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Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is a luxury, eco-friendly destination situated in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, in South Africa, close to the Botswana border. The lodge is the first and only one in South Africa to be owned entirely by a local community, the Balete tribe, who benefit directly from the tourism revenue. The lodge offers eight spacious and elegant suites, each with a private deck and stunning views of the bush and the mountains. The lodge also offers excellent game viewing, delicious cuisine, and a range of activities to suit every taste and interest.
Unique or special aspects
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is not your typical safari lodge. It is a place where you can experience the authentic culture and hospitality of the local people, who run and manage the lodge with pride and professionalism. The lodge is also a place where you can enjoy the diversity and beauty of Madikwe Game Reserve, which is home to the Big Five, the endangered African wild dog, and over 300 bird species. The lodge is also a place where you can relax and rejuvenate in a natural and serene setting, with a swimming pool, a lounge, a library, and a spa.
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is located on the Tweedepoort Ridge, overlooking the gently sloping plains and the rocky outcrops of Madikwe Game Reserve. The reserve covers an area of 75,000 hectares and is one of the largest and most successful conservation projects in Africa. The reserve has a unique ecosystem that combines elements of the Kalahari desert and the bushveld savanna. The reserve also has a rich history and heritage, as it was once the homeland of various tribes and clans.
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge’s style is contemporary, elegant, and eco-friendly. The lodge is built with natural materials, such as stone, wood, thatch, and canvas. The lodge uses solar power for electricity and water heating, and recycles water and waste. The lodge’s decor is minimalistic and sophisticated, with earthy tones, African artworks, and leather furniture. The lodge’s atmosphere is cozy and intimate, with only eight suites and a maximum of 16 guests.
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is committed to sustainability in every aspect of its operation. The lodge follows the principles of ecotourism, which aim to conserve the natural and cultural resources of the destination, while providing economic benefits to the local community. The lodge also follows the Fair Trade Tourism standards, which are an international certification for tourism businesses that adhere to ethical and responsible practices. The lodge has implemented several measures to reduce its environmental impact, such as:
Using solar panels for electricity and water heating
Using natural ventilation and insulation for cooling
Using low-flow faucets and showers to save water
Using biodegradable soap and shampoo to avoid pollution
Using organic cotton sheets and towels to reduce chemical use
Recycling water for irrigation
Composting organic waste to produce fertilizer
Planting indigenous trees and plants to enhance biodiversity
Protecting wildlife from poaching and human-wildlife conflict
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is not only an eco-lodge but also a social enterprise that aims to empower the local community and improve their quality of life. The lodge is owned by the Balete tribe, who live in Lekgophung village near Madikwe Game Reserve. The tribe has a 45-year lease agreement with the North West Parks Board, which gives them full control over the lodge’s management and profits. The tribe also has a trust fund that distributes the income from the lodge to various community projects, such as:
Building schools and clinics for children
Providing scholarships and bursaries for students
Supporting women’s groups and cooperatives
Organizing cultural events and festivals for locals and tourists
Collaborating with NGOs and government agencies on development initiatives
The lodge also employs mostly local people from Lekgophung village, who receive fair wages and training opportunities. The lodge also supports several social enterprises in the area, such as:
A beadwork project where women make and sell beautiful jewelry
A pottery project where men make and sell traditional pots
A bakery project where women make and sell fresh bread
A vegetable garden project where women grow and sell organic produce
The lodge also promotes cultural exchange between guests and locals by offering various activities that showcase the Balete culture and heritage, such as:
Hosting traditional music nights and dance shows
Offering basket weaving and pottery making classes
Arranging visits to Lekgophung village and school
Teaching Setswana language and history classes
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge offers eight luxurious and spacious suites, each with a private deck and stunning views of the bush and the mountains. The suites are separate from the main lodge, and are connected by wooden walkways. The suites are designed to blend with the natural surroundings, and are decorated with African fabrics and artworks. The suites have:
A king-size bed or twin beds with mosquito nets
A lounge area with a fireplace and a sofa bed
A dressing room with a wardrobe and a safe
A bathroom with a bathtub, a shower, a double vanity, and a separate toilet
A private deck with a plunge pool and sun loungers
Game drives: You can go on game drives in open 4x4 vehicles with experienced guides who will show you the best spots to see the wildlife. You can choose between morning and afternoon game drives, which last about 3 hours each. You can also request for private game drives at an extra cost.
Bush walks: You can go on bush walks with armed guides who will teach you about the flora and fauna of the reserve. You can choose between short walks (1 hour) or long walks (3 hours), depending on your fitness level and interest.
Star gazing: You can gaze at the stars in the clear night sky with a telescope and a guide who will explain the constellations and their stories.
Cultural tours: You can visit Lekgophung village where you can meet the local people who own the lodge. You can learn about their history, culture, and traditions. You can also join them for a meal or a dance.
Spa treatments: You can pamper yourself with massages and treatments using natural products at the lodge’s spa. You can choose from a variety of options, such as aromatherapy, reflexology, hot stone, and Swedish massage.
Cultural tours: You can visit Lekgophung village where you can meet the local people who own the lodge. You can learn about their history,
Food and drink
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge serves delicious and varied cuisine, prepared with fresh and local ingredients. The lodge caters for different dietary requirements and preferences, and offers vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and halal options.
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is located in Madikwe Game Reserve, which is one of the most diverse and exciting wildlife destinations in South Africa. The reserve offers:
Excellent game viewing, with over 60 mammal species and over 300 bird species
The Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo), as well as the endangered African wild dog, cheetah, brown hyena, and black rhino
A variety of habitats, from open plains to rocky hills to riverine forests
A rich history and culture, with traces of ancient civilizations, religions, and tribes
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is a family-friendly place that welcomes children of all ages. The lodge provides:
A children’s menu where children can enjoy their favorite dishes
A children’s corner where children can play with toys and games
A children’s library where children can borrow books and magazines
A babysitting service where parents can leave their children in good hands
A family suite where parents and children can stay together in comfort
The lodge also offers special activities for children, such as:
Junior ranger program where children can learn about the wildlife and the environment
Treasure hunt where children can explore the lodge and find clues
Arts and crafts where children can make their own souvenirs
Storytelling where children can listen to stories from the local culture
Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is located in Madikwe Game Reserve, which is about 360 km from Johannesburg and 90 km from Gaborone. You can get to the lodge by:
Road: You can drive to the lodge from Johannesburg or Gaborone in about 4 hours. The road is paved and well signposted. You can park your car at the lodge for free.
Air: You can fly to the lodge from Johannesburg or Cape Town in about 1 hour. The lodge has its own airstrip, which is about 10 minutes from the lodge. You can book your flight through the lodge or through a charter company.
Transfer: You can book a transfer from Johannesburg or Gaborone to the lodge through the lodge or through a shuttle service. The transfer costs about R2,500 per person one way.
- Actively reduces consumption
- Reforestation or restoration
- Solar powered or renewable energy
- Employs local people
- Promotes local businesses
- Funds projects
- Preservation of cultural heritage
- Community led or owned
- Community conservation
- Up to 2
- Up to 4
- Cultural visit