• Head north for one of the best game viewing experiences in the country.

    By Rosanne Buchanan

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    Where is it? Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve, Limpopo

    How to get there?
    A four to five-hour drive from Johannesburg but there’s also the option of a 50-minute charter flight.

    Best-kept secret? A true African ‘safari’ experience right on our doorstep. It’s definitely off the beaten track, with roads that make the journey a challenge. But, for those who enjoy the thrill of off-roading in their SUV, when you reach the reserve there is still a good game drive’s worth of travel time to the lodge. From the minute you drive into the reserve, it is game aplenty. Birders will not know where to look as every twist and turn and change in vegetation brings a bright and colourful new bird.

    Rooms are… spacious and luxurious, more a suite than a room, all with private decks and plunge pools. The best part is that the lodge has been moulded to fit into the ancient tamboti trees and huge boulders, so you’ll find a giant rockery in your bathroom and in the public areas. There’s also Little Madikwe, a private two-bedroom villa, with its own ranger and personal butler and chef, which is ideal for families.

    Food is… ample, as always in the bush, from the morning muffins to the sundowner snacks. It’s more homemade and hearty than a gourmet affair, but it always amazes me as to what can be put together with limited supplies of fresh produce. The highlight is the homemade breakfast pastries, breads and high tea cakes.

    Bonus points… the private pool deck looking onto a watering hole for chilling after a decadent post-game drive brunch, the endangered wild dog sightings and the spectacular birdlife.

    Who goes there? The lodge is child friendly, although during the week it is popular with corporate groups. And it is a favourite with South Africans.

    How much? For bookings, email [email protected] or visit www.madikwehills.com.

    Overall experience? As South Africans we forget how lucky we are to have this ultimate five-star bush experience on our doorstep, whereas foreigners will travel for miles and pay a huge price to get here. The setting is stunning, the game is abundant, the sunsets are memorable and it is well worth the bumpy trip.