We went to Madikwe Safari Lodge (at the Lelapa Lodge) for 2 nights last weekend with the kids. It was possibly the best holiday we’ve had as a family… even though it was so short. This was the first safari trip we’ve been on with the kids, so we’d been looking forward to it for ages.

It was, by far, the fanciest place our kids had ever stayed at. In fact, they were in awe from the moment we arrived and our bags were taken to our room for us. They wanted to know if it was ok that the bags had disappeared, and we seemed quite relaxed that we didn’t know which suite we were going to stay in 😉

Between the incredible family suite with it’s outside shower and amazing seclusion… to the 100 odd elephant that wandered past the pool deck… to the incredible food… the interesting eco lodge and the most amazing game drives, we’d be hard pressed to find a better family bush break place for our family to stay.

Madikwe is a game reserve that is close to the Botswana border… and in fact, on a few of the game drives, we drove to the border fences to find animals. It’s in a malaria free area too, which is ideal for family holidays.

We stayed at the Lelapa Lodge at Madikwe Safari Lodge. It’s caters for kids of all ages, and the family suite we stayed in was just perfect for us. It’s the perfect place to go for a  family safari.

Ok on to the photos 😉 isn’t this place gorgeous?!

This was our suite… or rather part of it. There was a private splash pool outside with loungers, and even an outdoor shower!
Madikwe Safari Lodge w 006 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 007

The lounge area was where we met every morning and evening for tea and coffee before game drives… and in the background you can see the tables we used for day-time meals.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 008

I loved these little touches. Each person gets a water bottle to use on game drives… and you get to take them home!

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 010

We got there at lunchtime, so thankfully we got to go on a game drive on Friday afternoon. The first thing we saw was 3 lions who’d recently killed a zebra… and were resting in the shade 🙂 The kids were enthralled! What an exciting start to the weekend!

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 012 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 015

After the lioness yawned to wake herself up, she sauntered past the game vehicle to the waiting zebra carcass. The next morning, we went to the same spot hoping to find a few jackal or hyenas eating the bones, but there was NOT A THING left!! Nothing!! Not one bone, just some blood on the branches of the bush. So amazing!

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 018

Then we went to a waterhole and found a mom and her baby 🙂 isn’t this special? I took a Snapchat video, it’s a pity I didn’t save it. You could hear the little grunts and whines of the baby rhino as it was walking around it’s mom.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 023

Soon it was time to stop for drinks. The kids thought this was amazing. We hadn’t explained what would happen, so the entire day was a surprise to them 🙂

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 034 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 036

Our game ranger, JP, cooked us sosaties on the gas stove while we munched on the most delicious biltong and other snacks.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 040 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 042

The next morning, we were up really early to go on another game drive. We stopped at this beautiful dam… and there wasn’t an animal in sight! I did love the reflections though.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 052 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 058 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 062

After breakfast, we headed for the pool for the kids to swim… and this is what we saw! Seriously… there were herds and herds of elephants that slowly ambled there way to the waterhole in front of the lodge’s communal pool. It was absolutely incredible! A once in a lifetime sight. We reckon we saw more than 100 elephants on Saturday.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 067

How cute is this little dude?

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 068

While the ellies were drinking water, we played giant Jenga 🙂

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 078 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 079

and Connor swam… you can see how close the animals are in this photo

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 080

All these elephant photos were taken from the pool. And if you’re wondering… I use a 70-200mm lens so I wasn’t that far from them!

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 075

I just love all the movement and the chaos in this shot. Dad having a mud shower, teens having a little tussle while the babies try and work out how to get down the embankment to the water.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 074 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 073 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 072

The Eco Lodge is between Lelapa and the other lodges, and has got the most amazing array of animal skulls for the kids to explore. We went to a talk on spiders and scorpions done by the game ranger, JP, on Saturday afternoon… and the kids got to touch the resident bearded dragon, and see the snakes and tarantulas that are housed in the lodge too.

The lodge has kids activities that are hosted every hour to keep them occupied between game drives, and so parents can have a rest.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 300 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 301

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 069 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 071 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 064

The highlight of our Saturday evening game drive was the cheetahs. We drove quite far to get to the sighting, and I’m so glad we did. It was a first for us, I’ve never seen cheetahs in the wild before. These 2 are brothers, and the one is collared for research.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 084 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 085

You can see here how close we were. Those are our shadows on his body 🙂

After this little yawn, they got up and sauntered into the shade of our game vehicle so we couldn’t actually see them until JP carefully reversed. Of course that disturbed them and they walked off.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 089 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 092

We then drove to a dam… or rather it was a dam. It’s so so very dry! I just loved the colours caused by the setting sun and the dust from the truck!

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 095 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 098

On Saturday night, we were lucky enough to go to a bush dinner set up a way away from the lodge… in the middle of the bush. What a treat with a wine pairing and a 3 course meal 🙂

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 100 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 102 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 101

On our last morning, we again had an incredible drive. We saw a pair of spotted hyena… actually we watched them mating! The game rangers said this was a very rare sighting, it’s not something many people have seen…

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 110

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 305

We also saw a den of brown hyena pups, and one popped his head up very quickly… but it was too far and fast for me and my camera. Such a pity.

The last amazing thing we saw was this pack of wild dogs. Oh man, so amazing! They’re such beautiful creatures.

Madikwe Safari Lodge w 113 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 112 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 310 Madikwe Safari Lodge w 311

If you’re looking for a lodge not too far from Johannesburg to go for a family safari, then you have to consider the Madikwe Safari Lodge.

We will definitely make a plan to get this particular lodge next year… I’ve already been eyeing out the specials on various sites.

Disclaimer: I was asked to take photos of the lodge for marketing… but the blog post is my own doing.