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Affordable Madikwe – Big 5 & malaria-free – 4 days

Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

from ZAR 14,915 / US$ 870 per person sharing

Big 5

Children on safari

Classic Safari

Malaria free

Affordable Madikwe – Big 5 & malaria-free – 4 days

E-mail    +27 (87) 551-8105 (RSA)   |   +44 (23) 9387-7464 (UK)   |   +1 (786) 655-4040 (US)

Indication Price (from): ZAR 14,915 / US$ 870 per person sharing *view all prices and dates

Length: 4 days, 3 nights

Group Size: Max 16

Location: Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Departure Dates: To suit you


Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.


Our fee for compiling your dream safari is included in the price that you pay.

This popular 4-day (3-night) safari takes place in the remote Madikwe Game Reserve – one of the largest reserves in South Africa and a stone’s throw from the Botswana border. This 75,000 ha (750 km²) reserve is malaria-free and easily accessible via a short flight from Johannesburg or by road from Johannesburg or Gaborone (Botswana). The reserve lies within a transition ecosystem – between Lowveld bushveld and the Kalahari thornveld. Consequently, the region hosts an incredible diversity of species from both ecosystems. Geographically, the area features enormous volcanic inselbergs, which are prominent throughout and create a spectacular backdrop to the reserve.

A prime safari location, Madikwe is home to the sought-after Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and rhino), as well as the highly endangered African wild dog (painted wolf), cheetah, brown hyena and large numbers of plains game. Madikwe boasts over 60 mammal species and is a bird lover’s paradise, with up to 400 resident and migrant species recorded.

Madikwe does not permit day-trippers or self-driven game drives, ensuring a private safari experience for all visitors booked in lodges within the reserve.

Madikwe is a success story for wildlife conservation, local community economic empowerment and private/public enterprise. The state manages the land and animals, private investors profit from the lodges, and three nearby villages benefit via sustainable jobs skills advancement.

One of these nearby villages owns and manages Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge – the only lodge wholly owned by a local rural community. The Balete people live in the town of Lekgophung, just west of Madikwe. Their story is one of endurance and hardship, but also joy and triumph. Like many such places, Lekgophung has been shaped by the history of our country. Its people have deep roots in the region. They are members of the Batswana, the great tribe that has lived in and around the fringes of the Kalahari for many centuries. Their graves are scattered across the landscape, including in Madikwe. They speak Setswana, the common tongue of the Batswana, but the people of Lekgophung belong to a clan with its own traditions and way of life.

The Lodge is situated on the Tweedepoort Ridge overlooking the plains and inselbergs of the western section of Madikwe Game Reserve. The main lodge is spectacularly located on two tiers of the ridge and is accessed via a wooden bridge that crosses a ravine surrounded by rock fig trees. Each of the living areas has its own character and style, providing guests with a choice of breath-taking views and tranquil spaces. Whether you are relaxing in the lounge, on the lower or upper deck areas or at the pool, you will find a space that suits your mood.

The lodge has eight suites, each with its own viewing deck, decorated in natural hues of colour and texture, offering a very private and luxurious experience. The thatched suites, with sliding doors from each room and shower, allow the guest to experience oneness with the beauty of the bushveld.

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Day 1: Arrive in Madikwe and check-in at your lodge

The 4-5 drive / one hour flight (OR Tambo Airport) from Johannesburg are convenient, and people traveling from Botswana can do so via a road tranfer of one hour from Gaborone (plus border crossing duration).

Check in time at Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge is from around 12:00. If you are self-driving, the lodge is a short drive (25-30 mins) from the Wonderboom gate.  A light lunch is served at 14:00, giving visitors plenty of time to offload their luggage, settle into their rooms and get ready and dressed for lunch and the late afternoon game drive.

Your first game drive usually departs at 15:00 in mid-winter or 16:30 in the heat of summer. Expect your first sightings to be of blue wildebeest, giraffe, impala, red hartebeest, Burchell’s/plains zebra and other plains game, but do not be surprised if lions or African wild dogs (painted wolves) make an appearance.

Towards the late afternoon, you will stop for drinks and a light snack break with the gorgeous sunset as backdrop. While enjoying the views, winding down and sipping your tipple there will also be time to discuss the game plan for the rest of your stay. You could decide to try to find wild dogs which are normally on the hunt in the late afternoon or perhaps sit it out at a nearby waterhole where at times you could find yourself surrounded by up to 100 elephants as they bathe and drink.

Whichever spectacle you are blessed with,  you will return to the lodge just after 19:00 – depending on sightings of course – for a wholesome dinner, well deserved rest and the sounds of the African bush to lull you to sleep.

Days 2 & 3

Mornings in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve start early, with guests gathering in the lodge just before first light for coffee/tea and a bite to eat. Be ready to depart shortly after for the first game safari drive of the day.

Getting up early is always hard, but for a keen game watcher, those golden hours are the best moments in your day.

You might set out to find the lions, cheetahs or leopards, but of course, nature has its own plans and you could be diverted by spotted hyenas or even the rarely seen brown hyena – Madikwe’s high diversity means you have to keep an open mind.

You will return to the lodge for breakfast between 08h30 and 09h30 (again dependent on sightings and time of the year) and after breakfast you will have the chance to rest, relax, chill at the pool, read a book, catch up on news or enjoy the company of your fellow travellers.

During the afternoon game drive, specific species will be targeted, but again this is a flexible plan.

Your guide will make use of his expert local knowledge to get you to the best possible location for sightings.

Spot-lighting on the way back to the lodge is possible, so expect a bit of crepuscular action such as civets, genets, scrub hares, springhares, lesser bushbabies, a full gamut of owls and, if you are extremely lucky, pangolin or a leopard on the prowl. ​​​​​​​
You will return to the lodge between 19h00 and 20h000 for dinner and to reflect on the day as well as going over the game plan and expectations for the following day

Day 4: One last morning game drive and departure from Madikwe

A final early morning start in Madikwe means taking full advantage of this time when the animals are at their most active.

You will head out after a nice cup of coffee or tea and a bite to eat.  As you depart be aware of the sounds of the bush waking up, perhaps the call of a jackal in the distance or spurfowls saying good morning – hence their nickname of ‘avian alarmclocks’.

Your last early-morning game drive will aim to target the species you have missed out on so far – perhaps cheetah, buffalo or black rhino. But you might be surprised by what does reveal itself on your final game drive.

After breakfast at the lodge it is time to check out, bid farewell to rangers and staff and start your the return trip home, whilst processing a myriad of emotions, experiences and loads of wonderful memories

End of services

Indication Price (from): ZAR 16,035 / US$ 935 per person sharing / subscribers ZAR 14,915 / US$ 870 per person sharing (see below for further pricing where relevant)

Departure Dates: To suit you

2023 Rates
Subscribe now – it’s free Subscriber Non-subscriber
July 2022 to April 2023
Per person sharing ZAR 19,785 / US$ 1,150 ZAR 21,295 / US$ 1,240
Per solo traveller ZAR 25,625 / US$ 1,490  ZAR 27,590 / US$ 1,605
Per child (3-12 yrs) ZAR 9,755 / US$ 570 ZAR 10,515 / US$ 615
May – June
Per person sharing ZAR 14,915 / US$ 870 ZAR 16,035 / US$ 935
Per solo traveller ZAR 19,295 / US$ 1,125  ZAR 20,745 / US$ 1,210
Per child (3-12 yrs) ZAR 7,325 / US$ 430  ZAR 7,880 / US$ 460
July 2023 to April 2024
Per person sharing ZAR 20,910 / US$ 1,220 ZAR 22,515 / US$ 1,310
Per solo traveller ZAR 27,090 / US$ 1,575 ZAR 29,170 / US$ 1,700
Per child (3-12 yrs) ZAR 10,320 / US$ 600 ZAR 11,120 / US$ 650


Return transfers from Johannesburg to Madikwe:
1 Person ZAR 13,440 / US$ 781 per person
2 People ZAR 6,720 / US$ 391 per person
3 People ZAR 4,485 / US$ 261 per person
4 People ZAR 3,900 / US$ 227 per person
5 People ZAR 3,120 / US$ 181 per person
6 People ZAR 2,600 / US$ 151 per person


Price includes:
Three nights accommodation, all meals mentioned in the itinerary (starting with lunch on arrival day to breakfast on departure day), teas, coffees, game drives and safari activities, conservation levy, park entrance fee and 24/7 office support.

Price excludes:
International or domestic flights, road transfer to the lodge (however, we will gladly assist you in arranging these), excess baggage charges, visas, items of a personal nature, telephone calls, laundry, spa treatments, travel and medical insurance (essential on all safaris), gratuities, and any activities not specified in the itinerary.

You are, of course, welcome and encouraged to bring along your own refillable water bottle.


Final prices vary, subject to factors such as exchange rates, time of year and availability. Contact us to fine-tune these prices and to tailor-make your dream safari.


The price you see includes all services rendered by us and we only generate revenue once and if you book one of our safaris. Going directly to any of the lodges and other suppliers in our safari packages will not save you money because we earn discounts from suppliers based on the volume of business that we generate for them.


For the most up-to-date information on Covid-related travel restrictions, please visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) Flight & Travel Restrictions by Country


Open vehicle game drives, stargazing, bush dining, birding, botanical interests. Madikwe is home to a tremendous diversity of fauna and flora, including both black and white rhino, buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, brown and spotted hyena and wild dog. The lodge is a superb open vehicle safari destination where guests are accompanied by well -trained and informative rangers who are able to interpret the many encounters whilst on safari.

What to bring

Comfortable walking shoes, sun hat, sunglasses, sun block, cameras, binoculars, light neutral-coloured clothing and bathing suit in summer; and warm clothing and jackets are essential in winter (May to October).


Summer – October to March

Rainy season with hot days and warm nights. Temperatures 25°C – 40°C.

Winter – April to September

Dry season with generally warm days and cold nights. Temperatures 0°C – 25°C.

How to get there

Daily scheduled flights are operated from OR Tambo – Johannesburg International Airport – to the Madikwe Airstrip with Federal Air / Madikwe Air Charters. Private air -charters are organised on request. It is only a 4-5 hour drive from Johannesburg to Buffalo Ridge – Road transfers can be arranged and Self-drive is possible in 2×4 vehicles. The drive from Ganerone in Botswana is about one hour plus border crossing duration.

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" Make a real difference for African conservation - come on safari with us. We support responsible tourism that benefits wildlife and communities. "

Simon Espley, Africa Geographic CEO