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Jaci’s Lodges – An authentic safari getaway

Jaci’s Lodges is a family owned and run safari lodge located within Madikwe Game Reserve about a 4-hour drive from Johannesburg. The reserve is home to a variety of impressive wildlife including the Big 5.

The lodge is owned by Jan and Jaci van Heteren who, alongside their team, ensure an authentic experience with outstanding hospitality.

Jaci’s Lodges is an excellent choice for families, or couples, offering a variety of room types and facilities.

Jaci’s Lodges comprises of two separate lodges about a kilometer apart from each other. The safari lodge is ideal for families, and the tree lodge is adults-only. The property also has suites that can host up to 8 guests.

The staff made me feel right at home as soon as I arrived. The lodge has such a homely and cozy feel throughout and the staff were eager to make our stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Upon arrival we were offered a refreshing towel and cold beverage, as well as a reusable water bottle to be used throughout our stay.

I stayed at Jaci’s Tree Lodge in one of their eight treehouse suites. The suite was spacious, uniquely decorated, and surrounded by the natural environment. The rooms don’t have keys, which makes the stay authentic and makes you feel immersed in nature. The bed was incredibly comfortable, and had electric blankets, which is perfect for the cold winter nights. The suite had a beautiful bathtub and double vanity, as well as a huge outdoor shower.

Each morning there were sounds of hyenas and hippos in the distance waking me up, so no need for an alarm. We got a wake-up call at 6:30am each morning for the 7am game drive and were served coffee and snacks before heading off on the morning drive.

The dining experience at Jaci’s Lodges was exceptional. Our meals were served in different areas each day, breakfast at the boma area, lunch at Tlou Deck and dinner at the cozy indoor dining venue. We had a full English breakfast each morning to fuel us for the activity filled days. My favourite lunch was at the Tlou Deck overlooking the watering hole, we had the most delicious pork tacos and a local wine to pair. There were elephants at the watering hole during our entire lunch and it was just the most relaxing setting. The dinner menus were creative, and the chef certainly exceeded my expectations.

The first night we had Impala Shank which was really something different and my first-time eating Impala. The second night I had the most delicious chicken roulade, and my partner had the lamb rack which he thoroughly enjoyed (as it’s his favourite dish!). This last dinner was also so special because the staff set up the Tlou Deck for us even though it’s winter, but they put mushroom heaters next to our table and gave us blankets and we just had the best dinner experience.

The Terrapin hide is the most impressive spot at the lodge. This unique, submerged hide is accessed via an underwater tunnel and provides you with the opportunity to observe wildlife up close, right at water level. This is the perfect place for photographers to capture once-in-a-lifetime shots. You can sit in the hide for hours watching the animals in their natural habitat. We saw a herd of elephants up close, as well as a crocodile swimming in the water near the hide. There were also giraffes, bucks, zebras and birds visiting the watering hole during the day.

The hide is in my opinion the highlight of the lodge and a truly memorable and immersive experience.  

The swimming pool is a great place to relax and take a dip between activities. There is also the comfortable lounge area and bar which has a fireplace, perfect for winter days. The lodge also offers a small curio shop with beautiful local crafts and souvenirs.

There is a relaxing river walk between Jaci’s Safari Lodge and Jaci’s Tree Lodge and is a lovely activity for after breakfast. During my walk, I encountered monkeys and antelopes, as well as the most beautiful blue birds.

The lodge offered daily morning and afternoon game drives within the impressive Madikwe Game Reserve. We made sure to attend every game drive as there is always something new to see on each drive. Peter was our dedicated safari guide, and he is extremely knowledgeable on the reserve, and he loves astronomy. Peter has been in the industry for about 30 years so we were comfortable that he would make our drives memorable. He played educational games with us during sunset hour on the safari which was interactive and fun. I appreciated his enthusiasm.

During our game drives, we saw two male rhinos, wildebeest, elephants and giraffes. We also saw a herd of about a hundred buffalo at a watering hole which was impressive. On the second day we encountered three lions up close, it was an exhilarating feeling being so close to these wild animals.

On our last afternoon safari, we had an incredible sighting of three cheetah brothers. Our guide told us that it is rare to see cheetahs like we did on the open plains. There were also two rhinos nearby who tried chasing the cheetahs away, it was very entertaining to watch up close. It was the highlight of all our game drives, and truly a special sighting.

This unique destination offers an unparalleled blend of luxury, adventure, and authentic African charm.

Thank you to the staff for making my stay so special, thanks to Manny at the front office, Zandile and Kea in the dining areas, Russell the chef, and Peter our guide.

Reviewed by World Luxury Awards representative, Kayla Lourens

To book your stay at Jaci’s Lodges, visit their website: www.jacislodges.co.za