Pure relaxation and wide-eyed exhilaration; Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge offers both in equal measure. Spend your mornings on safari watching lions, cheetahs and wild dogs roam the reserve and your afternoons soaking in a freestanding bathtub or indulging in spa treatments.
The five-star lodge sits within the centre of South African’s Madikwe Game Reserve. The malaria-free reserve, just an hour’s flight from Johannesburg, is made up of 75,000 hectares of untamed Africa where the big five and rare African wild dogs roam freely.
A stay here includes two three hour game drives a day and all your food and beverages.
CHECKING IN & BEYOND
This is no ordinary check-in. To access the Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge we take a Federal Airlines charter flight from Johannesburg. Our excitement for safari builds as soon as we touch down on the lodge’s airstrip and see our safari guide waiting for us in his off-road vehicle. He’s there to drive us to reception which is about 15 minutes away. This transfer is a mini-safari in itself with zebras, giraffes and elephants making an appearance along the way.
Smiling General Manager Hannes Kruger is waiting for us when we arrive with his trusty staffy, Missy who is never far from his side. We’re given a super warm welcome complete with cool refresher towels and drinks.
The luxury glass-fronted suites come complete with spacious decks and private plunge pools.
Inside, the bathroom is a stand-out feature. A large free-standing bath sits in a prime position right by glass doors overlooking the reserve. The doors can be opened up to take full advantage of the wildlife that surrounds you. If you’re lucky (like I was), you’ll spot elephants and impala while soaking in the tub.
As well as an indoor shower, there is also an outdoor shower. It’s exhilarating showering under a star-spangled African sky while listening to the calls of the wildlife.
The entire lodge has a beautiful beautiful earthy feel while still remaining luxury.
The mattresses are firm, but for those, like me, who prefer a softer feel, the staff offer soft cover to put over the top of the mattress. I opted for one and found the bed extremely comfortable. The pillows were a definite drawcard for me; plump and soft, cradling your head just right.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Let’s begin with the mini-bar which is entirely complementary and replenished daily. It has a fine assortment of South African wines, beers and ciders to accompany your in-room wildlife spotting.
Venture to the restaurant and you’ll certainly be pleased with what’s on offer. All main meals are al a carte. Breakfast options span from Eggs Benedict to French Toast.
Lunch has a set menu which changes daily. Each lunch starts with soup and freshly baked bread. I was particularly impressed with one of my mains, a tender duck breast served on a bed of roast veggies.
Dinner follows the same pattern as lunch and lets just say, the Madikwe Hills’ chefs know how to prepare meat very well.
One night during my stay we are invited to take part in a Boma for dinner where guests gather together for a night around a starlit banquet.
It begins with a campfire where we roast huge marshmallows with a glass of delicious South African Merlot in hand. After sharing stories of the day’s game sightings we are treated to a traditional African dance performance. A traditional banquet follows.
If all that wasn’t enough. Madikwe Hills also offers tea, coffee and nibbles before leaving for your early morning safari and a high tea before your afternoon game drive. You’ll also stop midway through each safari for nibbles and drinks. No guest will ever have a rumbling tummy during a stay here!
This is not just a place to stay, it is bucket list material. Every last detail has been considered so that you will feel fully immersed in the environment.
A well-deserved kudos also goes to the team for making the environment a priority. All guests receive complimentary aluminium bottles which can be filled with filtered water. This saves around 2000 plastic water bottles a month.
They also recycle all their rubbish and their food scraps go to a local piggery.
The lodge features the Main Lodge with 11 suites and a private camp which is called Little Madikwe Hills. It is home to the Presidential /Family Suite.
Madikwe Hills can accommodate 25 guests in total.