African Safari Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby
“It takes a pride to serve a king”. So reads Tau’s motto, and at Tau Game Lodge you are the king. The pride of Tau, from the receptionist to the waiter to the general manager never failed to impress. We joined the Tau lion-hearted spirit and found it hard to leave…
Nestled in the northeastern corner of Madikwe Game Reserve, Tau Game Lodge was one of the very first lodges in Madikwe to open its doors. And today, 17 years later, although a little dated, Tau still oozes that original charm. Still clinging to its original values, including local community development, Tau is a true gem in Madikwe – a place with a heart and soul and where the roar of the lions stays with you forever.
Tau means lion in the local Setswana language, and lions are what this lodge is all about. Ernest, our excellent guide, worked his way up from a waiter to acting head guide. “It’s a matter of pride for me to find lions on every drive”, he says. And he usually does. If it’s lions you want to see, look no further than Tau. We saw 11 on our first drive.
But game drives are so much more than the Big Five and as a top guide, Ernest understands this and reads his guests’ needs – we stopped for everything big and small and most importantly we stopped to listen. To just listen and soak up the sounds of the African bush is one of the greatest privileges to us.
On our first day at Tau, we were joined by Giles, the general manager, for lunch. A new addition to the management team, Giles has a great deal of experience in the industry and we expect Madikwe’s largest lodge to go from strength to strength.
One of Tau’s greatest assets is its location overlooking a huge waterhole. Most of the lodge, and most suites, look directly onto the water and all have views of animals coming down to drink. The place was positively teeming with game when we arrived. It’s not unusual to see lions and wild dog kill right in front of the lodge, so don’t feel guilty about skipping the odd drive. Either way, you’ll still enjoy the majestic scenery characteristic of the northern part of Madikwe, including the wild, rugged Inselberg hills, the domain of leopards that wish to gaze down on tourists, rather than the other way round.
Next morning we headed out on an early morning drive with Ernest and Moses, a new young tracking star from the lowveld, and the newest addition to Tau’s guiding team. We track some lion on foot and we’re taken with Moses’ skills and enthusiasm. He embodies the culture at Tau.
The accommodation at Tau is in the form of standard, luxury or family suites. In each the attention to detail is exquisite – from the intricate woven bed decoration to the lion-paw shaped soap. And the food was superb – we enjoyed the best bush smoked salmon salad of all time for lunch, and the four-course dinner overlooking the waterhole was memorable. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a great spa and conference facilities, a pool and plenty to keep kids occupied in this malaria-free area.
We left Tau with the feeling that it’s run by a team working together, that they wanted to be there, and where hospitality came naturally. We got smiles everywhere we went and despite its size, we felt part of the Tau family. It works.
Not so good for: Being quite a big lodge, it is not ideal as a romantic honeymoon destination.
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