Madikwe Lelapa Safari Lodge, South Africa
Located in the lesser-known Madikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s premier game viewing regions which runs along the border with Botswana, Lelapa enjoys an exceptional setting in a prime wildlife viewing area. This is Big Five territory and what’s more, it is malaria free which is a real draw for families. Access is via a four hour drive from Johannesburg or a one hour flight from Johannesburg. Be prepared to pack soft bags if planning to take the flight and you’ll enjoy fabulous aerial views on your journey into the bush. Aircraft can sometimes be delayed due to animals obstructing the runway! This is all part of the adventure! The Madikwe has a very distinct topography comprising vast plains of open woodlands and grasslands, bordered by mountains in the south and dotted with huge rocky hills.
Lelapa is one of three lodges which make up the Madikwe Safari Lodge portfolio (part of the family-owned and operated collection of properties, founded by the MORE family). It is no coincidence that Lelapa literally means ‘family’ and not surprisingly, there is no restriction in terms of age or generation. The Madikwe is an all-year-round safari destination where the variation in experience is temperature-related rather than safari-related. Easter, May half term and our school summer holidays are a great time to visit as this is the cool, comfortable dry winter season (with temperatures averaging between 3°C to 23°C). This is the time when the wildlife is easier to spot as the animals make their way to the waterholes to drink (pack a fleece or warm jacket for morning and evening game drives). Summer in the Madikwe (September to April) is characterised by hot, wet weather with higher temperatures ranging between 25°C to 40°C.
Madikwe Lelapa Safari Lodge
There’s certainly no need to ‘rough it’ in the bush! Lelapa has twelve suites, four of which are Family Suites with a second bedroom with bunk beds and there’s also a sleeper couch in the living area. Each suite is wonderfully spacious (approx. 100 square metres) with indoor and outdoor showers, a private plunge pool, wood-burning fireplace, a double bed (convertible to twins), air-conditioning, ceiling fan and ensuite bathroom.
Seeing the African bush through the eyes of children adds a whole new dimension! There is nothing like the amazement on a child’s face when giraffe and zebra are close enough to smell. Lelapa have invested much time and effort in designing a kids menu of safari activities to keep children enthralled and parents relaxed! Family safari drives (for children over 3 years) are a real focus and include bush orientation, bug CSI and dung tracking (children are provided with track packs with Plaster of Paris). Back at the lodge, children can bake in the kitchen, make pizzas in the boma and enjoy star gazing under the Africa night sky. The ECO House is an educational centre built specifically for children (and anyone with a fascination for the wild world and its inhabitants!). Here, kids can paint, draw, make location-specific models and be introduced to some of the live specimens from the reserve!
There’s no question that the nostalgia and excitement of a safari is magnified ten-fold when children are involved. Childhood storybook tales come alive from the seat of a safari vehicle and you can be assured that your family safari will provide memories you will all treasure forever!
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