In my African dream

MAY 2011 – Privacy. Exclusivity. Space. Three luxurious sole-use villas, privately located within malaria-free Madikwe – prime Big Five territory. With each villa offering its own chef, butler, manager, game ranger and tracker, all devoted entirely to you and your chosen guests, the Morukuru Family is there to make your every wish come true.

You know you and your family are headed somewhere special when you’re asked to complete a wish list before departure, and questions include ‘Blankets or duvets?’ and ‘Any special requests for the children?’ Nothing, it would seem, is too much trouble at Morukuru, and that is exactly what you find when you arrive.

Long before the vogue for sole-use villas had well-established safari brands scrambling for suitable sites, the Morukuru team understood that privacy and exclusivity are what elevate a holiday to unforgettable memory. Spurning the usual 18- to 24-bed luxury camp model, they built just two bush villas – The Lodge and Owner’s House – both totally private yet enjoying similarly superb locations on the banks of the Marico River.

The Lodge sleeps a total of 10 people in three large en-suite bedrooms, each with their own fireplace and tree-shaded deck, and a children’s room (complete with TV, DVD and internet access) that accommodates four junior guests. The more intimate Owner’s House sleeps four people in two en-suite bedrooms. Both villas provide guests (whether one or 10) with all the comfort and privacy of home – your own kitchen, dining room, lounge, large pool and comfortably furnished decks. Better still, each lodge comes with its own safari guide, tracker, chef, butler and, if required, nanny – allowing you to truly set your own pace. Word soon got out that this was the perfect way to commune with Africa; alone, the only human presence people handpicked by you. Staff presence at Morukuru is discreet; should you wish to be completely alone, you need only say. The idea is that you are not a guest, but – for the duration of your stay – the owner of this bush paradise.

The unqualified success of The Lodge and Owner’s House led to the development of the five-suite Farm House a few years later. While The Lodge and Owner’s House are within walking distance of each other and can therefore be utilised by a large party who want to be together yet separate, this cool, spacious home is located in an utterly private location. With a gorgeous pool set in sprawling green lawns, the more rustic-chic ethos of the Farm House makes this the ideal destination for an extended family or group of friends who want unpretentious barefoot elegance, in a house that encourages gathering as well as private reverie. This vision, of combining family bonding with personal privacy, is at the heart of Morukuru, and central to this is how the junior guests are treated.

The Morukuru Kidz programme takes shape around guests. On arrival, children are presented with a backpack filled with age-appropriate wildlife cards, beads and interesting activity books. But again, the kids set the pace and itinerary. Staff are handpicked for their ability to entertain children, be it with a fishing or baking lesson, making beaded necklaces or spoor casts. As Gemma, villa manager for Farm House puts it, ‘Families come here to really relax and spend time together. Because you have your own home and your own vehicle, your space and time is your own. You don’t have to share anything with strangers, so the whole family eases into a special space. Parents unwind watching kids play in the pool, going on safari drives together, enjoying bush dinners – and if the parents want to relax on their own, we have so many activities we can arrange for the children – too many to get through in one visit!’ Regardless of where you come from, your age or your interests, the real luxury of Morukuru soon works its magic: no pressure to do anything, or be anywhere, other than in the moment.

And what a special moment: in the heart of Africa, surrounded by 75 000 hectares of prime game-viewing territory, and cocooned in luxury.

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