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June 7, 2021

Tuningi Safari Lodge – Madikwe Game Reserve

There is nothing better than experiencing wildlife in its natural habitat at Tuningi Safari Lodge.

Set in the 75,000-hectare malaria-free Big Five Madikwe Game Reserve, Tuningi offers a five-star African safari enhanced by personalized service in a friendly and relaxed environment. Madikwe was created in 1991 and is a unique alliance between local communities, private enterprises and North-West Parks Board. With intensive habitat rehabilitation, combined with Operation Phoenix involving the relocation of some 8200 animals of 27 species, resulted in the creation of the reserve they are honored to be part of today.

As our flight touched down on the runway, our friendly game ranger, who is also the assistant manager, Andre, was already waiting to accompany us to the lodge.

The drive to the lodge was just a pre-taste of what awaited us. The sound of the wheels on the dusty road made us forget all about the hustle and bustle of the city.

Entering through the gates of Tuningi Safari Lodge made us excited to see what else there was in store for us.

We were warmly welcomed by the friendly assistant manager, Michelle and the other staff at the lodge with a welcome drink and warm refreshing towels to wipe the dust from our faces. Strict COVID protocols and regulations were followed.

The atmosphere was filled with such warmth, and we felt completely at home. We were blown away by the beautiful reception area that had carefully curated African-chic décor that complimented the safari ambience. The main entertainment and reception area overlooked an active waterhole that allowed for terrific game viewing from a wide-ranging wooden deck. There was also a rim pool and comfortable loungers that made for a lavish feel.

We were accompanied to our suite by one of the friendly staff members. The excitement that flowed through my veins was palpable. The breathtaking views of the bush from the private wrap-around deck, seeing the elephants and giraffes stroll by and just listening to the healing sounds of the bush was gave an unbelievable sense of serenity. On the inside another surprise awaited us, the suite was spacious, with a bed made in heaven,  a huge luxuriously appointed bathroom with an oversized bath with tranquil views and a fantastic outdoor alfresco rock shower completed the 5 star experience.

The lodge can accommodate 16 guests in four luxury and two double family suites, all with astonishing views. Without compromising on luxury, Tuningi caters for the specific needs of families and children of all ages are welcome. The family suites are made up of two en-suite double bedrooms, and are joined by a dining area, kitchenette and a living room with an expansive timber deck where guests can soak up the surrounding beauty. They also offer exciting activities for the little ones’ which makes it a perfect family escape. For those wanting to stay fit while on holiday, there is a gym. Spa treatments are also available and are done in the comfort of your own suite.

We walked to the underground hide and were so impressed by the wooden pathway that led to the boma, which is perfect for outdoor dining around a blazing log fire under an ancient sprawling Fig Tree, from which Tuning derives its name. The hide experience was fantastic as we saw the elephants, impala and giraffes coming to drink and all at the same time.

The food was top class and arrived in true five-star award-winning style and standards. What we loved is that they cater for your individual needs and that the menu will be adjusted if you do not like what is on it. It is obvious that we loved what the chefs prepared for us every single time. Those mouthwatering and tantalising dishes were as if we could taste all the love and effort that went into it. Each meal was carefully thought out and planned. The ingredients were fresh, we could tell by the fragrance and aromas that burst in our mouths with each and every bite.. Three, three course meals were served each day and the portions are more than enough. The appetizing taste, beautiful presentation and the aroma that filled the air ensured dining excitement. The waiters and waitresses were friendly, helpful and full of culinary knowledge.

We mostly looked forward to the game drives with our friendly game ranger Andre. The experience of a lifetime started at half past three in the afternoon and quarter past six in the morning. During our afternoon drives we would stop to enjoy sundowners while watching the African sun set over the beautiful horizon. As the sun the cold evening temperature took hold and but fear not, windproof fleece blankets  were supplied for our comfort under our seats. During the cold mornings they were well prepared, making sure that we had a hot water bottle to keep us warm and protected from the cold. Our morning drives also included early morning coffee and a filling snack before returning to the lodge.

We have truly experienced the wildlife at Tuningi. There is a Klipspringer family that resides within the lodge, Klippie, the male that stays true to his soulmate Pebble and their son. There is such a vast variety of wildlife animals and being able to see them up close was the stunning. The majestic elephants trumpeted as we made our way through the safari, almost as if they were greeting us. We were so fortunate to have come across a pride of lions after they had caught their prey, we witnessed this for two days in a row. The cheetah was out with her cubs playing in the bush. So privileged to think we were within 3 – 4 meters away from them. It is unbelievable to think we were in such close proximity of the wild animals. We saw the white rhino, the black rhino, spotted hyena, warthog, buffalo, steenbok, oryx, zebra, the list goes on.

Our tour guide was deeply knowledgeable and able to answer all our questions and even taught us much more than we even realized there was to know about the wildlife. We have made some awesome discoveries. The game drives were always fun and packed with so much excitement and laughter. Andre really went the extra mile on every single drive, making sure that we have seen what we wanted to see. My expectations were met and even well exceeded.

In the evenings when we returned to our suites, our beds were already turned down, warm bottle by the feet and the gas fireplace burning. Ready for us to relax with a glass of red wine while listening to the night time animal sounds.The perfect tune in the safari.

Throughout our stay at Tuningi all of the staff made sure that we were well hydrated, by supplying us with lots of bottled water, either still or sparkling, as we preferred. Our every need was catered to. We were treated like royalty in true five-star style. Our stay at Tuningi was truly memorable and enjoyable and the fact that they made us feel at home from the first meet and greet to the farewells, filled our hearts with so much joy.

I’d like to personally thank Ker & Downey Africa for making this trip the experience of a lifetime, with smooth and seamless organisation from start to finish.

Written by Karin da Silva for Luxuria Lifestyle South Africa

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