The malaria-free 75,000 hectare (750 km2) Madikwe Game Reserve in northern South Africa, close to the Botswana border, is favored by those who want a Big 5 safari (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), but without the crowds sometimes associated with larger, more popular reserves. Madikwe does not permit day trippers or self-drive game drives, ensuring a private safari experience.
The dry Kalahari ecosystem offers an alternative to the Lowveld bush seen in the Kruger National Park, and so Madikwe offers some unique and exhilarating safari game viewing and photographic opportunities. Aside from the Big 5 species, Madikwe offers the chance to see wild dogs, cheetahs, brown hyenas and large numbers of plains game – and about 360 species of birds.
The absence of malaria plus easy access from Johannesburg via road and air makes Madikwe an excellent choice for family safaris, and some lodges even cater for children-friendly activities. The range of accommodation, from luxury to basic, means that there is something for everyone.
Madikwe is something of a success story for wildlife conservation, local community economic empowerment and private/public enterprise. The land and animals are managed by the state, private investors profit from the lodges, and 3 nearby villages benefit via sustainable jobs and skills advancement.
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Travel diary: Magnificent Madikwe
Photo gallery: Madikwe Moments