Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the fifth largest game reserve and is also one of the lessor known parks in South Africa. This makes it a hidden- gem as it is regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa and offers the Big 5 in a 680 km2 park (750 km2 including newly incorporated privately owned land). The park offers a number of luxurious lodges as well as community lodges in a malaria- free zone.
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 economically uplift the disadvantaged area..
In 1994, a small group of six wild dogs were introduced into the park. This founding group has seen a challenging introduction into the park with rabies outbreaks, territorial clashes and encounters with some feisty lions.
Despite the odds, current day Madikwe has a thriving wild dog population with three hunting packs roaming the park. The dogs are somewhat accustomed to safari vehicles offering spectacular photographic opportunities. Madikwe Game Reserve’s conservation efforts to protect the ‘painted dog’ are in place to help conserve this majestic diminishing species.
In 1991 the area was declared a reserve and 10 000 mammals were relocated from other National Parks. The park is home to approximately 66 large mammals and roughly 300 bird species. You will find all this flora and fauna in an area comprised of vast open plains of grasslands, woodlands, rocky outcrops and single mountains. The area is bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains.
Madikwe Game Reserve operators in a three- phase system. The North West Parks and Tourism Board, the local communities and the private sector are all involved:
- The private sector funds the construction of game lodges. Employees at the lodges are drawn from surrounding villages to help uplift the area.
- The park board sets up the infrastructure and is responsible for the operational management of the park. Part of their job is also to identify suitable land for lease to the private sector.
- The reserve is one- of a-kind and is known for its involvement in the local communities. Community Lodges are owned and run by the local people, creating a healthy economic environment.
- Park Area: +-75 000 hectares
- Currency: South African Rand
- Seasons: Good game –viewing is available all year as the park is a single unit conservation area (there is no migration). The rainy season is between October and April in the wet summer months. Winter months can provide pleasant game- viewing as animals concentrate around waterholes and vegetation thins out.
- Popular attractions: Big 5, African Wild Dogs, family/ self- drive safari destination, romantic escapes, luxury lodges, honeymoon safaris.
- Nearby airports: Gaborone airport (28kms)/ O.R. Tambo International (369kms)/ Madikwe has an 1200 metre airstrip for use by private aircraft.
- Nearest cities: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Rustenburg, Zeerust