Madikwe Private Game Reserve. A reserve that I fronded upon for years prior to starting with Wild Eye. I honestly thought a visit would be a total waste of time. This was clearly due to my pure lack of knowledge regarding this safari destination.
I was sent out on an exciting adventure shortly after joining the Wild Eye team. This adventure took me into the unknown… Madikwe Private Game Reserve. This was to host a private safari back in April of 2017.
Not too long into our first game drive, I soon learnt that my thoughts and/or beliefs of this reserve where all hogwash. 'This place has serious potential' is something I constantly repeated in my mind. Today; years down the line, I absolutely love Madikwe Private Game Reserve.
If you find yourself in that “frowned upon Madikwe” boat as I did for so many years, do yourself a favor - plan a break away to this special place. It’s so worth it and will instantly change your mindset.
After a short drive of roughly four hours from Johannesburg, about 90 kilometers north of the town of Zeerust, situated against the Botswana border close to the Kalahari Desert, is Madikwe Private Game Reserve. The reserve offers a number of luxurious lodges; and this is a major highlight, in a malaria- free zone.
The land where Madikwe now stands was previously used as farming land. The poor soil meant that farming was mostly unsuccessful and the South African government then decided that it would best be used as a national park to help economically uplift the disadvantaged area. In 1991 the area was declared a game reserve and over 10 000 mammals were relocated from other national parks across the country. The park is home to approximately 66 large mammals (including the big five) and roughly 300 bird species.
These creatures now call a truly beautiful landscape home. This area is comprised of vast open plains of grasslands, woodlands, rocky outcrops and single mountains.
Today, Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the fifth largest game reserve and is also one of the lesser- known parks in South Africa. This honestly makes it a hidden gem as it is regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa.
As I had mentioned, Madikwe, with its diverse landscapes and abundance of animals, is a special destination for any safari enthusiast. The park is suited to both first time visitors as well as more seasoned aficionados. The large wilderness area presented ensures a changing background for game viewing and scenic photography.
I must say that I have honestly captured some of my favorite wildlife moments in Madikwe Private Game Reserve;
Now, if these images are getting your hopes up for an early start from Johannesburg, unfortunately, day visitors are not allowed in the park. This makes for an exclusive safari experience for its visitors as the number of vehicles in the park during game drive hours are limited to the lodges’ vehicles. Bliss…
I’d recommend a safari of at least 4 days and 3 nights, but the more time you can spend there the better. The more time you spend in any destination will result in an even fuller experience of the reserve, its wildlife and/or accommodation.
A typical day on safari in Madikwe Private Game Reserve;
An early morning wakeup call (5/5:30am) will start your day. You will then meet in the main lodge to enjoy a coffee and a small bite to eat. Your guide will then round up the group and you will depart on your morning safari. This usually lasts about three to four hours depending on the wildlife activity. Depending on what the group would like to do, a safari coffee stop is an option to warm up a bit and stretch the legs a bit before making your way back to the lodge.
Upon arrival at the lodge, most lodges will serve a delicious brunch. Thereafter you will have a bit of free time to either nap or make use of the lodge facilities such as the pool or spa. Some lodges will also offer a walking safari between the two game drives.
At around 3:30, high tea will be served in the main area. After a refreshing drink and tasty snack, you will jump back into the safari vehicle and enjoy another three to four hour safari in the wilds of Madikwe. Depending on what the group would like to do, a safari sundowner will be served as the African sun sets. This is a great opportunity to take in the areas tranquillity and stretch the legs a bit before making your way back to the lodge.
Upon arrival at the lodge, you will have some time to freshen up in the room before making your way through to dinner. Lodges dinner setups vary but most setups will be in an area called a boma and your local guide may or may not join you at the table. After dinner, you may utilize the time to enjoy a night cap around the fire or decide to retreat to the rooms before the next mornings early start.
This is the safari life cycle – Eat, Sleep, Safari, Repeat.
A safari in Madikwe is so worth it. A truly special experience and I do hope you get to experience it one day soon.
If you are a keen photographer, here are some lens recommendations to help you plan your safari;
- 16-35 or 24-70mm to capture the beautiful landscape and/or for astrophotography.
- 70-200mm / 100-400mm / 80-400mm to capture animals in their environment.
- Fixed 3/400mm to get close up portraits and/or have a bit more reach when needed.
Now if you’re not a keen photographer, an iPhone will work just fine but do remember to pack in a good pair of binoculars. They always come in handy.
I hope this blog has given you a bit of an idea on what a safari experience in Madikwe will be like. If you have any questions regarding this special place, please feel free to leave me a comment below.
Until next time;