Madikwe Game Reserve
State owned but operated like a private game reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve is in an excellent location. But that isn't all that sets it apart. Traffic inside is reduced because only the reserve's lodges are allowed to offer game drives, and all are professionally led. Self-drive visitors are not allowed, adding to the exclusivity and privacy. When you stay in one of the lodges allowed to operate in this special area, you get an experience other African visitors cannot.
Surprisingly, Madikwe is the fifth largest of all game reserves in South Africa and also one of the least known. As a hidden gem, the game reserve has focused on becoming one the best conservation areas in Africa. Today, you can see Big 5 wildlife in abundance – including lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo – throughout the park at watering holes and while on lodge-led game drives if you choose to stay at one of the luxury or community lodges located within Madikwe.
There's also a unique treat. Rare wild dogs were introduced into the park in 1994. Despite setbacks in the early days, there are now three packs of these beautiful dogs that roam the park. We love that great photos of these dogs are possible since they've become accustomed to the safari vehicles. Because of the efforts at Madikwe, conservation of this rare species is in a strong position.
Once unsuccessfully used as agricultural land, Madikwe has become an exceptionally successful game reserve. While the soil simply isn't good enough for farming, it's perfect as a national park – and the travel industry is offering this disadvantaged area a significant economic boost. That adds up to a beautiful and majestic place to call your home away from home for a few nights of true African adventure.
Some of the things you'll especially like about Madikwe Game Reserve include:
More About Wildlife At Madikwe Game Reserve
Viewing at Madikwe is excellent and is comparable to what you might expect from private game reserves located near Kruger National Park. You're a bit less likely to spot leopards, however. Rare wild dogs are a specialty of this park, and sighting of these magnificent creatures are very likely. Lions are plentiful in this reserve, but like leopards, cheetahs are not present in large quantities. Both white and black rhinos are present and common in the park.
While viewing opportunities may be slightly fewer than in private reserves near Kruger including Sabi Sands, Madikwe has fewer vehicles around, meaning sightings are of higher quality. Additional wildlife you may see include interesting rare hyenas, not seen in other parts of the nation. Gemsbok, sable and white eland are among other animals you may see at Madikwe Game Reserve. Wildlife viewing is best in dry months June to September when animals gather around watering holes and there is less vegetation to get in the way of your view.
Birds, Scenery And More At Madikwe
More than 300 species of birds have been observed at Madikwe, making it a great destination for birding enthusiasts. If you're an experienced birder, you may be slightly disappointed that more emphasis isn't placed on this hobby at the reserve. If you expect that could be the case for you, you may want to book a private game drive for birding. You'll also find many birdwatching opportunities during walking safaris and sometimes during night drives too.
Expect migratory birds to be present from November through April. Madikwe is situated in a transitional zone between the Kalahari thorny grasslands and the differing grasslands nearby. The area includes large rocky outcroppings toward the south as you near the Dwarsberg Mountains. Peak season is October to April, and this is when the park is busiest. Fewer guests are present but viewing is excellent May to September.
The best weather for most people is in April and May and in September and October. Warm clothing is essential for maximum enjoyment most of the time, but heat can become unbearable in summer months. While not exactly undiscovered territory, Madikwe Game Reserve may not be the first choice of many inexperienced African travelers – but only because they don't know about. But now you do, and it can amaze you at every turn. Why not make one of the unique lodges in Madikwe your African safari destination?