5 Reasons Why TAU Game Lodge Boasts the Best Family Safari

TAU Game Lodge Family Safari

By Renate Engelbrecht

Thursday, Apr 18

There are glimpses of our previous visits to TAU Game Lodge that are forever etched in my memory. Elephants swimming and showering themselves with their large trunks in one of Madikwe Game Reserve’s waterholes. Lion cubs playfully joking around on a giant anthill. TAU’s lovely staff singing to our daughter for her birthday, while carrying a specially baked cake for the occasion. Walking into our room, only to look up into a welcoming committee of elephants parading around the lodge’s waterhole, which the rooms all look out onto.

These are but a few of the special memories we’ve had the privilege of making at TAU and recently, we got to make a whole bunch of new ones too! This time, the kids were bigger and they could truly enjoy what the lodge has to offer – a lodge that, in essence, is one of the best safari lodges for families in my opinion. Here’s why:

People’s People

While any hospitality destination would claim that they have a passion for people, TAU Game Lodge’s people have a passion for SERVING people. It’s one of the things I’ve cherished ever since our very first visit to the lodge. Many of the people working at TAU have been there from the start, resulting in a tightknit team that become like your extended family. (Coming from a hospitality background myself and having had my own mystery guest company, this statement should essentially say a lot). Being welcomed by the TAU team upon our return was heartwarming and I couldn’t help but ask for hugs! Even Silas, our ranger on the previous trip, could not wait to come and say hi and it was so special that he remembered the kids, noticing how they’d grown.

Breathtaking scenery Madikwe Game Reserve

A Lodge for Exploration

While many safari lodges are exclusive to families with kids over the age of twelve and quite a few of them require that guests are escorted by a ranger whenever they leave their rooms, TAU allows guests to roam the grounds freely. The lodge is fenced off, which means the only encounters you and your kids might have with wildlife, is with monkeys, baboons and blue-headed warblers. Of course, you’re still in the bush and chances are that you might also bump into a sneaky snake (especially in summer) or other wild creatures, but it’s a safe environment for families, as long as you stay on the pathways and remember that you are still in the bush.

TAU Game Lodge’s offering is one fit for young families. Apart from the twice daily game drives (we were blessed with a dedicated field guide and game vehicle for our family of four), the lodge itself has two swimming pools, a lovely restaurant and bar beside the waterhole, another tented viewing lounge on the other side of the lodge and more. We spent hours by the pool, with the kids running free between the pool, the Cubs’ Club (a little wooden hut filled with activities and toys for kids, with a childminder looking after them), and the jungle gym.

Thorns and thunder

Wondrous Wildlife

Of course, it wouldn’t be a safari without the wildlife. TAU Game Lodge is located in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, which is on the Botswana border. With 750km² to cover, it is the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa. The reserve boasts the Big 5, and the bonus of staying at TAU Game Lodge, is that you are almost guaranteed to see all five these magnificent creatures. The field guides will never make any promises, though. While they do monitor the animals, the reserve is the territory of the wild and we are merely visitors.

During our last visit, we didn’t get to see a leopard, but the rest of the Big 5 certainly made up for it. Madikwe is known for its large groups of elephants (and you can see it in the vegetation too). We literally spotted them on every game drive and every time, I was in awe of these amazing, majestic animals. We also got to see how a pride of lions dug into a recently caught blue wildebeest, with our two littles being totally gobsmacked. That’s the thing about a family safari, isn’t it? They get to experience it all, ask questions and learn to understand the workings of nature in a controlled, safe environment. In addition to the lions, we also spotted a hyena lying atop a rock, very well camouflaged, as well as an owl on one of the night drives. These were but the main highlights. Of course, we saw a lot more and even just the veld, filled with Jakob Regop flowers and Wild Hibiscus, was magnificently beautiful. Especially when the clouds started playing on the horizon, hinting the possibility of rain.

Jakob Regop

Food, Glorious Food

As on any safari, the food is part of the experience at TAU and we were certainly well fed. Early morning, pre-game drive coffee always came with rusks and muffins and we proactively grabbed an apple or something for the kids. Of course, the game drive game with its own snacks too – the coffee or hot chocolate being our go-to, and the delicious biscuits the kids’. Late afternoon snacks are also served ahead of the second game drive for the day, with iced teas, coffee, biscuits and more for those keen on a snack.

TAU Game Lodge’s waterside restaurant serves delicious breakfasts and lunches, with guests opting for seats on deck from where they can watch waterbirds, crocs and other animals coming to quench their thirst.

Food at TAU

Dinner was served in the restaurant on the one night, while the second night saw us dining under the stars in a romantic boma setting. Our field guide accompanied us at dinner each night – as we’ve come to learn is custom at TAU – and it allowed for us to ask all the questions we wanted to after the day’s exciting game drives.

Comfort is Key

When we travel as a family, we always want to know that both the drive to our destination, as well as the stay will be as comfortable as possible. Travel is never smooth sailing with kids, but if we can make it as easy as possible, why not?

The face of our son on safari

With TAU Game Lodge being less then five hours’ drive from Pretoria, it’s a manageable trip for a long weekend. We left on the Friday morning and returned home on the Sunday and we still felt well rested after only two days in the bush.

For the drive, we ensured that there were ample snacks and we stopped when and where we could. Swartruggens’ Wimpy has become one of our trusted stops, as well as the Shell petrol station in Zeerust.

Watching lions

At the lodge itself, we never had to fret about our car, which was professionally unloaded and parked at TAU’s dedicated parking bays for guests. Our room was cosy and, while it’s not dubbed a family room, it was big enough for the four of us, with a sleeper couch that was beautifully prepared for the kids, complete with a mosquito net overhead. In fact, their waterhole views from bed were better than ours!

Snack time on game drive at TAU Game Lodge

Ultimately, our kids had a ball at TAU. So much so that on the last night, they were so tired that they could barely appreciate the theatrical boma dinner. It was a weekend filled with adventure and lessons from the bush and every now and then, they are enquiring when we’ll be returning to TAU.

How special that those TAU memories I so deeply cherish are now some of our children’s fondest memories too!

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