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“Excellent Safari and Relaxation Experience”

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Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Benoni, South Africa
Level Contributor
60 reviews
47 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
“Excellent Safari and Relaxation Experience”
Reviewed 28 May 2008

We are a South African Middle Aged couple and luckily the Lodge has excellent specials for S.A. residents making it affordable for us otherwise these lodges are generally aimed at the overseas market which is tragic in many respects but based on business and profit principles, I guess one has to accept it.
Some specifics:

THE ROAD:

The road from Abjaterskop gate to the lodge, 34 km in total, is totally and emphatically easily drivable in a standard car. I drive a luxury marque sedan and found there are only 2 or 3 areas where you need to be slightly cautious. It took us 45 minutes there, adhering to the 40km speed limit the entire time and enjoying our own private game viewing opportunity and 35 minutes when returning home.

THE LODGE:
The lodge is very remote but the signposting is good.
The lodge grounds are immaculate, and truly eco friendly in the heart of the Bush.
The welcome at the lodge was first class and the warm towel and drink was most welcome. Godfrey was efficient and made us feel like the only guests they had seen for a month. We since met Bertus and Karien the Husband and Wife general management team. They have been in the hospitality business for over 20 years and still have a tireless passion for there work.
The lodge itself is more spacious than it appears on the Internet pics. Lots of cozy chairs and areas to park off and not be bothered.
The 2 swimming pools will be wonderful in summer and the rock pool would be a great place to relax and cool off.

THE CHALET:

The chalet was totally comfortable and felt spacious even though we have stayed in many larger chalets. We had Room 1 which has an extended deck overlooking the River and on the opposite side a natural path animals take to drink in the River.
On arrival, we were soon accompanied by a family of vervet monkeys, one who was cheeky enough to steal an apple out of our room in what seemed like a spilt second.
That same evening I watched a bush baby romping in the tree tops outside our chalet and was amazed at his agility and the distance he could jump between branches. I took my own powerful spotlight which was a must do. My partner subsequently found 2 of them in our room on her return from dinner having some fun.
The lowered bath in the bathroom allowed you to view the surroundings, the monkeys at play and the tame bushbuck that grazes calmly around the property.
A real treat is the large family of relatively tame Banded mongoose that have made MRL there home. They gladly pose for photos and some of the braver ones accompany you for Brunch or dinner hoping to get some crumbs. Recently Animal Planet has made a documentary about this particular family.

THE SAFARIS
The game drives were excellent. We had Werner for all 4 days, a young man who had been at MRL for over 2 years and he was very accommodating in trying to make the game drives interesting and varied. We saw everything except the elusive leopard. We tracked Lions on 4 occasions and watched the courtship routine of 2 mating pairs. It was fun walking next to the river to view the hippo at play at quite close quarters. He had advised us it was safe as the bank was too steep for the Hippo to attack us. He had a lot of information on hand about the diverse animals we saw and the flora as well and I learnt a lot even though we are relatively knowledgeable about the African wild and the Bush.
There were always drinks and tasty biltong, nuts and dried fruit on the Afternoon drive and Coffee and Rusks on the Morning drive. Even when we stopped Werner was glad to impart some information about the Trees or dung heaps in the area including factual information about a 1000 year old Leadwood tree.

THE FOOD:
The brunches were excellent with good variety and more than enough food.
The dinners were ‘nouvelle cuisine”, i.e small portions. Although it is probably not that good to have a massive dinner before retiring to bed I thought the main course on the 2nd night was extremely meager. Advertised as Lamb Chops on a bed of potatoes and accompanied by vegetables was 1 single lamb chop on a single slice of potato and fried butternut… However there is still enough food as a rule as the High tea also offer Savoury and sweet snacks. Just don’t save yourself for supper!!

THE NEGATIVES-
The Mini Bar prices were so amazingly absurdly expensive I decided to write them down. The craziest one of all was a 250ml Bottle of wine for R70, this is about 600% profit. The Lodge bar prices are also 30-40% higher than what you would pay in a 4 or 5 star city hotel would charge. I made a comment to the General Manager but he steered clear of debating the point other than to say there prices are set by a higher authority. I have reviews on other places and in Asian resorts it is becoming a tendency for Hotels to charge reasonable Mini bar prices so as to eliminate people taking there own drinks into the room anyway.
PLEASE GUYS!!, there is no excuse or justification for these prices and believe me, even all the foreign dollar and Euro paying guests who were paying a whack just to stay there, were making negative comments.

Overall however, a great experience and certainly we are aiming at doing this again, but will make sure I take plenty of my own mini bottles of wine.

  • Liked — Privacy and comfortable
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed May 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank gazzcat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nick V, Internal Marketing Liaison Officer at Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge, responded to this review, 9 April 2016
Thank you for the positive feedback, we apologize for the inconvenience we may have caused you.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Level Contributor
139 reviews
90 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 262 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 April 2008

I brought my family here for three days in April.

Madikwe is a first class place to safari. The lodge is one of the oldest of the 32 in the Madikwe park, and has 16 cottages along a river (slightly sluggish and muddy but still a river). The lodge itself is great - soaring pitched thatch roof, lots of nice sitting areas, comfy, open, relaxed.

The lodge has a little plunge pool right in it, and a much nicer man made rock plunge pool about 50 yards away. It also has a fun bridge over the river and a party island for BBQs.

The chef, Julius, is first class, at times inspired, but always excellent. The wine list is great, as is the cocktail list. Lodge service is excellent, keen, cheerful, effective and smiley. There is a slowish wireless network in the lodge, and landline phones.

The cottages are comfy, with private river view terraces, but are a bit small and a little tired now. While you can stay in super-luxury cottages at some of the newer lodges, you will pay another £300-£700 a night for a nicer room, but the game reserve will be the same, so I think that MRL is the perfect compromise, for the cottages are well comfy enough.

The Madikwe reserve itself is a winner - 150,000 acres of bush and hill. In four game drives we had outstanding spots of lion, elephant, rhino, giraffe, and a myriad of smaller game. The game drives were beautifullly organised and managed, down to the fleece lined ponchos provided to warm the bones on a freezing April morning (it gets very cold!), which we noticed were unique to MRL - the land cruisers from the other lodges had no such comforts!

One note of caution. Whichever way you approach it, the last 40kms of the road to MRL are rough stony track, and are not passable in a road car (we tried). If you drive here you must have at least a land cruiser, and even then it is 5 hours from Pretoria to the lodge itself. Next time we will fly in - £90 each way right into the reserve, or you can helo into MRL itself.

  • Liked — The rock pool
  • Disliked — Slightly tired bathrooms
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank Coltbridge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nick V, Internal Marketing Officer at Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge, responded to this review, 9 April 2016
Thank you for the positive feedback, we apologize for the inconvenience we may have caused you.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Queensland Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 26 March 2007

We have just returned from our trip to Africa and the highlight of our holiday was a visit to Madikwe River Lodge. This lodge is absolutely wonderful, the rooms (chalets) were large, clean and comfortable. They are very private and each one overlooks the river where we could see Warthog and Baboons playing on the other side from our room! We had monkeys on our verandah and really felt like were were in the middle of nowhere, but with all the facilities you could possibly wish for. The game drives were absolutely brilliant and our guide Ignatius was just a legend and knew the reserve backwards. We saw almost every animal we hoped for and were even "chased" down the road backwards in the truck by an elephant, it was soooo exciting and wouldn't have missed it for the world. Although a little frighening it added to the reality of being so close to nature and we fully trusted Ingatius and his professionalism and knowledge of the bush was amazing. The food was excellent, we throughly enjoyed the outdoor dinners with a truely African experience, from the staff singing and dancing to trying some of the traditional food....delicious. It was great to get to know the other guests who travelled on the same truck and shared meal times, a great bunch of people to spend some of our holiday with. I would recommend this lodge to anyone who is contemplating going. One final lovely touch was when we left, we were sent off on our jouney with a brown paper back containing bottles of water and fruit for the trip with a little goodbye note attached! What a thoughfful jesture! We can't wait to return!

  • Liked — The friendliness and efficiency of the staff
  • Disliked — A bit worried about creepy crawlies, but hey...your in the bush!!
  • Stayed March 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Carol&LeeW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Naledi1, Internal Marketing Liaison Officer at Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge, responded to this review, 4 June 2016
Thank you for the positive feedback, we apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
58 reviews
53 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 253 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 June 2006

Four of us (adults) stayed at Madikwe for 3 days at the end of May. We are so happy that a travel agent recommended this place.

After flying into Johannesburg, we spent the first few nights of our vacation at the Pilanesburg Game Reserve. In retrospect, we are glad we did Pilanesburg first. Pilanesburg was more of an introduction to the bush (paved roads, etc) whereas Madikwe is what we thought of as the "true" bush! The views were beautiful.

The entire staff was extremely attentive to our needs and knew us all by our first names from the beginning. The accomodations were very nice - as I try to explain to people at home, it is like a "typical" hotel room but in separate cottages with thatched roofs and animals all around! Nice bathroom with typical amenities. The setting was beautiful - mongoose running around outside, etc. Our friend had a late night visitor in his room - bush babies (ie, small monkies) were "playing" in his room! Another couple had the same experience that night. They are harmless, don't worry.

The game drives were amazing. We saw all of the big 5 except the elusive cheetah. Another couple that left on our 2nd day did see one so it is possible! We stumbled upon a pride of lion sunning themselves on our first drive and it was unreal. Our guide did a great job of taking us to things we were interested in. We came home with over 500 photos. People cannot believe all of the animals we saw.

The meals were good as well. One night we had a traditional South African dinner outiside with other guests and truly enjoyed the meal and the great conversation with the other guests. We still comment about how wonderful everyone was.

If you are traveling during the winter (like when we were there in May), it gets very cold at night. We had our ski gear with us and it served us well. During the day it was very nice - no rain but rather sunshine and highs around 65-70F. Definitely dress in layers and be prepared for the cold (fyi, the rooms have heaters).

I would highly recommend Madikwe River Lodge to anyone thinking of visiting the area. It is not a Ritz but for being in the bush it was extremely nice with good food, great staff and wonderful game drives.

  • Stayed May 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank ngl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nick V, Internal Marketing Liaison Officer at Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge, responded to this review, 9 April 2016
Thank you for the positive feedback, we apologize for the inconvenience we may have caused you.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
london
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 June 2006

Two of us stayed at Madikwe for two nights which was not too short, however 3 night would have been equally as good. We found that the attentativeness and attention to detail that staff gave us was first class. I work in the hospiality industry and I truly could not of asked for better service.

You are in the middle of a game reserve which you can feel from the rooms as the open up to overlook a natural watering hole so that you can spot many of the parks wildlife with out venturing any further than your room.

The food was home cooked / cordon bleu and was excellent. A good mix and use of ingerdients and we were made to fell special. The game drives were equally as good. We were recomended to visit Madikwe River and it exceeded all our expectations. A truly wonderfull place.

  • Stayed October 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank walker123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nick V, Internal Marketing Liaison Officer at Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge, responded to this review, 9 April 2016
Thanks for the positive feedback, we apologize for the inconvenience we may have caused you.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
UK
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 November 2005

I lived in Africa for 5 years but have never had such high quality game sightings as those at Madikwe. The staff were superb - and the rangers went out of the way to satisfy our "wish list" resulting in a wonderful sighting of wild dog at very close quarters. The standard of food and service at the lodge was excellent. Even stretching to amazing support when we got a puncture on the way out of the reserve - the manager personally saw to it that we were safely transported out of the park and followed up the next day to ensure we arrived home safely. Be prepared for extreme heat (45deg during our stay) and very early starts (4.30am wake up for game drive) but all well worth it!

  • Stayed November 2005
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Jane H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nick V, Internal Marketing Liaison Officer at Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge, responded to this review, 9 April 2016
Thanks for the positive feedback, we apologize for the inconvenience we may have caused you.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, UK
Level Contributor
192 reviews
73 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 September 2005

We stayed at Madikwe for 2 nights on our second visit to Madikwe Game Reserve. The friends we were travelling with were not keen on the tented rooms at our favourite lodge (Jaci's) so we chose Madikwe which provided individual huts rather than the half tent/half brick structures at Jaci's.

In most respects Madikwe compared well - the staff were helpful and friendly, the food was good and the drives and service generally were excellent, but we were a little disappointed by the rooms, which we felt were in need of a bit of re-decoration, the bathroom in particular.

  • Stayed November 2003
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank UKLizzie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nick V, Internal Marketing Liaison Officer at Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge, responded to this review, 9 April 2016
Thank you for the positive feedback, we apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge

Property: Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge
Address: | P.O. Box 17, Madikwe Game Reserve 2876, South Africa
Region: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #20 of 23 Speciality Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:3 star — Three Cities Madikwe River Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Madikwe River Lodge is positioned in the heart of Madikwe Game Reserve and offers attractive comfort in sixteen split level suites with an outdoor dining boma located on a central Island,accessed by a wooden bridge,this luxurious Lodge invites guests to enjoy the sights & sounds in mother Africa's land of brilliance. Surrounded by 75 000 hectares of malaria-free African sand veld.Each suites is individually decorated to create a rich African feel,and offers en-suites bathroom with a full range of guests amenities as well as a private wooden viewing deck overlooking the river. Madikwe Game Reserve, is world of breathtaking scenery and endless African bush. At Madikwe River Lodge the guided game drivers and trails are thrilling to be a part of with Africa offering you and incomparable experience in the wild. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Madikwe River Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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