Traditionally Madikwe has been a well-kept secret, but in recent years it has started to develop some good infrastructure and lodges, all just a short transfer from Johannesburg. Its location next to the Kalahari makes for an interesting mix of sub-tropical woodland and sandy savannah in this very unique reserve. It is a great destination for families or those looking for an authentic safari experience without the risk of malaria.
Situated in the north-west province of South Africa, Madikwe is a great safari option for those wishing to avoid the crowds of the Kruger. With its proximity to Johannesburg, it is easy to access and also links very well with Sun City.
Madikwe gained fame from Operation Phoenix, with the successful reintroduction of 28 species and over 8000 animals, but it is now really starting to establish itself as a prime safari destination in its own right. The reserve is run as a joint venture between the local communities, the private sector and the state, so a percentage of income is put back into upgrading the infrastructure for the local community. While one of the great points of Madikwe is its remoteness and lack of tourists, the majority of accommodation is concentrated very much on comforts and does not feel as linked with the bush. This is great if you are keen to keep your creature comforts or visiting as a family, but it may not be suitable if you are looking for a truly authentic safari experience.
We think Madikwe is a great option for families and couples or those looking to get away from it all.
Morning and afternoon game drives.
TIME OF YEAR TO TRAVEL
The best time to visit Madikwe is from July to October, when the rains are low and bush is sparse. At this time game viewing is slightly better, as animals tend to collect around the waterholes and the cooler temperature makes game drives more comfortable. However, you can travel equally well outside this time – although the days are warmer and wetter and game can be harder to spot, this is compensated for by the stunning scenery from the fresh green growth and the fact it is the calving season of most animals.
Madikwe is a great destination for families given that it is malaria free and has a range of different accommodation options. It is our top tip for families looking to safari in South Africa while wishing to avoid the Kruger.