Public Relations Consultant & Travel Contributing Editor

A perfect balance at Rhulani

A perfect balance at Rhulani

As published in Explore South Africa magazine.

Rhulani Safari Lodge, in the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa’s North West Province, bordering Botswana, takes full advantage of the areas grassland, forest and rocky Tshwene Tshwene hills where elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and, famously, wild dogs roam free.

The kori bustard, Botswana’s national bird and the largest flying bird native to the continent, is oft seen overhead and walking with its characteristic darting head movement, next to the many waterholes.

As a private reserve, Madikwe has no self-drive visitors unlike The Kruger National Park.

Enter at the Wonderboom Gate to experience this quality yet affordable reserve owned by an international couple who have brought a pared-down luxury to the bush. You will be hard-pressed to meet a hospitality team more friendly and keen to ensure a memorable stay which offers an authentic bush experience with every comfort. Use the free and fast wi-fi available in the suites and public areas to download bird and animal guides to have an expert in your pocket as you are driven around the bush. The boma dinner, eaten around a great fire under the stars with the song and dance by the staff, is a highlight.

Securing Best Luxury Bush Lodge – Global Winner in the World Luxury Hotel Awards the fourth time in a row, this reserve has many rewards the team are rightly proud of.

For Rhulani’s globe-trotting owners, Rolf Steiner and Marisa Silva, each leaders in their corporate fields, Rhulani represents the kind of lodge they want – a space to feel the bush and step away from the noise but with the pared-down luxury comfort and connectivity to remain in touch, if they want to.

In 2013 they further invested in the look and feel of the property with a focus on up-cycling and reusing what they had – ever mindful of their environmental impact. Marisa explained: “We kept our colour palette – brown, beige and terracotta that are inspired by the changing colours of the Earth, added splashes of red and yellow to invoke the bush sunrise and sunset. Our earthy tones are embedded in nature.

In much the same way, Rhulani was designed and built to blend as much as possible into its surroundings. It is only when you are at Rhulani and observe its incredible wildlife that you truly appreciate how perfectly all the elements of nature interact – as they always have.” She also commented about the choice of South African artist Sharon Boonzaier: “A central part of the renewals were the new art paintings for the private chalets of our guests. We found that her beautiful works of art fit perfectly into our new design concept. Themes of nature and African culture, based on traditional schemes, but with refreshing elements, were fully in line with our plans. We also had the opportunity to incorporate in the new art a touch of our new colour “yellow”, symbolising the sunrise.”

So, with the sunrise as a renewed focus, comes the early morning game drive – an opportunity to be out as the first rays warm the earth and release the medicinal oils from the bush into the environment. At this Big 5 bush lodge, the depth of luxury is felt not only in the breadth of knowledge of the FGASA-qualified field guides but also in the sophisticated service offering from Rhulani’s team of executive butlers, trained by the renowned South African Butler Academy.

Take time to enjoy the free-form pool set into the rock face or, if you prefer, the privacy of your own splash pool while you look out over the bush. Water, a scare resource around the globe and especially in the bush, focuses the wildlife. From Rhulani’s main lodge and dining area the waterhole centres the free-roaming game within easy reach of Rhulani’s guests.

In talking about the upgrade, Marisa acknowledges that it was a complex and subtle job: “We are a luxury, five-star lodge with all the services and amenities of a five-star hotel – but we want our guests to feel, smell, see and hear the bush, so we take great care in creating the perfect balance of stimuli. Our objective is to create a unique Rhulani feeling.”

With fine-dining options in the evening and wholesome breakfasts and lunches, under the shade of Marula trees or stars as appropriate. The unique mix of savannah and semi-arid desert makes this part of the world very special. And, the fact that today’s travellers don’t want to take medications when not necessary, its Malaria-free status is a great plus.


Tel +27 (0)14 553 3981 | Cell +27 (0)82 907 9628 | Fax: +27 (0)86 6418 117 | Email:


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