Jacis lodges in Madikwe game reserve is situated next to the Botswana border in the Northwest province of South Africa.
From Johannesburg/Pretoria it is about a 3-4 hour drive. Madikwe also got a runway so you can fly in as well which makes the experience even better. Once there you park and forget about your vehicle. Once there you get spoiled by the guides/drivers and staff at Jaci’s lodges .
Jacis Lodges are divided in 2 lodges at Madikwe game reserve. The Safari lodge is child friendly with their own restaurant and stunning private accommodation. Children have a games room available to them to keep them busy when not looking for animals. Some of the chalets got some nice splash pools to cool you down and bigger pools are strategically positioned between the rooms.
On the river path you can even find outdoor gym equipment for those who need to get rid of the stunning food from Jaci’s lodges.
The tree lodges at Jacis lodges are built on stilts in between the trees and also very very private. These lodges got a child age restriction just to ensure that all can enjoy nature. The tree lodges are all link with “wooden bridge pathways” and ending up at the tree lodge restaurant.
The food was top notch, at both lodges as both have their own staff and chefs and do slightly different menus. So a good excuse to go back and experience both lodge set ups at Jacis’s lodges.
At Jacis Lodges it is quite safe to walk between all the lodges and the terrapin hide. All is enclosed and fenced in with some buck moving around in the bushes and loads of birds all around. I have heard stories that they do have every now and then an Elephant that decide the fencing is not a good idea. Probably the Elephant thinks the grass is greener on the other side and then break through the fence. Then the lodge staff struggles to get the guy back to the bush and the pricey fix of the fence again.
The Terrapin hide I think personally is one of the best places to view animals up close and safely. Just watch your head as it is a low-ish passage you need to waddle through and if you pop up before your out your head comes second. the attraction of the animals outside the hide so close by and at their level was always my downfall. But always well worth it as you quickly but silently trying to get cameras out and go shooting. Most of my afternoons were spent here viewing or waiting for action.
However I missed out on a cheetah sighting when I thought it is a good idea to go and charge batteries as it was getting quiet in the hide.
The guys at Pangolin photo safari have assisted in the design etc. of the Terrapin hide. Jacis Lodges also offer photographic tours and training with your camera or some of theirs top range Canon and Nikon cameras. The guides have also received their training from Pangolin Photo safari guys.
So early morning and late afternoon you meet at the lodge restaurants. Have a light snack, coffee, tea, water juice etc. (changes every day) and then you jump on the safari vehicle and head out into the bush. Warm blankets are provided but remember extra jacket, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and dust protection for cameras. Summer months it probably will not be to cool on the rides. The vehicle top cover will be up to protect you from the sun. I preferred the top off especially at night you could see the stars. I loved taking the star trail pics as there was not a lot of light pollution around.
The driver/guides are very well trained and the driving and finding and explaining what you see were top notch. Spotting the different animals was also quite good even with them sitting lower down in the vehicle and driving. Where to sit in the vehicle can be a dilemma for me. As the guides do talk clearly they cannot talk to loud so you could lose out on some explanations whilst driving. Standing still was not an issue. BUT the higher you are (on the back seats) you can have better camera views I found. This could possibly change in summer months if the bush gets thicker in foliage so the lower down can be better. Note this is only my views and was my first time ever on safari vehicles.
I was lucky enough to have spotted all of the big 5 on the safaris and got a pic of all.
The guides were in radio contact with all the other guides and they knew the 75000 hectare Madikwe reserve quite well. SO if something of interest was spotted by another guide they would liaise in local code and arrange that all vehicles could view the wild life in a well-controlled manner. Also they made sure that not more than 3 vehicles are at the sighting points at once. Remember it is all wild life running free in a big area so they move around constantly. Lots of roads traverse the bush with here and there a “main” road running through. Halfway through the safari the guides will find a good spot to stop to stretch legs and have a nibble and a drink. The coffee and optional Amarula cream for “milk” was very welcome in the coolish morning.
The bush is still very dry after the dry winter months and previous dry summer. The animals we saw were still looking healthy but could change if the area are not going to get rain this coming summer.
In summary it is really great to visit Jaci’s Lodges in Madikwe Game reserve. The staff is very friendly, cottages awesome, and of course the food top notch. The outside boma meals taking the prize, with the staff singing under the starlight as you are getting ready to dig into the stunning meals. Herewith a quick video from Jaci’s lodges