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“Wow place for children and adults”
Review of Thakadu River Camp

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Thakadu River Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Doha, Qatar
Level Contributor
24 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Wow place for children and adults”
Reviewed 27 November 2011

We, a couple with 8-year old twins, spent four nights at Thakadu in early November, 2011. Surely, it was a great experience for all. We got to see lions, elephants, rhinos, hypos, giraffes, wild dogs, hyenas, impalas, and the list goes on and on. Unlike the Kruger Park, the Madikwe Game Reserve (where Thakadu is) seems to be malaria-free, what is a big plus.

Accommodation is in spacious tents along a river, with private bath and shower, all kept very clean. The bed is huge, comfortable, with good quality bed linen. A mosquito net is provided. The camp has electric fences around it, meaning wild animals are kept outside, avoiding unwanted encounters.

Game drives are the big activity and are included in the price. The Toyota Land Cruiser used is very well kept, clean, and faces all terrains. You get two drives a day, one in the early morning (by 5:30 am) and the other in the afternoon (by 3:30 pm). Each trip takes from 3 to 4 hours. The guide spares no effort to show the best of Madikwe's wildlife. Our guide, a lady called Patience, is very experienced and knowledgeable. While driving the car on a bumpy road inside the reserve in the dark, she could spot scorpions on the bush trees along the road - not only once, but two or three times. Amazing!

Apart from the game drives, there is not much else to do other than going to the small swimming pool. But Thakadu is a great place to read a book and relax. If you come with children, you may wish to bring some board games or toys to entertain them between the drives. My 8-year twins endured the game drives very well (occasionally sleeping in the car) but I would not recommend the drives for younger children.

Food is very good, but not excellent. It starts with a light meal before the first game drive, you then get a snack during the drive, and full breakfast on return to the camp. A light lunch is served at around noon time. At 3 pm, there is tea, sandwiches, sweets, and cakes before the afternoon drive. You then get a snack at sunset, in the bush. Upon return to the camp, there is a three-course dinner, often served in a boma (an external area, lit by fire).

In summary, adults and children alike are bound to have a great time. Thakadu is not luxurious but is very comfortable and the service is attentive. I would definitely recommend it to my relatives and friends.

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled with family
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Thank Camcordereye
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Harrogate, England
Level Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 November 2011

We had a week at Thakadu in October 2011, with our children aged 8 and 9. They loved every moment and we had a fantastic time, too. Game drives, food and accommodation were all excellent. An extra nature walk for the children focused on insects and plants. The rooms are big tents on wooden bases. You know it's a tent, but all the facilities are as normal - good shower, bath, giant bed, balcony with river view and so on. Service is generally good. Not everything is always remembered all the time, but all requests are responded to quickly and with a smile.

  • Stayed October 2011, travelled with family
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Thank FamilyMcBrennan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Berkhamsted, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
198 reviews
47 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 147 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 June 2011

I stayed here with my husband and two children (aged 8 and 6) for 3 nights in April 2011. Thakadu promotes itself as a child-friendly camp and, whilst there were no activities for kids specifically between game drives, the children were welcomed by all the staff and especially on the game drives. We chose Thakadu because it is a fenced camp.

This is a good camp. We particularly liked that Thakadu is a community project - the camp is owned and staffed by people from the local community. Private safari lodges are never cheap but, in the case of Thakadu, there is a real sense that what you pay contributes positively to the life of those living in the local village.

Going to Madikwe, of course, it's all about the game drives and our ranger, Lucky, from Molatedi village, was fabulous! Having been to several lodges previously, he was amongst the best and obviously well-respected by the other guides in the park. He got us to all the best sightings and was a fount of knowledge - for the kids as well as the adults. The game vehicles were in good condition and we liked that they had a canvas roof which helps to protect you from the sun. We were also provided with blankets for those chilly early mornings and nights after the sun has gone down. To those people who may be uncertain of taking children on safari, I'd say go for it! Our children have memories and experiences from their game drives which they will cherish for a long time.

The accommodation is good. The tents are roomy with full aircon/heating and full bathrooms. The main bed (7ft wide) is wonderfully comfortable! The kids slept on a sofa bed. We were in Tent No 1 which is closest to the main building which was very convenient. We had a couple of niggles with bulbs not working and the safe being unaccessible when we first arrived but these were sorted out within 10 minutes. Tea and coffee making facilities are provided in the tents too.

Food and service are good. We were greeted on arrival at the camp with warm towels and drinks. Warm towels were also offered on return from most of the game drives (noticeably after a staff changeover they didn't always appear with the new front of house staff). Our car was taken away for safe keeping and washed before being returned to us.

The food was good quality and nicely presented without being over the top gourmet cuisine. Breakfast consisted of a cold buffet with hot food cooked to order. Lunches were things like lasagne and salad, or wraps and salad. Dinner was 3 courses and the chef himself always came to our table to tell us of the evening's menu. We didn't request anything special for the kids but the food was of a style that they could largely eat it anyway.eg. steak served with a carbohydrate and steamed vegetables. The children found it amusing that they ate kudu steak for dinner one evening after watching wild dogs feast on a kudu less than an hour earlier! The kitchen were more than happy to accommodate minor requests such as omitting a sauce.

Our typical day was wakeup call at 5am, tea/coffee and rusks before leaving for a game drive at 5.30am. Hot drinks and rusks were offered during a stop on the drive. We were typically back at the lodge at about 9am for breakfast.. Lunch was served from 1pm-2pm. Then afternoon tea from 3.30pm to 4pm before the afternoon game drive which included a stop for sundowners. We usually got back about 7.45pm, just in time for dinner! The times change as the seasons change. And animal sightings can sometimes throw the timetable into slight disarray too!

Overall, we enjoyed our stay and particularly enjoyed sleeping in tents and hearing the sounds of the bush. There's nothing quite like going to sleep to the a chorus of elephants trumpeting and rumbling downriver or being woken up by the noise of monkeys jumping around in the trees.

I would recommend this camp for couples or families.

  • Stayed April 2011, travelled with family
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2 Thank Sandsy40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Perth, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 April 2011

We travelled to Thadaku with a group of friends and our 2 children aged 7&9.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay but there are a few things which could have made it incredible!

Thadaku claims to be the most child friendly lodge in Madikwe however I think this way overstating the mark.
- In our group we had 9 out of the 12 tents. Our group included ourselves and one other family with 4 boys (7 and younger), and surprisingly we were given tents 10 & 12 which were 10 minutes walk from the main lodge.
- As we had a few younger kids who weren't up for going on every game drive we arranged babysitters to look after them. Luckily we had brought DVD players , lego , colouring etc as the lodge did not have any resources for the babysitters to entertain the kids.
- One afternoon we returned from a game drive to have another guest express their concern that the babysitters had done nothing all afternoon and the kids had ruined their afternoon of relaxing as they had been worried about one of the kids falling in the pool.
- KIds game drives and bush walks are promoted but were never really offered. We did one kids drive but from my experience it was no different to an adult drive. While we were out we saw one of the rangers from Jaci's with some kids doing plaster moulds of lion tracks which our kids thought was awesome, but when we asked if the kids could do this they didn't have a clue what we were talking about?!

However in terms of the game drives - there is nothing I could fault. We had Patience and Fortune as our Rangers for the 3 days and they were amazing. We saw so many animals it was overwhelming. Patience in particular was brilliant - if she promised some thing she always delivered - wild dogs one day and Rhino the next!
As others have reviewed the chef and his staff always did an amazing job and the food was incredible.

In terms of the accommodation - it was lovely but I still don't believe it reached the 5 star expectations. Our phone didn't work so they had to come and knock on our door each morning which meant our 5 am wake up call was at 5.10 and trying to get the kids up and ready we really could have done with the extra 10 mins. There was no light in our toilet and despite bringing this to the attention of management was not fixed during our stay. There was no light outside our tent so if was very difficult getting back to the tent in the dark. There was also an unpleasant sewerage smell outside the tent during the day. So overall I was bit disappointed with the level of accommodation provided.

Others in our group didn't have as many issues , although one couple couldn't use their shower as it had no not water, and another had a faulty electric fence that buzzed like a metronome for 2 days outside their room (although this one was fixed) .

So our stayed had both positives and negatives to it. But overall I would do it all again in a heartbeat, the quality of the rangers on the game drives, the food, and the amazing setting make up for the shortcomings.

For families going to Thadaku I would recommend to arrive prepared to entertain your kids while there.

Room Tip: For families ask for a tent close to the lodge
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  • Stayed April 2011, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank MrsTravelsome
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ankara, Turkey
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 February 2011

Our stay in Madikwe Game Reserve was the best experience we have ever had. We stayed in Thakadu Game Reserve with my husband and 13 year old girl. The staff was very kind. The room was very nice and clean. The game drive was fascinating. I strongly recommend Thakadu River Camp.

  • Stayed January 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank aysekar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Johannesburg
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 August 2010

Rooms: Lovely tented room overlooking the river. Had air-conditioning, big bed, nice balcony and lovely bathroom. The rooms are well separated so you can enjoy your own
privacy.
Facilities: Lovely public swimming pool overlooking the river. Big lounge next to the river where you can sit and read.
Location: Located about 3 hours from Johannesburg in one of the best game reserves in the country. Has big 5 and lots of other beautiful things to see. Camp is right on the river, saw elephant drinking right in front of us on within the first hour of arriving.
Food: Excellent food, we spent 3 nights there and had wonderful meals every time. You can look forward to high tea every afternoon and drinks and snacks on your game drive.
Service: Excellent service, especially from our game ranger. Very knowledgeable and friendly. We were sad to leave
Price: Great value for money, we couldn't have asked for a better price.

  • Stayed March 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank TravellingTimmy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
23 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 May 2010

We have just returned back from a 3 night stay at the Thakadu Lodge and all I can say is that this was the best 5* experience ever.
The lodge is set in the middle of the madikwe Game reserve in a very pristine area right next to a river. We were told that the approach road to the lodge is very bad, but we made it from Sun City to this lodge in 1.5 hours and the road was just fine - towards the end it does become a dirt road, but it is very flat and not very bumpy. We saw several Impala Deer stop by at the river for a drink at the river. The place is very secluded.
The staff was extremely friendly and very welcoming.

We are vegetarian and we were concerned about the food, but the Chef at the restaraunt - Collen, cooks like French Gourmet chef and he served 4 course meals for us every night - and each night it was something different. Some of the dishes that we really enjoyed were the Tuscany 3 bean soup, Stuffed mushrooms with goat cheese, Ratatoulie, Red bell pepper stuffed with wild rice, Chocolate Mousse etc !

The best part of the game reserver experience was ofcourse the Game Drives ! Our guide "Lucky" was simply the best ! He had an amazing eye for spotting animals hidden deep in the bush and he knew the forest like the back of his hand ! He fearlessly took us close to most of the wild life and patiently answered all our questions. We got to see a pride of lions, several herds of elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Wilderbeast, Rhinos, Kudus. The hilite was a Leopard that had just made a kill of a Wilderbeast and had dragged it up a tree. We watched it sitting with the prey in the morning, then saw it eating it in the evening and the next day we watched it sleeping on the tree while hyenas were prowling around hoping for some leftovers !

The cottages themselves were these Luxury tents ! The mattresses were heated to keep us warm. They had running hot & cold water and proper toilets and showers attached. The beds had this beautiful canopy around them. We also had a deck to sit out on.

The evenings get chilly since it is the start of winter there. The dining area had fire places and independent gaslit heaters as well. But inspite of these we did get a bit cold and had to put on blankets to keep us warm !

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Imrash
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Thakadu River Camp

Property: Thakadu River Camp
Address: Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Region: South Africa > North-West Province > Madikwe Game Reserve
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 23 Speciality Lodging in Madikwe Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Thakadu River Camp 5*
Number of rooms: 8
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Also Known As:
Thakadu River Camp Hotel Madikwe Game Reserve

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