For Africa infects the soul
And sets ones senses free
Its special gifts – sight, sound and smell
(Extract from a poem by E. Dibb)
What better place could there be to experience the magic of Africa than your own private bush villa overlooking the meandering river, in the magnificent Madikwe Game Reserve?
The Morukuru Family Collection consists of three incredible safari homes: Morukuru River House, Morukuru Owner’s House and Morukuru Farm House. Each one is offered on a sole-use basis and includes its own game drive vehicle, butler, personal chef, private game ranger, tracker, and nanny (if required). The houses are situated in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, one of my favourite reserves in South Africa. Due to the complete exclusivity, kids of all ages are welcomed. I recently spent two nights at Morukuru Owner’s House with my family and I can honestly say that it was one of the most exceptional safari experiences we’ve ever had.
Perched on the banks of the Marico River and shaded by mighty Morukuru (Tamboti) trees, Owner’s House was originally built by the Dutch owners as their own private retreat. Expansive and opulent, yet intimate and exclusive, it features two spacious en-suite bedrooms separated by a living area, a formal lounge and dining room, a kitchen, a swimming pool with sun beds and winding decks surrounding the villa.
The wooden, stone and glass building is a beautiful blend of European and African decor, designed to blur the lines between the indoors and outdoors. Despite being in the dense bush, there are also modern comforts like a television with DSTV, a DVD player, a library, board games and complimentary speedy wi-fi.
The huge bathrooms feature indoor rain showers, outdoor showers, and bathtubs and are replete with Africology amenities.
As we pulled up to the villa after the four-hour drive from Johannesburg, we were welcomed with a song by the beautiful team of staff members servicing our lodge. Mocktails in hand, we were shown to our private lounge (which was so big that my kids thought it was the reception lounge).
Paula, our private hostess, introduced us to our staff and briefed us on the essentials. Before our arrival, we had been asked to complete the Morukuru Wish List, where we had to specify finer details such as dietary requirements, beverage requests, bedding preferences, special occasions etc. These were confirmed with us too.
We then freshened up as our private chef, Monay, prepared an al fresco lunch for us, which we enjoyed on the deck overlooking the river.
Soon it was time for my favourite activity – the game drive. Madikwe Game Reserve is renowned for its excellent game-viewing, and Morukuru has its own private concession within the reserve as well as traversing rights in the rest of the reserve. This meant that we could spend as much time with wildlife sightings in the concession as we wanted to, without feeling constrained by other vehicles or having to make way for other vehicles. Shane and Boykie, our expert ranger and tracker, did a superb job of finding the animals for us. The kids were given interactive safari activity books to keep them engaged during game drives and Boykie showed them how to identify animal tracks.
Shortly after leaving the lodge we found two of only four male cheetahs in the reserve. Then we rounded a bend and discovered two endangered African wild dogs. A short while later we saw a black-backed jackal followed by a pair of sleeping lions. All of this within just the first half of our first game drive! And that was only the predators. By the time the game drive had ended that day, we had seen all of Madikwe’s Super Seven (South Africa’s Big Five, as well as Cheetah and Wild Dog), besides the elusive leopard.
Back at the lodge, a sumptuous three-course dinner awaited us. The next morning, after another great game drive, we were surprised with breakfast in the bush. Meal locations were always varied, to incorporate an element of surprise. Mornay would consult with us after every meal regarding the menu for the next meal. Everything was tailored to our requirements and the food was always delicious and exquisitely plated. Isaac, our ubiquitous butler, was always at our beck and call.
Even the turndown goodies were a treat. One night, we were given sachets of Africology Sleep Gel to ensure a good night’s sleep and the following night, were given mugs with sachets of hot chocolate and marshmallows.
A visit to Madikwe is always special but at Morukuru you get so much more to make it extraordinary. Your own private boutique safari villa within the bush, a dedicated team of staff to look after your party only and a private concession to explore and view wildlife to your hearts content. Here, you are able to piece together your own bespoke bush fantasy where you can enjoy your African adventure at your own rhythm and pace.
If you are looking for a romantic honeymoon destination, a private sanctuary in the bush where you can de-stress, or an opportunity to re-connect with your loved ones, then this is the quintessential place for you. We left with heavy hearts, fond memories and chocolate cookies for the road. Once again, we were bid farewell with a song from the staff expressing their wish to meet us again.
Until next time, dear Morukuru Family…