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Spectacular Big 5 safaris with mesmerizing views of the African Bushveld in the Madikwe Game Reserve
After we had such a wonderful experience at Seasons in Africa’s Kings Camp, our next journey took us to the romantic and luxurious Madikwe Hills Lodge. The Madikwe Game Reserve is situated in the north of South Africa against the border with Botswana, and it is malaria free. The lodge is tucked away between the rocks and the shade of the beautiful, ancient Tamboti trees. The rugged, rocky savannah landscape of the Reserve, one of South Africa’s oldest and largest private reserves, exudes a distinctive charm and African romance.
“When you touch the soil of our land, you feel a sense of personal renewal.” – Nelson Mandela Inauguration Speech 1994
The view from up here is breathtaking! You experience the wilderness up close!
There is a growing population of animals on the 75 000 hectare reserve. In addition to the Big 5 (lion, buffalo, elephant, rhino, and leopard), there are also over 66 other mammal species, such as the rare African wild dog, cheetah, eland, kudu, wildebeest, antelope, giraffes and more than 300 bird species to observe. The safaris are spectacular! But you also see many animals at the lodge. Klipspringers (the Afrikaans for ‘rock jumper’) are cute, small antelope you will come across quite often. They like to observe human beings, as much as we like to watch them.
Arrival with elephant traffic jam
The journey from Johannesburg or Pretoria is relatively long and takes about four to five hours by car. But of course, you have the opportunity to see the countryside, and with a great driver, you arrive in the blink of an eye. There are also direct flights available from Johannesburg.
After passing through the gate of the reserve, you are immediately on safari. For a while, a colossal elephant blocked the road. If an elephant is not in a good mood, you don’t dare move closer! Traffic comes to a standstill. It was interesting, he knew we were there. After he chased a car that came towards us, he decided he had enough, and disappeared into the bushes on his way to a water hole.
The lodge in the rocks
Finally, we arrived at the lodge. It offers an impressive view of the vastness of Africa. It almost seems as if the main building grows out of the rocks – it has been built ingeniously and harmonizes perfectly with its natural surroundings, where you can immerse yourself in experiencing the African bush up-close and personal. When the lodge was built 15 years ago, they went to great lengths to preserve every rock and tree, keeping the environment as untouched as possible!
Hannes Kruger has been the general manager at the lodge for nine years, and together with his dedicated team, they ensure your stay here is an extraordinary one.
From here above, you have a magnificent view of the savannah and a small water hole. There are always a few animals passing by.
All meals are served buffet style or a la carte. Either in the main lodge building or in the adjoining Boma, a fenced open air space with a fire pit.
All the suites and the main buildings are interconnected by walkways. This allows you to walk around alone at night.
Walking around, you might come upon all kinds of animals in the rocks or trees.
Luxurious suites with a view
Hidden in the hills are the ten luxury suites with thatched roofs.
The 160 square meter suites offer comfort, African ambiance, and privacy with their open design, floor-to-ceiling windows, and mesmerizing views. They all have private terraces, pools, outdoor showers, soft sofas, huge beds with mosquito nets, mini-bars, a fireplace, huge bathrooms with free-standing bathtubs, and indoor showers.
The mini-bar is filled to the brim, and there also is a water purifier, and each guest is given an aluminum bottle that they can fill up and take with them. As a result, the lodge saves on average 2000 plastic bottles per month. Brilliant!
Through the large concertina glass doors that open up completely, you get to be one with nature and enjoy the uninterrupted, magnificent view.
The large luxurious bathroom is gorgeous with its free-standing bathtub and rustic outdoor shower. By the way, the bath salt has a tremendous softening effect on the skin!
Little Madikwe Hills Lodge is luxury pure and also suitable for families accommodating up to 8 people. The villa has two spacious bedrooms, a pool, a private wine cellar, a gourmet kitchen, and an entertainment center. The lodge has its own game viewing vehicle, game ranger, chef and personal butler.
Early morning, after a cup of coffee and snacks in the restaurant, off you go on the morning safari. To experience sunrise and sunset in Africa is one of life’s most sublime moments!
Every safari is unique. Every time you discover different animals in different situations. How lucky we were to find these cheetahs resting in the shade of the trees with their full bellies.
I love being in the African Bush. Sitting in the jeep with windswept hair, watching the animals, seeing, feeling and smelling the bush, makes me blissfully happy!
After a delicious morning coffee with Amarula, we heard a lion roar. Lucky and Eric are really great rangers and trackers. They followed the trail, and indeed found him!
Lucky really lives up to its name! He could not find any wild dogs for us this time around but found everything else we wanted to see. Hopefully, we will see wild dogs another time!
Kitchen with soul
Traditional Full English and Continental breakfast are served on the main deck. In addition to the English breakfast, there are Eggs Benedict, Eggs Onassis, Breakfast Ciabatta, French toast with Coppa Ham, Cranberry sauce Camembert slices, and Frittata with a twist.
At lunchtime, you can spoil yourself with a delicious meal created by the passionate chefs at the lodge. The dishes are fusion food mixed with the finest in African ingredients. The end result: food with soul.
Shortly before the afternoon safari, high tea with delicious snacks is served. With this view, everything tastes even better!
Bush Spa Time
The perfect time to use the gym or indulge in relaxing spa treatments is either between breakfast and lunch or after lunch before the afternoon safari.
Ellen’s massage was exceptional and so relaxing! Products from Africology with medicinal plants, such as Rooibos, Aloe Ferox, Marula, and African potato are used.
Aromatherapy Full Body Massage
Aromatherapy is the unique combination of aromatherapy essential oils and massage..
After an afternoon spent at our own leisure, off we went on our next adventure.
We very often saw elephants in Madikwe. And so it was again, on our last evening. In addition to a bachelor group, in which some of them practiced their fighting skills, this time we also saw a breeding herd with many young elephants. So sweet!
I was especially drawn to the big bull or maybe, he to me?! He looked at me and came right up to me and then slowly strolled by. For the first time on safari, I simply had to take my camera down, and experience this incredible moment in its entirety. When the elephants then came over, we looked deep into each other’s eyes. I will never forget those shiny, warm brown eyes as long as I live. For a moment, time stood still. Unforgettable and deeply moving! A goosebump moment!
Thanks to the excellent protection program, guests still have the incredible privilege to see many rhinos!
For sundowners in the bush, Lucky opened his bar and Eric his terrific bush kitchen! With freshly sizzled beef skewers and gin & tonic, we ended the evening in the African bush.
On our return trip, Eric even spotted a rare Genet; a slender, slim cat with large spots.
Cocktail & Dinner Time
After the bartender lovingly prepares you a cocktail, you can enjoy dinner in a romantic atmosphere with lanterns and a fire pit, either buffet or a la carte style under the starry African sky.
Honeymoon & Wedding
The ambiance of the lodge makes it the perfect destination for a fantastic honeymoon in the African wilderness. For honeymooners, the Honeymoon Suite offers a stunning outdoor freestanding bathtub. Pure romance & luxury! Little Madikwe Lodge provides the ultimate in opulence, and weddings with up to 8 guests can be celebrated here.
Wedding Package from 1552 EUR (further information >>)
- Ceremony in the heart of the bush or on the main deck of the lodge.
- Witnesses at the ceremony (lodge staff).
- South African Methode Cap Classique sparkling wine for the couple.
- Single layer wedding cake with decoration of choice.
- 30-minute massage for the bride and groom.
- Transportation of the bridal couple from the lodge to the ceremony in the bush.
- Traditional Tswana singers to perform at the ceremony.
- Assistance with make-up.
- Pressing of the bride and groom’s wedding attire.
- Wedding turndown.
- Wedding gift for the newlyweds.
- Local flowers of your choice.
- Stay for 4 nights, and get the 5thnight for free.
- Stay for 6 nights, and get the 7thand 8thnights for free.
(Combinable with Leopard Hills & Kings Camp)
Book the full lodge for two nights or more, and get the wedding for free plus a ½ Day Spa for the bride and a chosen friend and a ½ Day Safari Experience for the groom and a friend.
½ Day Spa: Reflexology, manicure & pedicure, full body aromatherapy massage.
½ Day Safari Experience: An afternoon adventure‘with-a-difference’ in the bush with a ranger and tracker in a private jeep. Afternoon snacks and sundowners included.
Madikwe Hills is an enchanting and romantic place to savor life’s special moments. The safaris with the knowledgeable rangers are spectacular. Thanks to them, our experience in the African bush with the wild animals were personal, unforgettable, and impressive! The view from the beautifully built lodge, seamlessly merging into its natural environment, is breathtaking! The heart of the lodge is its dedicated team with Hannes as manager. Everyone is extremely kind and attentive, making guests feel welcome, right at home and blissfully happy. Madikwe Hills truly is a magical hidden gem in Africa!
Room: 10 luxury suites, 1 family villa
Flight: Flight non-stop from Frankfurt to Johannesburg in ten and a half hours with South African Airways
Transfer It is approximately a four to five-hour drive from Johannesburg to the lodge (about 725 EUR), or you can opt for a direct flight from Johannesburg to Madikwe with Federal Air (about 500 EUR per person)
Air Temperature: 25 – 40 degrees Celsius in summer, 5 – 25 degrees Celsius in winter
Time difference: none
Best travel time: May – September (dry season) – it is cooler and good for wildlife viewing, it is hot during the rainy season (October – April) and there are heavy showers between November and February
Vaccinations: Tetanus, Diphtheria,Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis A, Rabies, and Hepatitis B (for long-term stays); Malaria free area
Price: From 775 EUR per person per night, including all meals, tea & coffee, mini bar, game drives, beverages (including house wine), laundry service, Wi-Fi. Little Madikwe Villa from 3325 EUR per night.
Note: Villa: Children from any age welcome; Main lodge: no children under the age of 10
Special offers: 8-Night Luxury Bush Trilogy from 6700 EUR per person, including flights (3 Nights Madikwe Hills | 3 Nights Leopard Hills | 2 Nights Kings Camp).
Specialties: Wonderful villas, exciting safaris with great rangers, spectacular views of the vastness of the African bush, attentive staff, delicious cuisine, excellent spa.
Perfect for: Couples, adventurers, peace seekers, romantics, nature lovers, animal lovers, and families.
For the transfer, we can warmly recommend Ian Johnson of Africa Breeze Tours and Transfers. He is an experienced ranger, which can be really important when arriving at the reserve, and a great sympathetic conversationalist. With him as our driver, time flew by!
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Please note: Our stay was sponsored by Madikwe Hills. Thank you so much! Nevertheless, the opinions voiced in this arcticle, are as always, 100% our own!