The luxury of a stay at the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, begins with an intimate 1 hour flight into the reserve from Johannesburg. I was to be staying at Mateya Safari Lodge and was met with a warm welcome upon my arrival by Philip, the lodge manger. He has been part of the Mateya family for the past 8 years and his experience really shines through.
I was assigned my own private tracker and ranger team, experts Werner and Paul. With over 4 years of experience working in the area, their local knowledge and ability to navigate the expansive dirt road network in the reserve was second to none. As a result, my game viewing experience while staying at Mateya was exceptional.
No sooner had we left on a game drive than we had spotted a large herd of elephant. Their group included a tiny elephant calf, tiny by elephant standards at least. I also had the pleasure of seeing several prides of lion, zebra, buffalo, warthog and giraffe. One of the gems of my game viewing experience, however, was white and black rhino sightings, which is always something special with the rhino poaching crisis looming so large over the species. An impala being stalked by a young male leopard and a wild dog pack tearing into a hearty meal of buffalo were also highlights. A birders paradise; the reserve is home to a wide variety of large bird species including the secretary bird and the ostrich, as well as smaller species, like the lilac breasted roller.
Game drives and adventures into the wilderness aside, relaxing in the unashamedly luxurious lodge was almost too nice. Every day I awoke to the sound of bird song and was able to camber out of my four poster bed to be met by sweeping views of the savannah and the occasional herd of impala casually passing by. Relaxing in my oversized marble bath and my private cocktail pool afforded similar views.
The five suites at Mateya and communal areas boast the largest private African art collection in the world, with art an intrinsic part of the makeup of the lodge. From life sized bronze animal sculptures to beautiful oil paintings, exploring the property with an art guide in hand was an adventure in itself. Cuisine is another big part of the Mateya experience; with scrumptious five course dinners served up to treat your taste buds and an 8000 strong wine bottle collection in the lodge cellar to sample.
Certainly one of the most luxurious lodges I have stayed in, this beautiful accommodation was complemented perfectly by the beautiful scenery of the area.