Molori, Madikwe Game ReserveIf you’re looking for brilliant safari lodge where luxury is as important as the game viewing, you need Molori.
Don’t read on if your budget is…. well, if you ever use the word budget, really, because this place will blow it in a flash.
Molori Lodge is a stunning place created by Kirk Lazarus, an American designer who built it as a holiday home before opening it to the well-heeled public.
It’s in malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve up by Botswana, a reserve famous for its wild dogs. The dogs are close to extinction with fewer than 3,500 survivors, and of the 500 in South Africa, a good percentage lord it over Madikwe.
As you’d expect, this five star lodge employs top-notch rangers, and we had some fabulous sightings. Most memorable was a bone-shaking, dust-raising race through the bush in pursuit of a pack of dogs as they pursued a wildebeest. We lost the dogs, but they didn’t lose the wildebeest, and we found them again by listening out for their high-pitched yells as they dug into their supper.
Molori’s five suites are sumptuous yet bush, which is a quite an achievement. Everything is rustic, wooden and rounded, including wrap-around wooden decks built around live trees. Floor-to-ceiling windows slide back to let nature in and there’s a wonderful outdoor shower and a small pool on each private deck.
Lazarus himself arrives by helicopter and uses the presidential suite, with space to entertain a dozen people. There’s even a canoe hanging on the wall as a decoration – if Molori ever floods, guests in the Presidential Suite will be the first to reach dry land.
One dining deck overlooks a water hole where animals obligingly parade at meal times. But the chef doesn’t present a menu, he presents himself instead, with suggestions of what he’s planning to cook, such as gorgonzola tart, seared salmon and chocolate mousse.
One brunch was laid out as a buffet on a huge round table with two places set, so we didn’t even have to leave the table to get the food. There were cereals, yoghurts, breads, pastries, muffins and pancakes, cold meats and cheese, kebabs and fruit. It was a ridiculous amount for two, but everything at Molori is generous.
The swimming pools are especially generous, and the best I’ve ever seen at a game lodge. There’s an extra plunge pool by the well-equipped gym, which also has a sauna and steam room. Later as I explored the grounds I found another heated jacuzzi by a secluded sunbathing and game viewing area, and an observatory, where the roof slides back for the telescope to see the stars.
If you’re too busy for the four and a half hour drive from Joburg, you’ll be glad to know there’s a helicopter pad at Molori and an airstrip in Madkiwe.
* Suites cost from R11,275 per person per night, including two game drives, all meals and drinks. Or rent the whole place and take 13 of your closest friends for R157,850 per night.