In the local Tswana language, Makanyane is the word for African wild dog, a species on the World Wildlife Fund’s endangered list, but one which has been successfully re-established in Madikwe, a beautiful 75,000 hectare game reserve (South Africa’s 2nd largest), which is also home to lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhino and cheetah.
Set between river and open plain, a 3 ½ hour drive from Johannesburg on the border with Botswana, the charming and welcoming Makanyane Safari Lodge is an unfenced open camp (so wildlife can wander through at any time – and they do!), which sits on 1,800 hectares of malaria-free, private terrain within the greater reserve.
Designed to blend smoothly with the surroundings, Makanyane consists of 8 suites hidden in the riverine forest, all attractively designed with a blend of natural rock, thatch and teak. The glass-walled bedrooms (with glass on 3 sides) are of particular note, allowing uninterrupted views of the bush and beyond. The suites also feature an open-fronted lounge area with fireplace, private sundeck, bathrooms (with the added luxury of under-floor heating) and a choice of indoor or alfresco bathing.
The main lodge building comes with lounge, dining room, wine cellar, library, curio shop and swimming pool. There’s also a small gym and bush spa (massages are also possible on your private deck).
Wildlife viewing takes place on foot or in 4×4 vehicles (with some nice additional touches, such as a shot of Amarula in your early morning coffee), and there are a couple of rustic hides located within Makanyane’s borders – one near a drinking waterhole, another overlooking the vast plains. There is also a private sleep-out on the secured, upper deck of a hide, deep in the bushveld.