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Madikwe Game Reserve

Malaria-Free Big 5 Safaris in the Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game Reserve is a magically remote wedge of wilderness hugging the border with Botswana, high in the North West Province of South Africa. Reaching across a staggering 75,000 hectares of malaria-free territory, it’s one of the largest game reserves in South Africa, yet amazingly, it still remains relatively untouched by mass tourism today.

Lioness and cubsNot only is Madikwe huge in size, it’s also big on beauty. The landscape is richly varied, with rocky hills, flowing rivers, large stretches of savanna grassland, thick woodland and tangled masses of arid sweet bushveld. It’s a natural paradise packed with wildlife, from the famous Big Five to the rare African wild dog and the 300+ kinds of bird that chatter in the branches.

In total, over 66 species of large mammals roam the hills and valleys of Madikwe, often in great herds, so as a safari destination it’s second to none. Yet Madikwe feels worlds away from the madding crowds of Kruger, as fewer tourists venture far enough to reach this secluded pocket of South Africa. No day visitors are allowed, so a safari here is both exclusive and exhilarating. It’s a brilliant way to feel completely buried in the bush.

Staying Here

Madikwe’s lodges offer a variety of accommodation styles and wherever you choose to stay you’ll feel a million miles from home. You’ll be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the bush, stare into star-studded Africa skies and gaze out across open grasslands and waterholes. Whether you dream of a bush treehouse, a luxury tent, a thatched chalet or an elegant suite, or you are travelling with your young family, there will be something that is just right for you.  

Game Activities

During your stay in Madikwe, you’ll set off on safari at first light, looking for wildlife as the sun rises over the mountains in the distance. You’ll return to the lodge for a full breakfast, then, you can spend the morning relaxing around the swimming pool, reading on your private deck or snoozing in the sunshine before enjoying a spot of lunch. Mid afternoon, you head back into the bush for another safari game drive, complete with a scenic sundowner as the sun sets. This is the rhythm of safari life, and it’s pretty hard to beat.  

Some lodges also offer bush walks after breakfast - a perfect way to get up close with the African bush and experience the smells, sights and sounds you may otherwise miss when sitting on a game vehicle.

Wild dog - seeing them is a highlight of a game drives in MadikweThe reserve rules state that guests over 60 years old wishing to join a guided walk are required to have a letter or certificate from their doctor confirming they are in good health and are physically fit to do the walk. A guided walk can last a couple of hours and involve walking over uneven terrain that may contain dangerous wildlife in potentially high temperatures. Guests may need to move quickly and for a sustained period through rough bush terrain if instructed to do so by their guide. Regardless of age or the provision of a doctors certificate, the final decision on whether a guest can join a guided walk still remains with the guide and lodge manager.

Getting Here from Johannesburg

In terms of getting here from Johannesburg, there are 3 options that you can consider.

The first option is via light aircraft from Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport directly to the Madikwe Game Reserve. This daily service is run by Federal Air, and you are met at the airport by one of their professional Guest Relations team, and transferred to FedAir's private lounge where you can relax before boarding your flight to the reserve. The flight takes about an hour, and upon landing in the reserve, you are met and transferred to the lodge via an open safari vehicle. There is, however, a baggage restriction of 20 kg per person, and you have to have a 'soft' bag (for easy storage in the plane), but you can leave any excess baggage safely with FedAir, which you can then pick up when you return.  For guests arriving and/or departing via FedAir, the landing/departure fees are not included in your rate and are payable directly to the lodge.

The second option is to take a road transfer, which takes about 5 hours. The drive is quite interesting, as you pass through small developments and towns so you do get to see some of the countryside as you travel. You could also consider flying one way, and taking a road transfer the other way.

The last option is to hire a car from the airport and driving yourself to the reserve, which works out the least expensive but we appreciate that not everyone is comfortable driving the long distance, especially if you have just got off an international flight!  The roads are generally in good condition, therefore a 4x4 vehicle is not required.

Whichever way you make it to Madikwe, we promise that you’ll be in for a real treat.

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