In the local Tsonga dialect, ‘rhulani’ means ‘relax’, which gives travellers a good idea of what to expect at this safari retreat. Located in Madikwe Game Reserve, four hours from Johannesburg, Rhulani Safari Lodge was designed to blend into its surroundings: think exposed stone and wood, traditional thatched roofs and open-air structures.
The property offers sweeping views across Madikwe, one of South Africa’s largest wildlife reserves, with over 185,000 acres of boulder-strewn koppies, open plains and dense woodland.
The adventure begins the moment guests arrive at Rhulani. Early-morning and late-afternoon safaris on an open Land Cruiser, or on foot with a ranger, offer the chance to glimpse everything from the Big Five — lions, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes and leopards — to cheetahs, giraffes and zebras. A bird-watcher’s Eden, around 350 species of bird soar in the vast African skies, or nest in trees surrounding the lodge. With no day-visitor facilities, the reserve is only open to those staying at one of the lodges, offering an exclusive safari experience away from the tourist hordes.
Back at Rhulani, seven air-conditioned chalets offer respite from balmy African evenings, and, come winter, a Morsø fireplace is the ideal spot to warm up by, post-safari. With a private terrace and plunge pool, the en suite chalets feature large bathrooms with an oval tub, as well as indoor and outdoor showers. A two-bedroom en suite option is perfect for families or groups of friends.
During the day, travellers can enjoy an al fresco massage on their chalet deck or take a refreshing dip in the lodge’s pool. Here, overlooking a nearby water hole, guests can sip on a cocktail, or bask in the rays on a sunlounger.
There are also trips to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, 25 miles away, to learn about the cultural traditions of the Tswana people, or explore the settings of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels of Alexander McCall Smith.
By night, guests can watch the sun dip, cocktail in hand, before tucking into traditional South African fare beneath the velvety sky, warmed by a roaring fire, or enjoy an intimate meal on their villa’s wooden deck.
Dine al fresco in the traditional boma under the magnificent African night sky, warmed by a roaring fire
Need to know
• 7 air-conditioned chalets
• Family suite with 2 bedrooms
• Swimming pool
• Outdoor deck overlooking water hole
• Lounge and library
• Dining room
• Outdoor dining at pool deck or in the boma
• Gift shop
• Meeting and conference room for 25 people