TAU Game Lodge is situated at the Northern part of Madikwe Game Reserve and we needed to get to the other side of it if we wanted to see the secretive siting that everyone was radioing about.
We held our hats tightly as the cruiser glided across red, then black, then whitish soil. The speedometer wasn’t working but we were moving fast considering it was a game drive. There was a siting and Ryan, our ranger, was adamant to get us there in time. As we cruised across the reserve – the vehicle kicking up dust and ground hornbills making way – we wondered what it could be. Later, it was all worth it as a lazy leopard lay quietly under a dry sicklebush. Number four of the big five within three hours. Not bad.
The privately-owned TAU Game Reserve is situated in an area known as Groot Marico, which forms part of the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve. As one of 32 lodges on the reserve, it is unique in its offering as it has been built around one of the reserve’s largest waterholes. Sitting on our room’s private deck later that afternoon – overlooking the waterhole – it was magnificent to see how the animals take turns to splash around and quench their thirst in the heat of day. Elephant herds, lone buffalo, bossy and baby baboons, witty warthogs and elegant kudu carefully came closer, watchful for crocs and predators. While they sipped and dipped, water birds of all shapes and sizes moved around on the muddy edges of the waterhole, searching for insects and smallish fish. It’s literally a complete natural habitat right on your doorstep. The bonus of being perched on the deck for hours, is that you get to watch these animals’ behaviours closely – from elephant infants chasing blue wildebeest for the fun of it and baboon babies jumping from one adult’s back to the next.
The experience is also not limited to your bedroom’s deck as it is extended to the restaurant area which has also been built on the edge of the waterhole. Guests retreat to the tables and chairs on the restaurant’s deck, rather than their rooms, with impressive camera lenses and birding books and there they sit for hours, enjoying South Africa’s winter sun and the ongoing entertainment presented by nature.
“Good morning,” an over-excited voice greeted us over the telephone the next morning. “This is your wake-up call.” Even though lying in seemed like the preferred option, we effortlessly got out of bed – curious about what the second morning’s game drive would bring. Hopping onto the cruiser – warmly wrapped in scarves, blankets and the lodge’s thoughtful warm water bottles, tummies full after a lovely buffet breakfast – we were all set and ready for action.
Sooner than later, there it was. The lions had caught a zebra the previous evening and a pack of jackals were fighting over leftovers. A brown hyena also came around and scavenged one front leg. Then another came and took the other front leg. The lions were long gone – on their way to the waterhole and we caught them just in time to catch a glimpse of their grins after having such a delightful dinner the previous night.
At TAU Game Lodge a Big Five Drive is not necessarily the rule, but quite manageable with a team of well-equipped rangers that go out of their way to show you as much as possible. We were lucky to spot six of the magnificent seven in two days’ time – something not many people get to brag about.
This special is valid for travel between July and 30 September 2019 with a minimum stay of 2 nights (Terms & Conditions Apply, Depending on Availability)
This rate is inclusive of three meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner), two game drives per day and drinks & snacks on game drive.
The rate does not include the park entrance fees (R180.00 per person), the tourism levy (R10.00 per person per night at present), all items ordered from the bar, curio purchases, telephone usage, internet usage, laundry and all other extras.
A compulsory Rhino Conservation Fee of R150.00 per adult per night and R75.00 per child per night (2-12) is applicable to assist the reserve in its anti-poaching efforts.