Tlou Deck is one of Jaci’s Lodges’ most recent additions. Situated at Tree Lodge, overlooking the Terrapin Hide and Jaci’s Wetlands, it’s a phenomenal multi-use location which has added so much to life at the Lodge. Herewith our ‘top ten’ on Tlou Deck.

First on the action

‘What’s so great about a waterhole?’ you may ask? Well, everything needs to drink, and whether it’s a couple of zebra, a huge herd of buffalo, or a lone lioness, Tlou Deck is the perfect vantage point. We’ve had some very interesting sightings here; a spotted hyena jumping into the water, getting all muddy and continuing on his way, a lone impala running for it’s life with a single wild dog hot on it’s trail, and a brown hyena ambling past on his evening patrol, to name a few.


For birdwatchers, a couple of hours at the Deck will put your Madikwe bird list on track. From waterbirds like herons, ducks, spoonbills, sandpipers and plovers, to general bushveld birds coming to drink, there is always something to see. The Double banded Sand Grouse are particularly special to see here, and the Pied Kingfisher is seen hunting, hovering and diving, most evenings.


All too often you’re caught up with the idea that you have to go on every game drive. We beg to differ. In the dry winter months we’re especially spoilt with dusty sunsets, which make for incredibly dramatic images.


Lookout point for wildlife approaching the Terrapin Hide

Tlou Deck overlooks the Terrapin Hide waterhole. For avid photographers, the beauty of this setup is that you can relax on the Deck with a good vantage point, and as soon as you see that approaching herd of elephant, it takes no more than a minute or two to grab your camera and head down to the Hide to catch the action from that unique aspect within the hide.

A place to relax and witness the daily coming and goings of wildlife

Sometimes you just want to relax and ‘see what comes’. We have often sat there and seen at least 20 bird species and 10 mammals, in the space of a few hours. (Saturday mornings here have become a regular thing!)

A magic spot for outdoor dining and celebrating special occasions

Picture a stunning table set for dinner, with the setting sun as your backdrop, followed by a big fire cracking away, the lanterns all lit, a sky full of stars and the aroma of lamb shanks or oxtail simmering on the coals. Add the chorus of frogs and the odd call of a spotted hyena and you’ve got pure magic.


Most likely spot to see the resident croc

Between the Hide and The Deck this is the most likely spot to see our resident crocodile, who lurks in the Terrapin Hide waterhole. He’s stealthy but brave and we’ll often see him hunting terrapin or tilapia, with a splash, or slowly gliding along in front of a herd of elephant drinking.


A good spot to meet other guests

If you’re keen on the social aspect of a safari getaway, this is a great location to meet other guests, compare sightings, have a drink and enjoy the bush without having to leave the Lodge.

The best remote office and most enviable Zoom call background

There is wifi – so, if you cannot entirely leave the outside world behind, this is a great spot to bring your device, check your mails, and even get on that Zoom call – I promise you, no one will have a more enviable backdrop than you!


If there is a star of the show here, elephants are it! Whether it’s a lone bull coming to drink, a breeding herd with youngsters learning what their trunk is all about, or multiple herds meeting up and interacting, they are a delight to watch.

Images and text by Stephanie Goemans