Madikwe Game Reserve - South African Safaris

Photo of buffalo by Pieter Theron, Smiles Travels Photo of elephant by Pieter Theron, Smiles Travels Photo of a brown hyaena with pupby Pieter Theron, Smiles Travels Photo of sunset in Madikwe by Pieter Theron, Smiles Travels

South African Safari Bookings

A range of luxury safari lodge options are on offer in Madikwe. Choose a game lodge that will complement your ideal African safari experience or let us help you choose.

Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge

Photo of Bedroom suite at Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge

Motswiri Private Safari Lodge

Photo of Motswiri Private Safari Lodge

Tuningi Private Safari Lodge

Photo of Tuningi Safari Lodge

Hard to Find Animals in Madikwe

Photo of wild dogs Photo of Leopard Photo of brown hyaena with pup Elephants at hide

Madikwe Game Reserve


Madikwe Game Reserve is undeniably one of South Africa's prime safari destinations. Madikwe is located in the North West Province and shares its northern border with Botswana. The reserve lies about 90 km north of the town of Zeerust and is a mere three to four hour drive from either Johannesburg or Pretoria, the main business centre of South Africa, making it easy for international business people to visit Madikwe by car or by air.

The Reserve

The spectacular malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa's largest game reserves, covering a good 75,000 hectares which is enclosed with a 150km perimeter fence. Vast plains of open woodlands and grasslands support a rich diversity of vegetation. The varied vegetation ensures a wide variety of wildlife and the topography offers ideal game viewing opportunities for real African safaris.

The reserve is divided by the rugged Rant van Tweedepoort and is bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. The reserve lies within a transition region between Lowveld bushveld and the Kalahari thornveld. A special feature of Madikwe lies in its unique location, a transition zone on the edges of the Kalahari - where a number of rare species occur naturally - and the bushveld. As a result the region is host to a large diversity of species from both ecosystems. Geographically the region has enormous volcanic intrusions known as Inselbergs (isolated rocky hills that rise abruptly from surrounding plains), wide open plains and the riverine environment along the Marico River in the east of the reserve.


Madikwe is home to 66 mammal species - including the Big Five - and approximately 300 resident and migrant bird species.

Madikwe is one of the few game reserves in southern Africa, and the only place in Africa, where Springbok and Kalahari Gemsbok meet naturally.

Safari Lodges

Madikwe offers the ideal breakaway in a malaria-free area, catering for both holiday and business travellers. The climate is generally mild to hot, but winter nights can be cold. Accommodation is offered in a range of different safari lodges. Choose a lodge that perfectly complements your ideal African experience - ranging from the more rustic eco-accommodation options to luxury 4 or 5 star rated luxury safari lodges.

There are also community lodges which are owned and run by the local people. Profits are meant to be used for community upliftment.

Day and Night Safaris

Guests are taken on conducted day and night game drives or bush walks. Daily morning and evening safaris are conducted under the guidance of professional game rangers. Guided bush walks around the game reserve are also available. Wildlife that can be viewed include the Big 5, Cheetah, African Wild Dogs, Brown Hyaena, Zebra, antelope species, Spotted Hhyena, Giraffe and some 350 bird species. There are no day visitor facilities; only lodge guests may enter the reserve.


Madikwe is known to be one of the few game reserves in the world to be proclaimed purely on the grounds of a game reserve being the most appropriate and sustainable land use for an area. It is known for its involvement with the local communities. 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 with the economic upliftment of the disadvantaged area.

Operation Phoenix

Operation Phoenix, as the reintroduction programme was called, is one of the largest game translocation exercises in the world. The reintroduction of game began early in 1991 and was completed in 1997, meaning that nature will have about 20 years of natural rehabilitation in 2017.

More than 8,000 animals of 28 species have been released into Madikwe Game Reserve, including Elephant, Rhino (Black and White), Cape Bbuffalo, Lion, Cheetah, Wild Dog, Spotted Hyaena, Giraffe, Zebra and many species of antelope and herbivores. Leopard already occurred in the reserve.

Other special species include the Brown Hyena, Sable and Eland.

Reserve Management

The operators in Madikwe Game Reserve include the North West Parks and Tourism Board, the local communities and the private sector. The private sector funds the construction of game lodges. Employees at the lodges are drawn from surrounding villages to help uplift the area. The parks board sets up the infrastructure and is responsible for the operational management of the park.


Madikwe Game Reserve has a combination of gravel and tar roads. Final access to all the lodges in the park are via gravel roads. Conditions of the roads vary depending on the season and the weather. Most (2x4) smaller vehicles will be able to make their way around the reserve but we advise against the use of vehicles with low ground clearance. You may be required to drive 10-30 km on gravel roads before you enter the park depending on the gate of entry.

At a Glance

  • Currency:
    South African Rand
  • Seasons:
    Good game viewing is available all year round as the park is a single unit conservation area. The rainy season is between October and April in the wet summer months. Winter months can provide pleasant game-viewing as vegetation thins out and animals concentrate around waterholes.
  • Popular attractions:
    Big 5, African Wild Dogs, Brown Hyaena, romantic escapes, luxury lodges, honeymoon safaris.
  • Nearby airports:
    Gaborone airport (28km); O.R. Tambo International (369km); Madikwe has 2 airstrips
  • Cities/ towns close by:
    Johannesburg, Pretoria, Rustenburg, Zeerust


By road

From Johannesburg - 320 km
From Sun City - 120 km

By air

Madikwe Air Charter, in conjunction with Federal Air, offers a daily shuttle flight from Johannesburg to Madikwe airstrip.

Arrangements for shuttle flights or charter flights & road transfers may be made via the lodges.

Madikwe Airstrip Air GPS Coordinates:
-24.733001 S
26.407431 E

The airstrip runs east to west and is approximately 1 400 m long and the elevation: 3319 feet

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