Madikwe Game Reserve: dreamland safari & lodges

Giraffe reflection in deep blue waterhole, Madikwe

It’s amazing what a few hours of driving can do. Just four hours from the urban jungle of Johannesburg are the beautiful Madikwe Lodges and Game Reserve in the North West Province.

With the Botswana border on the north and the Dwarsberg Mountains at the south, Madikwe is one of the largest reserves in South Africa.

At more than 750 km², and home to the Big Five and more than 12,000 animals, including 66 mammal species, Madikwe is a dreamland destination.

The reserve has a diversity of habitats, from savannah plains to riverine woodland. Regular viewings of predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah, and wild dog, as well as the lack of malaria has made it a popular option for holidaymakers.

Best Time to Visit Madikwe Game Reserve

Typical Madikwe bushveld at sunrise, South Africa

The best time to visit the reserve all depends on the kind of traveler you are. During the rainier periods – generally between October and April – the reserve shows off luscious vegetation.

While this is incredibly beautiful, it gives animals the chance to hide among the bushes and seek shade from the shining sun. Prepare yourself for a beautiful landscape, but less opportunity for game viewing.

The winter months from July through to September will reward you with the most beautiful game sightings. The weather is pleasant and no rainfall means you can be comfortable out on game drives.

The thinning vegetation doesn’t work in the animal’s favor, and they’ll be a lot easier to spot. Because of the hot African sun and lack of rainfall, watering holes also become the local hangout in the bush.

The changing seasons and landscapes are a pleasure to visit any time of the year, though. And by being an enclosed park, animal migration isn’t a concern.

Animals You’ll Spot at Madikwe Game Reserve

African wild dog in Madikwe, South Africa

Shortly after arriving at the reserve, animals are soon seen wandering the plains and nestling in the trees. Splashing in the river, and roaring from the woodlands.

Among the glorious Big 5 group, Madikwe represents a haven for 300 migratory birds and other magnificent creatures. Lions are plentiful, cheetahs are rare, wild dogs are an awe-inspiring sighting and giraffes are abundant.

Other animals to see in Madikwe:

Getting the Most out of your Wonderland Safari

“If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa.” – John Hemingway

Journey out on every game drive

Zebra crossing a dirt road on a Madikwe game drive in South Africa

While a morning spent lounging in bed is always a treat, a game reserve isn’t the place for snoozy mornings.

There’s a reason why a game drive starts at the crack of dawn. It’s when the animals are most active and in search of a refreshing drink after a night out in the wild.

As the sun starts to dazzle with the colors of the first sun rays, spy upon warthogs rustling through the grasses. Or lions stretching under an acacia tree.

Big sightings aren’t always the goal

Most travelers have their hearts set on seeing the entire African kingdom. While it is a truly wonderful experience, bigger doesn’t always mean better.

Regardless of size, each animal has its own unique traits that make them special in their own way. Appreciate tiny critters crawling along the paved roads or shy bushbabies hugging to the trees at twilight.

Get to know your game ranger

Lilac-breasted roller taking off, Madikwe, South Africa

Each lodge has its own professional game rangers. He or she will be in charge of all things wildlife-related, whether that be on game drives or when you’re sitting around the campfire sharing stories.

Having a highly trained game ranger accompany you on the drives means that you have the best chance of making the most of the bush. They are there to share their knowledge with you, so don’t be shy when it comes to sharing your curiosity with them.

If you have a specific interest in birding, let them know and they’ll head to places with the best opportunities for birdwatching. You can definitely learn a thing or two from your ranger.

Madikwe Accommodation and Lodges

Madikwe Game Reserve lodges are altogether luxurious and comfortable, while still maintaining a 4 or 5-star rating.

When it comes to accommodation, there are a wide range of options suited to an array of budgets. From rustic bush camps to self-catering lodges, luxury tents, and exclusive upmarket safari stays.

Bush camp and eco-lodge

At the lower end of the scale, although no less enchanting, is Mosetlha Bush Camp. The eco-lodge can accommodate a maximum of 16 people in 9 double cabins, with partially open sides to maximize the experience of wild Africa.

The amenities are simple, with duvets, pillows, and blankets provided – guests need to bring their own towels. There are communal ablution facilities and the tariffs include all meals, tea and coffee, and snacks.

Although this is a simple bushcamp, guests are still treated with two game drives and wondrous game walks each day.

Madikwe self-catering safari lodge

Madikwe Mooifontein, set in the western section of the reserve, offers a similarly cost-effective self-catering option. Ideally suited for groups of up to 10 people.

It’s a great space for a family and friends stay. The main lodge has its own lapa and private swimming pool overlooking a waterhole where game regularly come down to drink.

Game viewing is what it’s all about here, especially when it comes to sightings like African wild dogs, which den regularly in this region of the park.

Luxury safari accommodation

Further up the scale are Thakadu River Camp and Madikwe River Lodge.

Thakadu is a community-based tented safari camp, run by the Batlokwa Boo Kgosi Traditional Community of Molatedi Village.

Located between the Marico and one of its small tributaries, 12 large tented suites can accommodate a total of 24 people. Each tent has a sliding door that opens onto a private deck overlooking the river.

And do you know who loves visiting the river? Elephants, of course.

Madikwe River Lodge is also located on the Marico and has 16 secluded split-level thatched chalets. Beautifully set in the riverine forest along its banks.

Safari and Outdoor Experiences: for the Wildhearts

With its diverse landscape and abundance of wildlife, Madikwe guarantees the chance to have an unforgettable safari experience. Not only that, but the standard of game drives and expert guides make it stand out even more.

No self-driving safaris

Observing lions on a game drive in Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Unlike its near neighbor – the Pilanesberg Game Reserve – an hour’s drive away, Madikwe is not a self-drive game viewing destination. And in a way, this makes your experience more care-free and magical.

In order to gain access to the park, you have to book into one of the various camps or lodges inside the park. All of which provide fully guided game drives as part of their accommodation packages.

By only allowing booked guests into the reserve, game viewings and animal encounters are far less busy. Providing you with a more private wonderland.

3 day safaris

A 3-day safari excursion provides you with a taste of what life is like in the wild. Curious creatures, fearful antelope, wise elephants, and mysterious rhinos wander through these plains daily. Now is your chance to see them for yourself.

The safari experience includes 2 nights’ accommodation. Including game drives twice a day, all meals and tea and coffee, and transport to and from the reserve when requested.

4 day safaris

Elephants fighting in cloud of dust, Madikwe

An extra day at the reserve calls for hearty breakfasts or brunches, and plenty of time to relax by the pool and read books. You might even have some local elephants joining you for a drink.

Game drives continue under a blanket of early evening starts, with the option of stopping to enjoy some drinks as the sun starts to set.

Soak up the wild with 3 nights in a luxury lodge, with all of your food and drink desires taken care of. As well as accommodation, game drives are naturally a part of this experience.

5 day safaris

If you have the means of staying four nights at this otherworld reserve, by all means, stay the extra night. Adapt to the bush and the slower pace of life here, as you explore the plethora of natural life and the local hangout spots.

Stay at two different lodges during your excursion and enjoy the lodge facilities and fantastic dining that all places a part in the bush experience.

Madikwe Lodge and Wildlife Wonders

White rhino cow and her baby in Madikwe, South Africa

When your heart is with the bush, any chance to get lost in nature seems appealing. Yet, Madikwe holds that extra bit of magic that is not often found.

Besides incredible beauty, the safari offers an experience in untouched nature, alongside some of the world’s most endangered species.

Madikwe is firmly up there with the best bush destinations in South Africa. And well worth a visit. Book your personalized safari adventure here.

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