madikwe south africa

Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game Reserve is an 80 000-hectare wildlife reserve which lies in the North-West Province of South Africa. Home to a wide variety of animals, birds, trees and grasses, the reserve is world renowned as a spectacular Big 5 wilderness safari destination.

The Reserve is easily reached by car or air: A 31⁄2-hour drive from Johannesburg or a daily scheduled flight from OR Tambo International Airport.

Madikwe Game Reserve was formally established in 1991 by the government of what was then Bophuthatswana. Previously arid farmland, the 80 000-hectare zone was earmarked for development as a wildlife sanctuary and tourist destination after a feasibility study highlighted the potential of employment, business, and tourism opportunities as well as wildlife conservation in the area.

Madikwe’s rich cultural history began almost one million years ago and is as much a part of the Reserve as the wildlife and other natural wonders in the area. Historical sites containing irreplaceable artifacts are in abundance and in time will be restored and displayed as part of South Africa’s heritage.

After it was formally declared a reserve, more than 8 000 animals were moved to Madikwe South Africa as part of the world’s biggest wildlife relocation, Operation Phoenix. The mammoth transfer included, for the first time, the relocation of entire family herds of elephants, as well as the introduction of highly endangered African wild dogs, spotted hyena, buffalo, hippo and lion. Today, the reserve boasts more than 60 mammal species, including the Big 5, and well over 300 resident and migrant bird species.

Madikwe Game Reserve operates as a three-way venture between the North-West Parks and Tourism Board, the private sector and local communities. The Parks Board is responsible for setting up infrastructure and operational management, as well as identifying suitable sites for lease to the private sector for tourism-based developments and activities. The private sector funds the construction of game lodges, which it markets and manages. Lodge employees are drawn from surrounding villages. The success of this approach has made Madikwe Game Reserve a model for similar joint ventures in South Africa and elsewhere.

Directions to Jaci’s
Directions Map


The Reserve’s location, close to the edge of the Kalahari Desert ensures visitors a truly diverse game-viewing experience.

  • Madikwe Game Reserve is famous for its Big 5: Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant and White & Black Rhino.
  • The reserve is also home to Hippo, Giraffe, African Wild Dog, Brown and Spotted Hyena, and Cheetah.
  • Our most endangered species are Cheetah, Wild Dog, Black and White Rhino.
  • Madikwe Game Reserve supports a number of large antelope species, including Eland, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest and Tsessebe.
  • Smaller antelope species also abound, including Springbok, Duiker and Klipspringer.
  • Other animals found here include Honey Badger, Cape Clawless Otter, Serval, Aardvark, Baboon, Porcupine, Warthog, Bush Baby, Giraffe, Zebra and Aardwolf.

More than 350 species of birds have been recorded in Madikwe Game Reserve, with migrant species visiting throughout the year. The birds are attracted by Madikwe’s trees and wild grasses, making the reserve a bird watcher’s paradise. Diverse bird families in Madikwe include Flycatchers, Fire Finches, Babblers and Buzzards.

Over 45 different tree species provide shade, food and habitat for wildlife and birds in Madikwe South Africa. Since the reserve is made up of multiple veld types, including mixed bushveld, Kalahari bushveld, arid sweet bushveld and thornveld, the mosaic of vegetation and grasses is unprecedented. The fauna in the reserve is as diverse as the animals, and includes trees such as the Shepherd’s Tree, Bush Willows, Weeping Wattles, Marulas and Fig Trees.

The Dwarsberg Mountain Range forms the Southern boundary of the reserve, with its highest point at 1 228m. In the North, dense bushveld vegetation gives way to a Savannah plain dotted with scattered Inselbergs. The Eastern boundary, marked by the Molatedi Gate, lies close to Lotteringskop, while the West entrance gate offers a good view of Abjaterskop.

In the middle of the reserve lie the Thswene Tshwene Hills, each 1 328m tall. Madikwe Game Reserve’s appearance is the result of billions of years of geological processes that enabled vegetation to take root and transform the region. From the jumbled hills of Tshwene Tshwene rising from flat plains near the Botswana border, to the prominent ridge of the Dwarsberg, a range of habitats support a wide variety of trees and grasses.


Summer (October to April) is our hot and rainy season. Expect very hot days with scattered thunderstorms, magnificent lightning storms and rolling thunder with downpours, which can last for a couple of hours.

Winter (May to September) is generally warm and sunny, with chilly starry nights and occasional rain. Dress for the cold and have layers to take off as the sun’s rays warm the day.

No matter the season, game drives go out every morning and evening!