A relaxing experience is exactly what you will get at this luxury lodge within the Makalali Private Game Reserve. Select this 5-star Makalali option if you are looking for a traditional South African bush experience that is also comfortable. A sense of peace washes over you the moment you arrive and with attentive staff and the wild surroundings you are in for a truly enjoyable stay.
Found within the stunning and wildlife rich Makalali Private Game Reserve which is just west of the Kruger National Park. Close to the safari hub Hoedspruit and just about 5 hours away from Johannesburg. The drive to Makalali was scenic and enjoyable and the closer you get the more relaxed you feel. We spent our second night at this lodge which is located right along the banks of the dry Makhutswi River. Because of this we were collected from Makalali Main Lodge by a ranger with one of their open game vehicles. Our escort took us over to the other side of the river and once again on arrival we were greeted by smiling staff who offered us cold towels and refreshments.
With an emphasis on sustainable tourism, the lodge makes use of natural and Eco-friendly materials to create a space that fits in seamlessly with the surrounding environment. Across the river bed is Makalali Main Lodge, but it is barely visible through the thick bush and lush vegetation. Although it is part of the same tourism property management company, the style and experience is completely different. Split into 3 separate camps each with 6 suites makes it feel very exclusive. Each camp is equipped with all its own facilities and one of the best features is the lovely plunge pool that gives you a great view over the river bed.
Although each suite is set apart to ensure a private and authentic immersion in the bush, each is equipped with luxurious comforts. Each suite consists of a large bed, a fireplace, an en-suite bathroom with a huge shower, a large tub and for those feeling more adventurous and outdoor shower. Provided with everything you could possibly need such as a bar fridge, tea and coffee station, an air conditioner, mosquito net and a lovely selection of toiletries. Once again the thoughtful touches in the form of a handwritten note, a gift bag with necessities and goodies left during the turn down service make the stay extra special. However, our absolute favorite part was the deck with its own private game viewing sala. Our stay there was on a particularly rainy day and we spent a fantastic afternoon lying in our sala with drinks and enjoying the very welcome storm.
We arranged to arrive at Makalali River Lodge in time to enjoy lunch in this new location. The view from the dining area deck was gorgeous and we spotted some nyala grazing near the main area during our meal. Lunch was a delicious burger, with salad and even a tasty dessert. During the meal we had a ranger standing close by to make sure the mischievous monkeys didn’t get away with any of our food. Dinner was served inside that night because of the rain and was a selection of meats. I enjoyed the kudu meat stew with steamed vegetables and the traditional Malva pudding dessert with custard. Since we had to leave early the next morning we were treated to lovely private and early continental breakfast on the deck with a large selection of tasty fruit, yogurt and croissants.
A stay at any of the Makalali Lodges will include 2 game drives a day. One game drive starts early in the morning just as the sun is about to rise and the other is in the late evening and lasts until after sunset drinks thanks to the mobile bush bar that gets set up for guests. The evening game drive is always my favorite and I love the sights and energy of exploring the bush in the evening. The rangers are all very knowledgeable and work together to track down as many animals as possible which make it very exciting for guests. During our game drives we saw 3 of the Big 5 and we got up close to all of them. Their open vehicles make the game drives quite fun and everyone has a great view of the wildlife.
As with our stay at Makalali Main Lodge, the experience would not be half as wonderful without the excellent staff members. From the moment we arrive we were treated and cared for by every staff member around. It is clear to see that each of them truly loves their job and really care about their guests, the environment and the animals. The focus on hiring and training locals from the community ensures that the staff members are aware of the importance of tourism and are invested in the growth and success of the lodges. Their friendly smiles, attentive manner and knowledge of the bush made our stay at Makalali River Lodge both relaxing and magical.
We would like to thank aha Hotels and Lodges for inviting us and Makalali River Lodge for hosting us. As always, all opinions are my own.