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Tuningi Safari Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 22, 2011

Tuningi is a simply wonderful place to visit. It is the best of many bush experiences I have had. It is luxury but without detracting from the bush experience. The staff are genuinely warm, knowledgeable and extremely efficient. The rooms are luxurious with wonderful views of the bush. We saw a lot of game at the watering hole. The game drives were fantastic. We saw the big 5 plus many other very interesting sightings including wild dog. We will definitely return - very soon!!

Room Tip: They are all good
  • Stayed: October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank David T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 16, 2011

We (me, husband, sons aged 5&8) have just returned from a 3 night stay at Tuningi and had the most amazing experience. We flew into J'burg from Heathrow, and had a car transfer around the airport to the Federal Air Terminal (lovely, clean, lots of comfy seating, toilets, drinks & snacks) where we had a 2 hour wait for our flight out to the reserve. This flight took just 1 hour out across the bush to a red earth air strip in the middle of the reserve, complete with an elephant standing in the way! From here we were collected by the lodge and driven about 20 minutes back to the compound.

Tuningi accommodates just 16 guests in individual buildings all set within a site surrounded by an electric fence so it is safe to wander around un-accompanied. We had a family suite of 2 large bedrooms (both ensuite) leading off a large central living area with small kitchenette and a large veranda overlooking the reserve. Fortunately ours was very close to the main building but some are a little further away along well lit pathways. The building style is very attractive with beautiful thatched roofs, wooden floors and large windows overlooking the reserve. There are outside showers for the summer (or the brave) and gas fires in all rooms (very much needed at night as we were in their winter).

The main accommodation is open plan with lots of comfy seating, dining area, open bar, real log fires, wooden deck with small unheated pool and sun loungers. However, undoubtedly the best part is down a decked walkway which leads to a 400 yr old olive tree shading a viewing deck with seating and fire pit (for summer months only) overlooking a watering hole just 10 yards away. This was the scene of so much activity that even after an unsuccessful drive (which you WILL have), you did not feel disappointed and could while away many minutes marvelling at the spectacle. There is also a smaller deck beyond one of the furthest bedrooms, which if not privately booked, can be used and has a watering hole and pool which the elephants come and drink from.

The food & hospitality were beyond fault. Really wonderful dishes with a choice at each meal and the children's tastes provided for with pizza, spag bol etc. After each drive we were greeted with a hot chocolate for the children and a sherry for us, and the staff all eager to hear of our sightings and stories. It is first name terms immediately and they really went out of their way to make the boys happy with a treasure hunt of bush finds one day, plastacine for model making, colouring books, spotting lists and a babysitting service which was really good value. When we opted out of one early morning drive to give the boys a rest they spontaneously laid on a short trip out zebra hunting and showing them (& us!) the different tracks and droppings.

The drives themselves were at dawn (6.30am start) and dusk (3.30pm start) and generally took around 3 hours and included a stop for coffee and cakes or G&T and biltong. Being there in winter, it was VERY cold first and last thing and although blankets are provided you definitely need long trousers, socks, fleece layers, wind proof coat, beanie hat, scarf gloves etc. Being in an open vehicle in the dark at 30mph is bracing to say the least! We had some great drives and some disappointing ones but were there long enough to not mind the trips where all we saw was some leopard kill hanging from a tree and a couple of wildebeest. Those drives make you appreciate the good ones a lot more - this is not a zoo after all!

In summary, I would say that although my boys had a wonderful time, they were a little young to cope with the long drives with not much to look at and the sitting quietly and still for 15 minutes while we waited for an animal to show itself. They spent a lot of the driving time asleep under the blankets until woken by a hissed "look, a lion!", but actually that made our lives easier. Also, if you only have a short stay, do ask the guide what the plan is for a particular drive and if it doesn't sound like your thing do try and steer them into something else. We found we would head off without a word only to find we were tracking wild dogs miles away without any chance of seeing any other wildlife - it may have been the guide's idea of a challenge but not your ideal for one of only a few trips into the bush!

It was a truly amazing trip made totally special by the wonderful lodge staff. The open landcruisers over the rough terrain gave all my boys a thrill and we saw some incredible sites (don't forget a good zoom lens and your binoculars!). Would thoroughly recommend to anyone.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank pjroche
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 10, 2011

We have regrettably, just returned to the UK after a great 3 week trip back home in South Africa.

Without hesitation, the highlight was a 5 night stay in Tuningi Safari Lodge.

Child Friendly. We were travelling with a 2 year old child. We were provided with babysitting services i.e. Sheila who charged R45 an hour - around £4 or so. This enabled my wife and I to truly enjoy the experience for ourselves and feel safe in the knowledge that our little girl was being looked after. 34 hours of babysitting services quickly added up to quite a bit of money, but we loved our time alone together in the bush again. A cot were provided and we always came back to a happy child.

Lodge/Rooms/Facilities - Truly 5 Star. The views were stunning from our balcony. In fact, over 5 days we saw Lion, Rhino and Elephant all from the comfort of our chair with a Hunters Dry in our hand. In fact, our daughter saw Black Rhino while we were out on the game drive. The rooms are spacious and the outdoor shower was definately a highlight. The lodge itself was nice and a bit of a throwback to the old safari days in look and feel. Lovely overflowing pools - one in the lodge and one close to our room, meant we were always close to somewhere to take a dip. We were also the only ones in the lodge for 3 days which was fantastic.

Food/Staff/Entertainment - The food was 5 star and had a strong french flair in flavour and presentation. It took my palette by surprise on the first day as the food was very rich and I suffered a little bit that night, but after that I enjoyed every meal. 3 course meals, twice a day has meant a crash diet is required. The staff were very attentive and friendly and considering we are not 5 star people and Mr Plastic was used for this stay, they adapted well to us and made us feel like part of the furniture. When we had more guests, we had a boma fire for supper near the waterhole with Oxtail Potjie - YUM YUM. There was no real other entertainment, but as I mentioned, we were the only ones there. Thank you to Monique and Heidi for looking after us.

Wildlife/Game Drives - WOW WOW WOW. In 5 days we had 10 games drives. Some were quiet, but the majority were spectacular. We had regular sightings of lion, wild dog, rhino, elephant even a leopard. We saw a pack of wild dogs almost take down a Kudu as well as big male lions eating a giraffe. Gavin - Game Ranger - was always going above and beyond to ensure we got in the best angle or made sure we got everything we wanted out of our sightings. The ability to go off road was a MAJOR bonus, which you just dont get in the Kruger of Kgalagadi and others - for obvious reasons.

Overall, we had an enjoyable 5 days and enjoyed every moment. Truly wonderful people and the resident wildlife, like to ensure a great occassion is had. This really is a CHILD FRIENDLY place so don't hesitate to go if you want a good balance of bush and relaxation.

A few side notes, you need to be aware that you pay for ALL your drinks i.e. water, soft drinks and alcohol. I was not entirely aware of that and left us with a pretty hefty bill after 5 days which left things a little tainted. You also need to budget around R350 a day for tips for the staff i.e. £30. Also something I didn't really expect and couldn't really provide at the end of the trip. The 5 day stay - luckily in off peak - ended us costing us over R20k, so not cheap. I would say it was worth it in so many ways, but it was also a hell of a lot of money for 5 days.. Please note that if you are driving from Johannesburg, it should take around 4 hours and you will go through 3 or 4 toll roads. Most are around R9 - R14 or so i.e £1 or so max. However, the last toll gate before Madikwe is R67 i.e. £6. The logic as to that price is beyond us and also beyond the toll gate staff. A bit of a shock. Bear in mind, you will need to pay the same if you drive back as well, so make sure you have enough money.

  • Stayed: May 2011, traveled with family
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7  Thank delboysafa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 18, 2011

My husband and I have visited Madikwe Game Reserve on several occasions and have ALWAYS found it to be a fantastic experience. Hence, this year, when daughter, husband, and three boys aged 11, 7, and 2 years, decided to come over from the UK to SA, there was no question that we must all go to (malaria free) Madikwe. We chose Tuningi this time because it is 'child friendly' and this certainly proved to be so. We left our house in Cape Town at 4.00 a.m. and, twelve hours later, we were on our first family Game Drive. Our accommodation was Little Tuningi, which I have to say was 5* luxurious, so we had our own private game vehicle and personal ranger. The seven of us, along with Christo, our ranger, subsequently had amazing and exciting encounters. Tobi, aged 2, forged a special bond with "my man", Christo, who was exceptionally understanding and patient with him - and his brothers. Apart from seeing three lionesses with eight cubs playing in the quarry near the Lodge, an elephant herd fooling around in the dam, a journey of giraffes, dazzles of zebra (did you know that's the name for a group of giraffe/zebra?!!) and being charged by a rhino, plus much, much more - we saw a wild dog kill! Thank goodness I closed my eyes when the end came for the impala though I was assured it was very swift. Did you know that impala are known as the McDonalds of the bush - just look at the 'M' on their buttocks? I can't thank all the staff at Tuningi enough, especially Christo, for giving my grandsons a taste of the bush which I sincerely hope will be an long lasting love affair. My daughter and son-in-law have vowed that they will be back - of course, Madikwe kept the leopard a big secret so they will have to return! On each visit, Madikwe offers some new and exciting adventure so my husband and I, fingers firmly crossed, will hopefully be there again next year. Can't wait!!!

Room Tip: Wonderful adventures/accommodation for children.
  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank EllieCapeTown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2011

My first email from Colin Dilland of NMB Tours in Southg Africa set the tone for our wonderfully unique Game Reserve experience at Tuningi lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve close to the Botswana border.
A short hour's flight from OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg brought us onto the airstrip in the wild bush of Madikwe. A warm welcome awaited us from the friendly staff who could not do enough for us during our stay. We recommend a 3-day stay to really get the most out of your visit.
The accommodation is beautiful and the food delicious and beautifully presented. Game drives twice a day are exhiliarating and exciting, often taking a route off the roads into the bush. Anyone with a back problem should ask to sit up front with the ranger.
Gavin, our game ranger was fantastic. He made extreme effort ot ensure that we saw all The Big Five and many more animals. A plus of Madikwe is that it is malaria free too.

We highly recommend a stay at Tuningi Lodge and hope your experience will be as memorable as ours.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Keepongoing
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 31, 2011

Tuningi Safari Lodge was awesome! This amazing gem was a wonderful experience for me and my family, we truly enjoyed the experience. Make plans to stay at least 3 days, hold on tight during the safari's, and don't skimp on a camera. It's the only place I've ever had ostrich (good stuff!).

You can check our adventure out at http://botswana.kirbybase.com, includes photos of our room, animals, videos from our safari.

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled with family
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Thank OKLakeGoer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 25, 2010

Tuningi is on the western side of the Madikwe Reserve, in a small valley set in stony hills looking north towards Gabarone in Botswana. It is frequently visited by elephants and general game like kudu, zebra abd impala.
We drove ourselves to the lodge and arrived without warning, but we received a warm welcome with cold drinks and hot towels. The main lodge itself is unusual in being capable of being sealed off from the cold after dark - most are open air - which was much appreciated during a cold July.
There are 4 double rooms in separate thatched chalets and two family rooms. The rooms are beautifully decorated and very spacious with separate bathroom and toilet, an outdoor shower and a private game viewing deck. The only small niggle is a very small cupboard for clothes. The airconditioner changes to a heater in winter and there is also an open gas fire heating both the bedroom and bathroom.
The only complaint about the food is too much of it; rusks with coffee before the morning game drive, muffins at the coffee stop, a big breakfast on our return, lunch, which we refused and exchanged for a sandwich before the afternoon game drive, more snacks with sundowners, and then an excellent dinner on our return about 7.30.
A couple of days before we arrived a controlled burn by a nearby lodge had got out of hand, and the park ecologist insisted it should not be extinguised but should be allowed to burn itself out naturally. It eventually burned almost 20,000 hectares, which made the game viewing more difficult than it would normally be. Nevertheless, we saw lots of game including 4 of the Big 5 (leopards are very difficult to spot in Madikwe). Elephant sightings were excellent and we saw two different lion prides, one with tiny cubs and the other with lions mating. Our guide, Christo, was very good in the difficult circumstances, and his wife Wilma made everyone very welcome back at the lodge.
For anyone not used to this area in winter, it can be bitterly cold after sunset and early in the mornings. Bring lots of clothes, including anoraks. The blankets and hot water bottles in the vehicles help, but you need more!

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank safarifreak74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tuningi Safari Lodge

Address: Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 23 Specialty Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range: $891 - $2,438 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Tuningi Safari Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Tuningi Safari Lodge, situated in the world renowned Big 5, malaria-free, Madikwe Game Reserve, proudly showcases this protected areas African success story in magnificent style! Tuningi offers guests superior accommodation enhanced by an impressive Big 5 safari experience and personalised service in a friendly and relaxed environment. The Lodge welcomes children and in doing so, avails them of the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature, wildlife and our delicate eco-system first-hand. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Tuningi Safari Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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