Jaci’s tree lodge is in Madikwe game reserve which is in the North West province of South Africa and it is an absolute gem! There is something special about going on safari and being in the bush. The early morning game drives and late nights around the fire, the thrill of spotting your first animal and the lazy afternoon naps. It’s all so magical and an experience you wont ever forget.
We were lucky enough to spend two nights at Jaci’s Tree lodge and this was our experience.
Getting to Jaci’s Tree Lodge Madikwe
Madikwe game reserve is about a three and a half hour drive from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. You can take a transfer ( or rent a car ) from there or even take a bush plane to the airstrip in Madikwe which will take about 40 minutes. This time around we did not fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg though, we actually flew with Airlink to Wonderboom national airport in Pretoria ( approximately a three hour drive to Madikwe ) and it was such a treat! I would highly recommend flying there if you are traveling from Cape Town. We also used Rocket shark adventures for our transfer from Wonderboom to Madikwe.
Supported on wooden stilts with raised walk ways that almost seem to blend into the bush, Jaci’s tree lodge is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Jaci’s tree lodge has a colourful cosy feel that welcomes you around every corner. It has a lovely outside boma area where we enjoyed a delicious meal with the other guests and our rangers under the stars. It also has an inside dining area, a lounge by the bar with a fireplace and a cute chill out library that you can get to by walking over another open walkway.
The lodge also has a pool that we decided to go try out as soon as we got to the lodge! A bush pool in Summer is always a good idea, especially with a cold drink on the side!
Jaci’s tree lodge features eight beautiful suites made from a combination of gumpoles and African rosewood. Just like the rest of the lodge, the rooms are vibrant and bold with a definite African feel. I loved the little touches like the printed gowns and the “bar” that was stocked with Amarula and Sherry.
On one of the days we were staying at the tree lodge a storm hit and there was a huge downpour of rain. We decided to run a bath and listen to the thunder and rain outside with all the doors wide open ( I loved that the doors could completely open onto the balcony to bring outside and inside together! ) We even had an outside shower while it was raining and let me tell you, its a must!
If you didn’t know, food while on safari is a big thing! You will spend a lot of your time eating so you want the food to be utterly delicious right? Jaci’s tree lodge definitely did not disappoint and we looked forward to every meal. We started our mornings with what I liked to call a five course breakfast. A cheese, meat and biscuit platter followed by some fresh fruit, muesli and yogurt, some pastries and toast and a yummy hot breakfast of your choice. If that doesn’t get you ready for a day of napping, swimming and animal spotting I dont know what will.
Then you also get some lovely smaller sweet and savoury bites at high tea, biltong, nuts and other snacks with your sundowner game drive drink. If you are still hungry after all that ( I promise you will be just by smelling the food! ) there will be a feast waiting for you when you get back from your drive.
Something I absolutely loved at Jaci’s is the ritual of making the chilli. Our ranger Warick from Jaci’s tree lodge showed us how to do it the first night and from then on it was our job to make our own to eat with their freshly baked bread. I wont give away too much as you need to experience this one for yourself!
We are all for game drives and we usually don’t miss a single one except when we might need to do a sunset shoot at the lodge. Set your alarm for five or just wait for your ranger to knock on your door in the mornings. You might be tired at first but after a quick coffee and some fresh air you will know you made the right choice!
On one of our mornings just after coming across two female cheetahs seeking shelter under some tree’s the sky darkened and we decided to head back to the lodge early. We just started driving when the heavens opened and torrential rain like I have never experienced came down. You never know what nature has in store for you and all we could do is laugh as we were pelted with huge drops while trying to make our way back. As we arrived at the lodge entrance sopping wet and with lots of stories to tell we were greeted with warm towels and amarula hot chocolate. The staff at Jaci’s read our minds and we snuggled up in front of the fire warming us on the inside and outside.
Madikwe never disappoints
We also experienced picture perfect days with intense African sunsets that just took your breath away and made you wish the moment could last forever. The weather wasn’t the only ever changing thing in Madikwe. It seemed like around every bush and bend there was a new animal or bird to see and discover. One thing about Madikwe is that the game viewing never disappoints.
Everyone loves seeing the big five ( which can all be found in Madikwe ) but there is so much more to experience in this game reserve. We tracked wild dogs and found them at sunset as they were getting ready to hunt. Spotted marabou storks and lesser flamingos which is a rare sighting in Madikwe. Came across spotted hyenas sharing a giraffe carcass with a small brown hyena that had obviously been in a fight but was standing its ground. These are not things you see everyday and they are moments in nature to be treasured and savoured. Its what being on safari is all about. Even when we spotted nothing but a few zebras and some grazing impala it was still special and still worthy of stopping and taking a few snaps to remember just exactly why we keep going back to the bush.
If you aren’t one for sitting around there is plenty to do during the day at Jaci’s tree lodge. Something really cool about the lodge is that they have an underwater hide. The terrapin hide as its called after the turtle that frequents the water in the area is a little tunnel with a viewing area right in the middle of the watering hole. From there you can snap some insane images of the animals coming for a drink, the resident crocodile or the abundant bird life. There is also a star bed right by the water that you can book if you are feeling adventurous!
If you are a newbie photographer or you just want to brush up your wildlife photography, Jaci’s offers a photographic game drive. You can rent the gear from the lodge and they will take you out on a special tour to snap those once in a lifetime shots.
Tips for visiting Jaci’s Lodge in Madikwe
- Madikwe is a no malaria zone which is always a great thing!
- The lodges do have dedicated wifi zones mostly in the common areas but don’t expect very fast internet. You are in the bush after all so enjoy some no tech time!
- You can pick up some 3G in the reserve but remember to switch off your roaming as Madikwe is very close to the Botswana border and every now and again you will connect to one of their networks.
- There aren’t any tv’s at Jaci’s but there are plenty of books to read in case you didn’t bring your own. You definitely will not be missing tv though.
- Whether you visit in Summer or Winter pack for all occasions. Morning game drives might still require a warm jacket in Summer and in Winter temperatures can soar during the day.