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Woo! Time to get out of the office and spend some time at Madikwe Game Reserve. It’s a short hour air hop from Johannesburg on Federal Air and before I knew it, I was picked up at the dusty airstrip by a couple of jovial rangers and whisked to Madikwe Hills Lodge. The Lodge is, unsurprisingly, situated on a picturesque hill, in the heart of Madikwe Game Reserve. Ingeniously set among boulders and age-old Tamboti trees, the lodge is one of the finest in Madikwe – pretty soon I was staring boggly eyed at a world of intrigue and majestic beauty.
My ex and I (strangely I was dumped AFTER this trip) arrived in the late afternoon, just enough time to scoot around the elegant lodge and for me to familiarise myself with my nearest watering holes. The lodge is beautiful – raised wooden walkways create an ethereal forest feeling. The large rooms are set quite far apart from each other ensuring maximum privacy. You’ll have your own private sitting area with mini bar and massive glass cascading doors looking out over a private deck and plunge pool on to the rugged bush beyond. I had just enough time to quaff a G&T in the indulgent outdoor shower before the afternoon game drive – imperative I thought to get my quinine intake in case I get bitten by a mosquito. Any excuse – this is a malaria free reserve. We stayed for two nights and we really did make good use of our private deck and plunge pool. It was hot, so we spent a lot of time lying around the pool between game drives drinking G&Ts and soaking up the sun. Jealous yet? After my third G&T, I swear I saw a tiger from the plunge pool, but no one believes me.
Onto the Game Drive. This truly was one of the best places I’ve been for game viewing. The rangers were knowledgeable and passionate about their reserve. We were very lucky enough to see the Big 5 as well as wild dog (even pups) – a very rare sighting indeed. This was also the first time I’ve seen lion actually on a kill – very exciting – it still gives me goose bumps! This is a private reserve, but there are a lot of lodges in Madikwe. Sightings are called in on a radio and there is a waiting list of people to see the sighting as only three vehicles are allowed per sighting. The key is to get there first!
After all that excitement on the drive, there was only one thing for it – a G&T back at the lodge. The deck at the main lodge is really rather special. It is large and sunny and overlooks the bush with a watering hole right in front. We saw plenty of game while simply enjoying our meals. Breakfast was a relaxed and sociable affair with birds of all shapes, sizes and colours trying to muscle in on our perfectly poached eggs. On the second morning however, we had the most fantastic breakfast on a private table laid up in the bush on top of a high hill overlooking Madikwe. S-W-A-N-K-Y. All the food here is exceptional. Dinner is ordered at tea time before doing your afternoon game drive and there’s a good selection of dishes. Mostly South African but with a little fusion flair thrown in – someone was having fun in the kitchen and it showed. The puddings were particularly delicious.
Sadly all good things must come to an end, but I can’t wait to get back to Madikwe – what a place!
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Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.
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