Mateya Safari Lodge
My husband and I went to So Africa for 3 weeks in March/April 2009. While we thoroughly enjoyed it, we were totally spoiled by our first LL package at Mateya Safari Lodge. We had flown into Joburg on Delta and overnighted at the airport at the Intercontinental. This was our first (of many to come, we hope) visits to South Africa. We did not know what to expect. We went to our transfer and too our charter into the Madikwe Game Preserve. As we began to circle our landing strip, we kept trying to figure out what to expect. It was beyond our greatest dreams.
Upon landing, we were picked up by Philip and Billy, our guide and tracker for our stay. As we headed to check in at the Lodge, the safari began with Philip slamming on brakes for a Flap Neck Chameleon. He pointed out to usthat this was a very Good Luck sign. Check in was so smooth, that I don't recall it happeningand before I knew it we were being shown to our room. (Let me interject here-that throughout our stay in So Africa, it seemed that we always had the farthest room, suite or villa for some unknown reason and here was no different.) We walked in and were truly amazed. We were given a thorough but short run down on schedule and amenities so that we could unpack and unwind before the late afternoon game drive. We explored the room and were overwhelmed by the comfort, the luxuriousness, and the size. We loved the outside deck during the mid day breaks, the indoor and outdoor showers, the large tub, the huge canopy bed, the mosquito nets and the wonderful refreshment center. The only thing we did not get to enjoy was the plunge pool due to the coolness of the water and the temp outside.
Our game drives were unreal. We saw all the Big 5, we saw Wild Dogs, and we got to watch Lions mating. We loved Madikwe due to theanimals, the Malaria Free Zone and mainly due to thepractice of only three vehicles on a sighting. We later learned after being at Sabi Sabi, that the way they worked it in Madikwe was to be truly appreciated because of the 3 vehicles and the fact that all properties worked in conjunction with each other and not against each other. We had never experienced "Sunrisers" and "Sundowners" but grew to anticipate the Sundowners (our favorite) each day. It was amazing to never see two same landscapes during our stay. Let me also point out that Mateya has 5 suites or a total of 10 guests. We were fortunate to be staying at the same time of 2 parties of 4 so that we had a guide and tracker to ourselves. This is a key thing at being a smaller camp or Lodge compared to one of the bigger ones as we found out later in our trip. We also arranged a walking safari with another group and learned a different world to the drive safaris that we were experiencing twice a day. Lastly, this was the first and only safari lodge of our stay that offered a covered vehicle which is very welcome in sunny or rainy conditions.
Now more about while at Mateya. Food was fabulous!! Food was outstanding!! Food was delicious!! While at Mateya we were served dinner in different settings each night-deck, main dining room, outdoor deck, wine cellar so that no two nights were alike. For our actual 25th wedding anniversary, they set up a private dining area in front of one of the fireplaces for a private, romantic scene. At Mateya, each meal was proceeded with a dinner menu card that was handcrafted and changed each night. I don't mean to short Breakfasts or Lunches. They were wonderful too and the foodwas unreal butdinners were truly special. I also want to mention that Mateya has an unbelievable wine cellar and selection of beers and cocktails. The guides are with you throughout cocktail hour and dinner. These were wonderful times where we got to know the other guests and guides better plus strengthened our own friendship with our own. And the stories....
Mateya is owned by an American woman from Atlanta, Susan who joined us at most meals. She was warm, friendly and truly entertaining. After the passing of her dear husband, Susan traveled around Africa visiting all sorts of villages and buying or bartering African Art. Today, Mateya has one of the largest African Art collections. While I am not a true art aficionado, just a person that knows if they like what they see or not, it was amazing. We spent hours just looking and enjoying. And Susan was a great friend to add to our dinners.
While Mateya may be small as far as lodging or guests compared to other Lodges, it is big on what if offers.An exercise room, it's own small spa (I loved my massage, manicure and pedicure), a small gift shop, and a lot of individualized attention.
In short, I am sorry that we stayed at Mateya first. It made our other stays more difficult as they never could measure up to Mateya. While I am sure that no two stays are alike, I am sure that Mateya makes every endeavor to make sure that a guest's stay is truly memorable and special. Added in the accomodations and surroundings and people, you just can't miss. The only thing I regretted is that I haven't been back recently. We truly loved it...
Message Edited by betsyv on 02-05-2010 04:42 AM
Re: Mateya Safari Lodge
Glad to read your full review. How many nights were you at Mateya?
Now I'm wondering if anyone has been to Mkuze Falls on LL? Its near Phinda but much Less expensive.
You should consider the Botswana lodges they have on LL (orient express and also &beyond).
Re: Mateya Safari Lodge
We were there 4 nights.
I will consider the Botswana LL packages. We could see Botswana when we were out on game drives. I was surprised how close it was.
Re: Mateya Safari Lodge
we're targeting Mkuze Falls for our next safari but on the basis f good reviews and some communications thru tripadvisor members. took a whie to come up with travel logistics--Richards Bay from JNB, car rental to camp.
keep in mind some peole confuse it with Mkuze Private Reserve.