When we arrived at Tau Game Lodge we were coming from 12 nights in the Kgalagadi, half of which were spent camping and the other half in chalets or ‘luxury’ tents in wilderness camps. We were dusty, we were tired and we were sick of driving! That was particularly as we had just spent 7.5 hours driving from Van Zylsrus to Tau in the typical blazing South African sun.
So you can imagine how excited we were to arrive at Tau – a luxury game lodge in the North of Madikwe Game Reserve. It is probably the biggest game lodge I have ever visited, with 30 chalets that can house over 60 people. As you can expect, the entrance was impressive, with huge ceilings and welcoming faces. We met our ranger, Derek, and we checked in with very little fuss and a delicious welcome drink. Then it was straight to our room for about 20 minutes before we would be coming back to the main area for some drinks and snacks (including a DELICIOUS quiche) before our afternoon game drive. No rest for the wicked!
Heading into our room it truly felt like we had arrived at an oasis! After so much dust and sand in the Kgalagadi, the huge waterhole that the Tau chalets surround was a welcome sight. The photos I had seen on Tau’s website did not prepare me for how amazingly stunning the view from the chalets is. We were basically on top of the water! Even as we arrived in our room we could see zebra, giraffe and elephants approaching and drinking at the water. I was blown away by just how productive the waterhole was during our two night stay. I have honestly never stayed anywhere with a more productive waterhole – and I have stayed in many places. We didn’t happen to see any cats drinking but we saw just about everything else, and in particular elephants were there throughout the entire day – many awesome breeding herds with little babies!
The setting and view from your chalet is undoubtedly the highlight and key selling point to staying at Tau Game Lodge. It is the only place I have ever been where I would even consider not going on a game drive to instead relax in my room (or rather on the deck). You just never know if you may see more sipping on a champagne from your deck than if you go out on a drive! I was initially worried that it may not have a personal feel and may feel crowded given the size of the lodge, but neither turned out to be the case. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful at all times and it never felt like there were too many people around. Perhaps it is due to the size of the lodge grounds, or maybe that everyone is busy staying in their chalets watching the waterhole!
In terms of game viewing, we found it to be excellent for elephants and other ‘big and hairies’. We saw the Big 5 during our first three drives, including one big male lion (albeit being very lazy sleeping in long grass so no good photos) and one beautiful female leopard that we saw right in the very east of the reserve (it took us over an hour to get there, but was worth it!). You can’t really judge the quality of game viewing on two nights in any reserve or lodge (particularly after heavy rains that have made the grass grow very long), but we couldn’t really complain with that. Derek did mention that leopard sightings are not as common at Tau compared to perhaps other lodges and reserves as they are still a little skittish in the north of Madikwe. That being said we managed to see a very lovely leopard so we must have been lucky!
Tau is definitely a great option for families, with family rooms, a pool and a kid’s club available. They also offer babysitting during game drives. It is definitely one of the better game lodges I have stayed in terms of catering for kids and families!
During our stay the only area I thought could use some improvement was the food – given the size of the lodge every meal is buffet. This is a good thing for many people who love buffet, but personally I prefer plated a la carte at least for some of the dinners. During our stay we had a boma dinner, which had an amazing gemsbok fillet with a chocolate chilli sauce – that was probably my favourite dish of our stay and was absolutely delicious (as agreed by all). I also loved the ham and onion quiche for afternoon tea on our first day and the ostrich fillet on our last night was very tasty as well. The rest of the food was just OK, but perhaps not five star. One thing you definitely cannot complain about is the quantity of the food – you are certainly well fed when staying at Tau! You have a buffet breakfast with various options including an egg/omelette station, then you have a buffet lunch a few hours later complete with dessert station, then afternoon tea with both savoury and sweet options followed of course by your generous buffet dinner (also with dessert station). Add to this the snacks you get on your morning and afternoon drives, and you can expect to put on some weight during your stay!
Another thing I loved about Tau is their Tau Foundation, which does a lot of positive work with a local school. Since they have been getting involved the matric pass rate increased from 33% to somewhere I believe above 80 or 90%! I should have written the statistic down, but I can vouch for the fact it was very high. Some of the students are now completing degrees in universities across the country, which is amazing.
We enjoyed our stay at Tau. It is definitely a great option in Madikwe Game Reserve, offering a resort-style feel in the bush. If you’re looking to relax in a resort while watching elephants from your deck and being extremely well-fed, this is the place for you!
So far this is the only lodge we have stayed at in Madikwe, but we will be visiting some others next month so can offer more of a comparison then 🙂