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Babanango Madwaleni River Lodge
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About Babanango Madwaleni River Lodge

Madwaleni River Lodge is a spectacular bush retreat situated along the southern bank of the White Umfolozi River within Babanango Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. Translated from isiZulu as "the place of the rock," the lodge pays homage to the stunning granolith mountains in the reserve. Blending sophistication with rustic wilderness, Madwaleni River Lodge offers an exclusive escape with twelve award-winning luxury glamping tents, accommodating up to 24 guests. Unfenced, the lodge immerses guests in nature, emphasising sustainability and farm-to-table dining. The gym boasts panoramic river views, while the library provides the perfect space to get lost in a good book. The infinity pool, set against the river backdrop, enhances the immersive experience. Notably, Madwaleni features a 2000-bottle wine cellar, showcasing the finest Cape wines.

Babanango Madwaleni River Lodge Setting

Madwaleni River Lodge is located in the heart of Zululand in South Africa, along the iconic White Umfolozi River. Overlooking 20,000 hectares of Babanango Game Reserve, this rewilding project stands as a testament to ambitious conservation efforts. The rugged terrain harbours a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including the Big Five and unique species like the aardvark. Guests embark on guided safaris, exploring the historical battle sites of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift nearby. With Madwaleni's unparalleled amenities and the reserve's natural wonders, a stay here promises an unforgettable blend of luxury and untamed beauty.

What's included

Full Board:

  • Meals
  • Game drives (morning and afternoon)
  • Bush dining (weather dependent)
  • Walking safari (On request)
  • Bird watching (On request)
  • Optional extra fee: Battlefield Tours; Wildlife Monitoring; Helicopter Conservation / Fence Patrols; Zipline Adventures

Frequently asked questions

  • Is Babanango Game Reserve a Big Five game reserve?

  • Is Babanango Zulu Rock Lodge child-friendly?

  • Is malaria a concern in this area?


  • Best resort in the SADC region

    This is definitely one of the best resorts in SADC region. From your luxurious suite, you can hear the running waters of the White Umfolozi River. The private heated pool was awesome and the chefs were incredible!

    Conservio.com review

    F. Dalton

  • We'll be back!

    Fantastic lodge! Amazing food and stunning accommodation. We loved our stay and can't wait to return!

    Conservio.com review

    N. Walton

Babanango Madwaleni River Lodge impact highlights

Babanango Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, represents a remarkable success story for both conservation and the local community. Born out of a visionary collaboration between local communities with land-ownership rights and philanthropic investors committed to sustainable conservation practices, the reserve has undergone a significant transformation. Previously suffering from intensive cattle grazing and illicit hunting, the land is now formally under conservation stewardship. Nearly 74% of the reserve area is contributed by surrounding community trusts, namely Emcakwini, Esibongweni, and KwaNgono, placing community land ownership at the heart of the conservation project. The lease income generated by these trusts directly benefits the community, enhancing their collective quality of life. The most significant boon for local communities, however, lies in the creation of new jobs, with approximately 60% of the 220 permanent positions filled by individuals from these communities. The project prioritizes skills development, upliftment, and vocational training, fostering a new 'wildlife economy' in neighbouring communities as entrepreneurship takes root. The reserve exemplifies the transformative power of collaborative conservation efforts, revitalizing both the natural environment and the lives of those living within its reach.

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