Luxury in the bush – family style
For many of us, childhood holidays are remembered as a magical time before the worries of everyday life weighed on us, and the drudgery of chores was a foreign concept. For those seeking to return to this idyll, Morukuru Family Madikwe is the answer.
In the southeast corner of the Madikwe Game Reserve in North West, Morukuru has three exclusive-use houses on a private concession. The reserve, covering 75 000 hectares, is home to the Big 5, African wild dogs, cheetahs and 340 species of birds. Visitors to each lodge are provided with a private vehicle with a guide and tracker, so you’re sure to see rare game.
Upon arrival at the Madikwe East airstrip, following a 50-minute flight from Johannesburg on Federal Air, we were met by tracker Sunnyboy Mogorosi and manager and guide Andre Jansen. They used the 30-minute drive to the Farm House, where we stayed, to full effect, turning it into a mini game drive. The two have great rapport, and you immediately feel as if you are a member of a group of friends. Andre’s enthusiasm for the park and its animals will even rouse the curiosity of those with no enthusiasm for the outdoors.
Upon arrival at the Farm House, we were met by singing staff members offering hot towels and delicious drinks, banishing the last remnants of city stress. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a luxurious bath and shower, and all your needs, from shampoo to midnight snacks in the form of a selection of mini chocolates, are anticipated. Each room has its own back deck where you can sit peacefully listening to the sounds of the bush.
The Farm House sleeps a maximum of 10 peple in five suites and boasts amenities such as a private pool, boma, bar, large wrap-around veranda, outdoor bath and a large garden. The staff really pays attention to the small things and guests will not want for snacks, drinks or coffee. There are also onsite massage therapists for those who need deep relaxation.
Morukuru runs on what they call the freedom concept, which means that guests are free to decide when they partake in activities with no pressure to run down a daily activity checklist. You can decide when and on how many game drives you wish to go, and if you’re feeling lazy, you can lounge by the beautiful pool while the charming butler Shadrack Mogwere makes you a cocktail of his creation. Even a lazy afternoon on the deckchairs by the pool is not in waste as you can observe the activities of warthogs that live in the garden.
The lodge is family friendly, and harassed parents can take a break from their kids while they go on their own adventures, as staff will keep the children busy with fun-filled activities ranging from baking to fishing. Babysitting services are also available.
Guests can truly forget all their worries as staff keep the rooms clean without you realising they have even visited. Throughout our stay, chef Hope Totobe prepared delicious meals, each served in a different location showcasing the natural beauty of the environment, and biscuits and fresh bread, prepared by baker Gloria Mlambo, were always on hand. If you need anything, host and co-manager Michelle le Roux is available to help with a huge smile on her face. A truly special experience was a mountain-top buffet-style meal with full bar service, featuring a breathtaking view of a plain, on the last night of our stay. The evening really felt like a special family occasion as Michelle and Andre joined us for a “kuier” session filled with laughter.
As it is located in a fenced-off area enclosing antelopes, guests at the Farm House can go on long bushveld walks on their own when they are not out on a game drive, which is sure to even impress veterans. While out on a drive, it’s impossible not to be infected by Andre’s passion for his work. In between wisecracks, he educates about everything from birds and plants to the historic family sagas of the lions in the park. A highlight was repeated visits over the course of a day to a pair of lions exiled from the pride. Although the two slept all day, only moving to stay in the shade, seeing them up close in their natural habitat was an incredible experience. Andre was able to tell us about the history of the pride they had left going back generations. Another unique experience was observing a young elephant bull from only metres away, with him examining us as much as we were him. Every game drive stopped for a break in the middle of the bush with snacks and drinks in the evening or spiked coffee and rusks in the early morning.
Guests with a social consciousness can enjoy a luxurious stay knowing they are participating in a project benefiting the environment and local community, as Morukuru Family believes strongly in giving back. The business is involved in various community and conservation drives, ranging from book donations to the nearby Molatedi School Library to programmes that allow guests to participate in conservation projects for a fee.
A stay at Morukuru is more than just a visit to a game lodge. A visit really feels like a family vacation – except you do not have to fill the parental role, as everything from meals to activities is in the hands of the staff. All meals and drinks, excluding wines on the Reserve List, are included in the price, so you truly do not have to think about anything once you have arrived.