Madikwe Game Reserve Featured, Parks and Reserves
Madikwe is one of South Africa's popular Big 5 safari destinations for those looking for a malaria-free safari. It's especially family friendly as there's no need for malarial prophylactics. Most lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve welcome children and offer specially-designed child-friendly programmes to keep the little ones busy and to help them really enjoy their safari experience, too.
* Madikwe Game Reserve Highlights
- ∞ Regular sightings of African wild dogs
- ∞ Lions thrive here and are often seen on safari
- ∞ No risk of malaria
- ∞ Family-friendly safari lodges (children are welcome)
- ∞ Exclusive game viewing from open safari vehicles – no day visitors
- ∞ Scenic reserve combining Kalahari and Savanna bushveld
- ∞ Diversity of species not often seen together in one game reserve
- ∞ Easy access from Johannesburg and Pretoria
Madikwe Game Reserve is in the remote North West Province of South Africa, on the Botswana border. It is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa (over 75 000 hectares) and combines two unique ecosystems:- Kalahari Thornveld (western and northern parts of Madikwe) and Lowveld or Savanna Bushveld (southern and eastern parts of Madikwe). Madikwe is also famous for its thriving population of rare African wild dogs (also known as ‘painted’ dogs or Cape hunting dogs) that are more likely to be spotted here than in any other game reserve in South Africa.
Besides being malaria-free, another attraction of Madikwe Game Resersve is its exclusivity. No day visitors are allowed, so your game viewing opportunities are less crowded, more personal. All game drives are in open, off-road safari vehicles.
Proclaimed in late 1991, Madikwe Game Reserve is a model of successful conservation. Originally reclaimed from struggling cattle farms to create jobs, it has thrived and now sustains the local communities. The restocking of Madikwe with more than 8 000 animals (Operation Phoenix), was the largest wildlife translocation project in the world.
Incredibly Diverse Wildlife
Madikwe has 66 species of mammals, including the Big 5:- lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo – and healthy populations of endangered African wild dogs. There's also a mix of buck and other animals you don’t normally see together in one game reserve, such as impala and springbok, gemsbok (oryx) and kudu, brown and spotted hyena.
The birdlife is also prolific at Madikwe, with more than 350 bird species already recorded, including spectacular raptors like black-breasted snake eagles and lappet-faced vultures, and some interesting endemics like the Marico flycatcher.
It’s a scenic reserve with a variety of vegetation, from vast plains and wooded hills, to thickets, grasslands and lush riverine bush.
Best time to visit Madikwe Game Reserve
Mostly sunny all year round, any time is good safari time at Madikwe. Summers are hot and wet -average 31°C (88°F). The drier, winter months offer prime game viewing. Days are crisp and clear, 22°C (72°F) on average. Nights can be cold – down to 2°C (35.5°F). Bring, warm jackets, scarves, gloves, beanies, warm socks and long pants, especially for late afternoon/evening game drives.
A daily shuttle (one-hour flight) connects OR Tambo International (Johannesburg) and Madikwe. Charter flights and helicopters transfers are also available.
From Johannesburg, Madikwe is an easy 4 hours’ drive on good, tarred roads (± 350 kms). We will gladly arrange road transfers for you. Please note: there are several gates to the reserve and roads can change so please don’t rely on GPS or Google maps – rather let us send you the latest information.
Safari TipsWhat to bring on safari
What to bring will depend in part on where you are going and what time of year, but here is a basic checklist: Comfortable summer clothes for hot weather. Long-sleeved clothes for evenings and early morning game drives. If your safari is from May to September, bring a warm jacket, earwarmers/beanies and gloves for the early morning and evening game drives. Dress in layers, because the day will warm up. Light raincoat or windbreaker. You won't need heavy hiking boots. Casual walking shoes are fine. Bring open sandals too. Hat, sunblock and sunglasses. Insect repellant (although many lodges supply this). Malaria medication, any prescription medication you may need, and perhaps some basic medical supplies for personal use. All lodges and vehicles have proper first-aid kits available. Camera, spare batteries and enough film or memory cards. A camera with a zoom function is best. Binoculars (essential on safari). International 220V adapter if you wish to charge camera batteries. Your travel documents! Passport, booking confirmations, travel insurance details. Cash: for Victoria Falls, USD in small denominations. For South Africa and Botswana, USD or South African Rand will do. Most places accept credit cards so you will not need much cash. There are cash machines throughout South Africa, but not at the game lodges. Travel light. For charter flights, the luggage limit is 20kg in soft bags. If in doubt, leave it at home. Leave some space for curios you may want to take home. In certain areas (like at Victoria Falls) you can trade clothes or shoes for curios, so you may want to bring a couple of items to trade with.
More on the African Safari Travel Tips page
Related FAQ's“What are the Big Five and will I see them?”
The Big Five (or Big 5) were traditionally considered to be the five most dangerous animals to hunt in Africa. Today, they are among the five most popular animals tourists wish to see in Africa - the lion, the elephant, the rhino, the buffalo and the leopard.
In Botswana, thanks to a successful rhino reintroduction programme, certain areas in the Okavango Delta (like Chiefs Island) are now once again Big Five areas, although most of the other game reserves in Botswana do not have rhinos.
In South Africa, there are various Big Five game reserves of which the Kruger Park is the most famous one. Even if you visit a Big Five game reserve, remember that no sightings are guaranteed. The animals roam around freely and part of the excitement of a safari is not knowing what you will find on each game drive. Our records show that we have found the Big Five on 76% of all our Kruger Park safaris. So although seeing all of them is not a certainty, we can assure you that you will see at least some of them on your safari!
Our advice is to not only focus on the Big Five during your safari. There are so many other animals and exciting things to see, that a drive on which you see none of the Big Five can still be one of the most interesting game drives! Have a go at finding some of the Little Big Five - elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion, buffalo weaver and rhino beetle!
Of course certain areas are known for certain animals, for example if you want to see leopards, go to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. For wild dogs, try Madikwe or Moremi Game Reserve. For cheetah, your best bet is Phinda Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Lions and elephants can best be found in the Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Moremi Game Reserve or Chobe Game Reserve. Rhinos are most common in the southern Kruger National Park, Phinda or Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve (KwaZulu-Natal).
Let us know what your game viewing expectations are, and we will recommend the best possible destination.
More on the Frequently Asked Questions page