October 16, 2010


I’ve been wanting to write about safaris and game viewing for quite some time. There are so many choices and places to go, it’s hard to even break through the surface. Your inclination, as a freshly-arrived expat, is to wait and get your new life sorted out before you feel like going travelling again. But don’t. After all, seeing the animals is what you’re meant to do in Africa, so you might as well get started right away. Before I tell you where to go, have a look at these pictures and I’m sure you’ll want to read more (click on it to view full screen in Picasa):

After conducting quite a bit of research (or, as Noisette might say, researching the thing to death) I’m happy to tell you exactly where you should go on safari if you live in or visit Johannesburg: Madikwe Game Reserve, which is located three and a half hours to the Northwest of Joburg, right on the border to Botswana. It’s an easy drive (“only” 30 km of dirt road) and you won’t find anything better in Southern Africa. You got the Big Five there, and much more, and it’s entirely malaria-free year-round, as opposed to the Kruger Park. It’s also much less crowded. You can choose from a total of 32 lodges in Madikwe, most of them 4 or 5 star luxury lodges, and unfortunately quite pricey, but that is the same everywhere. I recently stayed at Mosetlha Bush Camp, where the above photographs were taken, and had a wonderful time. It is also by far the cheapest lodge in all of Madikwe.

What I loved about Mosetlha is that it’s a true bush camp, not a luxury lodge. That doesn’t mean that you have to make do without amenities – it’s just a bit more complicated and you’ll definitely feel closer to nature. You will learn to use a donkey boiler, a most amazing contraption where cold water goes in one end and hot water comes out the other, you will enjoy hauling that hot water up into the shower bucket, and you will marvel at the fact that such little water can give you a pleasant bath. In fact, I found myself silently wishing that we had such a thing at our house, as it surely would conserve a lot of water and might put my “shower wars” with Zax to an end! (Although I shouldn’t have attempted to also shave my legs, by the light of a paraffin lamp). You will also marvel at the “VIP Toilet,” which through some ingenious design has absolutely no smell at all, even though it can’t be flushed. In fact, there is no electricity in the entire camp.

Mosetlha is located right in the middle of Madikwe’s 75,000 hectares that are home to some of the most abundant game you’ll find in Southern Africa: The Big Five (leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), zebra, giraffe, monkey, hippo, hyena, jackal, and a huge variety of antelope. Madikwe is also home to the endangered African wild dog, which you won’t find in many other places. Included in the price – as at any lodge – are two daily game drives. The food at camp is cooked on an open fire, where you’ll sit and share bush stories before retiring to your cabin on a path lined with paraffin lamps. The beds are very comfortable and you wouldn’t know the difference from a deluxe hotel room, except for the breeze – and flies – wafting through the canvas sides and the occasional roar of a lion.

For more information on Mosetlha, visit http://www.thebushcamp.com/.
The best place to research and book safaris: http://www.bushbreaks.co.za/
Another affordable game lodge we really liked (it’s located in the Waterberg and is not Big Five): http://www.yellowwoodgamelodge.co.za/


Anonymous said...

das ist ja ein toller Vorgeschmack auf unsere Reise nach Madikwe über Silvester. Dann war ja unser "Researching to death" in Bezug auf das richtige game reserve letzten Endes erfolgreich!
Liebe Grüße, Conrad

W. A. Jeffrey said...

Great photos. If you don't mind rustic I suppose that camp would be okay but I think I would want to go luxury all the way. Most of it didn't sound too bad except for the toilet. I don't know if SA has any camps like what I saw on a Tanzania travel video one time but it was very similar to this camp except it had flush toilets and running (cold) water. Their water heating set up was similar to what you used. The toilets were in an open air cubicle like thing made of fencing material. I went on a camping trip here in the states one time that had something similar but with a tiny roof to keep out rain.

Sine said...

Ah, W.A., I'm reading your comments in reverse order so already commented on the toilet in a comment on the other Madikwe post. And yes, most lodges are completely luxury, even if tented, and will have full flush toilets. The ones in the Serengeti are particularly beautiful but also particularly expensive. Out of our range with a family of 6, so we never did see the great wildebeest migration there.