Imagine sleeping under a diamond-studded black blanket, with the sky being the blanket and the stars the diamonds. Camping? Not quite. More like the ultimate luxury glamping.
It had been almost 3 years since my last visit to Jaci’s Safari Lodge. On that last visit, we were accompanied by our children. They absolutely loved it. My son celebrated his 9th birthday there and the wonderful staff baked a special cake for him and sang for him. This time, I had been invited to experience the new Starbed Suites and I found that this was not all that had changed since our last visit.
It is not often that I walk into my room and my awestruck jaw drops open but that is exactly what happened to me at Jaci’s Starbed Suite. It was a wonderful explosion of colour and certainly one of the most spacious and glamorous glamping resort suites I’ve ever had the privilege of staying in – and I hadn’t even seen the Starbed yet!
We climbed up the outdoor staircase and found the Starbed perched on top of the massive suite surrounded by mosquito netting. The views of the surrounding bush and the river were amazing in the day and even better at night when a million stars glittered in the clear sky like diamonds.
All the necessary facilities and more were in the suite. There was a vibrant lounge area with reading material and an indoor bed for chilly or rainy nights. The panoramic full-length glass sliding doors could be opened up to the panoramic view. Bathroom facilities included a stunning bathroom with double copperlite washbasins, two huge bathtubs - one indoor so that you can admire the view while you bath and a glorious huge painted one in a more enclosed area.
If you prefer a shower, you have a choice of an indoor shower, and two outdoor showers for the quintessential African bush experience. A wide deck with deck chairs overlooking the Marico River completed the suite. Vintage items like an old Indian door, and wooden chests complemented the décor and added to the suite’s character.
Thirty minutes earlier I had been really stressed...
We were running late because the road to Madikwe Game Reserve had taken us longer than expected and there was only one thing on my mind. We were going to miss our game drive and a game drive in Madikwe is not one that you want to miss. Fortunately, we got there as the other guests were having their pre-game drive high tea. We went to our room for a quick freshening-up. I was torn between taking photos of the suite and leaving for the game drive. Eventually, I managed to drag myself away and shortly thereafter, we set off into the bush.
Our companions from Germany were first-time visitors to South Africa and said that the main reason they had chosen to stay in Madikwe was because of the malaria-free factor. Other guests told us that they had come to Jaci’s because of the family-friendly factor.
The game drive was as eventful as always. We watched a lion family for a while. Two adorable cubs were playing in the mud and the huge handsome male lion was trying to sleep while the lionesses harassed him. They were fun to watch and it wasn’t long before I was immersed in the bush ambiance. A short while later, we came upon a beautiful plain where elephants, giraffes, zebras and impala all coalesced around a water hole. They seemed to co-exist so harmoniously and I thought that it would be so wonderful if all South Africans could follow their example.
Back at the lodge, we were pleasantly surprised when staff remembered us from our visit almost 3 years ago. We were welcomed back like old friends and we caught up on the changes at the lodge apart from the Starbed Suites. These included the Terrapin Underwater Hide where one could take spectacular photos of animals drinking water at the waterhole. The hide is accessed through a tunnel under the water. Another innovative addition was the photographic safaris with professional photographers. Read more about the amazing experiences at Jaci’s here.
Our two nights passed too quickly in a blur of safari adventures, culinary delights, sleeping under the stars and the sumptuous luxury of our Starbed Suite, and all too soon it was time to leave.
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