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“Wonderful”

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Mateya Safari Lodge
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
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5  Thank CBravo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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41 - 47 of 56 reviews

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
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4  Thank kenbod
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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2  Thank papafour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 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
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2  Thank Munhoa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2010

We stayed at Mateya Lodge from February 4 to 7, 2010. This was our third safari trip, this time to the Northern part of South Africa, the malaria free Madikwe area.
The Lodge and the five individual suites are spectacular, each suite with own plunge pool and private sun deck. The very large bathroom has inside and outside shower and a huge bathtub. The suite is very spacious and beautifully furnished with a nice fireplace.
The game drives with ranger Werner and tracker/spotter Paul were exceptional. Werner has an incredible knowledge about flora and fauna and gave us the feeling that he and Paul really love their job. Werner also knew everything about the stars at night. The drives were done in a 4x4 vehicle, covered with a roof, protecting very well against the strong sun light.
Christine did an excellent job with her spa treatments. Food and wine were excellent, also the service. All in all a phantastic experience.
Brigitte and Horst from Germany

  • Stayed: February 2010, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank francoangelo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2010

I have stayed at Lion Sands, Ivory Lodge and Singita Boulders. I have friends who have stayed at the same resorts as I with me and absolutely loved Mateya. In fact, they preferred it to the other two and I disagreed. Hence, it's a matter of what you like. I think I will tell you my opinion of what I didn't like as much as the other two lodges to get that out of the way. I loved the Singita and Lion Sands rooms better. They had very large separate bedroom and living room areas. During the day, you could really get away from one another. The Mateya rooms were just one large room. They were a very nice size, but just couldn't compare. If you wanted to read at night, you would bother the other person. The meals at noon were not as well planned. I am a lunchtime eater. I like a menu or a buffet. Singita offered a nice varied buffet or a room service menu. Lion Sands offered a menu with a few choices. Mateya didn't offer anything. You had to ask them to make you something that you felt like. Too much decision for me. Hence, since there was no menu, folks didn't stay together for lunch after the drives and ate alone in their houses. You didn't see them again until the drives. What I didn't like the most was the topography. It is vast and I found it hard to see animals as easily. You weren't allowed to drive off road as in the Sabi Sands area, so you couldn't get as close to animals unless you were lucky. The landscape wasn't as pretty to my eyes as well. Others would argue that all these things I didn't like were what they did like versus Sabi Sands. On the positive side, the breakfasts had lovely fresh fruit, the lodge was gorgeous and offered a great viewing of the water hole where you could sit back and watch animals from either there or your deck. We had no such interesting viewing from the lodges at either of the Sabi Sands locations. It was safe to walk at most times. The property is fenced in, keeping dangerous animals out. So, you could go out at night. The decks were lovely and offered restful views. The shop was very nice. Dinners were extravagently presented, but with less fun and more formality. I didn't like the menu choices or variety as much as Singita or Lion Sands, but that is personal. Mateya offers a wonderful value and is in a maleria free zone. Some of my friends are rebooking Mateya over Lion Sands this time around. The lodge and rooms are elegantly furnished. The resort setting itself is more beautiful than Lion Sands so it really depends what is important to you and your style. For me, the ability to go off road is very important.

  • Stayed: September 2009
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4  Thank berniss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 3, 2010

This was our 4th safari and we chose to return to Madikwe Game Reserve for a 2nd time since it is so close to Gabarone, Botswana, where we were working. We have been completely satisfied, no exceptions, with each place in southern Africa where we have stayed in the past. Mateya certainly raised the bar even higher if possible. There are only 5 suites, actually independent lodges with small infinity pools overlooking the savannah. We were the only guests for our first 1 and 1/2 days there and were treated like royalty. We had a vehicle, wonderful guide and truly amazing tracker for just the two of us the entire 4 days we spent at Mateya. We did not choose Mateya for the art but were really quite blown away by the many marvelous, unique pieces. Every meal was superb. One evening my husband and I ate dinner in the wine cellar. I wish I could have taken the painting of the hippo home...Wine cellar, hippo, delicious food and wine as well as excellent service....You're not in Kansas any more!

We saw many many animals, including wild dogs. Treat yourself to a massage....The masseuse was top notch.

We enthusiastically recommend Mateya Lodge without reservation

  • Stayed: April 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank anniejet
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
Hotel Style:
Ranked #21 of 23 Specialty Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range: $602 - $2,032 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Mateya Safari Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 5
Also Known As:
Mateya Safari Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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