On a visit to Madikwe Game Reserve at Mateya Safari Lodge, I woke up to melodic bird song and savannah views as a herd of impala walked into shot. I soaked up the safari sunshine from the private, cocktail pool with spectacular waterhole and savannah views.
The private, experienced guide and tracker team was Werner and Paul, both whom have been with Mateya for 4+ years. We were very fortunate following a pack of wild dog, who then found a lone, young buffalo. It was grim to observe the wild dog feasting on the live buffalo, all the while it groaned loudly in distress. Wild dog have to eat too...
My Madikwe game viewing highlights: black and white rhino in their natural environment and a young male leopard, stalking an impala! Also enjoyed seeing several large breeding herd of elephant, prides of lion in very good condition, beautiful dark-patterned giraffe browsers, herds of wildebeest and guinea fowl grazing, zebra, kudu, warthog and buffalo. Bird spotting bounty included: big birds like ostrich, secretary bird and a pair of kori bustards, as well as pretty lilac breasted rollers, crimson breasted shrike, bulbuls, red and yellow hornbills and several starlings and sparrow.
Mateya is unashamedly decadent. Safari exclusivity starts with a guide and tracker pair and a max. of four quests on the game drive vehicles.
There are only five suites and delicious five-course dinners are served on priceless, pretty crockery. Guests get to hand pick fine wines for dinner, from the impressive 8000 bottle wine cellar.
Mateya’s suites and relaxation areas showcase THE largest private African art collection in the world. Everywhere you look is layer, upon layer of refined interiors with artistic detailing and even more art. It was very interesting to explore the lodge with the art guide in hand, learning about the origins and symbolism of the art, ranging from Paul Augustinus magnificent, realistic animal oil paintings to Robert Glen’s life-sized bronze sculptures, to rare pieces from lost tribes of Mali, Cameroon and Benin.
In a word - Mateya Safari Lodge is magnificent. Madikwe Game Reserve is a very scenic game reserve, with corn yellow grasses bending in the breeze, swathes of savannah with dead, Leadwood tree forests that punctuate the big, cloudless blue safari skies, framed by majestic mountains.
Hope I have tempted you to visit Mateya Safari Lodge when next in South Africa...
MATEYA FAQ’s at a glance
· A Mateya safari combines very well with a Botswana safari and our lodge is easily accessed from Gaborone - at a cost of £100 per couple for the two-hour door-to-door road transfer;
· Fly with FedAir from Rand Germiston (JHB) into Madikwe Game Reserve - twice daily flights in peak season at 10h00 and again at 13h00
75 000 ha Malaria Free Madikwe Game Reserve:
· Madikwe Game Reserve (Madikwe) is in a malaria-free zone – a huge plus for families and couples travelling on ‘babymoons’ – but the biggest draw card of the reserve - is THE PHENOMENAL GAME VIEWING!
· Madikwe is one of the best places in Africa to spot Wild Dog. There are three packs consisting of more than 30 dogs, many of which are juveniles. Quite simply Madikwe is THE reserve in which your guests can consistently view the endangered African Wild Dog, along with many other species including predators, the second largest herd of elephant in South Africa and large herds of plains game;
· Mateya rangers can traverse on 75 000 ha and the Madikwe, max number of vehicles per sighting is three and less for sensitive sightings. Our three vehicles are fitted with silent ear-piece radio head sets, giving the option of joining significant sightings without intrusive radio chatter. The tracker and ranger team heads out to find their own game sightings;
· Mateya supports Madikwe reserve management’s pro-active anti-rhino poaching initiatives, including measures such as the polygraphing of ALL employees as well as ballistic records of all official armoury;
Magnificent Mateya Safari Lodge:
· The lodge and each of the 5 suites with private cocktail pools benefit from spectacular and uninterrupted views across a waterhole and / or savannah that sweeps up onto the dramatic Tweedepoort escarpment!
· Given that exclusive Mateya only accommodates up to a max of 10 guests in its decadent, 175 sqm suites, the lodge’s three game vehicles are configured with: 4 – 4 and 2 guests. That is, a maximum of just 4 guests per vehicle. This works particularly well for families or honeymooners who often enjoy their own private vehicle!
· Mateya offers a flexible safari experience that is tailored to the wishes of individual guests. For example if guests tell us they want to have a lie in, they are most welcome. In winter we often have a leisurely start and a half day game drive with a gourmet picnic lunch at a scenic location in the reserve. If guests prefer, in summer we have early dinners and head out on extended evening game drives with the added advantage (and James Bond coolness!) of night vision game viewing equipment;
· Mateya is one of few lodges in Madikwe that employs both a tracker and ranger-host combination. All three Mateya’s experienced rangers are qualified walking guides and also avid, published photographers. Our vehicles have benches that are better suited for photography mobility and have also just been fitted with special swivel brackets for camera stability and movement;
· Once guests are onsite the only extra’s they would pay for is telephone and spa – no nickel and diming here.
· Innocent, our chef extraordinaire, meets guests daily to gauge their dining preferences, from the type of cuisine, to the preferred location and ambience;
· Mateya features the world’s largest private collections of African art, embodying the spirit of the continent and reflecting a plethora of cultures and artistic traditions. From majestic Paul Agustinus oils to spectacular life-size bronze sculptures by Robert Glen and Donald Greig, each piece in the Mateya collection has been individually selected for its unique and enduring appeal;
· The Mateya library has a rare collection of first edition African explorer books including Grogan’s Cape to Cairo and Cornwallis Sportsmans Guide.
Access the Mateya Image Gallery - a large lodge and wildlife photography gallery is accessible from the Mateya website http://www.mateyasafari.com/
The website has a regularly updated trail camera gallery, a rangers video gallery and weekly screen saver sensational wildlife downloads. All three Mateya’s experienced rangers are published photographers.
Exclusive Retreats is an extension of Mateya Safari Lodge here in the UK. Renette Hartridge