Back Seat: A Luxury Weekend Away with Lions
Madikwe Game Reserve in the North West Province is fast becoming one of South Africa’s prime safari destinations. As one of the largest game reserves in South Africa, it offers Big 5 game viewing in a malaria free zone. Since I hadn’t been up that side of the country before, I figured I would take a weekend to visit.
abad choice of flight left me very little time to collect my hired car and race out of Johannesburg city before the afternoon peak traffic congestion. Slipping out just as the congestion started, I had 3 ½ hours easy drive on good tarred road to get to the western entrance to Madikwe Game Reserve at Wonderboom gate. My late arrival meant I missed the afternoon game drive and sundowner drinks in the bush. All game lodges are booked on an allinclusive basis, including all meals, two game drives per day and some lodges include drinks. My pre-dinner drinks were enjoyed on the balcony overlooking the open plains of woodland and grassland below. A popular waterhole near the lodge kept us entertained as game strolled in to drink. A delicious dinner was enjoyed in a traditional boma, our dinner tables placed around a roaring bon fire under the clear African sky. The unfenced camp meant that I required an escort to my room by an armed game ranger. What luxury! I felt like a real lady! My luxury suite had its own private deck looking onto the open game area, a large colourful four-poster double bed draped with mosquito netting, a beautiful bathroom and a great outdoor shower. An early morning wakeup call had me jumping up in excitement. It had been years since I was last in the bushveld surrounded by game. I was looking forward to the open vehicle game drive. We enjoyed a hot cup of coffee and some delicious snacks before heading out on the drive. Roddy, our chatty game ranger, ensured that we enjoyed a great gaming experience with spottings of lion, elephant, hyena, black rhino, black backed jackal and numerous very colourful bird species. We returned to the lodge to enjoy a full buffet breakfast attractively arranged in the bar area at the swimming pool. As we sat down with our first serving, a small herd of elephants strolled up to the swimming pool just a few metres away from us and started drinking out of the pool. Wow! What an encounter! Who needs a game drive, when you can sit in comfort at the lodge and watch the game come to you? I decided to vary my stay in Madikwe by including two different lodges to stay at. After breakfast at Impodimo and a bit of time with the ellies, I then made my way to Mateya Lodge, a 5-star experience like no other! With immaculate attention to detail, the lodge is intricately designed, has magnificent arts and crafts from all over Africa and offers 6-star service! Exquisite! On arrival, I was welcomed with hot hand towels and an exotic cocktail, my hired car driven to the car park and my luggage carried to my suite. I was invited in for lunch on the deck overlooking open plains and a water hole, where game roamed freely. After lunch, I was lead along a raised wooden walkway to my private suite. It was more like a house! It was huge! The spacious, beautifully decorated bedroom opened up to my own private deck and plunge pool overlooking the open plains, where the game roamed. The bathroom, almost the size of the bedroom, complete with all the luxuries fit for a queen! After a quick nap in the comfort of my suite and a dip in my private plunge pool, I joined the rest of the guests at the lodge for High Tea. Aware of the five-course dinner that awaited us in the evening and having already enjoyed two large meals today, I struggled to taste some of the delicious looking snacks at High Tea! The atmosphere was ignited with excited chatter between the game ranger, and the other guests. Equipped with binoculars, mammal and bird books and an experienced game ranger we set off in our open 4x4 safari vehicle for our afternoon drive through the reserve. Our spottings were excellent and included sightings of lions, elephants, a leopard on a kill, a small family of bat eared foxes and hyena. My 300-zoom lens allowed some good close-up photos. After the drive, we all gathered for dinner on the deck and shared our excitement of our days sightings. The meal was exquisite and the company was fun, drinks flowed until late in the evening.