The African bushveld is coming to life with springtime warmth, and there’s no better way to experience this than from the comfort of a luxury tented camp. Our newly opened Madwaleni River Lodge on the banks of the White Umfolozi River within Babanango Game Reserve is the fourth and most prestigious lodge in our spectacular Big 5 reserve.
What Can You Expect From Madwaleni River Lodge?
You will be welcomed by our warm and friendly reserve staff who will take you to our ultra-luxury tented camp featuring 12 private tents that can accommodate up to 24 guests. There’s also the option of a Luxury Family Tent, or Romance Luxury Tent, depending on your needs.
We’ve ensured you will enjoy complete tranquility because our newly built lodge is located far from any other development. This allows you to take in the unspoiled natural splendour and feel like you’re completely escaping the stresses of the modern world!
Some of the unique features of Madwaleni River Lodge include:
- Our lodge includes a fine dining area, bar, lounge, library, gym and large infinity pool.
- Our safari tents set a new standard for comfort and style, and have received award-winning distinction for their unparalleled design, including a first-of-its-kind steel frame structure.
- Each luxury tent has a private heated plunge pool with indoor and outdoor lounges boasting breathtaking views.
- The rooms are fully air-conditioned with custom-made beverage cabinets and elegant copper bathroom fixtures.
- The library found here offers a tranquil retreat for book lovers and is furnished with large leather couches and shelves adorned with old photographs, maps, and history books.
- The state-of-the-art gym includes treadmills, spin bikes, and an indoor water rowing machine.
- For the wine connoisseurs, our lodge boasts a 2000-bottle wine cellar with a curated selection of the finest, rarest, and most unique wines from the Cape region of South Africa.
What About The Design Of Madwaleni River Lodge?
Every aspect of the lodge design was carefully considered and thoughtfully crafted to weave in the diverse array of cultures that have historically crossed over this land.
We are very fortunate that our province of KwaZulu-Natal has such a rich and captivating history. Travelers from Portugal, Central Africa, Britain, and India, have all imprinted their legacies through battles, discoveries, trade, and more. These cultural influences, alongside the rich heritage of our local Zulu nation, have been profoundly impactful on the area’s modern existence.
The team from Luxury Frontiers was brought in to create a unique architectural design that interprets cultural symbols into a modern aesthetic. When staying at Madwaleni, you will notice that inspiration has been drawn from our local Zulu warrior, with the lodge’s design incorporating elements like the slender yet robust spear, the curvature of the shield, and the rhythmic movements of the river.
What Can You Do While At Madwaleni River Lodge?
First and foremost, Madwaleni is a space to relax and unwind! When you reach the lodge, you’re going to be overwhelmed by the silence and serenity of this beautiful setting. You can cool off with a swim in the lodge’s infinity pool or warm up in your private heated pool while looking out for our local wildlife. Head on over to our fully stocked library and enjoy a good read while sipping on one of the country’s finest wines.
The food buffs will certainly not be disappointed by the gourmet fare served at Madwaleni River Lodge. Our dedication to sustainability means we use fresh, locally sourced ingredients in all our meals. Our lodge restaurant has a rooftop vegetable garden for a direct supply of organic produce, delivering a farm-to-table dining experience. We also serve sumptuous bush lunches within the reserve itself for something completely different.
If exercise is your way to unwind then head over to the lodge’s state-of-the-art gym with panoramic river views, including treadmills, spin bikes, and an indoor water rowing machine. Yoga mats are available if you want to engage in peaceful meditation and gentle stretching exercises with riverside views.
A definite highlight for our guests is the twice-daily game drives led by our experienced safari guides to explore the diverse landscape and wildlife of our beautiful Babanango Game Reserve. We also provide an up-close safari hike led by a specialist guide if you have a particular interest in birds, plants, or adventure!
The region’s rich history can be taken in through a guided historical tour of the nearby Anglo-Zulu battlefields, including Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift battlefields. A well-versed guide will take you back to the late 1800s when the British suffered a defeat to the tenacious and wily Zulu fighters.
But the region’s history extends beyond cultural, with the site home to some of the most interesting geological findings. In fact, we chose the name ‘Madwaleni’ because this is an isiZulu phrase, meaning ‘The place of the rock’ – so named because of the picturesque granolithic mountains found here. The landscape surrounding the lodge boasts some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, with some rocks dating back 3.4 billion years. There’s also the old Copper Mine Tour where you’ll see an intricate array of rock types, as well as the resident Cape Leafnose bats.
Conservation is at the heart of our game reserve and we welcome guests to join our wildlife monitoring and research team on our patrols, camera trap servicing, and other dedicated tasks. There are also Helicopter Conservation Flights for a birds-eye view of the reserve.
What Wildlife Can You Expect To See?
Our early morning and late afternoon game drives – as well as bush hikes – are such a treat for our guests, and a great reflection of the work we do. Babanango Game Reserve is a Big 5 reserve, which means you’re likely to spot one of these incredible animals – lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, or elephant – many of which have been rehomed here in the last few years.
But there’s so much more to discover! We have also released more than 2 400 previously endemic animals – which are found here and nowhere else – back to their natural habitat. This is part of our large-scale rewilding programme to rehabilitate and restore the area’s biodiversity in support of wildlife conservation.
You might also get the chance to spot the brown hyena, serval, caracal, purple-crested turaco, crowned eagle, the critically endangered oribi, and even our rare aloe species found nowhere else in Africa. We have some 313 recorded bird species, 79 butterfly species, and 14 antelope species you can look out for!
If you’re going to do an African safari, you really should do it in style, and there’s nowhere better than Madwaleni River Lodge!