Customer Reviews: A Family Adventure

by MMC
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Guests of Natasha’s recently had the adventure of a lifetime traveling through the Madikwe Game Reserve in the North West Province and here’s a look back at their experience.

Hello Natasha,

We had such an amazing time!!!! I really loved it!

First of all: big praise for Philip from Trax Travel! I absolutely recommend it! He had the car seat as promised and he even brought a pillow for our son to sleep in the car (which was then stolen by my husband because he was exhausted. It was put to good use!). A very nice guy! Entertained my husband with ideas about South Africa, was always on time and very patient with us when we were not there, offered us toilet breaks whenever needed etc. So for anyone looking for a transfer – they go everywhere, he said – don’t hesitate to go with him again! We were very happy we chose this option as the road to Derdepoort Gate was terrible (wouldn’t have liked that in a rental) and the flights seemed totally unreliable (so many delays!).

Marataba was an incredible place! We loved our guide Tembe! He was super nice and accommodating. I was a little mad at them for advertising the boat ride “for all ages” on their website, but then saying that Alexander couldn’t go after all (ages 6 and up, did they then declared). But when we pointed it out and expressed our feeling that it wasn’t quite right, they offered us an additional boat ride after breakfast with him. A perfect solution with which we were very satisfied. It was so awesome! The girl driving the boat even let Alexander steer a bit and Tembe found a huge rock python, so that was very exciting! We were in the jeep with a young Italian family – they had their 3 year old with them – so we went together and it was great. The lodge looks great (very stylish), the guiding was amazing, the babysitter was great and the kids club was by far the best! There was a slide, swings, trampoline, indoor area, etc. Unfortunately, it was very (very) cold on the roads, but the lodge couldn’t do anything about it (we were offered bottles of hot water and lots of blankets). On the last afternoon we were also offered to take the children with us as we were only two families, which I found very nice. We declined because the Italian family didn’t want to take their child (they kept saying we could definitely take Alex!), but we thought it would be nice if they were both with the babysitter (they had become friends now despite the language barrier). The only slight downside was that we didn’t like the food. We had very fond memories of the food at Lions Sands (also a More property) and this didn’t compare at all. The quality of the food didn’t seem as good and neither did the preparation. But the staff was amazing! Such lovely people! Highly recommended!

Lelapa: We started on a slightly negative note with 2 delayed game drives. They made us wait for new guests on 2 different routes in the afternoon for over 30 minutes. We pointed it out to them and they apologized, but that’s it. At Marataba, the new delayed guests would meet the jeep later. Another guide or staff member would bring them. I thought this was a much better approach! Existing guests were not made to wait and arriving guests (who were a little exhausted from being late) were not rushed. We had some amazing sightings at Lelapa, so this was quickly forgotten. Our guide here, Billy, was a bit of a character. But we got along very well with him. And he was also great with our son! The rooms were lovely – they made a fire for us in the room every evening. Even though it was warmer there, we still enjoyed it. The sightings at Madikwe I would say were better than at Marataba but I feel bad writing this because we also had some great sightings at Marataba! And the landscape is magnificent in Marataba. The food was very good and again the staff were really friendly. I loved their water feature by the pool! Major bonus points! We had so many elephants come to drink! Groups of more than 30 people at a time! We were always served lunch there, so it was amazing (also for our son) to see the animals come to our house! (Elephants, zebra, giraffe, warthogs, of course impala, kudu, etc.). Highly recommended!

Tuningi: We loved Tuningi! There was a very relaxed “out of Africa” style that we really enjoyed. Our guide wasn’t very keen on messing around here, he always seemed to have other commitments. He only made one. In all honesty, he suggested that Alexander come on safari (despite other people in the jeep), but we didn’t want to take the risk (also thinking of the other guests). But the second guide took us one the next day and on the last afternoon we had the jeep to ourselves so we could take Alexander with us (we were flexible to skip the aperitifs and come back a little early as he didn’t it was just us). Gavin was a wonderful guide! He was such a good tracker and absolutely relentless. I won’t give up! Amazing to find the wild dogs and be the only car at the start watching them play! The food was amazing – our favorite! The rooms were beautiful and huge (also with a fireplace). The only downside in winter is that they only have an outdoor shower (and even though it was warmer than in Marataba, it was still cold). They are aware of this and have declared that they will do major renovation work next May and June. The babysitter was great, lovely lady. But if I understood correctly, they are unfortunately changing their policy regarding children (only from 6 years old I think). They also have a superb waterhole which attracts many elephants and a perfect hiding place for photographers. Highly recommended!
There wasn’t a single lodge we didn’t enjoy!

One thing that slightly (negatively) surprised me about Lelapa and Tuningi was that they filled the cars a lot. At this level/standard, I expected a maximum of 6 people (as is the case in Marataba). So if this is important to some of your other guests, it’s just something to note. In Tuningi there were 8 of us per car at one point, so it was really comfortable (and I just didn’t expect that).

General note on Madikwe: we loved the park! It offers an incredible safari experience that rivals Kruger at a lower price, malaria-free and child-friendly. We didn’t manage to see a leopard (and I didn’t expect to, although other people did so it’s possible) but saw everything else! We saw so many rhinos we lost count! They were everywhere. And they are not dog-eared so for photographers this could be a plus. And wild dogs, I wasn’t expecting that either, so that was a great bonus!

Thank you for once again organizing a great trip for us! If anyone asks about our safaris, I always recommend Sunsafaris and you in particular!


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