Madikwe Game Reserve is a 75 000-hectare wildlife reserve that lies in the extreme northwest of South Africa. Home to a wide variety of animals, birds, trees and grasses, the reserve is world renowned as a spectacular Big 5 safari destination.

The Reserve is easily reached by car or aeroplane: a 3½-hour drive from Johannesburg or a daily scheduled flight from OR Tambo International Airport gets you there.

About the reserve

Madikwe Game Reserve was formally established in 1991 by the government of what was then Bophuthatswana. Previously a flat and dusty patch of arid farmland, the 75 000-hectare zone was earmarked for development as a wildlife sanctuary and tourist destination after a feasibility study highlighted the potential of tourism and wildlife conservation in the area.

After it was formally declared a reserve, more than 8 000 animals were moved to Madikwe Game Reserve 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 elephant, as well as the introduction of highly endangered African wild dogs, spotted hyena, 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.