It may not be the most luxurious lodging option in Madikwe Game Reserve, but when it comes to value for money without sacrificing on quality of safari guides – which ultimately is the most important part of the experience – I think Tau Game Lodge is the park’s best bet. And, while digs here are not first-class, they are far from shabby.
I loved my cozy thatched-roof chalet, and the care the housekeeping team put in spelling out “welcome” with flower petals on the giant bed. While sleeping quarters are a bit tight compared to some of the luxury lodges I’ve slept in, I loved the size of the bed here and the quality of the mattress and linens. The giant bathtub and massive outdoor bush shower were added bonuses. So was the private deck fronting the waterhole where I witnessed dozens of zebras, wildebeest, and elephants drinking and hanging out within range of a smartphone’s camera lens.
Tau prides itself on its hospitality, and the rangers are very bush-savvy, humorous, and well trained, making the safari experience here one of the best I’ve had in South Africa. Twice daily game drives including meals are complimentary with the nightly rate, and I’ve never seen as many lions as I did on my drives at Tau.
While it isn’t technically a private game reserve, Madikwe, unlike Kruger or Pilanesberg, does not allow self-drive safaris or day visitors, which means you must stay at one of the lodges to see the animals. The reserve has some restrictions on driving off road, but they are minimal, and the Jeeps are tough enough to get across pretty much anything, letting you get close to the animals.