Each dawn and dusk during your stay at Jaci’s, we head out on morning and evening game drives. These drives take place in 4×4 Land cruisers, which are adapted for game viewing, with comfortable seats, space to keep your binoculars and water bottle, a canvas roof to protect you from the sun and blankets to keep you warm in Winter. Game viewing by vehicle means that we are able to cover large distances, view big game at close quarters and of course, enjoy a comfortable vantage point.
Another wonderful offering at Madikwe, is the opportunity to experience a Guided Bush Walk. Being on foot allows you to experience the bush in a completely different way to being on a vehicle. Whilst you don’t cover as much distance, you’re able to see the smaller things that you might miss during a drive. The aim is to immerse your senses in the experience – not only to see, but to listen, touch, and smell, to learn about the different animals’ tracks and to discover more about flowers and trees and their traditional uses – many of which are still in use today.
Becoming a qualified walking guide takes commitment and dedication. There are written exams, followed by hours on foot to gain experience and extensive knowledge from a qualified Trails Guide. Learning to predict the movement and behaviour of wildlife, especially bigger game, is extremely important, as a guide needs to know exactly what to do in the event that they encounter such animals on foot, whilst guiding guests.
Once a guide has reached a number of hours walking and encounters with big game (accompanied by a Qualified guide), they would be assessed and qualify as a Back-up Trails Guide. The role of a back-up trails guide is to accompany a Lead Trails guide on walks with groups of more than four guests (and less than 8). As you complete more hours as a back-up guide, you’re assessed, and based on further encounters with big game, further practical assessments, as well as rifle handling and shooting assessments, you’re able to qualify as a Lead Trails Guide.
All guides must have “Advanced Rifle Handling’ and complete a series of logbook shoots – these validate a guides’ ability to carry a firearm on the vehicle and to track animals on foot, and need to be kept up to date.
The Madikwe has addition rifle-handling assessment consists of completing a series of shooting exercises; the first is 3 out of 4 target brain shots of a dangerous game animal at 30 metres, the second part is to simulate a charging animal, where you’d shoot a dangerous game target in a timed exercise of 15 seconds at 30 metres, 20 metres and a 10 metres.
Madikwe Game Reserve has its own additional requirements for Trails Guides, to add another layer of safety to the guided walks. The final step to be permitted to guide walks on the reserve, is what is called ‘Bush Lane’.
This is an assessment consisting of several game targets, including both dangerous and non-dangerous game, set up to simulate real encounters. The assessment consists of a series of target obstacles, where species pop up or charge at you from within the dense bush. To pass ‘Bush Lane’ a guide must place two shots into the ‘brain’ of each dangerous target, he or she must acknowledge each non-dangerous target, as well as deal with imaginary guests. Once a guide has completed the above successfully, they are qualified to lead guests safely on walks in Madikwe Game Reserve.
All assessments are done by qualified range officers and Instructors.