The perfect introduction to wildlife for kids
Katrien, married, mother of 2 children, from Belgium
The African wildlife speaks unexplainably to the imagination of children. We asked our kids about their favourite animals long before we made plans to take a family trip to the African bush. Their top three on the ‘most impressive animals’ include elephants, lions and giraffes. Always have, always will. Unfortunately taking your kids on a real safari isn’t an easy task, as we browsed through the possibilities of the perfect match between a family friendly holiday and giving the kids a safari experience, we were introduced to the quality label Little Guest…
A stop in Madiwke was part of our road trip through the South African wonderland, we arrived by car. As the Madikwe reserve is private, we were stopped at the entrance for a document check etc… From the gate to the lodge takes about 7 kilometres, straight throughout the park. We had only just entered when we saw a herd of elephants pass by, a couple of giraffes in the distance and some monkeys playing in the trees. The kids couldn’t be more excited. It was the best start of their introduction to wildlife and we knew it was only going to get better!
Luxury under the sun
Arriving at the lodge, we were surprised by the courtesy of the staff that would make our stay unforgettable. We were welcomed by the staff and we could tell that they were well briefed on our arrival. Our kids were immediately introduced to Banyana, the nurse who would be responsible for their well-being during our stay. What they didn’t know was that we have a three-year-old who is always suspicious when it comes to new people and new places. I wouldn’t expect her to give her trust to someone she had only just met and –as I thought- she didn’t. I must say thumbs up to Banyana and the rest of the staff on how they handled this. With patience and care, they convinced my daughter to give it a try. I swear, after half an hour, she wanted nothing more than to spend time at the Eco House (=kids club) or by the pool.
After our welcome drink, a fresh towel and delicious lunch, we were escorted to our room where we went from one surprise to another: bunk beds for the kids, an outdoor shower and a private swimming pool on the deck. All of that in a great setting, with an eye for interior design and respect to local vibes. We were happy to find our suitcases already in the room, because when we got out of our car, everything was taken care of. They parked the car, unloaded it and made sure our luggage would be waiting for us. Say what?! Talk about great service! An amazing holiday had started…
Swimming pool with a view
Can you imagine yourself swimming in a pool at about 50 meters distance from elephants, rhinos or giraffes? Well, we couldn’t either until we did in Madikwe. The swimming pool is in the vicinity of a waterhole where several animals, from elephants to wildebeests, pass by for a drink. As we were having lunch (because, yes lunch can be served by the pool!) we had our very own animal show. Well not exactly, but you know what I mean. We were speechless.
« Imagine yourself swimming in a pool at about 50 meters distance from elephants, rhinos or giraffes. »
For the convenience of the clients and to make sure they can offer the best service possible, the hotel has a daily programme. Every day at 6am, they do a morning game drive for the early birds. You leave very early in the morning to see the sunrise and to spot the wildlife starting their day. Bas and Ludovic were lucky enough to see lions with the prey they caught that night.
After the game drive (around 9am), breakfast is served with… anything you can imagine. They even had a special kid’s menu where the little ones have different options to choose from. After breakfast we went back to the room to freshen up and then; straight to the pool. The kids played games with Banyana, they baked cookies and painted. They ran back and forth to us to show their creations and talk about how much fun they were having.
At 4 P.M we were expected for tea or coffee in the main area as this was also the moment to gather for the afternoon game drive. We were guided by Kyle who was a pro at his job as well a pro in communicating with Bas and keeping him interested the whole time. The game drive takes approx. 3 hours and when we got back to the hotel, we were ready for dinner. Again, the kids were entertained and spoiled by Banyana. Imagine candle light dinner with hyena’s laughing in the background. A special kid’s menu that is served right after ordering and a smooth, relaxing atmosphere. Afterwards the kids can enjoy a special kids cinema nearby their parents. What I liked most about this is that the kids stayed close to us. We never felt like they had to move away for our own peace and quiet. But the fact that they didn’t go far, made us enjoy the evening as a couple.
« Imagine candle light dinner with hyena’s laughing in the background. »
One of the issues when you want to go on a game drive in Madikwe (or many other reserves) is that kids under 6 are not allowed. This is company policy. However, Madikwe Safari Lodge wouldn’t be the same without the service and attention for the kids. So, to respond to the aspirations of our youngest companions, they organise game drives for kids. Not as long, not as far and definitely not as challenging as the real game drives and was the highlight of Elodies holidays. She even saw lions which had been her biggest hope.
Thank you so much Little Guest! I can never thank all of you enough for accommodating and facilitating us the way you did. By putting the kids at a high standard, you definitely meet parent’s needs of pleasing their kids on holiday.