Madikwe Game Reserve’s impressively diverse range of wildlife and varied habitats makes it an ideal safari destination with the bonus of being malaria-free.
It was just the two of us for the evening's game drive and having a champagne toast in the middle of the bush and getting up close to a leopard just in time to watch her jumping out of a tree, were real highlights.
Madikwe Game Reserve was created in 1991, a joint venture between the government, private sector and local community to restore farming land to nature and wildlife. Over the next six years, Operation Phoenix relocated more than 8,000 animals to the reserve and game viewing is excellent with chances to observe the big five and more plus over 300 species of birds. Madikwe is South Africa’s fifth-largest reserve but is less well known and less busy than many with safaris limited to residents of the reserve’s lodges.
- The Super 7: The big 5 (buffalo, elephant, rhino, leopard and lion) plus cheetah and wild dog comprise the Super 7 and all are found in Madikwe. In addition, there are hyena, zebra, giraffe and hippo plus desert species such as gemsbok, springbok, eland and sable antelope due to the proximity of the Kalahari. Birdlife is equally diverse and includes ostrich, bateleur and martial eagle, secretary bird and the kori bustard, one of the heaviest flying birds in the world.
- Varied landscapes: Savannah plains, woodland, rocky hills and mountains provide a varied backdrop to your safari. Madikwe’s location between southern Africa bushveld and Kalahari thornveld ensures a great variety of plant life with species from both ecosystems present. This richness makes Madikwe wonderfully photogenic.
- Easy to reach and malaria-free: The reserve is one of the closest to the international airport at Johannesburg, about a four-hour drive or a short flight, and is just 40kms from Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. The lack of malaria is a major plus, especially for families, and many lodges welcome children and have specially tailored activities.
- Life on safari: It’s an early start for your first game drive, timed so that you can observe animals and birds begin their day in the bush. During the hottest part of the day, you relax at your lodge, resting out of the heat just as the does the wildlife. The second safari takes place in late afternoon, also coinciding with peak animal activity, and both include stops for refreshments. You return in time for a shower and change of clothes before dinner and the day concludes with drinks by the campfire.
- Conservation & community: As well as ongoing wildlife conservation programmes, Madikwe is a model of community-based conservation. Since its inception Madikwe has involved the state, private sector and local community and one of the aims of the reserve has been to boost to the local economy through wildlife tourism with a portion of profits funding community projects as well as lodges providing employment.