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“Wonderful” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mateya Safari Lodge

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Mateya Safari Lodge
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Brasilia, Df
Top Contributor
97 reviews 97 reviews
70 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
102 helpful votes 102 helpful votes
“Wonderful”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2012

We got lucky: first because the place I originally opted for couldn't take us so we went to Mateya instead; secondly because for three of of four nights we were the only people there, thirdly because - well, because it was wonderful.
The hotel is beautiful in every respect (though be warned that there's plenty of walking to do to move around in it). Accommodation fantastic, excellent wine included in the price, food wonderful (you can basically choose what you want, and Innocent the chef makes everything so succulent), and the whole place is filled with fabulous African artefacts.
But what made it so memorable for us were the people, in particular Christine, Werner and Paul. We were so well taken care of and Paul and Werner showed us so much of, and taught us so much about, the beauty of Madikwe reserve and its wildlife. Everyone strikes the perfect balance between taking care of you and not getting in your way.
Unreservedly recommended. Go if you can. You won't regret it.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Sydney Australia
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
85 helpful votes 85 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2012

My wife said "This is not 6 star. This is 7 star!" These people could not have done any more to improve our 4 night stay. We were welcomed and treated as special guests.
We are a 70 year old couple who have traveled extensively and to many of the better "luxury" resorts in the world. This is simply the best.
This is our fifth African safari.
So, previously 4 safaris x 3 nights x 3 camps x 2 drives = 72 safari drives. We saw more animals in one drive at Mateya than we have seen in the previous 72 drives.
It seems that there is no such thing as a single wild animal here. We saw 23 rhinoceros on one drive. Giraffe, rhinoceros, kudu, hyena, impala, wild dogs, elephants, buffalo and lions simply come in groups to within 3 metres of the vehicle.
You will want for nothing and the accommodation, "can do" staff attitude and resort in general ooze excellence.
If you were planning to stay at 2 resorts and put Mateya off because of cost, do yourself a favour, Go to only one resort and make Mateya it.
Anyone sceptical of this review is welcome to email me.

Room Tip: There is no such thing as a "not good" room.
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northport, Alabama
Top Contributor
93 reviews 93 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 16, 2011

My husband and I just returned from a 3-week luxury safari vacation in May, 2011. Since we opted not to travel to Kenya and Tanzania due to continued travel warnings by the U.S. State Department, we strived to duplicate the Kenya/Tanzania experience as much as possible and selected 4 luxury camps; 2 in South Africa and 2 in Botswana (Okavango Delta).
Since learning about Trip Advisor nearly 2 years ago, we utilized it to help come up with some potential candidates which we could investigate further, through the Internet and the use of a travel agent. Mateya came to the list immediately and we built the rest of our safari adventure assuming Mateya would be part of it despite our travel agent trying to talk us out of staying at Mateya. We have no idea why they didn't feel we would be happy with Mateya except that 1) they were not familiar with it and 2) and maybe more importantly, it wasn't one of their camps they received higher incentives / commissions and therefore, perhaps they were influenced by recommending just the ones where they could make the most money.
We made it clear over and over, we were looking for a luxury safari experience. We are not campers; we don't like roughing it and if we are going to be out in the "wild", we wanted to make sure we were very comfortable, the food and service was very good, and excellent game viewing.
We had extremely high expectations for Mateya and it was the most expensive of the camps we stayed at, but it was well worth every penny. In fact, I would say that even if people weren't looking for "top luxury" accommodations, you really need to consider Mateya because you know you can count on the luxurious accommodations, excellent food and service and the animals are there!
Our travel agent told us even though we were staying at luxury camps, you will get sick from the food. We didn't get sick and we didn't hear of anyone who had gotten sick. Chef Innocent met with us each meal and asked us what we wanted and even though we tried to simplify breakfast and lunch with something light & easy, he still amazed us with his food and presentation.
Another element (and perhaps the most important) of your safari experience is seeing the animals. Although it won't be guaranteed at any camp which animals you will see, we felt we had an edge with our ranger, Francois, and our tracker, Richard. It became clearly evident early on that Francois was the best and the other rangers at the other camps looked up him as the leader.
Since Mateya limits the capacity in their game drive vehicle to 4 people and they have a capacity of 10 people at Mateya (5 suites), there are two other vehicles and rangers/trackers. Your assigned ranger & tracker don't change during your stay so I can't comment about the other ones at Mateya. I have no doubt these rangers are also held in high regard by the other camp rangers.
Riding in the game vehicles at Mateya is like the difference between First and Economy. You have plenty of leg room to stretch out and there is even a leg bar to rest your feet/legs during the drive. Naively, we thought that all vehicles at the other camps were the same; NOT!! The only slightly negative thing I will say is the vehicle we were in was 6 years old and the newer Land Rovers have some more cushioning and separate seating versus bench seating (Mateya) may be more comfortable so you aren't sliding around.
We weren't served house wine like we were at the other camps, but at Mateya they have a 9,000 bottle wine cellar which they make good use of for offering excellent variety, quality and pairings with your meals (and you aren't charged for this opportunity for choice). You can even have dinner in the wine cellar if you like!
So, if Mateya is not on your bucket list, add it immediately and best yet, make your reservation soon before the rest of the world discovers this gem which certainly belongs as one of the best hotels anywhere in the world, regardless of whether or not you want to go on a safari. We never used room service, the spa, the internet while we were there. It was too cold to swim, but the private plunge pool for each suite is beautiful.

Room Tip: I think the rooms are the same.
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2011

My wife and I spent three nights at Mateya and had one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives.

First, the wildlife. The Madikwe park is *incredible*. And, thanks to our exceptional guide and tracker, we saw everything we had hoped for and more: rhinos, lions, zebras, lions eating zebras (!), dung beetles, buffalo, wild dogs, hyenas (brown, spotted), dozens of types of birds, and, the highlight, ~60 elephants playing together in a waterhole. Wow!

The room and lodge were spectacular. The itself room was beautiful, but it was the private pool and sitting area that made it for us. We spent most afternoons lounging around on our deck, swimming, reading, and watching animals. The lodge was impeccably done, with neat African art, a thoughtful plan (many places to view wildlife, nice spaces to hang out in), a couple of neat gadgets (e.g. a couple of powerful telescopes), and beautiful finishes.

Service was outstanding. Our guide and tracker were top notch, with 20+ years of experience between them. They were amazing at finding things, and extremely knowledgeable. I was especially appreciative of how responsive our guide was to my "needs" as a photographer: he managed light, vehicle position, and more perfectly, and I was able to get some really great shots. General staff was attentive, friendly, and responsive without being "too" of any of these.

Food was the best we had in South Africa on our two week trip, and we ate at a lot of really good places. We had really delicious venison (ostrich, kudu) and other meats (salmon, prawns, warthog), tasty and creative desserts, and extravagant post-morning-drive breakfasts.

I cannot recommend Mateya highly enough.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chorley Lancs UK
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2011

So many places claim to have the customer at the centre of everything at the centre of their offering - this place really does which is why we returned again this year. Because of our schedule we missed lunch at Joburg. When the Mateya ranger collected us from Madikwe airport to take us to the Lodge he said without us asking that he had arranged for sandwiches to be available when we arrived because he thought we had probably missed lunch. How cool was that. On arrival at the Lodge we were greeted with hot towels to wipe off the dust from the journey and then taken through to the magnificent lounge to do the paperwork over a Pimms. (Most places give you the drink and the towel at the same time - which is a real problem). We had about an hour to settle in before our first game drive but not before the chef "Innocent" came to discuss the menu for that evening's meal. As it happened I did not fancy the main courses on offer and Innocent offered me a selection of alternatives any of which would have been acceptable. My wife and I were very pleased with both the food and service throughout our four night stay. The breakfasts were amazing and whatever we asked for lunch was always possible and at a time of our choosing. The previous time we had stayed at Mateya I had mentioned in passing to a staff member that a particular wine was my favourite South African wine but that it was very difficult to obtain. Imagine my utter astonishment at dinner when I was asked if I was asked if I would like a bottle that wine with my meal. Mateya had got a case of it specially shipped in for me.

We found the housekeeping staff did an excellent job and returned laundry the same day which meant we returned home with virtually nothing to wash. What also was nice was you were given a key to lock your room which you could choose to use or not. This seems a trivial thing to mention but at the last lodge at which we stayed, on three occasions things disappeared from our room and our request for key was refused because it did not fit with their staff philosophy!

The room was spacious with excellent easy to use air conditioning. There was not a separate sitting room but the seating in the room was confortable and looked out over a plunge pool to a water hole where animals visited. When we were taken to the room we were shown how everything worked (including the light switches which are different to those in the UK). We had inside and outside showers, plunge pool and a really nice covered seating area outside. Since the lodge is inside a perimeter fence and all pathways are well lit at night there is no need to be accompanied by a security guard everywhere as is the case elsewhere.

Whist at Mateya I stepped on a bee and got stung. Mateya have a 24/7 paramedic and doctor availabilty so my [problem was quickly dealt with.

The lodge and well stocked library themselves are something else - it is full of artwork, sculptures and artifacts which make it a very special place - there is a booklet in your room which explains the origins of the pieces and since reading it I must say the stuff has grown on me - but it will not be to everyone's taste.

I have not mentioned the game drives. The maximum number of guests on a vehicle is limited to a maximum of four. I know of nowhere else that does this. Some lodges in Madikwe have as many as twelve guests. Each vehicle has a tracker so the ranger can concentrate on driving whilst the tracker spots the animals. Most lodges in Madikwe do not use trackers which is not only less safe but also reduces the chances of seeing animals. We saw the true worth on a number of occasions but particularly when following wild dogs at high speed through the bush. We particularly wanted to see wild dogs and did so on two ocassions but also saw the rest of the big five as well as a leopard killing an impala not six feet from us.

I have only found one problem (some might say its a blessing) and that is the absence of broadband internet in the room. However that is a problem shared by all lodges in Madikwe. There is internet access at the lodge's business centre.

To sum up I felt that I was important and special to the staff at Mateya and I came away after a really relaxing and at times exciting few days. I've already been in touch with them to return next year. After all you rarely come across perfection and when you do why risk going somewhere else.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 10, 2010

This was our first Safari and whatever you read or whatever you are told can never really prepare you for such an awsome experience. There are two parts to the story, one is the experience of being with animals in the wild, in magnificant Africa and the other is Mateya Lodge, a little piece of heaven in this vast country.
We were met by our ranger, Francois and tracker, Richard on a desolate airstrip in Madikwe. The luggage was loaded into the open sided truck and off we went to the lodge. Within minutes we had stopped, Richard had spotted White Rhino, we were enthralled to be so close to these wild beasts and then a few minutes further on it would be Elephants or Giraffe, Kudu or Wildebeest. By the time we had reached the lodge we had completed our first Safari.
We arrived at the lodge and were met by Christine who gave us wet flannels to wipe our hands and then took us to the lounge for a cool drink. We were shown around the lodge with its beautiful antique African art and taken to our lodge. It was totaly on its own with an uniterupted view as far as the eye could see, beautifully furnished and extremely spacious, its own deck and plunge pool in total privacy and as the finishing touch, seperate air conditioning units for each side of the bed.
We were treated to a morning Safari at 5.00am and were returned to a magnificent breakfast by 10.00am. We then relaxed, read, slept until the afternoon Safari at 4.00pm, preceded by a beautiful high tea and returned for dinner at 8.00pm. The chef, Innocent, is there to please your culinary taste buds and he knows just how to go about it. With five courses of the most sublime food and a wine cellar with a choice of 8,000 bottles, just go down and help yourself to a bottle of your choice. If five courses is just too much, tell him what you would like and and he will not disappoint.
We were lucky enough to see all of the big five, also wild dog, brown & spotted Hyena and many other animals and birds. Our ranger, Francois is extremely knowledgeable and informative and showed us trees, plants and insects as well as the animals and birds, he understands the land and had us enthralled for hours. One can't imagine what it is like to stop at dusk in the African bush, the silence, the smells the views, it is an experience like no other.
If you're thinking of Safari go to Mataya Lodge and you will have one of the best travel experiences of your life.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Port Gentil, Gabon
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2010

We've traveled a lot around southern Africa, and Mateya is the best place we've stayed so far.
It is an expensive place, so I had quite high expectation and with the time and experience of other wonderful places (Botswana, Wolvedans in Namibia, Sabi Sands with Dulini,...) I'm becoming more picky and more difficult with the small details that make a place perfect, especially with room service or cleanliness.
Despite my attention to details, I couldn't find any fault to the rooms, service, food,... everything was perfect.
Rooms are wonderful with private plunge pool. You don't see at all the other rooms from your terrace, that gives a wonderful feeling of being alone. With only 5 rooms, service is always very personnel. The food is excellent, the wine is wonderful with a brillant wine cellar.
Game drives were excellent. We came to Madikwe to see wild dogs, and our guide Werner was very dedicated to this task, and we saw them. But we saw also lots of rhinos (black and white), lots of lions, lots of elephants, lots of buffalos, our first bush baby, brown hyena, lots of birds,... a very good place for game drives.
We were really sad to leave this place, and we'll be back there one day for a special occasion as I don't see for the moment a better place to stay.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Mateya Safari Lodge

Address: Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #20 of 23 Specialty lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Mateya Safari Lodge 5*
Also Known As:
Mateya Safari Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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