One of our Legendary Safari Brands & Destinations - Jaci’s Lodges consistently earns 5 out of 5 rave reviews from enchanted guests who fall in love with this relaxed and intimate retreat in Madikwe.
The two luxury lodges - Jaci's Safari Lodge and Jaci's Tree Lodge, are set in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, the fourth largest game reserve in South Africa.
Established by Jan and Jaci van Heteren over 10 years ago, the award-winning Jaci's Lodges offer luxury safari accommodation for families and romantics alike. The five-star safari experience at both of these authentic game lodges is characterised by warm hospitality, delicious gourmet cuisine and exceptional service.
Both classic safari lodges are rated among the most family-friendly in South Africa, welcoming children on safaris.
Super Child-Friendly Safari Lodges
These bush lodges don't just put up with children, they cater for them in all sorts of ways, making Jaci's ideal for children.
- Family game drives for parents and their kids aged five and up, in family vehicles
- Jungle Drives focussed on smaller creatures, plants and stars, for guests under four
- Swimming pools, walks, a games room and wildlife hide for kids to enjoy
- Special children's' menus can be tailored
- Babysitting during game drives and dinners
- Jaci's Lodges created the now well-known children's safari game, called Bumbles
- Suites for families and rooms that can accommodate up to three children with adults
The Magic of Jaci's Lodges
Jaci's offers superb game viewing adventures across a range of special interest activities, from game walks and photographic safaris to birding and conservation focussed safaris.
The well-crafted lodges have both been built to blend in with their treetop and riverside surroundings, existing in harmony with the untamed bush. The decor at these contemporary family-run lodges is vibrant, stylish and funky, the result of Jaci van Heteren's creative eye. One of the joys of staying here lies in the attention to details expressed through the unique decor and special personal touches.
Watch your mouth-watering meals being prepared in the open-plan kitchens of the lodges. The exquisite cuisine at Jaci's Lodge includes wholesome spreads and tasty fire-cooked meals, featuring dishes such as tasty pooitjies - juicy South African stews. The team of skilled chefs make use of South Africa's fresh seasonal produce and meats for creations that fuse cosmopolitan and African flavours. Guests dine in the outdoor boma areas out under the stars or in the relaxed open-plan dining areas.
The mainly-local staff at Jaci's Lodges are offered shares in the business after five years with the lodges, deepening their personal investment in Madikwe and empowering them economically. The lodge staff are genuinely attentive and enthusiastic about providing warm hospitality in real safari style. The field guides employed here, are rated among the best in South Africa, offering professional and personal service. Guests benefit from their extensive experience and wealth of knowledge about the bush and its diverse inhabitants.
Jaci's Safari Lodge is set under Tamboti trees beside the Marico River, overlooking a waterhole. The eight spacious rooms combine thatch, stone and canvas to create earthy and elegant havens that open out onto nature. Up to three children can share these large rooms with the adults, sleeping on camping stretchers.
Each of these comfortable rooms has an en suite bathroom featuring a natural rock bath and outdoor shower. The rooms are all fitted with a stone fireplace and underfloor heating to keep guests cosy in winter and ceiling fans and air-conditioning to keep cool in summer. A private viewing deck completes each room, offering guests a peaceful place to sit and gaze out over the arid bush and serene river. Guests often sight animals as they come to the river to quench their thirst, even spotting Cape clawless otters and other strange-looking creatures.
The main lodge area arcs around a big termite mound and looks out over an active watering hole where various animals and birds are frequently spotted. The tranquil main lodge area houses a large lounge, open-plan dining area and kitchen with a bar, shop and reading area up a level.
Jaci's Safari Lodge is the perfect place to sit back and watch the golden Kalahari dusk turn into star-studded night, listening to the eerie calls of hyenas nearby.
In addition to the eight rooms Jaci's Safari Lodge also has two private family suites - the Nare Suite and the Safari Suite, which are perfect for larger families and groups. A dedicated guide and game viewing vehicle accompany the luxurious safari experience in these exclusive suites, with their own plunge pools and self-contained kitchens.
Here guests stay in eight spacious treehouses connected by treetop walkways overlooking the Marico River.
Raised on stilts, each secluded treehouse is set around an indigenous tree in the dense riverine forest. Fold back the glass panelled doors to join the squirrels, mongoose families and birds in the lush grove. Each room has an outdoor shower and free-standing bathtub that looks out over the wilderness.
The spacious rooms combine thatch and rosewood elements, with glass fronts leading out onto private deck areas. The welcoming natural tones of the wooden floorboards, ceiling beams and stick-covered walls create calming interiors with simple modern furnishings and touches of rich colour.
The main lodge area at Jaci's Tree Lodge is an open-plan African inspired space with a central fireplace between lounge-bar and dining areas.
Malaria-Free Madikwe Game Reserve - One of South Africa's Best Kept Secrets
Madikwe is a prime safari destination that is highly recommended for family safaris, as well as romantic getaways. One of the reasons it is ideal for family travel is that the reserve is conveniently located closer to Johannesburg than Kruger Park, which keeps the time spent driving to a minimum. Madikwe is only a three and a half hour drive from Johannesburg and an even shorter two hours from Gaborone, Botswana's capital. Another reason Madikwe is perfect for family safaris is that it falls in a malaria-free part of Southern Africa, making it safe for children under the age of 10 and pregnant women.
Despite the excellent game viewing and easy accessibility Madikwe is often mistakenly underrated and therefore sees far fewer visitors than Kruger Park and other more well-known game reserves. The Madikwe Reserve is not open to day visitors which also helps keep the number of safari-goers roaming its landscapes down.
The Madikwe Game Reserve was formally declared in 1991 and today covers some 760km² of savannah grasslands, bushveld and riverine forests on the outskirts of the Kalahari Desert. Madikwe is jointly managed by private sector stakeholders, the government and local communities in a successful collaboration that now serves as a model for similar ventures in the country.
Madikwe's Wildlife & Operation Phoenix
More than 8000 animals were relocated to Madikwe, in the hugest wildlife translocation project in the world - Operation Phoenix. Over a space of seven years the indigenous animals were flown and driven in from across Southern Africa to repopulate an area of the North West Province where wildlife numbers had become depleted.
Two ecosystems overlap in Madikwe (Lowveld bushveld and Kalahari thornveld), resulting in an impressive diversity of flora and fauna across its varied terrains from inslebergs to open plains.
Habitats include red-sand and thorn bush to riverine forest and grassland vegetation that support an interesting and wide array of animals and birds. Today the Madikwe Game Reserve is home to 66 mammal species, including endangered wildlife species - cheetah, wild dogs, brown hyenas and black rhinos, along with the Big Five of Africa - leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and black and white rhino. Madikwe is one of the best places in Southern Africa to see elephants, hosting a population of over 900 individuals. African wild dog sightings are also a highlight on safaris in Madikwe, where two packs run free. Hippos, giraffes, spotted hyenas and fierce honey badgers are also found here.
Among the numerous herbivores inhabiting the Madikwe are the small duiker, klipspringer, oribi and springbok - the national animal of South Africa. Larger antelopes include tsessebe, blesbok, blue wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, kudu, impala, sable, Red Hartebeest and nyala. Madikwe is also home to interesting and strange-looking creatures such as the aardwolf, African civet, pangolin, antbear, otter, mongoose, warthog and bushbaby. Monkeys and baboons are also found here, as are hares, squirrels, porcupines and rock hyrax (dassies). Cats include the serval, caracal and African wild cat along with the more canine bat-eared fox and black backed jackal.
Over 340 migratory and resident species of birds have been recorded in Madikwe, including eagles, kites, storks, vultures, buzzards, kingfishers and warblers among many more.