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“Best safari lodge on the planet”
Review of Jamala Madikwe

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Jamala Madikwe
Certificate of Excellence
Midland, Texas
Level Contributor
114 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Best safari lodge on the planet”
Reviewed October 23, 2013

We have stayed at Jamala twice and rank it at the top of all the fine hotels in the world. Even the fabulous Mombo doesn't rival Jamala! Jamala Royal Safari Lodge was Shaun's dream for years and Rodney and he made it a reality. The lodge is simply breathtaking, truly perfection as only Shaun and Rodney could achieve. The main lodge must be seen to believe. It rivals the finest exotic homes anywhere and the game watching from the veranda in absolutely first class! The villas rival the finest hotels in the world, but with views none of them can even approach. The ladies really appreciate the hot bubble bath drawn every night with fresh rose petals strewn across the floor!

The entire compound is surrounded by an electrified fence, so you are can move about freely at night, which is a rarity in Africa! This also allows for some of the finest star gazing in the world from your own veranda with views of the Milky Way so vivid words fail in description...literally as if someone had spread a bucket of brilliant diamonds across the sky...then there are the Magellanic Clouds and dozens of easily visible star clusters and nebulae...WOW!

On our trip this July we were stunned to learn of Shaun's passing at Christmas. It truly dampened our return as we were really anticipating his attention to detail, warmth and friendliness. I am happy to report that Rodney and Nico have carried on in the grand spirit of Jamala.

Our two guides Lucky and J R were as good as guides can get, helpful, knowledgable an just fun to be with. J R's knowledge of the birds is truly phenomenal and Lucky is able to find absolutely ANY animal in the preserve, almost on demand!

Do not miss this Jewel of South Africa, but make it your final "camp" of your safari as anyplace you stay after Jamala will be a huge letdown. It is worth every penny it costs, many times over!

Room Tip: There are NO bad rooms! Every one is the very best of the best!
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank James W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rodney S, Owner at Jamala Madikwe, responded to this review, November 27, 2013
Thank you for this tremendous endorsement and we are delighted that the experience the second time around was as special. So heartwarming to hear that and a great achievement to the staff of this special place. It has grown so in the last two years and will continue to do so. I am happy too you have noticed the other exciting viewing like star gazing in addition to Madikwe's already renowned Big 5 game viewing. Our waterhole has grown too as you have noticed and the attractions are still as special to everyday. We love your room tip and we look forward to welcoming you back to your home in Africa. Rod, Nico, JR and all the rest of the staff at Jamala Madikwe.
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286 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (91)
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English first
Raleigh, North Carolina
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 16, 2013

I am part of a group of 10 girlfriends that were looking for a place to have a reunion/girls getaway. We went to high school together many years ago and had a lot of catching up to do. All of us are married with kids and busy lives and wanted to go somewhere relaxing, all-inclusive (don't want to lift a finger), but unique. Many places around the world were considered, but we finally decided on Jamala. I'm not sure it's possible to put into words the unbelievable experience we had at Jamala. Five days and four nights of absolute heaven in the bushveld!!! The food, service, setting, accommodations...everything was excellent!!! The attention to detail was amazing...wet scented cloths presented to us after our morning game drive, a hot bath that was ready for a soak after our evening game drive...food prepared to perfection, but also to our own taste/specifications. Attentive staff that were always available but never in the way. Amazing game drives with an experienced, very knowledgable game ranger. My praises can go on forever. Thank you Rodney, Nico, Lucky and the rest of the staff for going above and beyond to make our experience at Jamala so unique and unforgettable. I definitely will be coming back with the family!!!

Room Tip: Villa Number 1 is closest to the main lodge and has a view of the water hole, but all of the villas...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank KBT73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nico V, General Manager at Jamala Madikwe, responded to this review, October 18, 2013
Dear kbt73
We are so greatfull that you decided to spend such a special event with us at Jamala Madikwe. The all inclusive rate does make travelling a whole lot easier especially to busy hard working mom's. We always endevour to make the experience as memeroble as possible and we are so happy you enjoyed every single detail.

The food is always very personal and we make it our priority to serve fine cuisine of the highest standard. The Jamala-ian's are very pleased to get such great feedback. We look forward to hosting you and your family.
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Flower Mound, Texas
Level Contributor
17 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed October 16, 2013

I spent 4 nights at Jamala, and loved every minute. The Management, Owner, and staff are just simply excellent. The rooms are fantastic. It's 24 hour game viewing. I saw just as much sitting and eating meals as I did out on the game drives. The lodge is built right in front of a popular watering hole. At times there were as many as 50 elephants just right there! One morning going off on game drive 3 lionesses came right up to the watering hole.

Schedule is they wake you up about 5:30 for the morning game drive. you leave by 6. Back by 9 or so for breakfast. You have a coffee break with some yogurt and musli offered. Breakfast is grand at 9. No real lunch offered you have high tea at 3:30 which is lunch. Afternoon safari starts at 4, back around 8 for dinner.

Only complaint for me, Was the lack of lunch offering. It took a little to get used to as a diabetic. I'm sure if I would have asked, They would have accomadated.

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank chorton702
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nico V, General Manager at Jamala Madikwe, responded to this review, October 18, 2013
Thank you so much for the kind comments chorton702.
We loved having you stay with us at Jamala Madikwe, the waterhole hasn't stopped since you were here. This morning we witnessed two of the big 5, Elephants and Lions, at the Jamala waterhole. We had an incredible leopard sighting wich you can see on our face book page.

With regards to special dietary needs we would be happy to accomodate in any such requests.

Jamala Madikwe is a great destination for solo travellers and the sofa safari will leave you wanting more.
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Perth, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed October 15, 2013

We were looking for somewhere special to finish off our trip to Africa after staying at Nxabega in the Okavango before heading home to Perth & were referred to Jamala Madikwe by mutual friends & colleagues who had been there before & knew Rodney & Nico. I can't believe how lucky we were to take their advice. Nxabega was a fantastic experience but Jamala was the absolute higlight of our trip !! It's not cheap but worth every penny ! Rodney & Nico are the most gracious of hosts, their passion for the Jamala experience is infectious. The staff are warm & friendly & nothing is too much trouble. The villa's are sensational, it is the ultimate luxury experience, where else can you lie in bed (what a bed !!) & watch africa pass on by, or if you wish, do the same from the plunge pool on the sun deck during the day. The water was "refreshing" but thats just the time of the year. Then there's the food; fine dining on Safari is the best way to describe this, Nico & his staff really do an incredible job, do NOT miss the high tea before the afternoon/evening game drive, you will be very tempted to over eat but hold back a little because the evening meal will be waiting for you on your return, which is an experience in itself ! Lucky (& Fortune) were very knowledgeable guides & it was an absolute pleasure to have them guide us around the greater Madikwe reserve. Not only did we see the Big 5 but also the terrific 10 including Cheetah on the hunt & the Wild Dogs !! Their insightful knowledge of enviroment & the wildlife made the drives all that more interesting. A highlight was the return of a male leopard captured outside the park being returned by the rangers to madikwe (he wasn't happy !!) Rodney, Jamala is am absolute credit to you & an experience Vicki & I loved ! When we were leaving on that last day Vicki said she didn't want to go. On all our travels together, I've never heard her say that once so I guess that say's it all !! We will be back !!

Room Tip: The best view of the waterhole is from the villa's closest to the main lodge, but you still have...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Mark L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rodney S, Owner at Jamala Madikwe, responded to this review, October 16, 2013
Thank you Vicki and Mark, that is a heart warming review. I am even happier it was the highlight of your trip and even bigger compliment is Vicki's comment at the end. We would welcome you back any time. Your animal sightings of just about everything including Cheetah and watching the WIld Dogs hunt were incredible and I hope you have some great photo's from this and the other sightings of Lions, Buffalo and endless plains game. We are still having crazy day time activity on our "Sofa Safari" with the usual suspects, Elephants, and as the rains have still not come, just about everything else to quench their thirst. Thank you too for your praise on everything else from the lodge to the food. That is always such a great boost and reaffirmation for our wonderful staff who are all as passionate about making this experience a memorable one. As I have mentioned, the game experience, lodge and accommodation and cuisine all need to reflect and compliment each other. I am so happy that this experience has been exceptional for you and hope this is the first of many more trips and adventures to South Africa. Thank you, Rod, Nico, Lucky and the rest of the team at Jamala Madikwe
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Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
35 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed October 14, 2013

This safari lodge has to be among the top in South Africa as I can't think of any shortcomings. There are 5 luxury villas each with private plunge pool. The villas are elegantly and tastefully decorated, and accommodate one couple each so I assume there are a maximum of 10 guests. The main lodge is likewise beautiful and overlooks a watering hole which frequently during our 4 day stay was visited by elephants, water buffalo, giraffes, and other animals which could also be seen from our villa. The food was fantastic. I had not expected such amazing quality and style given the few guests, but there was no compromise. The manager and staff were graciously welcoming and friendly ensuring that our stay was perfect.

Room Tip: Villas nearer the main lodge can also see the watering hole.
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank steing1111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rodney S, Owner at Jamala Madikwe, responded to this review, October 16, 2013
Thank you for this fantastic review, much appreciated. The secret is now out about villa 1 and the view - this is all part of what is important to us, the game experience, the lodge and accommodation and of course the food. All three need to compliment and reflect each other. The privacy we are afforded with our location in Madikwe Game Reserve and that it also allows us exceptional game viewing from the main deck and from the villa's. We are so happy this was a rewarding experience for you and look forward to welcoming you on another occasion. Rod, Nico, Lucky and the whole team at Jamala Madikwe.
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Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
56 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed September 27, 2013

We have just returned from an awesome loooong weekend break at Jamala Madikwe safari lodge in the North West province. What a fantastic experience, from the company, location, amenities, the food, game drives, the lodge itself - all brilliant! Thanks so much to Rodney, Lucky, JR, Laurence, and the rest of the guys - you really made us feel welcome. I can't wait to be back.

Room Tip: Ask for the first villa - just because it is the closest to the waterhole and lying in bed with game...
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank CapeTownCobraman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rodney S, Owner at Jamala Madikwe, responded to this review, October 16, 2013
Thank you for your review, it is always great to have a satisfied client leaving wanting to come back. We will be waiting to welcome you back again. I am glad you got to experience our "Sofa Safari" and hope the photo's have yielded some great shots. The waterhole in front of the lodge has continued to deliver many species including the Big5, Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard andBuffalo. Look forward to seeing you all again, Rodney and the team at Jamala Madikwe
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Sao Paulo, SP
Level Contributor
31 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed August 25, 2013

The only thing we regret is not staying longer! We've had 3 nights there and it was A M A Z I N G. Everything was so perfect! The people are friendly, kind and delicate. The food is first class, top class, delicious, unforgetable... The rooms (well, you can call it Villas, by the huge space you will find there) are simply perfect. Beautiful, comfortable and has big wall-windows so you can see the animals passing by - yeah, just in front of your villa! It is perfectly safe because of the fences and it allows you to watch the zebras, wildbeest and impalas from your bed! It can't get any better! From the mais area you can see them driking water from the waterhole! And we saw everything, even hyenas and elephants and baboons and rhinos and giraffes drinking water there...
Rodney, Nico, Phumi, Precious, Prayer... I know their names and I will never forget the moments we had there.

Room Tip: No tips needded - all the villas are amazing! and they have only 05 villas what makes it really priv...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank FlaviaMaxim0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rodney S, Owner at Jamala Madikwe, responded to this review, August 28, 2013
Thank you Flavia, this review is most appreciated. I am so glad you spent time enjoying the lodge and experiencing the special space we have. To see Elephants almost daily, Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Impalas all from your bed is so much of what Jamala Madikwe is about. Our "Sofa Safari" from the main deck overlooking our private waterhole is also such a special part of the experience. We want guests to be relaxed and enjoying themselves, whether out on a treasure seeking Big 5 game drive, being pampered in the spa or using the gym, "Sofa Safari-ing" on the deck, enjoying some of Nico and Prayer's fantastic food creations or simply taking some nap time in the villa's - every aspect needs to reflect the other. Thank you and I will pass this onto the staff you have mentioned, such a great boost for them. We look forward to another trip in the future. Rodney, Nico, Lucky and the entire team at Jamala Madikwe
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Additional Information about Jamala Madikwe

Property: Jamala Madikwe
Address: | Madikwe Game Reserve via Molatedi Gate, Madikwe Game Reserve 2838, South Africa
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 23 Specialty Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Jamala Madikwe 5*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Jamala Madikwe is an intimate and elegant safari lodge located within the 75 000 HA malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa's North West Province. Each of the five sumptuous and elegantly appointed suites offer private decks and rim-flow swimming pools. Madikwe is home to all of the Big 5 and most of Africa's top game species which includes a spectacular array of general game in addition to a very successful breeding program for the endangered wild dog. ... more   less 
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