A trip to South Africa is a dream for most, and, usually, that dream involves the inclusion of a safari. And, why wouldn’t it? An African safari is by far one of the most incredible experiences an adventure traveler can have in their lifetime. Nothing can compare to witnessing majestic creatures in their natural habitat, where they are free to live the way they were intended to live while those who go to see them are just temporary guests in their wild home. What a majority of travelers headed to South Africa tend to do is book a safari that is based out of Kruger National Park. Kruger is an amazing national park, located in northeastern South Africa. It is one of the biggest and most popular game reserves. The Big 5 (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos) can all be seen there, as well as diverse species of birds, such as vultures, eagles and storks. Beyond the wild animals, what most visitors to the park will also see are hoards of other tourists there to see the animals, taking away a bit of the authenticity of the experience and making it feel more like a circus side show, something it most definitely is not. With all the tourists zipping by in their jeeps, the specialness of being in the wild is greatly diminished.
Imagine waking up in a tree house and walking over to an open bathroom where there’s a massive tub just waiting to have someone soak in it. The walls are actually sliding doors that completely open up the space and make it an indoor-outdoor tree house. As the doors are pulled back to expose the green canopy of the treetops surrounding the tree house, a rain shower makes its presence known and now the bathtub is looking more and more like a back-up plan for later in the evening. The shower is completely open air up in the trees, and the only eyes looking are those of different monkeys swinging from tree to tree. Before indulging in an outdoor shower though, the breakfast sent to your room needs to be covered up because wild monkeys are easily tempted by unattended food. The rain shower feels incredible, and the sounds of the dripping water to the ground below is a beautiful reminder of the height of the tree house, which can be unsettling at times, as the monkeys are nearby, but in the end, the experience is unparalleled.
Jaci’s Lodges, made up of Jaci’s Safari Lodge and Jaci’s Tree Lodge, are where visitors can experience a different type of safari, a more personalized and more exclusive one. Jaci’s Lodges are located in Madikwe and are a short flight from Johannesburg via Federal Air. There are additional flights from various locations throughout South Africa, but the best bet is to depart from Johannesburg, as the 55-minute flight on Federal Air comes with easy transfers and an updated waiting lounge to enjoy while waiting for the flight to board. The Madikwe Game Reserve is a 185,000-acre wild game park that lies in the extreme northwest corner of South Africa, bordering Botswana. The reserve was established in 1991 by the government of what was then Bophuthatswana, and, after formally being declared a reserve, more than 8,000 animals were moved to Madikwe Game Reserve as part of the world’s biggest wildlife relocation project–Operation Phoenix. The mammoth transfer included, for the first time, the relocation of entire family herds of elephant, as well as the introduction of highly endangered wild dogs, spotted hyena, hippo and lion.
Jaci’s Lodges, made up of Jaci’s Safari Lodge and Jaci’s Tree Lodge, are where visitors can experience a different type of safari, a more personalized and more exclusive one.
Jaci’s is one of the several luxury lodges in Madikwe and operates in a way where it’s possible to customize a safari experience. Guests are provided the opportunity to head out on several game drives throughout the day with expert guides. Jaci’s is also known for its Terrapin Hide, accessible via underwater tunnel, which accommodates eight photographers, giving guests 24-hour access to spotting wildlife up close and personal. Photographic game drives can also be booked in advance with a professional nature photographer, who comes equipped with professional equipment that guests can use to ensure they are capturing stunning images during their safari. In addition, walking safaris are also available if visitors want to try something different from a typical game drive in a jeep.
What makes Madikwe and Jaci’s special is the privacy experienced inside the park. Yes, there are others visiting while one is touring the park, but it’s rare that there will be much vehicle traffic unless there is a unique sighting, and, if that’s the case, the drivers do an excellent job of coordinating with one another to ensure everyone has their close-up time. And, of course, the service level at Jaci’s is incredibly over-the-top, as the staff will do all they can to make sure guests are making the most out of their time in Madikwe, even if that includes setting up a private spa treatment followed by a night off to have a few drinks in that tub inside the tree house.