Madike Hills Game Lodge, South Africa

150 150 Rob McGibbon

November 14, 2007

As I am sure you are beginning to make last minute arrangements for your winter or New Year holidays, can I just stop by with a couple of recommendations following a glorious trip earlier this year.

The Madikwe Lodge safari lodge in South Africa is sensational. Luxurious and beautiful private rooms are carved into the granite of the local rock formations, with heated floors and a private plunge pool. You even get a private outdoor bath and shower overlooking the bush. Well, totally private except for the elephants and lions looking on – in awe – as they drink at a nearby watering hole. The Madikwe staff are fantastic, as is the food. The game drives are terrific and we easily saw many multiples of four of the Big Five (the leopards eluded us) – thanks to our cheerful, eagle-eyed tracker Johannes. What a star – although one lion got a little too close and looked me square (meal?) in the eye. Most memorable sight, apart form the animals, has to be the Mars-red, iron rich earth. I even brought some home to create my own paint. (Exhibition to be announced soon).

Mauritius is only a four hour flight from Johannesburg and is an ideal place for a beach side crash out after an exhausting safari. I would strongly recommend the Hilton. I always expect the worst when I hear that name – an air-con, high rise, business hotel – but this one is part of the five star ‘Hilton Worldwide’ range. It is stunning and lacks the stuffiness of some of the other five star resorts. I finally cracked mono water skiing, thanks to Tom from the newly installed Mark Warner water sports centre, and I had the best acupressure massages in my life at the dedicated health spa.

Both these trips can be booked via the Virgin Holidays website or by calling: 0871 222 0307.

One last tip (plug): Virgin Upper Class to South Africa is superb. But make sure you give yourself a good two hours in the Clubhouse at Heathrow – just so you are, ahem, nicely relaxed for that strenuous flight.