Travel Guide South Africa: Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve is one of the youngest protected areas in South Africa – nevertheless, its abundance of wild animals is astonishing. Learn more in the following blog.
The Madikwe Game Reserve is one of the youngest game reserves in South Africa. With an area of about 75,000 hectares, it is also one of the largest in the country. The malaria-free reserve, which consists mainly of grasslands and hills, has an incredible biodiversity. In addition to the famous Big Five, guests may also spot rare brown hyaenas, aardwolves and wild dogs as well as some of the hundreds of bird species.
In 1991, the reserve was established on the banks of the Madikwe River in the North West Province. In the following years, the settlement of many herd animals such as buffalo and elephants from surrounding areas began. These established themselves with great success despite challenges such as drought. A little later, the introduction of big cats such as cheetahs and lions followed. Today, the reserve is characterised by a healthy ecosystem with mammal numbers of over 10,000 individuals.
Madikwe Game Reserve
In the North West Province of South Africa, bordering Botswana, just less than 200 miles northwest of Pretoria
approx. 750 km²
Elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, spotted and brown hyaenas – a total of 66 mammal species and more than 350 bird species
There is a wide range of accommodation in various price ranges, including Mosethla Bush Camp
Game drives (including game drives suitable for children) by day and night, bush walks, trips to surrounding villages, bush breakfast and dinner, stargazing, bird watching and various wellness offers
Best travel time
End of April to October
Breathtaking game viewing and a wide range of activities in South Africa's third largest game reserve
Visiting Madikwe Game Reserve
With an area of about 750 km², Madikwe is one of the largest reserves in the country. The reserve borders Botswana; Gaborone is about 10 km away. In the east, the reserve is bordered by the Madikwe River.
Landscape and animals
The northwestern part of the reserve is mostly characterised by hills. Further south, the terrain flattens out and forms a lush bushland. To the southeast, the ridge of Dwarsberg rises. Along the Madikwe in the east, there is swampland and riverine forest. Waterholes are also scattered throughout the area, attracting many animals especially in the dry season.
Thanks to the successful settlement of dozens of animals, a complex ecosystem has formed over the years. Madikwe is known for great predator sightings. 15 species of antelopes are living in the reserve, such as oryx antelopes, wildebeest and bontebok. Apart from antelopes, many smaller mammals such as civet cats, honey badgers and various types of mongoose live in the reserve. Both white and black rhino can be observed. Another highlight is the rare brown hyaena.
The bird world also has many special features in store. Over 350 listed bird species can be spotted in Madikwe Game Reserve. These include the ostrich but also Cape vulture, secretary birds, bee-eaters and widow birds.
Accommodation and activities
There are dozens of accommodations in and around Madikwe. Since the reserve can only be entered by overnight guests, it is worth booking accommodation within the reserve – such as Mosethla Bush Camp. However, it is also possible to find accommodation outside the reserve. In many cases these are also cheaper.
Many accommodations have a large portfolio of activities. Besides classic game drives, night drives and especially child-friendly game drives can be booked. There is also the option to go on adventurous bush walks. Another highlight is a breakfast or dinner in the bush. Special bird tours are offered for those interested in ornithology. Furthermore, on clear nights the starry sky of the southern hemisphere can be observed extensively.
Best travel time
The reserve is open and accessible all year round. It is worth visiting during the dry season between the end of April and October. At the beginning of the year it can get a bit chilly, especially in the early morning hours and at dusk, but temperatures increase during the day. Towards the end of the year temperatures also rise enormously at night. The best time for sightings is between August and October, as many animals stay at the remaining waterholes. In November, just before the rainy season starts, the temperatures are highest.
When visiting Madikwe Game Reserve, safari guests may look forward to an unforgettable safari experience with surely great animal sightings. Situated in a malaria-free region and offering a particularly wide range of activities, the reserve is considered very family-friendly. Another advantage is the location of the reserve – from Johannesburg, you can reach Madikwe within an hour by plane. Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, can also be reached within less than an hour by car.