Madikwe was created in 1991 when poorly used farmland was transformed into a game reserve with the aim of benefitting the local community. This 750 sp km reserve lies in the north of South Africa, on the border with Botswana border in a malaria-free area. The reserve itself is surrounded by adjoining private game farms that are not separated by fences, but have private traversing rights.
In the largest movement of animals since Noah filled his arc, the 75 000 hectare reserve - South Africa's 5th largest - was stocked with 10 000 head of game, comprising 27 different species. The park's very existence contributes to the preservation of local fauna and flora and rare animals such as rhino and wild dog, and also provides a more sustainable environment for the local people.
Madikwe's location means that it lies in the transition zone with the Kalahari basin, the largest semi-desert in the world. Species that occur naturally in the Kalahari can be spotted at Madikwe, giving it a unique appeal in South Africa.
A game reintroduction programme, Operation Phoenix, is the largest game translocation exercise in the world. More than 8,000 animals of 28 species have so far been released into the reserve.
This is a superb self-drive or fly-in destination in South Africa for families with children. Only 4 hours by road from Jo'burg and Pretoria, while it is situated on 75 000 ha next to Pilanesberg and near the Kruger Park.
The winter months of May to September are best for wildlife viewing. During this dry time, vegetation thins and animals gathers around water sources, making them easier to spot.
The Dwarsberg Mountain Range forms the southern boundary of the reserve, while an undulating vegetated plateau extends north until reaching an escarpment. This otherwise flat land is interrupted by the Tshwene Hills and peaking inselbergs.
Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge offers the ultimate in safari luxury; the fantastic team of staff at Madikwe Hills will ensure your safari experience is unique and one not soon forgotten. Guests are ensured of a personal and intimate safari and wildlife experience.
The Madikwe Game Reserve, being malaria-free, is ideal for guests with young children. Thakadu River Camp is one of the more affordable options. The lodge has superb walking and open vehicle safari destination, where guests are accompanied by well trained and informative rangers
Morukuru Safari Lodge is an intimate bush villa suited to guests travelling with small groups of friends and families, looking for an exclusive-use bush experience that combines luxury and warm African hospitality. At Morukuru Lodge, guests will have their own private game viewing vehicle and game ranger which will offer the flexibility of scheduling game drives
Jamala Madikwe offers premier accommodation in 5 individual villas with a spectacular views of the surrounding reserve. The lodge is designed with African elegance and opulent warmth.
Due to Madikwe's location on the border of South Africa and Botswana, it can be accessed from within both countries. It is only 28km from Gaborone, Botswana's capital, and 360km from Johannesburg.
Sun Safaris will book their guests on a direct flight from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Madikwe Game Reserve - a flight that is scheduled twice a day, in the morning and the afternoon. The flight only takes an hour and will deliver guests at the reserve airport, from where they will be picked up by their hosts from the lodge and driven then final leg to their booked accommodation.
Alternatively, guests exploring South Africa via road can easily reach Madikwe in a rental car. It is set in the region a beautiful collection of reserves and wildlife areas, including the Kruger Park, and the drive will be pleasant. If guests are driving directly from OR Tambo Airport, it will take them roughly 4 hours, depending on how often they stop to admire the scenery!
Not only does this reserve boast the Big 5, but it also has the Super 7. This adds cheetah and wild dog to the traditional five animals; leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant and rhino. These 2 added species are serious carnivores and they are both specialised in incredible ways. Both the cheetah and the wild dog are endangered species, putting these sightings high up on traveller's game spotting lists.
Sable, eland, gemsbok, giraffe, hippo, zebra, wildebeest and large herds of plains game add to the plethora of animals residing in this reserve. Species specialised for a semi-arid environment, such as the brown hyena, African wild cat, honey badger and bat-eared fox occur here naturally, due to Madikwe's morphing environment with the Kalahari to the north. The game viewing appeal is enhanced by the astounding 350 species of bird that have been recorded in the area.
Activities guests can enjoy in Madikwe Game Reserve include morning and evening game drives in open safari vehicles, bush walks, bird watching, astronomy, village tours, bush breakfasts and dinners, health spa treatments and children's activities.
Madikwe Game Reserve experiences wet summers and dry winters. It rains from October to April with the highest rainfall expected between November and February. Daytime temperatures are hot and humid with an average of 31 degrees Celsius. The rains at time of year water the land and encourage rapid growth of beautiful greenery.
Although lovely and lush, this is a difficult time of year for game viewing because the animals are hidden by the bush and spread out due to the abundance of water. The best time to go on safari in South Africa is during the dry season when the bush thins out and water becomes scarce, encouraging the wildlife to gather at the few permanent waterholes and rivers to drink.
The dry season occurs during the winter months, from May to September, and bring with them fresh, clear air. The mornings can be particularly cold, dropping to 2 degrees Celsius, but by midday it is much more pleasant at around 22 degrees. Bundle up for morning and evening game drives!