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Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

New York, New York...
Level Contributor
35 posts
30 reviews
Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

We are planning to visit Madikwe in January. It is just my husband and I and prefer a lodge with less children. We don't need the fanciest or most luxury accomodations but do prioritize game viewing, experience, and decent food. What recommendations do you have for a lodge? Also, I spoke to a travel agent who said she would still recommend malaria tablets in madikwe. The whole reason we chose this over sabi sands was to avoid taking the anti malaria tablets. I thought this was a bit strange. If we use the right precautions (cover arms and legs, spray, sleep with net) do we need to worry about this?

8 replies to this topic
Long Island, New...
Level Contributor
6,619 posts
21 reviews
1. Re: Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

There's no malaria in Cape Town, Garden Route, Johannesburg, Madikwe. No need for pills if you're not going to Kruger, Vic Falls, northern KwaZulu Natal in summer. That agent is overly cautious (and giving terrible advice) - the health department in S Africa doesn't recommend taking malaria pills unnecessarily because the side effects can be significant. www.santhnet.co.za

You can use all of those precautions, but it will just be to prevent itchy bites. No malaria in Madikwe.

What budget are you looking in? I always look first at community owned lodges and see if they meet my needs. Buffalo Ridge and Tau are community owned in Madikwe. There are great lodges in all price ranges - I think there are just 18, so check them out and the reviews on TA, though safari lodges are very competitive and you can't choose the "wrong" one. It really depends on your needs, tastes and budget. Few kids is getting more difficult as more are becoming family friendly, even ones I would not expect kids (like unfenced tented camps). But check the descriptions - some don't allow under 12.

http://madikwe-game-reserve.co.za

You'll love Madikwe. Learn about its history - its creation is a pretty great story.

New York, New York...
Level Contributor
35 posts
30 reviews
2. Re: Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

Thanks so much, cbir. I would say budget is somewhere in the middle, for what I've seen for Madikwe purposes. Buffano Ridge and Tau seem to be within what I'm talking about. Appreciate the recommendations.

3. Re: Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

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Wayzata, Minnesota
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628 posts
4. Re: Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

How exciting that you plan to visit Madikwe in January. It is in my opinion a totally underrated game reserve in South Africa and scenically I think offers so much more than the Sabi Sand! It offers not only the Big Five but also very good chances to see both wild dog and cheetah. Cheetah is something you would be very lucky to see in the Greater Kruger, as there simply are not wide open spaces that cheetah need to hunt using their greatest asset, their speed! I have been to Madikwe twice in the span of 22 safari trips to Africa and it has never disappointed. The last time we saw four of the Big Five in a short afternoon game drive. While leopard is a bit more difficult to see in Madikwe, they are there and with a 3-4 night stay in the reserve your chances of seeing everything one wants to see on safari and more is very good!

Being that Madikwe is a malaria-free reserve, it tends to be quite popular with families traveling with children. And thus many of the lodges are quite kid-friendly with even some of the most high-end lodges in the reserve like Mateya Safari Lodge, taking children ages 9 and up. Makanyane is also quite high-end and takes children ages 12 and up. Tuningi Safari Lodge is one of my favorites and amazing value for money but takes kids from age 2 and also does not guarantee private vehicles, so if you are looking to avoid kids this is not a good option. Same with their sister property, Madikwe Hills. My recommendation would be either Madikwe Safari Lodge’s Kopano Lodge, which only allows kids 16 and up and is very small with only 4 suites for a max of 8 guests. It does have it’s neighboring two lodges which allow kids, Lelapa and Dithaba, but they are all three run as totally separate properties and you would not see or hear said children! It is excellent value for money and while high end I’m hard-pressed to think of more affordable options that do not allow young kids. Alternately, Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge is also a good option and in the same price range as Madikwe Safari Lodge’s Kopano Lodge for Jan 2018, ie roughly $700-775 per person per night based on today’s ROE (Rate of Exchange) – their rates are a bit less from 04-10Jan.

As for the anti-malarials, you definitely do not need to take tablets if going to Madikwe. Again, this is why many families with young children travel to Madikwe as it is indeed malaria-free. Perhaps the travel agent you spoke to is not familiar with Madikwe and how it differs from other safari areas in Africa where malaria is indeed a valid concern. Having personally traveled to Madikwe, while 3 months pregnant the last time I might add, I can assure you that anti-malarials are not required for this particular malaria-free game reserve. It is always wise to use repellant generously and January is rainy season in most of Southern Africa, except the Cape, so may be a bit buggier.

Jeanie Fundora – Consultant – Travel Beyond

New York, New York...
Level Contributor
35 posts
30 reviews
5. Re: Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

Thank you. I've also heard good things about Rhulani. Anyone have thoughts on that?

Long Island, New...
Level Contributor
6,619 posts
21 reviews
6. Re: Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

Thadaku is also community owned.

A better website is the official one. The one I posted above is not so great. There are some interesting specials too. http://www.madikwegamereserve.co.za

It depends on budget and needs. You're not going to hear anything bad about any of the lodges - they are all great in their own way. The wildlife you see will be similar - the reserve lodges share the same property and the ecosystems throughout are very similar. If you want a higher end lodge like Rhulani or Makanyane for the amenities, go for it. If you want a very nice safari experience at a more affordable rate, you'll love that too. All of the lodges are excellent - the websites are good so you can choose which might be perfect for you.

When are you going? If outside holiday times in US Europe and S Africa, kids might be few no matter when you go. Under 6 are generally not allowed on game drives but double check directly with the lodge on that. For me, that would be a deal breaker - I left a lodge that allowed a young child (who whined and complained constantly after about an hour) on my game drives. So I understand.

How are you getting there? Charter or road?

Long Island, New...
Level Contributor
6,619 posts
21 reviews
7. Re: Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

Thakadu. I keep getting that wrong. Sorry.

Madikwe Game...
Level Contributor
37 posts
9 reviews
8. Re: Which lodge at Madikwe and should we take malaria pills?

Hi there

The official website is www.ExperienceMadikwe.com - the one you've posted belongs to a Travel Agency (Biggest Leaf Travel, I think).

Thakadu and Buffalo Ridge are the community lodges - Tau is privately owned, as are all the other lodges in Madikwe (21 commercial lodges in total).

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