BACKGROUND: A former cattle region, Operation Phoenix in the 1990s translocated more than 8,000 animals here and today more than 60 mammal species roam the 75,000ha of grassy plains, woodlands, rocky outcrops, and mountains. An Entrepreneurs Resorts member, privately-owned Tau Game Lodge, built in 1995, has undergone several refurbishments.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Overlooking a waterhole replete with crocodiles, spur-winged geese, and white-faced ducks, lush lawns lead guests past the curio shop into the main tented reception area, which offers a seamless sense of flow with the natural surrounds. Thatch, stone and wood in the 30 chalets with splashes of colourful accents enhance the sophisticated, natural ambience. The central waterhole’s passing parade adds to the remote sense of kinship with the wilderness. The lodge can accommodate up to 60 people sharing.
WHERE IS IT? In North West’s Madikwe Reserve, it’s 360 kilometres from Johannesburg, about a four-hour drive on toll roads via Rustenburg, Groot Marico and Zeerust. Daily scheduled charter flights depart from O.R. Tambo International Airport to the Madikwe Airstrip. Transfers between the airfield and the lodge booked through Tau are complimentary.
ROOMS: Overlooking a ‘koppie’ and the waterhole glimpsed through glass sliding doors from our bed, our chalet had an indoor bath, outdoor shower, Rain toiletries in glass containers, air-con and a ceiling fan. Soaps shaped like lion cub paws, distressed wooden frames, a carved lampstand in the shape of a giraffe, porcupine quill shades, and green accents enhanced the African ambience. All 30 en suite standard, luxury and family chalets offer private viewing decks, tea and coffee-making facilities, king-sized beds dressed in mosquito netting, side tables, reading lamps, and free wi-fi at the main lodge.
DINING: While the traditional African ethos prevails in the seasonal menu, Australian chef Cynthia Tait last year spent a month training Tau’s culinary team in the art of healthy cuisine, including vegetarian and Thai dishes, using organic ingredients. Since the lounge, bar, and dining area are all partially outdoors, meals are usually served on the deck overlooking the watering hole. There’s also a restaurant and boma, where convivial conversations with your ranger and fellow delegates encourage team cooperation.
CONFERENCE FACILITIES: The main hall of the 270m2 Tau Convention Centre comprises three fully-equipped ‘sub-halls’ that operate via an integrated touch-screen control system configured to maximize performance and enhance aesthetic qualities. The system, which includes wall-mounted presentation speakers, 2.5m screens working in sequence with the audio system, motorised window blinds that operate with audio-visual settings, high-resolution projectors, and network points, was designed for ease of functionality with simple plug-in and play options for all presentation needs. Custom-designed floor panels installed into all three sub- halls have connections for computers and other electronic equipment for specialist conferencing. The convention centre’s facilities – kitchen, bar, lapa, and wheelchair-friendly toilets – are all accessible in the convention centre’s main building and alongside the breakaway rooms, each of which can comfortably accommodate 10 delegates.
WELLNESS & LEISURE: An Intonga rub at the Spa Oasis where skilful hands employ sticks to soothe tight muscles, and a soak in the Hydro Spa Bath overlooking the bush, will melt any residual city stress. Twice-daily game drives offered abundant sightings of elephant, lion, cheetah, rhino, hyena and cubs in their den, just to mention a few highlights. After one morning game drive, a dip in Tau’s infinity pool, watching elephant and baboon drink on the banks of the waterhole, cooled me down a treat. A second pool at the main lodge area offers spectacular views of the waterhole, best enjoyed with a G&T in hand.
VERDICT: High-quality business facilities, privacy and team-building opportunities, including two daily game drives, Tau Game Lodge offers a serene, malaria-free ‘workation’ in the bush.