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Jaci's Safari Lodge

Jaci's Safari Lodge

Malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve extends over almost 300 square miles and is world famous for the outstanding work being done with the endangered Cape hunting dog (or African wild dog) as well as the quality of the conservation and land restoration. Stocking Madikwe with animals was nicknamed Operation Phoenix and entailed capturing and transporting nearly 8,000 animals of different 28 species from reserves in other South African provinces. Between 1991 and 1997 elephant, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, spotted hyena, lion, giraffe, antelope, and Cape hunting dogs were introduced.

Jaci's Safari Lodge is most interestingly built around an ancient anthill, as it is known locally (it is, in fact, a termite mound). The lodge is small and the offering exclusive. Accommodation is in eight air-conditioned rooms plus one suite. All the buildings have thatch roofs, canvas sides, and large windows to maximize the views onto the bush. Six rooms have twin beds whereas the other two have king-size four-poster beds.

The rooms lead onto decks which are great for taking in the views. The Nare Suite has two bedrooms and an upstairs loft for children. It can accommodate four adults plus four children. In addition, it offers a kitchen where meals are prepared for you, a lounge, an outdoor eating area, a private guide, and an exclusive-use 4x4 vehicle.

The lodge’s central area has a boma for the evening fires and barbecues, a swimming pool, a craft shop, and a gym. Meals at Jaci’s are centered on fresh seasonal produce and meats. The kitchen opens to the dining area so you can watch the chef at work. Dinners are taken at the boma or in the bush under the stars should you prefer.

Not surprisingly, the most coveted activities at Jaci’s Safari Lodge are the game drives. With now more than sixty mammal species, including all of Africa’s “big 5,” as well as more than 300 bird species, there is much to see. And not just the animals. The landscapes are also beautiful. The guides at Jaci’s are excellent, whether leading game drives or walks. They will lead you into many great photographic opportunities.

When it comes to the future of the African wild dog, it is good news that those on Madikwe are flourishing. In 1994, only six were introduced. Over the years additional dogs were introduced to strengthen the gene pool, today there are three hunting packs.

For the ultimate in relaxation, turn to the trained hands at the Masala Spa, where you can choose to have a full body, Indian head, back and shoulder, or foot massage. It seems like a good idea, especially if you have taken a long bush walk or spent too long in a vehicle before getting here.

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