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“Thakadu is amazing...would not change a thing!”
Review of Thakadu River Camp

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Thakadu River Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Atlanta, Georgia
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
“Thakadu is amazing...would not change a thing!”
Reviewed December 17, 2013

I can’t say enough wonderful things about Thakadu River Camp. It was my first safari (my husband is from SA and has been on safaris before) and we had a great time. The safari, the room, the people, the food – all top notch. No complaints – not even one!

I don’t even know where to start with the review....

The staff was very friendly and courteous. ALL of them had bright smiles on their faces, called us by name every time we saw them and were always there to help us or offer is a cold drink. It was a level of service we seldom see in the US, even at the upscale hotels. The GM was there made sure we had what we needed and usually had a great story to tell (thank you Wayne).

The food was fantastic. I am not typically an adventurous eater when it comes to meat, but I ate everything they prepared and loved every bite of it (even though I was taking pictures of some of it earlier in the day). Dinner in the boma was a beautiful experience.

Even though this was my first safari, I cant imagine NOT staying in a tented room. At night you get to hear all the sounds of Africa. Our room was beautiful, with a big bed with mosquito netting (though we didn’t see one mosquito), a beautiful view of the river, a tub and shower and double vanity. They provided us with umbrellas and flash lights/torches to walk back and forth from the lodge. The monkeys outside the windows would put on quite a trapeze show in the afternoons. There is aircon in the rooms, but it does get a little hot but no where near unbearable. But hey, this is Africa. If you don’t want to be hot you may want to reconsider what time of year you go. I enjoyed the heat coming from the cold US.

The safari...wow! We saw the big 5, even the illusive leopard. We saw 2 different lion kills and even lions mating. It was like a Nat Geo special. We were up-close and personal with rhinos, mom and baby elephants, too many giraffes to count, bucks, bucks, bucks, zebras galore, the cheetah brothers, wild dogs, warthogs, and so much more. The guide spotted things I couldn’t even begin to find. One of my favorite things was one afternoon a heard of elephants crossed the bridge right by the lodge and started playing in the water right in front of us. It was beautiful. Who knew a full grown elephant could completely submerge itself! The next day, about the same time, after playing in the water, and elephant came walking up the river bank and starting eating leaves off the trees about 6-7 feet in from of us while we were standing in the lodge. It was hard to remember these were wild animals, not trained to come up to people. What an experience!

All in all, we will be back to Thakadu. I honestly can't think of one thing I would have changed about our visit there.

Room Tip: We were in Room 6 - loved it!
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  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Kerry P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wayne H, Manager at Thakadu River Camp, responded to this review, January 9, 2014
An African greeting from all the staff at Thakadu River Camp,

We are so very happy to receive your words of compliments and gratitude. Positive feedback not only encourages my team but importantly points to the fact that you really did enjoy your experience with us. We are most grateful for this.
We are happy you enjoyed our bush cuisine, the fact that were are a tented camp and the game viewing safari.
When discussing your review with my staff, they still remember your group by name and look forward to your return where once again we will strive to offer you a wholesome bush experience. We will have something special to treat you with when you join us as a return guest.

Wishing you and yours an enjoyable festive season filled with happiness and love…

Kindly,

Wayne Herholdt
General Manager
Thakadu River Camp
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Johannesburg, South Africa
2 reviews
Reviewed December 11, 2013

I have been to many lodges in the Madikwe Area, Sabi Sabi ,Pilanesberg and the Waterberg areas and Thakadu I rate as on eof my top lodges . The staff could not do enough - I asked to have a boma dinner as my kids hadnt experienced a Private lodge before and France said he would see what he could do .He put out all the stops and we had our boma dinner - thank you France for making our stay even more great . Patience was just an amazing guide - full of knowledge and wonderful wit. She gave us the game drive of the year - we saw EVERYTHING and more and she did it with such determination -thank you Patience . And a big thank to you all the staff who couldnt do enough for us -very welcoming and extremely friendly and polite .
The tents over looking the river was just so stunning and on the last morning we lay in bed watching the monkeys jump from tree to tree and listening to the river as it had started to rain so we decided we had already seen so much we would stay in .
I would highly recommend Thakadu River Camp to anyone xx

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Annie142
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wayne H, Manager at Thakadu River Camp, responded to this review, December 13, 2013
Seasonal greetings from Thakadu River Camp,

Thank you kindly for your comments and compliments on TripAdvisor.
We are very happy that you and your family enjoyed your experience with us to such an extent. The staff of Thakadu River Camp would love to welcome you and the family back as one of our regular return guests.
Thakadu wishes you a wonderful festive season further…

Gratefully,

Wayne Herholdt
General Manager
Thakadu River Camp
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Huntington Beach, California, United States
Level 6 Contributor
138 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
Reviewed December 7, 2013

We went to Thakadu along with a group of other photographers led by Kevin and Clare Kubota. What a wonderful experience! Our group took every room in the lodge. The staff is the best we have ever experienced. Not only were they accommodating, they really wanted us to enjoy ourselves. Our daily guides were great with Precious and her fabulous ability to see animals long before anyone in the Land Cruiser could.Personally I was extremely grateful for that ability when a bull elephant decided that we were too close and chose to "push" us out of the way. Precious knew just when to turn and let the bull still stay with his group. There were over 100 elephants at that moment it was then that I realized that elephants are really the kings of the jungle, in spite of that label being applied to lions.
Every day the food was perfect and I must state that ostrich is one piece of meat that is hard to chew. It's not gamey or bad tasting, you just have to spend a lot of time chewing it. The accommodations are first rate. We had both a shower and a tub, along with mosquito netting. The monkeys were not a problem in our room as we never left the sliding glass doors ajar, so this sneaky creature did not bother us. it was fun training them that we did want them around for dinner, and their antics to steal fruit were fun to say the least. Be prepared to see animals as soon as you start out your daily safaris. We saw a huge group of elephants within two minutes of entering the reserve on our first day. We were joking with our guide on how did she arrange such a large gathering so quickly, especially on our first day. The various camps in the Madikwe Reserve do keep in contact with each other by CB, so when an interesting site or incident occurs, they share the experience. We saw this literally every day and when the lions took down a zebra, we were right there. Lions are not neat eaters and I will give you caution. Don't let your hands dangle out the Land Cruiser. One of our participants had let her hand dangle out the side as she sat on the end and suddenly noticed her hand was about to touch a female lion. The lions see us as a large multi-eyed animal so we are safe as long as we do not convert that we are something less - as in edible. You will have opportunities to make hundreds of images daily. How good is it? Go to lynettekent.com and look at the Africa Gallery. Then hit slideshow and be amazed at what we saw. If you are a photographer, don't forget to bring your polarizer filters and get up esrly for the sunrise and even the sunsets. It's an experience you will never forget and it's on our bucket list to return

Room Tip: Ask for a room closer to the lodge and do not leave the sliding glass door open as monkeys will help...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank 943RickR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wayne H, Manager at Thakadu River Camp, responded to this review, December 13, 2013
Good morning,

We are flattered to receive your positive and complimentary feedback surrounding your experience with us here at Thakadu River Camp. Thank you kindly, so very much appreciated. I have passed your comments on to our family of staff. The subsequent groups x2 that Kevin Dooley brought in this year were also very successful.
Since your visit, both Wild Dog packs produced young. Guests had the privilege of viewing them whilst they were denning, a period for fantastic photography. These pups have now matured and are on the move with the adult dogs, participating in all the hunts. The Cheetah Brothers remain nomadic and in search for females. They are regularly sighted and remain in top condition. The Game Reserve has now put on a blanket of emerald green after the harsh dry season.

Excellent that Thakadu River Camp is in your bucket list Rick, it would be wonderful to receive you back in camp as a return guest.

Thakadu River Camp awaits you…

Gratefully,

Wayne Herholdt
General Manager
Thakadu River Camp
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CPT
Level 4 Contributor
19 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed November 10, 2013

Having been fortunate enough to stay at many lodges throughout SA - I'm well versed in the safari 'experience' ... unfortunately Thakadu falls short on so many levels.

The negatives:

*Cream soda mixed with orange juice is served as a welcoming drink. How bizarre - and tastes ghastly. What are they thinking ?

*Severe attitude problem from "Dunisang" - the staff member tasked with 'welcoming' us to the lodge on arrival. I was admonished when asking the simple question as to what time lunch was served ! Staff with attitude problems should not be in the service industry. When a guest asks a question - you politely answer it there and then ... not talk back and gruffly retort that you'll answer it later. I've never experienced anything like this before.

*Air conditioners were not working in our room. There was zero communication surrounding this - and I had to find out on my own accord. This is simply unacceptable. With 36 degree heat - aircon is a non-negotiable. And if they not able to be repaired - you contact the travel agent and inform the guests AHEAD of time so that alternative arrangements can be made.
What irritated me even more was being told categorically by the manager that there was no possible chance of changing rooms. And very much a case of take it or leave it. That is not a solution. It should not require me to get hold of my travel agent - and for them to come down like a ton of bricks on management for them to find a solution. Magically another room became available - but only after my agent's intervention.

*Even with the aircon working - the tents are hot and uncomfortable. Keep this in mind for those visiting during Summer!

*I EXPLICITLY contacted the lodge prior to my arrival regarding my preference for substantial game drive snacks - rather than the usual pitiful offerings of some peanuts & biltong. I was categorically told that this would not be a problem. Needless to say the request was completely forgotten about. This is poor form.

*There is zero selection for your meals and you offered no choice. There is a single starter, single main course and single dessert. An establishment of this caliber can afford to in the very least offer a choice of 2 mains!

*Desserts are clearly not the chef's specialty. "Choc mousse" was in fact a powdery, dry chocolate cake. Creme brulee wld better be described as Chisel Brulee it was so hard.

*Despite it bucketing down with rain - there were no ponchos on the vehicle and on our return to the lodge - only 2 umbrellas were brought to meet the vehicle - containing 6+ pax

*Housekeeping was late on 2 occasions ... with guests leaving at 5:30 am - it is not unreasonable to expect one's room to be ready on your return from game drive by 9:30 am

*This is a kid-friendly establishment - and pool space is severely limited.

Positives

*Our waiter, Thabang, was outstanding and a credit to the lodge. He's a real asset - nothing was too much trouble.

*Jerry, our ranger, was superb ( although he was in fact filling in from another lodge ) We had some fantastic sightings.


The lack of attention to detail and poor management oversight makes ourThakadu experience a very average one. We will not be returning in the near future. They can do so much better.
There are far nicer lodges in Madikwe worthy of your consideration.

Room Tip: Request a room close to the main lodge otherwise you will be walking for ages. The tents are well sp...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Craig M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed November 1, 2013

After reading the favourable reviews on this site, we booked 3 nights at Thakadu. We found Thakadu very disorganised and very average. The air conditioners never worked, the food was average, the game drives were rushed, the rooms were not clean, the bathroom towels were dirty and the sheets were stained. We didn't think this lodge came up to the standard that we have come to enjoy with other Madikwe Lodges.

Room Tip: Room 12 seems to get better sightings of game
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Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
4 Thank Arti S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg , SA
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed October 14, 2013

We managed to get a last minute reservation at Takadu for a weekend break. We knew nothing of the lodge but were heartened by the TripAdvisor reviews. Fortunately, Takadu was perfect in almost every way. This is not one of those slightly overdone Out of Africa lodges with matching price tag. But it has a genuine bushveld safari style with all the mod cons any reasonable person could require. The location is lovely - fronting on a perennial river. The tented accommodation is gorgeous with great privacy in this small lodge. We were greeted by an elephant feeding in the trees less than 10 metres from our balcony. Food tasty and freshly prepared. Game drives were extensive and full of wonderful surprises - wild dog, lion, plenty of elephants, white and a charging black rhino - made for 2 very enjoyable days. The staff are the real treasure though. You can feel that they genuinely regard themselves as shareholders in the lodge. Nothing is too much trouble and always done with sincerity. More pros - child friendly and a really easy drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria (unlike many other lodges). Cons / hints - a bit short of swimming pool space on blazing hot days; tents can also get a bit steamy and you are advised to leave the aircon on for much of the day; smear yourself with sunblock even for the chilly early morning game drives. We'll be back soon for the leopard..

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank TheBees01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durbanville, South Africa
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed September 19, 2013

What an Great Experience- From Lucky untill Tsolo the Game drive Guide- everybody made you feel special. Food was Tops. Game drives was all special.Please keep this place special and look after it- you have got a winning receipe! Very close encuonters with the animals and again the bush just made you feel- is the rat race really worth it; places like these are much nicer and good for your well being

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank WILDEHOND007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Thakadu River Camp

Property: Thakadu River Camp
Address: Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Location: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #15 of 23 Specialty Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Thakadu River Camp 5*
Number of rooms: 8
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Also Known As:
Thakadu River Camp Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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