My previous visit to The Bush House, as it was then known, was in April of 2016. I was supposed to have re-visited in June of 2020 as they were to be included in a magazine article I had been commissioned to write for a national publication.
Unfortunately the magazine closed down and we all know what occurred in March of 2020. I was holding out hope that the three camps that I would be visiting in Madikwe would be spared the lockdown protocols, but in May I received confirmation from all 3 camps that they would be unable to accommodate me due to the pandemic.
Fast forward to 2023 and the then owners, Sue and Gordon offered me an opportunity to return once again. I did not have to be asked twice!
Just before leaving for the property I discovered that it had been sold and had been renamed The Last Word Madikwe Bush House…was I to be let down yet again? Turns out that the new owners were going to honour the agreement that I had with Sue, so it was time to pack the car (and my wife) and head up the N4 to Madikwe once again…
This is the view as we arrived at the property…Although it might look as if the elephants could walk up to the reception to greet new visitors, the is an electric fence discreetly hidden in a moat that separates the waterhole from the lawn area.
The opening in the concrete on the left of this image is the exterior of the photographic hide. And it is from the inside that the magic happens.
Although predominately utilized by photographers, there is nothing stopping non-photo orientated guests from going to sit inside and watch the animals from close up.
On my previous trip in 2016 I had spent only a limited time here. This time I gave up several game drives in order to spend more time here. As it turned out, it was the correct decision as the multitude of animals and birds that visited was well worth the many hours that I spend over the 4 days that I was in camp.
On one of the two game drives that I ventured out on, I got to capture 3 of the Big 5 in a single frame. Elephant, buffalo and a white rhino with a calf. Not bad for a trip to one of the local dams.
This little piggy (warthog) was not going to market, but almost ended up in the hide with me. It swerved at the last moment and headed off back into the bush. To get away from both me and a breeding herd of elephants who had commandeered the waterhole for their sole use. Elephants do NOT like to share water if they can at all help it.
07h00 and I was already in the hide. I would stay there until 09h30 when it was time for breakfast and then would vanish back there until it was time for high tea.
A LOT of zebra visited the waterhole at various times of the day. It was interesting to watch how quickly they would drink compared to other animals who would take their time and make certain that it was safe before quenching their thirst.
On the odd occasion when there was no large game to watch and photograph, I passed the time trying to capture birds in flight. Not as easy as it sounds as the majority of the time all I got was a tail feather in the top left or right hand corner of an image.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I was able to punch the air in quiet celebration when I was able to capture a moment like this.
A male impala in the early morning light. Often overlooked by visitors due to their herd size, I find that in the right light they make great subjects.
A skittish young kudu bull, just one of several that visited the waterhole over the course of my stay.
The last animal that I photographed before having to pack up the car (and my wife) and head home.
On my final morning I had been sitting in the hide from 06h45 with very little to photograph expect some of the many birs species that use the waterhole. I had given up and I was back at my laptop loading images when I heard my wife shout ‘BUFFALO’…needless to say I grabbed my camera gear and headed back to the hide to capture the last images before having breakfast and hitting the N4 once again for the 4 hour drive home.
I spent most nights in the hide for at least a couple of hours after dinner. This spotted hyena was about the only animal that visited regularly under cover of darkness.
To find out more about The Last Word Madikwe Bush House, click on the logo to visit their website.
I will not be featuring the actual lodge in the posting currently as it will be undergoing renovations in September and I hope to be there and will cover the lodge transformation in detail.
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