Tuningi Safari Lodge is an excellent option for travellers seeking luxurious accommodation in a reserve that’s choc-a-bloc with wildlife! This is also one of Madikwe’s most family-friendly properties. The property is a member of the Seasons in Africa Luxury Portfolio, a collection that includes YZ favourites Leopard Hills (Sabi Sands) and Kings Camp (Timbavati). Tuningi has a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and regularly receives high praise for its world-class service.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The property may be accessed via road transfer from Johannesburg, a journey of four-and-a-half hours. Alternatively, flights from O. R. Tambo International Airport are available – this option takes about 40 minutes, and travellers touching down at the local airstrip are met by a representative from Tuningi and driven to the lodge. Of course, flying in provides an exciting opportunity to check out Madikwe from the air! However you choose to travel, you are guaranteed a warm welcome. Tuningi has a scenic location between two valleys, and the site includes an ancient fig tree and a busy waterhole.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
The communal buildings are made out of timber, stone, and thatch, in the classic safari style. The interiors include a relaxing lounge, featuring comfortable sofas and chairs, coffee tables, a selection of reading material, indoor plants, and all in a style described as ‘African chic’. The thatched roof is supported in part by tree trunks, which lends a very authentic vibe. Tuningi also has a pleasant dining room flowing out on a deck for al fresco meals. There’s a well-stocked bar too, as well as a curio shop and a gym with a pool. Other spaces include terraces incorporating a plunge pool and a fire-pit. Guests can take a refreshing dip or enjoy a sundowner while marvelling at views of the waterhole. This is one of the busiest waterholes we have come across, visited by a steady stream of animals. Sometimes elephants will drink from the pool while guests are swimming!
Guest accommodation at Tuningi consists of just six suites – four luxury suites and two suites for families. Each Luxury Suite sleeps a maximum of two persons, while the Family Suite option is for four guests plus children. In common with the communal spaces, all suites are styled in Afro-chic, with warm tones and plenty of timber furnishings. The Luxury category features a large double bed with mosquito nets, bedside tables and lighting, a spacious lounge area, and en-suite facilities comprising flush toilet, twin washbasins, a double-size bath, and an outside rock shower. Additional amenities include air conditioning and heating, a cosy fireplace in both the bedroom and the bathroom, a telephone, a safe, a mini-bar, a tea/coffee station, mosquito repellent, mammal and bird references guides, a few magazines, comfy robes and slippers, a hairdryer, and even an umbrella! Outside, there is a private wrap-around viewing deck, the perfect place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the bush. Each Family Suite benefits from all these amenities, in addition to an extra en-suite bedroom, a large lounge/diner, and a kitchenette.
Due to Tuningi’s close proximity to a waterhole, guests do not need to leave the lodge to see a great range of wildlife! However, venture out into Madikwe, and you will be richly rewarded. The reserve covers some 75,000 hectares of savanna, woodlands, hills, mountains, wetlands, and a river. Among species to look out for include members of Madikwe’s own Top Ten – lion, rhino, leopard, elephant, buffalo, cheetah, hyena, wild dog, giraffe, and hippo! The bird count is equally impressive, with over 350 types of feathery friend. These include raptors, waterbirds, songbirds, game birds, and owls. From little bee-eaters to immense ostriches, there is certainly enough to keep the keen birder entertained! Tuningi offers bush walks too, a wonderful opportunity to check out all the little lives of the reserve, such as plants, insects, and amphibians. Photographic safaris are also available, recommended for travellers who like to have a lot of superb shots to show for their safari time!
Unfortunately, children aged 5 years and under are not usually permitted on game drives, but Tuningi is happy to arrange shorter ‘bumble’ drives for the little ones, a morning activity. On return to the lodge, kids enjoy the supervision of a nanny while spending their day drawing, clay modelling, making puzzles, going on treasure hunts, cooking with the chef, swimming in the pool, and much more besides!