Over 200 elephant have gathered for refreshment. Just before them was a tower of 20 giraffe and a steady stream of rhino, buffalo and antelope. Wildlife is teaming and constant to the waterhole, and we’re seeing it all without even leaving the lodge. No wonder Jamala Madikwe is renowned for its ‘sofa safaris’, as you can literally see the Big Five while comfortably seated on the sofa – or from the pool. It’s simply extraordinary.
Jamala means ‘natural elegance’ in Swahili, but that is an understatement if ever. With just five exquisitely appointed villas – meaning a maximum of 10 guests – Jamala Madikwe is deeply decadent on every level. Personal service, exclusivity and absolute privacy are cornerstones, along with unparalleled wildlife sightings and truly fine dining. Jamala has all the very best attributes of old Africa, yet is firmly rooted in the 21st century. There is an in-house spa and an intimate gym, but also relaxed game drives and guided bush walks through the evocative and historically rich landscapes of Madikwe Game Reserve. You can choose to stay put at the lodge and watch the busy waterhole throughout the day or enjoy sundowners at sunset on the deck – and you wouldn’t miss a thing.
Jamala Madikwe’s villas are elegant, private retreats for guests wanting to enjoy down time and safe space along with effortless close encounters with wildlife. You will easily see elephant or buffalo or more while relaxing poolside in your private sala, or while taking an outdoor shower – even while lying in bed. At night the waterhole is softly lit, and that’s when shy leopard prefer to visit.
The unique watchtower at the main lodge is another vantage point for distant views as well as wildlife both near and far. It’s simply a beautiful space to be, think, meditate, photograph or dine on top of the world. Jamala is renowned for its sublime cuisine, always prepared with locally sourced ingredients and South African flair. Numerous awards – including for the Best Safari Cuisine in Southern Africa and Africa – plus two popular cookbooks clearly highlight the strong focus on fine food at Jamala. With it goes superb service and friendly staff, who serve dinner guests nightly across five enchanting dining venues at the lodge. Every person, couple or party has their own private dining space, which changes daily.
No surprise then that when guests find Jamala Madikwe, they return as often as possible. One guest has done so 19 times to enjoy the relaxed, comfortable, unpretentious environment that prizes guest enjoyment above all else. Here it is all about fine dining and excellent wildlife viewing in elegant luxury. Imagine Africa at its finest and most refined. It just doesn’t get better.
Reviewed by Keri Harvey
What we love
- the intricately carved, hardwood four-poster beds draped in netting
- both Persians and springbok hide on floors
- the private pool and sala to relax and watch wildlife from your villa
- oversized black and white portraits in the suite lounges
- watching the sun rise from the watchtower, while looking down on constant wildlife movement at the waterhole
- having your own exclusive dining space – and the extraordinary cuisine
Need to know
- an easy 300km or 3.5 hours drive from OR Tambo International Airport
- daily flights on Federal Air and charter flights that take 50 minutes
- children from 6 years old are welcome with prior arrangement
- malaria free all year