First-time visitors to the reserve would be forgiven for thinking they’ve been delivered into a wildlife-rich reserve dating back eons. For not only are the sheer number of animals unparalleled but sightings at the water hole located just a few feet beyond the main lodge, are so prolific that Rodney and Nico have introduced a (tongue-in-cheek) experience called ‘the sofa safari’ – (perfect for honeymooners looking to sleep in or soak in their private pools, while still game viewing).
A big part of Madikwe’s charm is that it is an ecological success story. Just 30 years ago, this entire area was nothing more than denuded farmland beset by drought and locusts. That is, until a feasibility study declared wildlife tourism the best option for the malaria-free area and Madikwe Game Reserve was born.
The abundant game is the result of an ambitious plan called Operation Phoenix that kicked off in 1991 and sought to reintroduce more than 10,000 mammals into the reserve. Such was the success of the project then that it was widely recognized as the largest and most successful translocation project in the world. Operation Phoenix celebrated other world firsts in that entire herds of elephant were successfully relocated as was the critically endangered African wild dog. In fact, today Madikwe is in the fortunate position of supplying animals to other reserves in addition to its highly successful African Wild Dog program.
As one would expect from an award-winning chef and author of his own cookbooks, Nico’s food is a highlight of any visit to Jamala, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal fare inspired by the tastes, flavors and traditions of Africa. Rodney is every inch an erudite and well-traveled connoisseur of experiences, so his attention to detail is felt in every aspect of the lodge from its services to facilities and decor. As one would expect from an award-winning chef and author of his own cookbooks, Nico’s food is a highlight of any visit to Jamala, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal fare inspired by the tastes, flavors and traditions of Africa. Both are equally well versed in the area’s rich history and can regale you with tales of famous historical characters such as Mzilikazi (the South African king who founded the Matabele kingdom in Zimbabwe) and explorer David Livingstone (who got married in the missionary buildings on the property) – both of whom have strong associations to the area.
If you’d like us to include Jamala Madikwe in your next luxury African safari itinerary, email firstname.lastname@example.org.