This is the first in a series of monthly articles whereby we’ll pick one of our favorite accommodation places and focus on why we love to book it, what our past clients have said about it, how it best fits into an African safari itinerary and what’s newsy, fascinating, must-see or just plain quirky about the lodge and its surrounding region. This month, the spotlight is on Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge, in our minds one of the jewels of the Madkiwe Game Reserve and certainly one for all of us in the world of South African tourism.

Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge
View over the exquisite Jamala Madikwe Safari Lodge, its private suites and the waterhole

The consultants in our office like to recommend Jamala Madikwe Safari Lodge because:

  • Even though it’s a 5 star safari lodge and therefore not cheap, it is great value considering the very personal level of service, the spaciousness of the suites and the quality of the game viewing.
  • Jamala is owner-managed by Rodney. Assisted by his excellent head chef, Nico, this awesome duo go to incredible lengths to provide highly personalised service.
  • There are views of the busy waterhole from wherever you are in the lodge and you can watch a wide variety of animals come down to drink from either your private deck, plunge pool or even your bed!
  • With just 10 suites, Jamala is ideal for people wanting intimate holiday accommodation.
Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge
Utterly romantic and luxurious interiors of one of the private suites at Jamala

Jamala is located in the Madikwe Game Reserve, one of the premier game reserves and holiday destinations in South Africa. The reserve is malaria-free with a wide variety of wildlife including the Big Five as well as healthy populations of endangered wild dog. Even though it is malaria free and in a reserve that is known for its family friendly safaris, we don’t really recommend Jamala Madikwe for families with children younger than 10 years old. The property welcomes children and is fenced, but the animals are able to come right up to the lodge and parents of little ones would feel too stressed having to keep an eye on their every move and clamber!

Access to Jamala is quite straight forward. Most of our clients make use of the scheduled charter flight directly to the game reserve from Johannesburg. Alternatively, it is a manageable 3 to 4 hour drive from Johannesburg. We don’t often combine Jamala with another safari experience in the Madkiwe as three days in the reserve is considered the perfect amount of time. And so usually our clients would just travel directly to Jamala Madikwe and then back to Johannesburg. However, we have started recommending combining Jamala Madikwe with Marataba Safari Lodge in the beautiful Waterberg Game Reserve about 2 ½ hours drive to the east of the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge
Game is plentiful at Jamala with elephant and buffalo sightings a frequent occurance

The best time to visit the reserve is during the winter months from April to September, when there is less rain, and the animals are more visible around the nearby watering holes. Summer is still a good time if you like heat, but be aware that afternoon cloudbursts are common as are muddy roads!

Wild Dog
The wild dog has a beautifully multi-coloured coat and is an incredible hunter

Besides frequent sightings of the Big Five, the other wildlife attraction here is the wild dog, which has become quite scarce and is thus a rare sighting. They are highly intelligent creatures and watching them hunt is a thrilling experience. You may need a strong stomach however as wild dogs are known to literally tear their prey to shreds on the run!

Jamala Madikwe interior
The beautiful African-inspired interiors that make Jamala such an unforgettable experience

And if our rave reviews are not enough to win you over, see all the service excellence and culinary awards that they have won:  We are grateful to the Jamala team who continue to capture the hearts of our clients who in turn continuously rate their stay there as the best part of their holidays in South Africa. As one past client put it: “I have to say in all the years of going on safari, Jamala is at the top of its game! Fortunate to have arrived in a quiet couple of days and so had total exclusive use and saw the Super 7 in one drive.“

Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge
Leopard sightings at Jamala’s watering hole count as one of the most treasured experiences

Another past client raved: “There are views of the waterhole from everywhere – the communal sofa areas as well as from your room (the deck, the plunge pool and the outdoor shower!). I arrived and had a foot and leg massage with G&T in hand and just watched the watering hole. We saw a leopard approach the waterhole just as we finished dinner – very exciting and unique view!“ To Rodney and his team at Jamala, we love you for your excellent service, stunning spacious suites, award-winning cuisine and breathtaking setting in front of the waterhole with views of the savanna and the far off Madikwe hills. And if you’ve been to Jamala and would like to comment and contribute, we’d love to hear your feedback or see your best photos.

Views across Madikwe Game Reserve
Expansive views across the Madikwe Game Reserve