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Madikwe Game Reserve reviews

3 reviews

“Madikwe's private lodge system limits visitor numbers to keep the experience wild and authentic. Diverse wildlife inhabits the parks varied landscape.” - Morgan

Diverse wildlife spanning two ecosystems

Views: 301 Visited: Dec 2017 Reviewed: Oct 16, 2018

Madikwe Game Reserve is among the bigger reserves in South Africa but is relatively little visited—one of its major advantages. Another advantage is the close driving distance of about 4 hours by road from Johannesburg or Pretoria. Finally, Madikwe is not only home to the big five, but is also conveniently malaria-free—it’s a great safari option for families with young children who still want an authentic safari experience in a large and wild game reserve.

The reserve’s management is a collaboration between the provincial parks department, private tourism operators and local communities who have adopted a strategy to target higher value, lower volume tourism. Thus, Madikwe operates like a private reserve. Unlike in national parks like Kruger, self-driving on safari is not allowed, nor are day visits. Guests must be booked into one of the many high-end lodges in the reserve and then enjoy the park on guided game drives in open vehicles or other activities operated by the lodges such as bush walks.
This policy limits the number of vehicles in the park and allows better regulation of behavior at sightings. For example, guides use radios to communicate with each other about special sightings to limit vehicles to just a few per sighting at a time—it’s a better experience for guests and wildlife alike. Limited off-road driving is also allowed for certain special sightings, which increases your chances of seeing the species the park is so well known for.

Besides the big five, Madikwe is a great place to look for wild dogs and cheetah. It’s also an excellent safari destination thanks to its location next to the Botswana border on the ecotone transition between the Kalahari Desert and the bushveld savanna. This means it hosts species from both desert and savanna ecosystems. Some highlights from our recent trip include the following:
- two leopard sightings,
- wild dogs,
- cheetah,
- lion,
- spotted hyena,
- brown hyena,
- rhino,
- elephant,
- buffalo and more.

The birding is also fantastic and, in the wet season, the frog chorus from pans and wetlands is incredible.

Madikwe has a varied landscape including rocky hills (where we were lucky to spot an elephant shrew bounding between rocks), wetlands, grasslands, woodlands and stretches of Kalahari sand. These varied habitats ensure an interesting and diverse stay in the park—whether your visit is just a few nights or a whole week.

Before it was proclaimed as a game reserve, much of the Madikwe area was agricultural land and some of the historical buildings remain, which add another interesting perspective to visits. Iron age ruins and rock art tell of earlier inhabitants. If you’re looking for something to do between morning and afternoon game drives while lounging by the pool, take along a book of renowned South African author Herman Charles Bosman’s short stories to get a feel for life in the area a century ago.

Quality of wildlife
Quality of lodging
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