South Africa doesn’t seem so far away when airfare to Johannesburg from Washington, D.C. or New York in the sweltering days of August drops down to under $1,000. The Rainbow Nation’s location in the southern hemisphere means bursting fern-wreathed spring and torpid summer, both are ideal seasons for a post-card worthy road trip and the South African safari. The primal pleasures of discovering the world at its most elemental never get old!
Getting to Luxury Safari Camp in Madikwe Game Reserve
South Africa’s fifth largest game reserve, the Madikwe Game Reserve is spread across 187,800 acres of bush land in the north of the town of Groot-Marico up against the beautifully isolated and unspoilt border of Botswana. To get to Madikwe, you could either take a 40-minute private charter flight from J Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport to Madikwe Reserve’s airstrip, or a private helicopter which will fly down directly to one of its lodges’ helipad.
The Madikwe Game Reserve that opened in 1991 and staged one of the biggest game relocation programme (8,000 animals so far) was named after the Madikwe or Groot Marico River (Groot Marico means Big-Marico), one of the few perennial rivers in this area. Herman Charles Bosman, South Africa’s best-known writers, held Marico in high esteem, calling it “the authentic stamp of South Africa”.
Molelo Presidential Suite
Molori Safari Lodge in Madwike is home to the Molelo Presidential Suite and is widely known for its luxurious game lodge and chandeliers that gives the spacious wooden structure its warm glow. The distinctive design of the Molelo Presidential Suite is decked with a spacious wooden deck, plush couches, a fireplace in the center, infinity pool, alfresco dining area, hot spa bath and a two bedroom positioned at opposite ends of the suite each with its own private bathroom giving maximum privacy. The most peculiar of all, is the study and library area, filled with National Geographic magazines dating back to the 1940s, and, retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors giving endless views of the reserve.
Home to a thriving population of the Super Seven, including the Big Five as well as an abundance of cheetah and wild dog, you’ll see animals, plenty of animals. Giraffes, wildebeests, and lions walking slowly through the low trees, a herd of Springbok running through the long grass. You will have marvelous sightings of 23 species of carnivore, including Caracal and Mongoose, as well as an abundance of other wildlife such as 340 recorded species of birds, 26 species of snakes, and 50 types of butterflies, that will in no time get you into the Safari spirit.
The climate at Madikwe is generally hot and humid, with nights being colder. The Game Reserve is a malaria free venue, but that shouldn’t stop you from putting on calamine lotion to keep away the ravenous mosquitoes at night. Rates start at ZAR 20,750 per person (USD 1,599).
Most national parks and game reserves act as a simulacra in which guests can experience the “authentic” Africa experience, but that is not the case with the Madikwe Reserve. For close encounters with nature, Molori Safari offers guided game walks as well as the adrenaline-charged tracking of lions and leopards on foot. You’ll see ostriches swaying from side to side in a froth of feathers, Hornbills strolling sedately in the grass, a helmetshrike’s call summoning the flock, a leopard walking headfirst down a tree trunk, cheetah giving a bark, hippopotamuses wallowing in the pond, floating over their pink bellies, lions doing a victory strut after bringing down a gazelle, or an epic fight between a buffalo and the lion. You can enjoy iconic African birds, such as the Kori Bustard, the Secretarybird, and the Lilac-Breasted Roller with the naked eye. You’ll find yourself one with getting up close and personal with nature.
Covered in the seemingly endless bush, the rugged hills and sparse plains of the Madikwe Reserve may match a thousand corners of Africa, but it’s the exceptional guide that sets it apart.
For those, who wants to go on a nocturnal adventure, Molori also offers night drive in the stretch of the road for the tracking of the Super Seven. The three-four hour game drives are led by a personal ranger and a tracker in a private safari jeep. Using hi-tech torches, you’ll peek into the nocturnal world of elephant, buffalo, leopard, wild dog, cheetah, lion and rhinoceros.
Guests likewise can get a chance to encounter a culinary adventure through a choice of settings and dining experiences, where no two are alike. The menu is prepared by Chef Jaques, and includes New Africa cuisine, as well as Western European cuisine, along with traditional African recipes made using home grown organic ingredients. Sip champagne, taking the expansive view of Madikwe plains, enjoy a cocktail watching the glorious sunset in the shade of some Acacia trees, or dine enjoying African cuisine around the campfire watching the southern constellations unfamiliar to northerners.
Chefs at Molori also offer one-on-one cooking classes for aspiring chefs, where they can select and prepare ingredients to cook and present a meal.
WELLNESS, SPA & ASTRO-SAFARI
Don’t worry about jet lag. Guests at Molori can unwind the day by picking from a myriad of wellness experiences, a full suite massage, irresistible aromatherapy and skin and body treatments, made using the finest of au natural essential oils and plant extracts. At the Molori Spa one can enjoy an outdoor treatment on comfy daybeds or indulge in the rim - flow chilled spa bath and experience pure bliss between the natural sounds and rhythms of nature.
Once your body is pampered to perfect, one can turn to an astral tour of the heavens. The wooden deck at the Molelo Safari Lodge offers pristine views of Madikwe’s largely untouched landscape, which makes it one of the best spots on Earth for stargazing. Gobular clusters, supernovae, bits of the Milky Way, and Magellanic Clouds, bringing a new dimension to the whole Safari experience.
There are very few places in the world that feel as unspoilt as Madwike. The Groot Marico river flowing past the lush riverine plains, clouds of exotic and indigenous butterflies migrating to East Africa, a lion swimming across the waters in hunt of a buffalo, and the black sky made too bright with billions of glittering stars.
For a true nature lover, experiences such as, watching an elephant in a well-designed zoo in San Diego, or a caging a weaver in the National Aviary in Pittsburg are merely a simulacrum, negating the essence of the nature. The grace and beauty in South Africa brought by flora and fauna is inexplicable, and no YouTube videos or wildlife photographs can give justice to the full scale of this spectacle. To experience Africa, one has to go to Africa, but well, with a pair of binoculars perched on the shoulders, not a rifle.