I think we were all a little nervous … well some of our number at least. ‘Small plane syndrome’ and I certainly had a case of it. Amazing how quickly things change, having just completed four small plane flights I find them thrilling.
All in the name of work … ja,ja some people have all the luck. I have just hosted seven Cape Town tour operators on a Marataba and Madikwe Safari Lodge educational. My client is MORE – a five star boutique hotel and lodge operator and I honestly think I am one of the luckiest people to work with this incredible team.
Marataba is a private lodge situated in the Marakele Reserve. 23 000 hectares of unspoilt beauty watched over by the Waterberg mountains, it is a place to disconnect from life’s challenges and treasure your soul again in nature.
15 luxury tents, beautiful public areas and staff who wear broad smiles and whose wish is the happiness of each guest.
I could write pages about the delicious food, list adjectives describing the beauty of the lodge and write word pictures about our surprise fairy-tale boma dinner. All together awesome.
But the game drives, under the experience and guidance of Gawie were the win. Bouncing over gravel roads, cameras and binoculars ready we learnt about mammals, birds and trees.
Gawies driving skills would rival any Dakar leader, he won us over to squeals and cheering when he crossed the stream and brought us safely up the sand bank.
We learnt so much; tracked three huge lions, spotted giant ellies, watched a Lilac Breasted Roller swoop overhead and were soon pointing out Yellow Billed Hornbills around each corner. We tasted a spear-like plant filled with water and the warthog sightings were a favourite for one agent and by the end of our stay we were singing “im-pa-la” to the tune of “informer”.
Three of us share the star-sign Scorpio, what a thrill to clearly see our constellation in the clear night sky and for a brief while sharing its space with Orion.
During our stay we had a chance to visit Marataba Trails Lodge, a five suite Eco Lodge focussed mainly on walking safaris. Talk about simple elegance and intelligent construction.
How sad to leave after just one night, “we need at least three nights here” one of our group commented. I could not agree more.
Magical Marataba, you have stolen my heart.
So much MORE at Madikwe Safari Lodge
We hung on every word, listening to head ranger Gerhard share an African tale about how the sneaky vulture got its wings when he stole the power of flight from the bushveld King, and this en-route to an actual lion sighting.
Truthfully the best ranger I have had the good fortune to share an open vehicle with, his off the cuff comments, fascinating detail about birds, wildlife and trees to his humorous sharing of past guests with their rather ‘inappropriate comments’, we savoured every detail.
The tree narratives were some of my favourite but our early morning hunt for lion was the thrill. Close up and personal with two large brothers, Gerhard dispelled some common inaccuracies, explained how a lion coalition works and how intelligent females protect their cubs from dominant males, we were fascinated!
Our evening game drive did not disappoint either when we came across a male rhino pleading with three females for attention; his high-pitched begging drew smiles and many comments.
That night our drive ended with a surprise Bush Dinner, a magical affair illuminated by lanterns and roaring fires, kicking off with a craft gin bar and followed course after course of deliciousness including a much praised oxtail stew. Cheers to Shaun and his team of chef’s and servers – lovely memories were made that evening.
This group of Cape Town agents left dinner with full tummies, an anticipation of a hot bath and snug sleep kept toasty by our in-room open fire.
Our photo stories confirmed sightings of lion, white rhino, buffalo, impala, wildebeest, ground squirrels, zebra, wild dogs, bat eared foxes, vultures, elephants, kudu, warthog, Matabele ants and jackals.
Madikwe Safari Lodge is the perfect family destination; our sight inspection revealed the many exciting specialised children’s activities all under the guidance of trained rangers and qualified staff. Too many to mention, suffice to say it takes a very brave heart to touch Zuela who lives in the kids Eco-House.
Madikwe Safari Lodge staff wears broad genuine smiles and are on hand to assist with every request because nothing is too much trouble. Lodge manager Alan and his team can be very proud. It was a sad farewell on the runway when we were handed over to Federal Air to fly us back to the city.
Flying home from 11000ft into a smog-rich city, the clear bushveld air and Madikwe Safari Lodge hospitality was a tonic for body and soul. Educational, fascinating, delicious and above all so much fun … Thank you Madikwe Safari Lodge team.