For those looking for a winter adventure I would highly recommend a safari experience at Madikwe Safari Lodge. Having done both summer and winter safaris, I can tell you that the chilly season holds a different, but equally special, allure…
The lodge welcomes nature-loving couples, families, friend groups and solo travellers alike. Each day is uniquely planned, and you can look forward to exciting experiences and a few surprises along the way, too – we love treats!
Mornings start off with a 6:30am wakeup call. Making our way to the guest area to meet the field guide, everyone is warmly wrapped up in jackets and beanies. Fresh coffee and pastries await – the perfect warmers before our game drive set off. Once in the safari vehicle, blankets and hot-water bottles keep the early hours’ chill at bay.
Madikwe’s landscapes offer amazing panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. During wintertime, the bush is less thick and offers amazing sightings. The sun paints a golden hue over the land, as animals graze and bask in its warmth – a picture-perfect scene for photography enthusiasts.
Along the way, we are surprised with our very own hot chocolate and cappuccino safari stop. Delicious bagels and cakes are served while the barista works his magic. Hot frothy milk is poured over chocolate and mixed well, as children (and adults) get to choose their candy topping, like marshmallows, peppermint crisp, and coloured Astros. Mmm!
Returning from our drive, we could smell the aromas of the hot breakfast that awaited us. You work up quite an appetite on safari (especially in winter). Knowing this, the chefs prepare dishes that are wholesome, packed with flavour, and plentiful – no one goes hungry! Children also have their own full menus.
Between safaris, children (and parents too, if they’re allowed ???? ) can take part in the fun adventure, sporting, and creative activities going on at the Eco House education and entertainment centre. Or put their feet up with in-room spa treatments. By 3pm, it’s time for afternoon tea – with delightful finger snacks and the best iced coffee in the world served – and afterwards, the late afternoon game drive.
The sun is warm as we motor along, with amazing sightings ticking off most of the Big Five. We also watch playful zebras, elegant giraffes, and majestic elephants beneath a sky, by now, washed with pinks. We then come to a watering hole, where we see a lioness sitting on her own under a nearby tree.
We watch in anticipation as we see her moving. She has heard something and is getting into a stalking position. Soon after, an impala comes to the water. In a flash, the lioness pounces to take down the unsuspecting prey. Kicking up dust and a big commotion, the impala scatters and the lioness comes up empty pawed. We all just watch on in awe.
Later, we make our way onto the plains where a cheetah sighting was called in the day before. Crossing our fingers, we drive searching for a while, but to no avail. So, with the light fading, Mitch our field guide chooses the most beautiful spot for our sundowner stop. It is a magnificent sunset, and we watch while standing around chatting about the animals we’ve seen.
In the meantime, Mitch goes to get his binoculars and finds a female cheetah some way off. Her camouflage is amazing! This curious cheetah is slowly walking towards us now, and we each take a turn to have a look. Mitch then instructs us to get back on the vehicle and we wait in suspense. Eventually, she walks right up to our table still set out, looks at us, walks on for a bit, before sitting down and looking out into the distance.
We cannot believe what we have just witness. This is a truly rare, maybe once-in-a-lifetime, sighting. We all sit in silence, she gets up again, and soon disappears from our view. With the sun nearly gone, we make our way back to the lodge.
Come our return and dinnertime, our host shows us to our surprise private boma setup (also arranged on request for birthdays, anniversaries and any other special occasion). It’s such a special evening of recounting the day’s adventures, while tucking into delicious food, and enjoying good company under the night sky.
Words by Ingrid Nemorin
Images and video by Ingrid and Ivan Nemorin