elephant at the waterhole
Madikwe Game Reserve, April 2017

A 3 generation family safari was the request from regular US travellers - this time to include grandchildren and first time to Africa parents! After some research we settled on the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve in north west South Africa and on the child-friendly Lelapa Lodge - part of the Madikwe Safari Lodge portfolio.

We met at OR Tambo Airport on Easter Saturday morning and, amid much excitement, started our road journey, arriving mid-afternoon. At 75,000 ha in extent Madikwe is the fifth largest game reserve in the country. Originally farmland, in 1991 the area was converted into a game reserve and 10 000 mammals including the Big 5 were relocated from other national parks. Despite the large number of lodges, game activities are well managed and the number of vehicles at any one sighting is limited to 3 with adequate time to observe and take photographs. A big attraction is the thriving wild dog population that are seen regularly.
Madikwe wild dog

Madikwe gin
Madikwe Beetroot & Basil Gin
We had 6 wonderful days here - giving us plenty of time to fully explore and enjoy this lesser-known reserve. In addition to some special sightings and interesting wildlife behaviour on game drives we were spoilt with fine wining and dining; and the children entertained with tracking, various arts & crafts projects and of course the swimming pool and endless ice cream! The lodge pulled out all the stops with a special sundowner evening with unique cocktails and delicious snacks set on top of a hill overlooking a large herd of elephants down at the waterhole below; and an extraordinary 5 star bush dinner amongst lanterns and braziers to ward off the evening chill - whilst listening to the surrounding night sounds.

On our first afternoon we were greeted by enormous flocks of Red-billed Queleas numbering hundreds of thousands coming in to roost in the trees surrounding the lodge. Other bird highlights included Yellow-throated Sandgrouse and Melodious Lark (2 lifers for the birders amongst the group with the latter a not terribly exciting LBJ for others!)
quelea flock
Red-billed Quelea
Yellow-throated Sandgrouse
Melodious Lark

Needless to say, lions were a high priority on everyone’s wish list and we weren’t disappointed. A huge lioness and her well-grown son had killed a large kudu bull and were resting close by the carcass with jackals hovering close by hoping for a quick snack; and the next day it had been taken over by two males.

lion lion

The game drives kept us enthralled with a massive Boomslang (tree snake) trying to catch queleas in the crown of a low Acacia tree, a large crocodile that was feeding on an equally large monitor lizard, a scrub hare out in the middle of the day (normally nocturnal), and two giraffe bulls fighting. Whilst back at camp the waterhole provided plenty of action with elephants making regular visits during the heat of the day to come to drink and bathe.

Boomslang crocodile
hare elephant calf

Other highlights included a family of dwarf mongooses catching the early morning sun, a pair of mating wildebeest performing an amazing - and long - courtship display and a young white rhino galloping around in the early morning light, play fighting with its mother and just enjoying the start of the day.

Dwarf Mongoose

Derek & Sarah Solomon, Madikwe April 2017
All in all an excellent week! We were thrilled to be given the opportunity to join this adventure and are fortunate that these opportunities arise and form part of our 'work'. More often than not we are planning & booking safari itineraries and coordinating the logistics for guests who travel unaccompanied and we only get to relive their experiences vicariously through their tales on their return.

So many thanks to this lovely family for an unforgettable time in this special wilderness!

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Kuyimba Trading

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