The 76,000 hectare Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s biggest wildlife sanctuaries and is home to the Big 5 and over 340 bird species. It is especially famous for its packs of African Wild Dog – and it is malaria-free.
Madikwe was created in 1991 from 75,000 hectares (approximately 187,800 acres) of largely derelict farmland, which had been extensively degraded by overgrazing. Setting up the game reserve involved the biggest-ever game-relocation programme in Africa. Known as “Operation Phoenix”, this government-sponsored game-relocation programme involved re-stocking and conserving flora and wildlife that had long since disappeared from the region. Ten thousand animals of 28 major species, including wild dog, cheetah, lion, white and black rhino, buffalo and elephant, were re-introduced to the Madikwe Game Reserve over a six year period. The animals came from various reserves and breeding centres all over Southern Africa. Madikwe is now the 4th largest game reserve in the country and is one of South Africa's prime safari destinations.
Madikwe is in the North West Province and shares its northern border with Botswana. It is about 3½ to 4 hours drive from Johannesburg. Madikwe is situated in the transition region between two vegetation types: Lowveld bushveld and Kalahari thornveld. As a result, the region is able to host to an incredible diversity of species.
It is not possible to self-drive in Madikwe and visitors need to stay at one of the many excellent safari lodges to enjoy a wildlife experience here. All the lodges conduct two open-vehicle game drives each day: one in the morning and one in the late afternoon, as these are the times when animals are most active. Madikwe’s game viewing is of a very high standard, aided by the fact that all rangers are in radio contact with one another. There is a strict code of conduct and animal sightings are generally limited to a maximum of 3 vehicles at one time in order to maintain the feeling of exclusivity and to ensure the animals’ well-being.