Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve
Although Madikwe Game Reserve is much lesser-known than other national parks in South Africa – like the Kruger and the Greater Kruger area – there is a lot to be said and enjoyed about it. Located in the northwest province of South Africa and, at a size of approximately 680 km2, it is one of the country’s largest Big Five reserves.
The ownership and management of Madikwe Game Reserve is shared between private owners and local communities. The reserve became known for the success of a conservation program, where over 8,000 animals were reintroduced into the park. Today, with the contribution of tourism and park fees going back into the community, the game reserve has thrived, and today offers an incredible safari, with elephant, buffalo, antelope, lion, hippo, and giraffe aplenty.
Although bordering Botswana, the closest city to Madikwe Game Reserve is Johannesburg. Many international flights arrive into Johannesburg, so connecting onto a flight up to Madikwe makes it really straightforward and enjoyable. Like the Eastern Cape game reserves, Madikwe also offers a malaria-free safari, so its attraction to families, in particular, is strong. There are also plenty of luxury safari lodges to accommodate families – whether it’s families with younger children, or larger, multi-generational families celebrating a special occasion.
Madikwe Game Reserve is one of the best places in South Africa to see African wild dogs, also known as the painted dogs. The dogs stay in packs and can cover anywhere between 40 and 70 kilometers a day. Because of their huge distances, it makes seeing the African wild dog hard to see, but this large reserve is home to several large packs. The dogs are incredibly special to see, and watching their behavior and interaction with one another in the pack hierarchy is very interesting. As well as the wild dog, Madikwe Game Reserve also houses all of the other major predators of Africa, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas.
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Best safari lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve
There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from in Madikwe Game Reserve, most of the lodges offering a 4 or 5-star rating. The lodges here really do have the wow factor, and often have been built or designed by incredible architects and interior designers. That said, there is less choice of ‘canvassed’ or tented accommodation here. Instead, the lodges have a variety of amenities like swimming pools, libraries, spas, private plunge pools, and many more. Obviously, with such luxury comes a price, so you need a healthy budget for a Madikwe safari. As always, our safaris are completely personalized to you, your interests, and your budget, so speak to our safari specialists to find out which lodges would work for you.
When to visit Madikwe Game Reserve
The best time to visit Madikwe Game Reserve is between the June and October window. Although this is the winter period for South Africa, it offers the driest weather. As a result, the bush is sparse which allows for better, and more reliable sightings. It also means that most of the game will be concentrated around the permanent water sources. Temperatures can be cool during these months, especially during early morning and evening game drives. Your safaris will be done in open-sided vehicles so the wind chill will contribute to the freshness of the air, so make sure you pack layers. The safari lodges will often provide blankets or hot-water bottles to keep you warm for the first hour or so of your game drive before the sun heats things up. You can still visit Madikwe Game Reserve outside of this time period. The temperature will be higher (South Africa’s summer months) but it will be wetter, which in turn makes the bush thicker and denser. Visiting Madikwe Game Reserve will naturally be quieter than other safari destinations like the Kruger National Park, so if you are looking to avoid crowds and visit somewhere a little off-the-beaten track, Madikwe is a good option.
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What will I see on a Madikwe Game Reserve safari?
Madikwe Game Reserve is proud to home the Big Five – including the elephant, the buffalo, the rhino, the leopard and the lion. These are five animals which were, historically, the most difficult animals to hunt on foot. Today, obviously a safari is all about protecting and conserving wildlife, and a game drive gives you the opportunity to see these animals in the wild, knowing that your park fees go back into their protection. The reserve has a variety of landscapes – from denser areas around the Marico River Valley, to vast and drier savanna areas around the edge of the Kalahari. This makes for a very interesting safari, with different species in each mini ecosystem. Because of its expansive area, African wild dogs can also be seen in Madikwe Game Reserve – in fact, it’s one of the best places to see them in South Africa.
Which is the best safari lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve?
There are so many luxury lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve which offer a fantastic safari experience, so it’s hard to choose the best. However, Jamala Madikwe, Impodimo Game Lodge, and Garonga Safari Camp would make it into our top five. Jaci’s Safari Lodge would also be included and this is a great option for families. It has its own family unit, with a private plunge pool and deck as well as a kids loft area with twin beds. It’s important to stay in family-friendly safari lodges if you are bringing children on safari, not only to ensure that the lodge is safe for families, but also to ensure it will be an enjoyable safari. At most of these lodges, there is an option to have a private safari vehicle and guide, which we encourage families to take. This means you can enjoy the safari at your own pace, and the guides are usually very experienced (and patient) with guiding families with young children.
Is it worth visiting Madikwe Game Reserve?
Absolutely – Madikwe Game Reserve is a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to luxury South Africa safaris, but it depends on what you are looking for for your safari. If you’re looking for canvassed or tented accommodation to give you a rustic safari experience, we’d argue that Madikwe Game Reserve isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a more luxurious safari experience, with stunning accommodation to complement a Big Five safari, then yes absolutely it’s worth visiting. Being malaria-free, it is attractive for family safaris, and you can fly into the reserve from airports like Johannesburg and Cape Town.
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