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Madikwe Reserve location and size

Located in the far north of the North West Province, South Africa

This less known game reserve is a hidden gem that borders Botswana and including the privately incorporated land spans about 75 000ha (750 sq km) of bush veld. The entire reserve is enclosed by a 150km electrified perimeter fence to prevent  animals escaping.

This malaria free reserve is within easy reach of Johannesburg and overland transfer is around 3.5 hours – 4 hours. Gaberone (in Botswana) is 20 km away and Zeerust (in South Africa) is about 90km away.

The maps below show exactly where the Madikwe game reserve is located.


South Africa and Madikwe map

Madikwe SA


Route map to Madikwe

Routes to Madikwe

It is currently the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa but still not widely known. The main park occupies around 680 km² by itself and around 750 km² including the now incorporated privately owned land.

Madikwe History

This area was originally farm land but due to arid conditions and poor soil, farming was not sustainable. After exhaustive research the authorities decided the land would be best utilised as a nature and wild life reserve. This is how the Madikwe Nature Reserve was born. This reserve was pronounced in 1991 and has the distinction of coming into the existence purely on the grounds of the best and most sustainable land use for the area.

What followed was a massive wildlife relocation program code named operation Phoenix. As a result of this Madikwe Game Reserve now as has large and diverse mammal and wildlife population.

The Madikwe game reserve is operated and managed as a joint venture between the State, the private sector and local communities. The success of this approach has made Madikwe the role model for similar ventures being started up elsewhere in South Africa.

Madikwe Landscape

The reserve lies within a transition region between Lowveld bush veld and the Kalahari thorn veld. As a result the region is host to an incredible diversity of species from both ecosystems. This reserve is located on the edges of the Kalahari Desert and as such is also home to a number of rare species that occur naturally in this area.

The terrain consists mainly of open grasslands as well as bush veld plains interspersed with single mountains and scatterings of rocky outcrops . The region also has enormous volcanic intrusions known as Inselbergs (huge rocky hills) aside wide open plains  as well as the riverine environment along the Marico River in the east of the reserve.

Madikwe has been regarded as one of the better conservation areas in Africa, offering a natural home to all the major species,

Madikwe LandscapeRhino in Madikwe

Wildlife in Madikwe Game Reserve

The process reintroducing wildlife to the area began in 1992 under the code name Operation Phoenix which relocated entire breeding herds of elephant, buffalo, rhino and antelope. Predatory species such as lion, cheetah, African wild dog and spotted hyena were also reintroduced. Madikwe Game Reserve is now home to more than 66 mammal species.

Today this malaria free nature reserve is home to a wide variety of wildlife including the BIG 5 (Lion, leopard, Elephant, Rhino & Buffalo). In fact it is home to the magnificent 7 (Big 5 + wild dog & Cheetah).

Lion Madikwe Game ReserveLeopard in Madikwe Game Reserve


Wild dog in Madikwe Game Reserve Cheetah In Madikwe Reserve


There is also large variety other animals including amphibians, primates, reptiles and 300+ resident and migrant bird species.

Mammals in Madikwe include

  • African Elephant
  • Buffalo
  • Hippopotamus
  • Black Rhinocerous
  • African Wild Cat
  • Caracal
  • Cheetah
  • Leopard
  • Lion
  • Serval
  • Aardwolf
  • Black-backed Jackal
  • Brown Hyena
  • Spotted Hyaena
  • Wild Dog
  • Various antelope

Accommodation in Madikwe Game Reserve

There are a number of luxury lodges in Madikwe offering bespoke accommodation and related activities for the discerning traveler. All the luxury lodges offer the amenities and facilities you will expect of a 4 or 5 star establishment.

These usually include

  • Bespoke Private en-suite rooms
  • Double or twin beds
  • Air conditioning & fans
  • Hairdryers, coffee and tea facilities
  • Tea / Coffee facilities
  • TV
  • Private patio / verandah
  • Bar / Restaurant
  • Shaded garden / waterhole
  • Swimming pool
  • Wi Fi
  • Cell Phone Reception
  • Intimate atmosphere
  • Caring and attentive staff

These game lodges also conduct related safari activities such as open vehicle game drives and bush walks.

Bedroom luxury lodge Madikwe Luxury Lodge Madikwe

Book your Madike Safari now and experience unique game viewing from an underground hide.


When to go to Madikwe Nature Reserve

Each season has its own unique benefits and you will not be disappointed irrespective of when you decide to visit Madikwe. Game viewing is good all year round – however the best time to view game is during the dry winter season (June-September). During this period the foliage is sparse and the bushes are thinner making it easier to spot the animals..Since there is less water the animals tend to congregate around permanent waterholes or along riverbeds. Generally water waterholes and riverbeds attract more activity during the dry winter months and this makes for enhanced game viewing.

However you will always have an amazing experience at Madikwe irrespective of the season or time of year.

Safaris to Madikwe

We arrange safaris to Madikwe during which you will be accommodated in one of the luxury lodges, experience exhilarating game drives and have the opportunity to do game viewing from an underground hide.

You can see our Madikwe Safaris here

Unlike other game parks, the Madikwe reserve does not cater for day visitors. This makes it a more private and intimate experience.

Madikwe Climate

The reserve is located in a semi-arid region bordering the Kalahari Dessert. The climate is generally mild to hot but during winter the nights are cold.

The are two main seasons:

The wet rainy summer season – October – April

During these summer months daily temperatures are high (30 deg celcius +) but often interspersed with cooling thunderstorms. Evenings are mild to warm.

The dry winter months – (May – September)

Winter months are dry with mild days and chilly nights.