Madikwe and the northwest
Bordering Botswana and located on the edge of the mighty Kalahari Desert, is the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve. A close rival to Kruger in the game viewing stakes, until recently Madikwe was one of South Africa’s best kept secrets but is fast becoming one of the country’s most popular safari destinations, owing to the presence of the Big Five and many more.
Covering over 75,000 hectares, Madikwe Game Reserve is a vast area of protected land and a real conservation success story. Established in 1991, the reserve was the focus of a massive animal translocation programme, Operation Phoenix, launched as a measure to revive an otherwise remote and desolate area. Since then, the fortunes of Madikwe have been transformed and today, it is a popular safari destination with an off-the-beaten-track feel. Malaria-free and just a four-hour drive, or one-hour flight from Johannesburg, we think Madikwe is a great choice for a family safari.
While the Kruger is often held as the benchmark for South African safaris, we feel that Madikwe more than holds its own against its more famous competitor, with excellent Big Five sightings, the opportunity to see plentiful cheetah and maybe even the rare African wild dog. What’s more, with over 250 bird species recorded in the park, you won’t be short of creatures to look out for. The sensational landscape combines the rich red Kalahari earths with the lush green grasses of the Highveld. Expect to see stunning rocky outcrops dotted with small dams and rivers, providing a mosaic of habitats to explore.
One of our favourite activities in Madikwe is bush walking. With no ambient noise from car engines, it’s an opportunity to get to the essence of the African wilderness. The guides are extremely knowledgeable about the bush and animals that inhabit the area, making this an experience that will live long in your memory. Or why not experience the romance of a night in the bush? Here you can sleep on a raised wooden deck, lit by moonlight and lanterns, while you drift off to sleep to the sound of laughing hyenas and calls of jackals.