009 visits to Dulini: