Madikwe Game Reserve
Considered a Hidden Gem in South Africa
Hoping that history will repeat itself
Madikwe Game Reserve was originally farmland but due to arid conditions and poor soil, farming was not sustainable. After exhaustive research, the authorities decided the land would be best utilized as a nature and wildlife reserve. In 1991, Madikwe Nature Reserve was born, offering the best and most sustainable land use in the area.
A massive wildlife relocation program code named ‘Operation Phoenix’ followed. As a result, Madikwe Game Reserve now has a large and diverse mammal and wildlife population and 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.
The highly endangered African Wild Dog has found sanctuary in Madikwe. In 1994, six wild dogs were introduced into the Madikwe Game Reserve, therefore making it the first fenced reserve to ever release this canine species. Despite bouts of rabies, territorial confrontations and competitive lions, the ‘painted dog’ is now thriving in Madikwe with three hunting packs.
Located in the far north of the North West Province, South Africa
Madikwe Game Reserve is the 5th largest wildlife reserve in South Africa and is considered a hidden gem. This privately incorporated land spans over 75,000ha (750 km2) of bushveld. The entire reserve is malaria-free and is enclosed by a 150km electrified perimeter fence to prevent animals escaping. That’s always good!
Madikwe borders Botswana; Gaberone is only 20km away. Zeerust, South Africa is 90km away. It’s also within easy reach of Johannesburg. An overland transfer takes about 3.5 hours – 4 hours. The maps below show exactly where the Madikwe Game Reserve is located.
… providing sanctuary …
Did you know that Madikwe is the home of one of largest elephant populations in the world? It also holds sanctuary to large variety of wildlife, including the BIG FIVE (lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo & leopard) as well as cheetahs, African wild dogs, hyenas, giraffes, antelope and general plains game.
And not to mention the large variety of other animals that hop, swing, slither and fly around the area: amphibians, primates, reptiles and 300+ resident and migrant bird species.
Madikwe is one of the finest nature conservation projects undertaken in South Africa. The process of reintroducing wildlife to the area began in 1992 under the codename ‘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.
The reserve lies within a transition region between Lowveld bushveld and the Kalahari thornveld. 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 is also home to a number of rare species.The terrain consists mainly of open grasslands as well as bushveld plains interspersed with single mountains and scatterings of rocky outcrop. 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 eastern part of the reserve. Madikwe Game Reserve has been regarded as one of the better conservation areas in Africa, offering a natural home to all the major species.
The reserve is located in a semi-arid region bordering the Kalahari Desert. The climate is generally mild to hot but during winter, the nights are cold.
There 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.
… whenever you want …
Each season has its own unique benefits and either way, you won’t be disappointed. 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, waterholes and riverbeds attract more activity during the dry winter months which makes for enhanced game viewing. As mentioned above though, you’ll have an amazing experience at Madikwe no matter when you go.
Some lodges have underground hides and others have waterholes. All lodges offer unique and unparalleled close-up game viewing opportunities, see photos in the gallery below.
We arrange Madikwe safaris for 3 or 4 days. Unlike other game parks, the Madikwe Game Reserve does not cater to day visitors, making it a more private and intimate experience.
The Madikwe Safari Lodges offer luxurious accommodations after experiencing an exhilarating game drive and having the opportunity to game view from an underground hide.