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“Safari and more” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Madikwe Safari Lodge

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Madikwe Safari Lodge
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Madikwe Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Top Contributor
136 reviews 136 reviews
50 hotel reviews
Reviews in 58 cities Reviews in 58 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“Safari and more”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 2011

Yust like all the other reviews this also is a very positive one. Very good lodge with a great staff. Everybody is friendly from very early in the morning till late in the evening; diners with the choir is amazing. Staff make long working days, compliments!! Good game drives with Richard, we seen a lot of animals incl.lions. It can be cold so take your winterclothes with you.For an impression,see the pictures. Many thanks to everybody at the Madikwe safari lodge for a safari vacantion with a lot more!!

Room Tip: every lodge is very good, fire in the evening is very pleasant
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  • Stayed August 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
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229 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    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
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (70)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
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English first
Hampshire, UK
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2011

Our family of 2 adults and 2 boys (14 and 10) from the UK spent 5 nights at the Madikwe Safari Lodge in August 2011. This was our first safari holiday, but we were lucky enough to share some drives with a delightful couple with considerable safari experience who helped give us some reference points.

In short: we had an absolutely fantastic time, and recommend this lodge wholeheartedly. All the family agreed this was our best vacation yet.

For us, the success of this trip was first and foremost due to our ranger, Kenneth. We did 9 game drives. 7 of those were action-packed and the other 2 still very enjoyable. Kenneth is absolutely terrific: great company, for adults and children alike; incredibly knowledgeable; brilliant and hard-working at locating game and positioning the vehicle for amazing sights; and a thoughtful man of integrity who truly cares about the animals and the land and can help you connect with them. Equally, as we saw on our last drive, if a group doesn't have much time and needs to tick off some sightings then Kenneth will deliver and everyone will have a great and enjoyable experience.

We saw: elephants, incuding 20+ by water (twice); lions, including cubs and a warthog kill (Kenneth positioned us amazingly well to watch the chase and our vehicle was maybe 10 metres away at the kill); white rhino - lots; buffalo; wild dogs (twice); zebra, giraffe etc; baboons; 15+ different birds - much more interesting than we'd expected.

The lodge is great. We stayed in East Camp - really pretty luxurious: great food, fires, beds etc, very good housekeeping and service generally. More important though is the fantastic staff: without exception the people there were warm, friendly and incredibly helpful. Solomon, the East Camp manager, is a great character and leads from the front in creating a super atmosphere.

Any negatives? None that mattered to us. My only question is for the new management: which market segment are they targetting and might they be tempted to cut costs? Some (most?) lodges have a ranger and tracker for each vehicle; we were more than happy with just Kenneth but noticed MSL vehicles were ranger only. Most of our drives were with 6 guests on a vehicle with 3 tiers of 3 seats, plus front seat. We thought that was ideal. Going up to 8 on a couple of drives was ok but you noticed the difference. On our last day there was an influx of guests and every seat was filled - one larger vehicle had, I think, 11 guests on it. My view is that this is likely to diminish the quality of the experience. And, rightly or wrongly, if you're on a full vehicle with one ranger and you then see 3 vehicles from other lodges with no more than 4 guests each, and a tracker and ranger - you may feel you are not getting the premium experience. As I said, it wasn't a problem for us on this trip, this is just a suggested area for the management to consider.

On our last day we were all a bit quiet and it took me a while to realise exactly why: we just did not want to go. We've never before returned to a hotel, always preferring to explore somewhere new. For the first time, we are seriously considering changing that. Saying goodbye to Kenneth and leaving Madikwe Safari Lodge we felt sad in a way we never have on holiday before. I honestly think that with a place this wonderful you do leave a bit of your heart behind.

Our conclusion: if you get the chance - go. The people are amazing and we had a wonderful time at the Madikwe Safari Lodge.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 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 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Banbury
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2011

We stayed at Madikwe Safari Lodge for three nights in August, with two adults and two teenagers. We had an amazing stay, with excellent game drives, excellent service, excellent food, and extremely high levels of comfort. Our ranger, Kenneth, was extremely knowledgeable, and with the exception of the leopard (which we would have seen had we gone out the first afternoon we arrived!), we saw far more than we could ever have hoped to. This included month old lion cubs feeding from their mother, baby rhino, baby giraffe, baby baboons, baby elephants, plus another lioness lying in wait and then attacking a herd of wildebeest (luckily she didn't quite succeed!). The game drives, including coffee breaks and sundowners, were amazing, but so was the time back at the lodge. All the staff were keen to ensure we had everything we wanted, the rooms were spacious and warm (fires and heated blankets), the food was plentiful and delicious, and our only complaint was that we couldn't stay for longer. Can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2011

When one travels in luxury regularly you look for something that makes memories. Madikwe Safari Lodge is just that place. The staff go above and beyond to make you feel welcome, safe and comfortable with no request too difficult. Game drives were amazing - more on that later. Management were always on hand and helped to give the feeling of family amongst the staff.
Food is excellent for what must be a difficult task due to its relative remoteness. Fabulous and original tastes, especially the game dishes. More Kudu please!
Villas were very large, spacious and comfortable. Andy told us they are about to have a renovation, however, not too much is needed as this may detract from the authenticity.
Finally, I cannot finish without speaking of Andre and Gabriel - our rangers. Terrific is not enough to describe them both. Knowledgable, passionate, thoughtful, eagle-eyed but most of all trustworthy. All important traits for what must be an onerous task keeping people safe.
We were a group of 13 and given a send-off that brought tears to many eyes. The whole staff singing us farewell as only those amazing African voices can. Thank you Madikwe Safari Lodge - cannot wait to return.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Hoboken, New Jersey
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2011

We traveled to Madikwe Safari Lodge the first week of July 2011 and had an incredible time. From the moment we arrived until the minute we left, the friendly and courteous staff took excellent care of us.

The lodge itself was beautiful - stone walls, wood floors, quaint dining rooms, and a large open area with comfy counches around the fireplace. Our room was not far from the main lodge and was a private cottage with hard walls and an amazing thatch roof. The room had a huge king size bed (with electric blankets), fireplace, indoor and outdoor shower, bathtub, and plunge pool. It was too cold for the outdoor shower and pool, but could imagine how refreshing it would be in warmer weather.

We saw 4 of the Big 5 during are trip (missing the leopard), along with brown hyena, 2 packs of african wild dogs, ostrichs, kudus, warthogs, wildebeests, african wild cats, zebras, giraffes, jackals and an elephant carcass.

The drives were the best part of the trip and some highlights of our drive was seeing lions roaring at each other, lions feasting on a warthog, wildebeest, and an elephant. An elephant walking past us 3 feet from the car, and catching a herd of 15+ elephants coming out of the bush to have a drink. Needless to say, it was amazing!

The game drives occured twice per day (7am and 3pm) and lasted about 3 hours. The weather was quite cold early in the morning and then again when the sun went down. During these times, we layered up with under armour, sweatshirts, jackets, gloves, hats, and a gator for your face. It wasn't too bad when we were stopped but since it's an open vehicle the wind chill made it pretty cold.

The food was delicious and plentiful! We had a light breakfast before the morning drive, coffee and biscuits during the drive, breakfast/brunch upon our return, high tea before the afternoon drive, drinks and snacks during the afternoon drive, and dinner.

We had two dinners outside in the boma, with food being cooked on the outside grill. The food was local and tasty! One night the staff sang and danced for us by fire, it was a great show.

Because it was off-season, there weren't too many people there for most of our 5 day stay at Madikwe. This allowed us to have private game drives on 8 of our 10 drives with Richard. Richard was an excellent guide, giving us lots of interesting information about the animals, the plants, the country and also photography!. We could really tell he cared about the animals and loved his job - we couldn't have asked for a better guide! Every day we walked away learning something new.

Overall, we would highly recommend this lodge as part of any safari adventure in South Africa. The reserve is large, well maintained, and malaria free and the Madikwe Lodge provides a 5 star experience.

  • Stayed July 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 20, 2011

We were delighted that we went through Lisa Liprini at Go2Africa to book our almost 3 weeks away as each stage was well thought out to meet our needs and I doubt we would have found the places we stayed without her. Travelling with 4 children,it can at times be hard to find a place to meet all of our needs but Madikwe Safari Lodge did just that. You are greeted on arrival with cool drinks, refreshing towels and huge smiles and these never ended, every return trip from a Safari was the same. The place is very child friendly but has a lot of privacy also if you are travelling as a couple. Each of our 3 lodges were beautifully done out with lovely pampering toiletries in the bathrooms (body scrubs etc) big fluffy towels, air con/heat, pot belly fire, electric blankets, crisp white bedlinen, even a basket with exercise mat and equipment. The fire was lit on a cold evening before you went to the room if you wanted it, and extra logs left as well. A great Laundry service which came in very handy to get rid of the dust from the safaris, all taken in the morning and left back fresh and ironed that evening. International Adaptors and hair dryers available in each room also as well as a safe though this didnt seem at all neccessary.

Solomon and the staff are very friendly and efficient but not at all intrusive and the service is excellent as is the cleanliness standard, which has got to be hard given all the dust coming back from the Safari's! so top marks to the industrious staff. The food is in abundance with the opportunity to try local game meats if you wish. The fare was also fabulous and saying no is very hard!
on 2 of our 4 nights, we had a Borma (? spelling phonetically here) an african BBQ in a walled in, though open to the star filled skies area, beside the main Lodge, fires lighting, bbq smells and the staff choir dancing and singing, fabulous nights to enjoy!!
There was a tv in the communal room tucked away upstairs in an open gallery area and also board games available which the children had a rare occassion to use as they were generally so occupied with the outdoor adventures.
We had Wayne Lurner as our guide on all of our safaris and all guides are assigned to a guest and remain with that guest for the safaris for the duration of their stay. We had 4 days driving with wayne, 2 safaris a day, and he always spotted something new - and a big bonus was that we got to see the big 5. On one of our days we opted for an all day Safari from morning through to 7pm and a fabulous picnic/snacks was loaded on the jeep for us before leaving. stops are also made on the morning and evening safaris with hot/cold/alcohol drinks available along with snacks. In winter hot waterbottles and blankets are waiting for you in the jeep but it is really cold early morning and once the sun goes down so you really need to rug up, thermals, hats gloves, scarf, layered clothing and a warm wind proof jacket, layering is good as it does warm up in the day but bear in mind the jeeps are open and there is a wind especially if your guide speeds up a bit to catch that glimpse of the elusive leopard! one of our morning safaris we also had the pleasure of another guide Richard Millar, who gave me great advise on photography and is a very talented photographer himself. Between the two of them they had us in histerics, very funny and personable guys who are really good at their jobs. Some mornings we would start out and see nothing, not so much as a duck at the waterhole and then just as we would think, ok well there is always the evening, we would run into something, though not literally, no animals were harmed, by us anyway, though we did see a poor warthog being devoured by a lioness and her 2 cubs! and from that point on our luck would change for the duration of that safari and there were many sightings that followed. On the quieter mornings I thought the children would get bored but Wayne filled in the time showing us various plants and their uses, bugs, the difference between animal dung and also following the tracks of the lions, he even spotted a Chameleon while driving and at a distance??? I was very impressed with that!
Anyway, as you can see there is so much to say when there is clearly so much to do and when it is all so perfect in every way, so I can only hope we get to go back at some stage and repeat our amazing experience, I had reservations as I have never been on safari or to south Africa before and as we were travelling with children there are additional concerns, but they have all been blown out of the water and this really was, for us, an experience like no other, made all the more memorable by Solomon, Wayne, Richard and all the staff at Madikwe Lodge, it is truly an amazing place.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indiana
Top Contributor
142 reviews 142 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 55 cities Reviews in 55 cities
337 helpful votes 337 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2011

SHORT VERSION

People visit a luxury safari lodge for two reasons: 1) Game Drives and 2) Lodge Services. Based on these two criteria, Madikwe Safari Lodge deserves a 4 out of 5, but I am giving them a 5 because the new management staff, only in place three weeks, has already begun addressing the few shortcomings I noticed with lightening fast speed. My family (2 adults + 2 teenagers) felt this may have been the adventure vacation of a lifetime.

Our ranger and tracker, Andre, was outstanding. During our first evening drive, we saw 9 giraffe up close, 5 rhino and saw a pack of 9 wild dogs in various behaviors (hunting, playing, and singing). By the time we left, we saw everything other than the leopard. Andre knew how to track everything and we saw large volumes of all animals UP CLOSE. Seeing Lions at night roaring from 20 feet was quite a thrill (scare for some people). Andre provided an outstanding, safe, and entertaining game drive. Since he is the head ranger, I am sure the others are and will be great.

The camp staff, headed by Ulrika, made us feel like royalty from old days. We stayed in the West Camp and for half our stay had the entire staff of 8 take care of our every want and need. We had our own gourmet chef, laundry service, 2 to 3 people serving every meal and people on constant call if we needed anything. The manager of our camp, Rebecca, was so wonderful, she made us feel like part of her own family.

The new management company, More Hotels, inherited a beautiful, but dated facility, with lots of deferred maintenance. When I asked Ulrika her plans as the new manager, she listed off every problem I noticed and some of the repairs were already underway. She said the plan is to have a soft renovation done by September or October. By the high season, this already very good facility will be the sparkling gem of Madikwe Game Reserve. Thus, I am giving them a 5 rating. The 4 rating belongs to the prior management company, which left the resort in a less than polite manner.

Ulrika, Andre, Rebecca and Jennifer … OUSTANDING JOB!!!


LONG VERSION

Game Drives
The MSL rangers take you on two drives per day. Be prepared for cold temperatures in the early morning (July) and late night, but they give you hot water bottles and blankets. A wind breaker, gloves and hat with layered clothing will be perfect. My son kept count and came up with the following in 8 drives: 79 Zebra, 8 Black jackal, 1 ostrich, 13 lion (+2 on our porch one night drinking from our pool), 51 giraffe (one was dead being eaten by three lions), 9 wild dogs (various rare behaviors), 23 elephants, 24 rhino, 13 brown wart hogs, 1 brown hyena, 1 other hyena from a distance, 3 mongoose, 7 scrub hare, 2 dozen kudu, 12 buffalo, dozens of wildebeest, and Impala / birds everywhere. Best of all, we were up close with the animals and saw them in various behaviors. Andre could teach college classes on the various species in the reserve. The drives far exceeded all our expectations. Andre is an expert ranger, tracker, and information source. He amazed us with his ability to find anything we asked for. He needs to be cloned.

Meals
The meals were anything you wanted served in a variety of settings. The chef, Violet, had seafood, game, gourmet desserts, made to order breakfasts and everything in between. The boma was more than just a place to eat. Violet grilled the food and created dishes that will quickly become our new standards others will have to meet. Amazing is the best word I can find.

Housekeeping
The staff did a great job keeping the rooms clean. Considering the environment, this is amazing. Laundry service was prompt, good, and complimentary. They change sheets every other day. I would prefer daily. No complaints here. This is one area where bad service is noticed, and none was noticed.

Security
The escorts to the room are guys with flashlights. This did not make me feel safe. One night, a lion roared and drank from the pool outside my children’s room. The next morning Andre escorted us to the main building, riffle in hand. This made us rookie safari goers feel much better. You need only ask and they will provide it with a smile. They provide staff escorts 24 hours per day if you ask.

Facility
This is the area that would cause me to assign a 4 rating. The facility is well designed, full features and luxury amenities, but WAS poorly maintained by the prior management (&Beyond). The following items need to be replaced; furniture (not beds …they are very good), carpets, all linens, paint, phones (none in any rooms), wall décor, wall heaters, some fixtures, and water pipes (the water is not currently for drinking). Despite the high praise of &Beyond on these forums, they treated MSL poorly prior to their departure. In a conversation I had with Ulrika, and without me mentioning the prior list of concerns, she said they were going to replace furniture, paint, get new linens, carpets, all decorations, and already received wireless radio/phones to install in each room. She also mentioned their intention to investigate how to fix the water issue, which seems common throughout Madikwe because the elephants keep breaking the pipes. She said they are committed to making sure the water is drinkable by western standards. Good for them. On top of that, she expects all of it (maybe no water) to be done before high season in October.

Summary
This place was amazing, and the concerns I had are already on the “to do” list. I wish I had visited a few months later because I could already see the improvements starting. More Hotels, the new management company, is committed for the long haul and is investing to make the property the premier facility in Madikwe (which is why they get a 5 rating). I am curious to read reviews later this year. Other than the lack of phones (probably already fixed), the facility is family friendly, luxury service oriented and amazing for game drives.

If you are visiting Madikwe Game Reserve, do yourself a favor and put Madikwe Safari Lodge on your list.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Madikwe Safari Lodge

Address: Madikwe Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 23 Specialty lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Madikwe Safari Lodge 5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The rich red timbres of the African earth are reflected in the warm tones of Madikwe Safari Lodge. Cradled between rolling hills, overlooking game-filled plains intersected by the Marico River and framed by the Dwarsberg Hills, just 20 suites are clustered in three intimate camps. With circular fireplaces at the heart of every suite, and big glass doors to blur the boundary between inside and out, Madikwe embodies the warm, bold heart of this spectacularly rugged corner of Africa. Spacious wooden decks embrace inviting plunge pools, and book-filled shelves in quiet corners entice and captivate, while large pizza ovens add a fun twist to meal times. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Madikwe Safari Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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