I have been dying to share an opinion on our Wild Eye Madikwe Safari at Nkurru Lodge and having recently returned from this Wild Eye scheduled safari, I figured now would be a better time than any. Whether you make it your only safari destination or perhaps use it as an add on to your itinerary for other safaris, this is one for the list for many reasons.
I like to think of Madikwe as the 'all rounder' safari experience. The reason I say that is because its a place where you can visit as a photographer, seasoned safari goer or even as a first time experience. The red sands and beautiful backdrops lends itself to phenomenal photographic opportunities, (which I will explain further on) and the lodge itself with its friendly staff and professional guides ensure you have the most comfortable stay and best game viewing experience. I don't want to give away too much as I will go into more detail shortly.
This last trip was actually my first time at Nkurru lodge itself so it was amazing to be able to experience it with fresh eyes and yet another reason that compelled me to write about the lodge and the experience. What intrigued me most was the price point for this product. I was curious to see how much 'bang for your buck' you would get. I mean after all it is a Wild Eye tour with a private Wild Eye guide and a lodge with a private Wild Eye vehicle and exclusive use of the lodge in one of the most famous game reserves in South Africa. Yet, the price in terms of budget seemed very reasonable. Well spoiler alert... I was blown away by this product and I am going to try keep it short and touch on 3 things around my experience to try give you insight. In terms of bush time and price point, you really want to be here! So lets begin at the lodge itself...
The rooms are spacious and very comfortable with a "homey" feel. Unlike some lodges where it feels a bit "hotely". There are some rustic features that give it that warm holiday feel. What I like most about the room is the bathtub with a bush view and of course the outdoor shower. There is also plenty space to sit on the deck and catch glimpses of animals coming down to the pool. The rooms and main areas are fenced from game. I must admit that I often am not a fan of fenced lodges as it feels as though you are removed from the bush and that sense of wild gets lost however, at Nkuru I didn't get that sense at all and in fact, it allowed us to walk around freely between rooms and the lodge and keep and explore the beautiful bird life in camp in between drives. Now that I think about it, I think I even forgot the fence was there.
The main area is also very spacious which means you can socialise around the fire pit or escape in the lounge area should you choose. The kitchen with all the friendly and welcoming lodge staff are all accessible which again gives you that "homely" feel. ITs a help yourself type of lodge which I also really enjoy because you make the lodge your own. On the hot days and between drives you can also take a dip in the beautiful pool and maybe sneak into the hide over looking the water hole. In fact, the fire pit, deck, pool, main areas and hide all face the waterhole. Which brings me to my last lodge point, the waterhole.
I love nothing more than arriving to a lodge that has a waterhole in front of it. This is a big box tick as it allows you the opportunity of some incredible sightings from the comfort of your bed or couch. As some like to call it, a 'sofa safari'. This means that your game viewing and photography have a better chance of continuing after drive especially during the drier months. Madikwe in particular can become very dry and animals must traverse far and wide over the 75 000ha reserve in search of water. So one can imagine how busy the waterhole at Nkurru must get.
A bonus note for the lodge is that the lodge faces directly into the weather. So during the massive summer storms we experienced on our trip the skies were lit up putting on its best display of lightning for us. This adds a wonderful dimension to the safari as African storms are very exciting.
Wildlife sightings and game drives at Madikwe are known to 'never let you down'. On our last trip this couldn't have been a truer word. We had incredible sightings of a wild dog kill, cheetah, lion elephant herds in the hundreds, buffalo and so much more! Everyday had a high profile sighting which blew us away. Sure we were lucky. But I might argue that a bad day in Madikwe is still a good day anywhere else. The guides are great and the vehicle, as is the lodge, is used exclusively for Wild Eye guests. One of our guides is also on the vehicle so you get two guides with an enormous amount of knowledge and passion for the bush. The guides experience means you learn so much, stay safe and also ensure little to no interference happens with animals. This means you get a comfortable up close experience with no bad feelings and only good memories. with the help of off roading this experience is extended even further by putting you in the perfect spots. I must mention that in one day we saw wild dogs, black rhino and cheetah. I might further add that we saw cheetah and black rhino in the same sighting. I tell you this not to make you jealous but rather to point out how special Madikwe moments can really be. 3 animal species that are highyl endangered were viewed and photographed all in one day.... very special.
Lastly I would like to chat about something that I get excited about but often seems to take a back seat and thats the landscapes. Madikwe sits on the southern border of Botswana and it shows in its vegetation as some of it resembles that of the Kalahari desert. I have been in both wet and dry season now and the differences are immense. This means that there are essentially 2 worlds to explore within Madikwe. The winter brings the dry dusty harsh lands that resemble a semi arid desert type landscape which makes for great story telling in your photography and the summer brings a rich green with lots of rich light and of course thunderstorms which allows you to become very creative with your landscape photography as well as normal photography. The sunsets we saw during our last trip in the wet season were unbelievably breathtaking and some of the best I have ever seen on my travels.
So having touched the tip of the iceberg on Madikwe and our Wild Eye scheduled safari at Nkurru lodge I feel that this is definitely a destination worth visiting. In terms of lodge, landscape and game viewing, this truly budget friendly experience makes for an amazing destination and potential add on before or after a private safari. Feel free to click on the Tour Calendar button below and head over to the website where you will find Madikwe Safari dates and spots available. I hope to see you in the golden sun and red sands of Madikwe soon!