Herds of elephants, zebras, wildebeest, and antelopes streamed past constantly to quench their thirst while crocodiles basked in the sun, often snapping at them. Ostrich, warthogs and giraffe came too, often simultaneously, while water birds babbled noisily. It was like watching a wildlife documentary live from the comfort of my bed at Tau Game Lodge – one of the best lodge views I’ve ever experienced. I found myself constantly glued to the scenes unfolding in front of my room, tearing myself away only to go on game drives, even though they were exciting too.
Named after the king of the jungle, the five-star Tau Game Lodge’s motto is “It takes a pride to serve a king” and staff were eager to please. The third lodge to open in Madikwe Game Reserve back in 1995, it has one of the best locations there, overlooking an expansive natural waterhole where there’s a continuous movement of wildlife all day long, and often at night too. All this activity can be watched on Tau’s live webcam.
The malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve is the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa and home to the Magnificent 7 which refers to the Big 5 of Africa as well as wild dogs and cheetah. We saw all of them (except the stealthy leopard) and hyenas, jackals and plains game too, as Amos, our experienced ranger, ensured that we saw as much of the prolific wildlife in the reserve as possible.
My last visit to Tau Game Lodge was in 2015. I was delighted to see that the things I loved about it – like the views of the active waterhole – were still in place, while the one thing I didn’t like – the 10 kilometre gravel road leading to the Tau Gate – had since been tarred. The lodge suffered a devastating fire in 2017 which destroyed the main lodge area. It has since been rebuilt and much of the lodge was revamped in the process too.
The communal areas consist of multiple lounges and dining venues housed in huge canvas tents, a viewing deck, a swimming pool, a curio shop and a spa where I enjoyed a relaxing massage. Most of them overlook the waterhole.
A separate game-viewing lounge and infinity pool situated on the far end of the lodge grounds will give you extremely close-up views of the wildlife frequenting the waterhole, providing photo opportunities galore. Don’t worry though, the lodge is fenced so they can’t get to you. The lodge also has a conference centre making it a popular choice for corporate getaways.
As the largest lodge in Madikwe, Tau has 30 chalets including 2 family units spread over beautiful gardens around the waterhole. Our cosy en-suite chalet opened onto a private viewing deck where we could relax and watch the wildlife.
The king-sized bed was heated by electric blankets on cold nights and we were spoilt with Wedgewood nougat as turndown treats.
The bathroom led to an outdoor shower from where I could see the elephants bathing.
The lodge is family-friendly and we saw many children enjoying themselves during our stay. Apart from the family rooms, there is a kids’ playground, a Cubz Club, and special kids’ meals and game drives. Babysitters are available to look after the younger kids while the parents go on game drives, while children six years and over can join the adults on normal game drives.
Three buffet meals a day are served in addition to morning tea and muffins, high tea in the afternoons, and drinks and snacks on game drives. Meals are served on the deck weather-permitting – with a side order of wildlife, of course. One evening we had a boma dinner in the bush under the stars around a fire.
It was heartening to see the lodge so busy, both testament to its popularity and an indication that tourism is well and truly returning to South Africa. Many of the guests were return visitors. Our companions on game drives were two American doctors temporarily based in Botswana and an Irish couple on honeymoon, and it was refreshing to experience a safari through their fresh eyes.
Whether you are a safari addict who loves going on game drives, or someone who prefers the wildlife to come to you, Tau Game Lodge will not disappoint. A sign on a bench near the game-viewing lounge summed it up: "If you are lucky enough to be here, then you are lucky enough."
Good to know
Current specials at Tau Game Lodge
The Tau Spring 2022 packages from @R21,128 per couple, include:
This rate is exclusive of the following:
To book this special package, please quote: TAU SPRING 2022
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