Madikwe is heaven on earth – this malaria free National Park in Northern South Africa borders Botswana and the Kalahari which is why the earth is the red and sunsets are huge. Everything here is so African from the vast vistas with rolling and broken hills, to the red earth fluffing under elephants feet. The game here is abundant and the birdlife spectacular, with the brightly coloured lilac breasted roller living here in abundance. Madikwe blew me away on a recent trip but it was Madikwe Hills – Seasons in Africa’s lodge – which really caught my attention.
On arrival I was greeted with the smiling face of Missy the lodge’s Staffordshire bull terrier, never have I met such a soppy dog – all she wanted to do was be on my lap which made me feel very much at home right away. You are lead down immaculate wooden walkways which are elevated above the ground and through to the main sitting area – the view then stretches out beneath you and often your first sight is of elephants having a dust bath down at the water hole below. The mountains stretch out in the distance and the savannah below you is often dotted with game.
The staff at Madikwe Hills are some of the most friendly and welcoming we’d come across on our two week safari and although the lodge itself is most definitely in the top end, the atmosphere is relaxed and calming. You feel as if you can kick off your shoes, lie back on one of the comfy shady sofas and relax, which indeed you can.
Our room was a suite with sitting room, outdoor and indoor shower, elegant white bath tub and huge verandah with an equally stunning view. Our little plunge pool was built next to a large flat rock which provided the wall for our suite and was a welcome relief from the heat of the day. Hours can be enjoyed here where one only has to sit and watch the wildlife go about it’s daily business below you. Teas, coffees and mini bar snacks provide the perfect accompaniment to the cinematic views you have before you and before you know it lunch is ready, or it’s time for the evening game drive.
The food was out of this world – there has recently been a huge move in the safari industry towards healthy eating and really looking after your guests when it comes to nutrition – the food coming out of the Madikwe Hills kitchen was exceptional and always healthy and delicious. Here they really do feed you well but because of the quality of the cooking and the ingredients you are never left bloated or feeling sluggish, but are full of energy.
Similarly to the staff within the lodge the guides were also great characters. Our guide was hilarious but when it came down to it he also had a serious knowledge of the bush, and Madikwe in particular.
We sat amongst a pack of sleeping, then playing wild dog for an hour – just relaxing in the cooling sun as these amazing creatures did the same next to us. We saw elephant, buffalo and rhino before heading back to camp and encountering what remains to this day one of my top wildlife experiences. As the sunset we encountered a lioness and her three young cubs padding slowly along a dusty track. She was calling quietly to her elder daughters who were in the mountains on our left. The sun set in a million colours just beyond her as we followed her mischievous cubs while they played, and sat listening to her low calls – it was simply magical and sends shivers down my spine to this day.
This post was made possible by our hosted partner Luxury Safari Company in South Africa, where you can learn more on luxury safaris in Southern Africa.