We visited Madikwe Hills in the middle of winter last year. I must admit that enjoyed it quite a lot and in this review I will give you honest feedback on my experience.
The lodge does not allow children under the age of 10. This makes it perfect for romantic getaways, friends traveling together and people looking for a relaxed, stylish experience.
We also suggest this lodge quite often when one of our guests say that they wish to propose and the lodge goes out of their way to make this a special moment.
It is also amazing for weddings.
At a Glance
Suites: Beyond Amazing
Game Ranger: Beyond Amazing
Safari Vehicle: Amazing
We arrived at Madikwe Hills during lunch time. Hannes, the General Manager of the lodge awaited our arrival and greeted us with a smile and a welcome drink. While we checked in, the lodge staff were quick to take our luggage to our rooms.
Check-in was no hassle and Hannes and I joked a great deal during this time. He made the tedious admin a lot less so (we go on lots of site inspections and checking in can become a chore).
I was amazed by how beautiful the walkways were. There was nothing really “different” about it, just a wooden walkway with some rope…but somehow they made it seem quite classy. This type of simple class is something I came to notice throughout my stay at Madikwe Hills.
After check-in, Hannes escorted us to the main lodge where we had lunch.
Lunch was taken on the deck overlooking the waterhole. We were unlucky as the waterhole wasn’t really active.
I was quite surprised by the lunch menu. Most lodges only provide you with three menu options, usually 2 meat and 1 vegetarian dishes. Madikwe Hills provided us with 2 meat and 2 vegetarian options and I won’t lie, it was hard to decide what to eat as everything looked amazing. In the end I opted for the fillet.
The waiting staff at Madikwe Hills were very good. Everything happened quickly and efficiently. The only thing that bothered me was that they were a bit stiff. Other than that, the service at lunch was amazing.
My fillet arrived and I was very surprised at how expertly and gently it was seasoned. The chef definitely knew his way around a piece of meat and I loved it.
My colleague tried a vegetarian dish and she said it was quite brilliant.
At Madikwe Hills’ price I was expecting a really high quality suite. I can honestly say, there was very little room for amazing me because my expectations were so high. I can also honestly say, they surprised the living hell out of me.
The suites are HUGE. My first flat was smaller than those suites. Another obvious theme was using the bush as their décor. The suites are all glass fronted with spectacular views of the surrounding bush. The suites are also so well designed that no one can see into those glass walls so absolute privacy is guaranteed.
The bathrooms were magnificent. The bath (which I sampled extensively) was placed in such a way that you could watch the bush surroundings while lazing away.
There are also outdoor showers if you are romantically inclined as well as an outdoor private splash pool. I was there in winter so I didn’t use the private splash pool (however, my colleague Corné did and she loved it), but seeing as Madikwe Game Reserve gets incredibly hot during the summer, I am sure that it proves absolutely amazing during those months.
Afternoon/evening game drive
We met up at the main lodge for high tea just before our game drive. The selection of snacks were delicious.
We were alone on the game vehicle due to us going during an odd low occupancy night (the lodge usually runs at around 90% occupancy). I was informed that they generally only seat 6 people per vehicle (which is the ideal because it makes for the best game viewing).
Having been on many game drives in our lives, we are quite familiar with the bush and the entire experience. Our game ranger was quick to pick up on this and he tailored the game drive to our experience, which not many rangers do. We did see some of the Big Five, which is always a treat, but he made sure to talk to us about the smaller things. One such example is how to use an Acacia thorn and spider web as a needle and thread if we were ever injured in the bush and needed some stitches.
In the evening, it go quite cool on the game drive, however the lodge provided us with extremely warm ponchos which pretty much sorted that problem.
Arriving back at the lodge, we were greeted again by Hannes and the lodge staff. We were handed a warm wet towel to wash the dirt from our faces.
Just like lunch, our dinner menu included 2 meat dishes and 2 vegetarian dishes. I went with the quail and I was once again surprised by how delicately and expertly this dish was seasoned. I must admit, the food at Madikwe Hills was really top class and very few places come close to it.
Morning game drive
The morning game drive was fairly quiet with regards to the Big Five. This is where our ranger’s knowledge of the bush came to life. I remember vividly an incredibly 20 minutes spent next to a Shepherd’s Tree with our guide giving us all of the information on all of its uses.
Who knew one tree could be that useful? As an example, it can be used to make some sort of coffee, which I find quite amazing as I can never get through the day without my morning cup.
Now in my experience, breakfast is the most boring meal and it was lovely to see a place really go all out trying to change this.
Breakfast had the normal spread of cereals, biscuits, coffee and juices. With this comes an extensive warm breakfast menu. Loving poached eggs, I obviously went for this…and as I was becoming to expect, it was delicious.
Hannes is the heart and soul of Madikwe Hills. Every part of his personality is the definition of hospitality. He handles each and every person as an individual, not just with respect, but respectful friendliness that is uniquely his own way. He comes across as a person who believes his sole purpose is to make his guests feel at home.
Over the years, I have sent several guests to Madikwe Hills and I must admit, each and every one of them mentioned Hannes in their feedback.
The general staff at Madikwe Hills are all excellent. However, I wish they would smile more, make a few more jokes. The general atmosphere at the lodge is one of excellence without effort, but the lack of warmth from the staff sort of broke that feeling a little.
Driving up to Madikwe Hills, we could see the parking lot for the staff village. It wasn’t as beautiful as the lodge, so this proved to be a little bit of an eye sore. It isn’t a major issue…but I would be remiss in not mentioning it.
Madikwe Hills is expensive. It is also worth it if you can afford it. The entire experience from beginning to end was one of true class, beauty and luxury. It is one of those places that somehow gets the mix just right, the relaxed bush feeling mixed with the world class luxury that is hard to come by.