Sure, Jaci’s Tree Lodge kind of resembles my childhood tree house from the outside. The rooms are perched high over the ground amongst the greenery of the trees, where no-one except for the birds can see you. But that’s where the resemblance ends. This is without doubt one of the biggest rooms, or suites rather, that I have ever had the privilege to stay in! There is a spacious bathroom with a beautiful, stand-alone bathtub, an outside shower and a large bedroom area decorated in a funky African style. A large porch wraps around the room, from where you can listen to the sounds of the bush and watch an impossible variety of birds. Should you, against all odds, get tired of this palace in the trees you can always sleep out in the wild one night. There is a wonderful 4-poster bed on a platform next to the waterhole, where you will fall asleep to the sounds of the African bush and wake up as the sun rises.
At 750 km², Madikwe is larger than most other private reserves (apart, of course, from those with fenceless borders to the Kruger National Park like Timbavati and Sabi Sands). This is a Big Five area that offers amazing game viewing, and they also have the rare and highly endangered Africa Wild Dog. There are less than 7,000 individuals left in the wild of these animals in the whole of Africa, and just under 500 in South Africa. Madikwe is one of the reserves where you have a big chance to spot these unique animals.
Jaci’s is, over and above being one of the best lodges I have ever stayed at, completely unique in that they offer their staff part-ownership after 5 years of service. In 2013, the profit-sharing system paid out around R400,000 to the co-owners! For those on the lower end of the salary scale, this could mean up to 3 months’ additional salary. The owners, Jan and Jaci, introduced this system in 2012 and feel that it has been incredibly positive for the lodge and its staff. Now, there is a real and tangible incentive for the staff to ensure that the lodge is succesful. This is obvious from the time you arrive; at Jaci’s you are welcomed by proud co-owners, not by ”normal” staff! At the same time, the lodge’s success is now intimately linked to the wellbeing of its staff and the local communities.
Jaci’s Tree Lodge is no ordinary tree house. This is a luxury experience that exists in harmony with the surrounding nature as well as its staff and local communities.
My stay at Jaci’s Tree Lodge was courtesy of the owners, but as always I maintain full editorial control of the content of this blog.