With past horrific experiences in mind it was with much wariness that we viewed Madikwe Safari Lodge and their stated commitment to family and holiday entertainment for the children. Suffice to say we weren’t disappointed.
Located in the vast expanse of the Madikwe Game Reserve, a reserve with the distinction of being one of the few reserves in the world to be proclaimed purely on the grounds of it being the most suitable and sustainable land use for the area, Madikwe Safari Lodge is a luxury bush resort owned by the More Collection and managed by the More family under General Manager Jeremy Clayton.
What is meant to be a time for fun for the children and relaxation for the parents usually turns into mayhem for the kids and an absolute non-relaxing nightmare for both mom and dad - except at Madikwe.
Madikwe Safari Lodge guests are spoilt for choice with no less than three options of lodgings to pick from. The first one, aptly named Lelapha, which means family in the local dialect, is the family resort with accommodation that caters for families with children of all ages. Kopano, meaning “small gathering”, is the smallest of the lodges with only four units lending to a more intimate and romantic getaway. Dithaba, “mountain”, is the last of the three and located slightly higher up on the mountain.
Getting to the resort is one of the early indicators that you are indeed in for a bush adventure, as you have to navigate through 53 kilometres of gravel road and bush to get to the resort. What would have been an otherwise tedious drive is made exciting during the last leg as you encounter regular game sightings of zebra, giraffe, buck and a myriad of exotic birds as soon as you enter the park gates.
On arrival at Madikwe Safari Lodge the unmistakable, and unnervingly close, roar of the African lion heralded our entrance, which sent the safari guides out in their trucks in haste in a bid to catch a glimpse of the magnificent beast. Further explanation was given to questions why the lions seemed so close to the camp. And it was stated that they sounded close to the camp because they were! In an effort to keep the bush experience authentic, game is allowed to roam free in Madikwe with only an electric fence erected to keep the destructive elephants out. On the night we arrived a frightened young buck with wild dogs in hot pursuit stormed the lodge in search of refuge.
The chase led them straight into the reception area, past the gift shop and into the lounge area. Only at Madikwe… where game and predator action comes to you!
The lodges at Madikwe are all inclusive with spacious sleeping areas for families with children. An open plan setting with enough privacy for all parties, the unit is more than adequate to not feel cramped. There is a king size bed for the parents in a room overlooking the patio and thick bush where one can lie in bed and watch out for any wildlife walking by and a cosy smaller bedroom with two twin single beds for the children.
The patio is a large wooden deck with a private plunge pool and outdoor shower for resident’s private use. Inside the lodge you will find an indoor shower and a large bath, big enough for two. The lodge décor is basic luxury with no unnecessary frills. Concrete floors and walls with wooden finishings and wall hangings tie it all up.
With a push to being a family resort, registration requests all information on minors’ preferences and likes ensuring
that they are treated as their own individual guests with all their needs catered for.
From the time the sun rises, there are activities planned for the tots. Should parents prefer they are urged to send the children off with the ever-devoted staff and minders for a kiddie-tailored adventure after breakfast only to be returned exhausted at bedtime.
First on the agenda was a pre-dawn game drive that left the lodge at 05h00. The ungodly early morning wakeup call is worth it as game rangers point out a spectacular variety of game waking up in the bush. Pregnant lionesses, cheetahs, elephants and buffalos were just
part of the offering on the viewing menu. For parents with children who aren’t able to make the early morning excursion, there is a shorter 10h00 game drive designed specifically for children where they are taken around under the watchful supervision of Andre and his Field Ranging team.
On their return the children are then introduced to the Eco-House! The Eco-House is a children’s centre under the Madikwe Cubz programme. It has been built with the sole purpose to give children an option for experiential learning as a continuation of the educational trip that was the game drive. Activities at the centre include identifying animal skulls, horns and hides. Live specimens of large spiders and snakes are housed there and shown to the children, giving them a chance to touch and smell the different kinds of species. This experience is unique to Madikwe Safari Lodge and is done in consultation with the owner parents, guest parents, managers and North West Parks, who assisted in all the required permits for the live specimens.
Other than the live specimens, there are chalkboard tables that provide hours of colouring and drawing fun and opportunities to make location specific models and arts. The ceiling of the Eco-House houses the different planets in the galaxy with a telescope on hand to introduce the children to star-gazing.
The Eco-House experience is overseen with the same ranger that took the children for the game drive so as to forge a relationship and prevent the kids meeting a new member of staff at every turn. While learning is going on, parents have the option to either engage in the learning process with their kids or use the precious time for themselves knowing their kids are safe and taken care of.
Once the Eco-House excursion is done, the kitchen is the next stop as kiddie friendly recipes are brought out and a few more hours are spent making and
decorating homemade sugar cookies, which will be the snack of choice for the rest of the afternoon. In the kiddie lounge near the warmth of the kitchen is a TV, which provides hours of entertainment when the weather is bad; or a moment to rest before the next game drive.
By the time the evening rolls in and it’s time for dinner; weary, yet stimulated children armed with facts and constant “did you know” moments join refreshed parents for supper before turning in for the night.
The beauty of a holiday experience at Madikwe Safari Lodge isn’t only in the amazing staff who have been expertly trained to take care of children in a caring, yet professional manner, it’s in the fact that they go above and beyond in an effort to ensure that when you drive away from the resort once your holiday is done; every member of the family can truly say it was fun for the whole family!
Did You Know?
- A bumblebee has hairy eyeballs.
- Elephants only digest 40% of the food they consume.
- African wild dogs have an 80% success kill rate.
- A honey badger has been known to singlehandedly take down a buffalo.