Madikwe Game Reserve: Safari Review

Never one to do things by halves, Giltedge Senior Consultant Samantha Holdsworth set off on a whirlwind safari around Madikwe Game Resere. 12 lodges in just 5 days! She shares her thoughts on the Madikwe safari experience along with a reviews of a few of her favrourite lodges.

What to Expect from Madikwe

“The last time I visited Madikwe Game Reserve was around 20 years ago. Back then there were just three lodges, whereas now there’s a wide selection of Madikwe accommodation from family-friendly lodges to ultra-luxurious villas. That said, you can still drive a good hour without seeing another vehicle so in no way does the reserve feel too crowded.

“I was surprised by how well Madikwe is run. The guides from different lodges all talk to each other, which increases guests’ chances of seeing the Big 5. Only three vehicles are allowed at a sighting and if, for example, you’re following a pack of wild dogs then your driver can go off-road – which is lovely!

“As for the game viewing, it was fantastic! We saw wild dogs on the hunt (not once but twice), a lion eating a wildebeest, cheetah, rhino (both white and black), and at one stage sat quietly as a herd of about 150 elephants walked around our vehicle. I was blown away by the wildlife there!”

 Good to Know:

* Madikwe is a malaria-free game reserve
* No day visitors allowed into the park
* Off-road driving is permitted
* Great selection of luxury lodges
* Renowned for successful wild dog programme
* Federal Air operates daily flights into the reserve

Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge

Unbelievable! I loved my brief stay at Madikwe Hills. The lodge sits up on a rocky outcrop with views that stretch out forever. The suites are massive and well spaced-out, so you get the feeling that you’re the only guest in camp. Each suite has its own plunge pool – I had dassies (rock hyrax) come and drink water from my pool.

They really have thought of every detail in the rooms, from a well-stocked bar fridge and water cooler to plenty of snacks and gorgeous magazines. The bathrooms have his and hers gowns, lovely amenities and fold-back wooden shutters to let in the views. Since Madikwe Hills is not fenced, I wouldn’t recommend it to families with young children, but it certainly is a great option for couples.

Good to Know: 

* Spectacular setting up on a hill
* Amazing waterhole close by
* 10 huge and luxurious suites
* Lovely little touches in the rooms
* Excellent spa
* I couldn’t find fault with this property!

Molori Safari Lodge

Molori Safari is a stunning high-end property. The 5 villa-sized suites are each furnished with beautiful antiques, gorgeous Persian carpets and tall ceilings dripping chandeliers. Retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors give you the feeling of being connected to the outside. All the pools have a built-in Jacuzzi area. And I loved the amenities – all French.

The staff at Molori are of another calibre and cater to your every need, while making service appear effortless. After my game drive I came back to find a bottle of Champagne chilling on ice. I had probably the best massage of my life at their amazing spa. And every meal was delicious, especially Chef Jacques’ beef fillet.

While undeniably luxurious, Molori’s small size helps maintain a welcoming, at-home feel. The lodge has several cozy corners for breakfasts and lunches, and lovely daybeds out in the garden. Children of all ages are welcome, and they’ll happily arrange cooking classes with the chef, casting plaster of paris animal prints and other fun activities.

Good to Know: 

* My absolute favourite!
* Stylish and exclusive (only 5 suites)
* Suites spaced well apart for complete privacy
* Personalised service – nothing is too much to ask
* Private heli pad (the only one in Madikwe)
* Excellent hide right at their waterhole
* Star gazing platform with top-of-the-range telescope
* Incredible spa on the property

The Royal Madikwe Luxury Safari Lodge

The main lodge at The Royal Madikwe opens onto a wide, elevated deck overlooking a lovely waterhole. Animals are often seen down by the water, and elephant are known to come right up to the deck. A real armchair safari! This small luxury lodge has just 5 suites: 2 Luxury Suites, 1 Honeymoon Suite, the Emperor Suite and the Royal Villa – which is incredible!

The main, thatched lodge has a homely feel. The Royal Madikwe welcomes children of all ages, that said, the variety of suite types means that there are good options for couples too. All of the suites are very private and open onto their own deck and plunge pool – except The Emperor Suite which is upstairs in the main lodge and has a second smaller bedroom with bunk beds (good for families with younger kids!).

Good to Know:

* Intimate lodge with just 5 suites
* All suites have waterhole views
* All have plunge pools (except the Emperors Suite)
* Loved the luxurious Royal Villa
* Children over 5 yrs old can go on game drives
* Great for art lovers
* Relaxed vibe and homely feel

Jaci’s Lodges

Jaci’s is probably the best option for a family safari in Madikwe. Both lodges have recently been fully renovated; and are bright and playful with splashes of colour (not your typical safari lodge!). Staying here, you’re surrounded by trees. The view may be more closed in, but it’s bushy and green and great for birders.

Jaci’s Safari Lodge has 8 rooms: 6 safari-style tents and 2 suites. The suites are fantastic for families! Each has a master bedroom, guest bedroom, a loft (which can sleep 2 younger kids), and their own pool area with deck chairs. The staff are really engaging, and children feel they can run around (the property is completely fenced so very safe).

A winding walkway takes you to Jaci’s Tree Lodge. Literally sitting up in the trees, this lodge has 8 Treehouse Suites each with wood panelling, colourful mosaics and a lovely rustic feel. Tree Lodge accepts children from the age of 13.

Well worth a mention is the Terrapin Hide. My favourite of all the hides, Terrapin sits in the middle of a waterhole and has a water-level viewing window. You can easily reach this photographic hide from both Safari Lodge and Tree Lodge via a submerged tunnel.

Good to Know: 

* Bright, colourful and playful décor
* Jaci’s Safari Lodge is superb for families
* Proudly South African atmosphere
* Jaci’s Tree Lodge sits up in the tree canopy
* Tree Lodge has its own boma, pool & dining area
* Option of a night in a star bed from either lodge
* Eye-level game viewing at the Terrapin Hide

To start planning a Madikwe safari of your own, simply drop us a message.