Rhulani Safari Lodge – Our Experience

We recently published a review of Rhulani Safari Lodge in Madikwe. This follow up post is to share our experiences while on this trip.

Reviewing a lodge, based on a trip like this, is too factual and doesn’t give the opportunity to convey the adventure we did, or didn’t, have. So here we go, three nights at Rhulani!

First Day at Rhulani

We arrived at Rhulani around midday on Saturday and as we drove to reception we were greeted by lodge staff with beaming smiles and waving hands.

Once checked in and unpacked we had some time to relax with our private plunge pool. We haven’t been to many places with this, and it was very welcome. Summer in Madikwe is HOT!

Rhulani Plunge Pool

Private Plunge Pool

The afternoon drive was going to start earlier than usual that day because we’d been offered, and agreed, to go Drumming For Rhinos later that night.

There had been a lot of rain in Rhulani the week before so there was water everywhere. This is fantastic for the bush although it does make sightings sparse when on a drive. We didn’t have many sightings on the first drive and me being me, I kept fell asleep. That’s a first during the day!

We did get to see swarms of stunning butterflies and see how many zebra, with foals, are currently on the reserve.

Butterflies at Madikwe

Drumming for Rhinos

On our drive in to Rhulani we received a phone call asking if we would like to join the Drumming for Rhinos event that night. We didn’t know much about it but agreed to go. We figured it would be drumming lessons.

After dinner on our first night we loaded back into the game vehicle and were taken to a remote location in the centre of the reserve. There were so many vehicles and people mulling about!

So this turned out to be a fund raiser for the anti poaching units in Madikwe. Guests from all the lodges were taken to this location and given drums, similar to bongo drums.

We were coached through some basic rhythems and together with the drum lead, we drummed under the African sky with only the full moon to light up the areas. It was spectacular. It was fun and it was for a good cause!

I should also mention the Rhulani guides did a very good job of keeping us lubricated.

Madikwe Lion

On the drive back I somehow managed to fall asleep again. Seriously, this isn’t normal! I was woken up to see a beautiful specimen of male lion, one on the prowl and the other, this fellow, resting casually in the road.

Rest and Relaxation

We made the decision to skip the morning drive on Sunday. This comes down to the very late night and excessive libation, thanks guys!

We made our way back to our room after a delicious breakfast. We would spend the rest of the morning at the plunge pool and soaking up the sun. My plan was to nap, but the lure of the pool got the better of me.

We enjoyed our high tea and had a wonderful afternoon drive. More butterflies, many more zebra. We were lucky to see two of the big five; White Rhino and Elephant.

Scrub Hair Babies

Our drive had some great after sunset highlights too. Hyena hunting some impala. An incredible sighting of an owl next to the road. The drive ended with a scrub hair and two babies suckling in the middle of the road. We watched them for a good while before heading back for some much needed sleep.

A Worthy Extension

We were going to leave Rhulani on Monday after the drive. I am so glad we didn’t as we had spectacular sightings all day.

Our morning drive had sightings aplenty with more Rhino, elephant, lion, hyena, butterflies and excellent opportunities for us to practice our bird photography.

The lodge staff were fantastic with extending our stay. It was as simple as telling them we wanted an extra night. They told us the price and that was it.

Our drive that afternoon was perfect. Leopard! We haven’t had a good leopard sighting in a very long time. We left another sighting of Big 5 when a call came over the radio. Riaan, our guide, had to track down the young male, and when he found him we were able to spend a good amount of time with him.

Madikwe Leopard

Other vehicles eventually queued up for the sighting so we had to move off. We had our sundown drinks not far away and bore witness to and incredible sunset. The sunset was so fitting for out last night under the African sky at Rhulani and Madikwe.

Farewell Rhulani Safari Lodge

Our last morning drive was beautiful. We had bountiful sightings and even more opportunities to practice our bird photography.

Alas, we had to say our goodbyes and make our way back to the city. Rhulani gave us that feeling of home away from home and with heavy hearts we pulled away.

African safari lodges are very good at refreshing your soul and Rhulani was no different. We will be back and until we return, we have many fond memories and sightings to serve as a reminder.

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Rhulani Safari Lodge – Review

Why Rhulani Safari Lodge?

It has been a very long time since we have visited Madikwe and this is by far one of our favourite locations to visit, so a return visit was long overdue.

Previously we have stayed on the eastern side of the reserve at Thakadu River Camp and Madikwe River Lodge, so it was time to move west and see if that side of the reserve, and it’s lodges, live up to our expectations for this spectacular part of the world.

The Lodge

Access to Rhulani Safari Lodge is easy and a mere 4-4,5 hours from Johannesburg. The access roads are good and once in the reserve, just a few minutes drive will have you at Rhulani where staff with beaming smiles wave you in.

The lodge location is beautiful and the communal areas overlook a waterhole. The layout of the lodge is excellent and the rooms offer privacy unrivaled by any lodge we have visited before this.

There are some minor maintenance tasks that are required; minor wood rot on the doors around the dining area for example, but nothing major at all.

Rhulani Plunge Pool

Private Plunge Pool

Rhulani Rooms

The rooms are comfortable and as mentioned above, incredibly private. The only sign of any other nearby rooms are the lightning conductors sticking up above the bush.

The decor is a bit dated and amenities could be improved, especially by five star lodge standards. For example, the kettle was a horrible, cheap white thing that we had no intention of using.

The rooms offer ample light and the deck is spacious with your own private plunge pool. This pool received good use from us and even I, with my height of 195cm, was able to stand in it and have my shoulders covered.

The outside shower is excellent, however the layout of the bathroom could be a little more comfortable; the toilet, for example, was cramped.

Rhulani has big game fencing around the lodge to prevent elephants and the likes from entering the premesis, however, predators can access the lodge and as such, after dark, you need an escort to your room.

Rhulani Dining

Private dinner on our deck


The food at Rhulani Safari Lodge was excellent. The meals are delicious and well presented. They took great care to comply with dietary requests and when something was prepared that did not conform, they would prepare a separate portion specifically for that person.

One night we requested a private meal at our room and it was a real treat. The tables were laid out on the deck looking into the bush and even though our room was the furthest one at Rhulani, the food arrived promptly and was piping hot.

My only fault with the food is no matter how you order your eggs, they will arrive overcooked. This was true for poached, scrambled and fried eggs in our case.

The self-service section of the breakfast hall was not up to the standards we expect for this kind of lodge. That portion of the room needs to be overhauled completely.

Staff and Activities at Rhulani

Staff at Rhulani Safari Lodge are excellent, they are incredibly friendly and you never need to look for anyone as there is always someone around.

The game drives with Riaan were fantastic. Even when sightings were slow (perfectly normal after the abundance of rain recently) there was always something to look at, talk about or track. Riaan was very attentive to the guests and their needs and without making it obvious, he would go out of his way to try and find a sighting that satisfied everyone on the vehicle.


We had a wonderful time at Rhulani and even extended our stay by a night. We have very little to complain about and the remarks we have are minor and in no way impacted our overall stay.

We will definitely be back and we are so happy to say that the western part of the reserve, and Rhulani, met our expectations for the quality of service we have received from the other lodges.

You can read more about Rhulani Safari Lodge Here

Have you been to Rhulani Safari Lodge before? Let us know in the comments how your stay compared to ours.

Rhulani sunset

Sunset at Madikwe