User Reviews – Madikwe GR

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Madikwe Game Reserve offers an excellent safari experience!
Overall rating

A work trip in nearby Gaborone, Botswana afforded me an opportunity to enjoy a weekend safari at the Madikwe Game Reserve. My group arrived in the early afternoon at the Tau Game Lodge. After checking in, we enjoyed a great lunch. Then we loaded up for a late afternoon safari. We were seeing wild animals in no time. Actually, we could see several from the decks of our cabins without leaving the lodge's property.

We received a great treat when the rangers managed to locate a pair of lionesses with two cubs. It was amazing how close we were to these creatures. Our drive was filled with impala, wildebeest, giraffes, and more. Our Ranger, Steph , was fantastic. She really knows her stuff about the animals as well as the trees and landscape. She has a true passion for nature and wildlife and it shows. She had caught a brief glance at a leopard, and did her utmost to locate it.

The weather was spectacular and just the beginning of the dry winter season. The previous rains were plentiful and the grass was still very tall, which probably contributed to the difficulties finding the leopard, and probably concealed some other animals. Regardless, we still saw plenty of wildlife. Our first day concluded with an amazing dinner that included some delicious impala.

Day two begin with morning coffee, then loading up for another drive. Our first catch was a lone Cape buffalo. The morning was not as productive, but Steph still managed to find us a pair of elephant bulls put on a sparring match. Aside from the animals, the landscape is so beautiful. After we returned to the lodge we had a wonderful lunch before our departure. While heading back to my cabin to pack, I noticed a white rhino by water. It was a lucky catch and allowed me to finish my safari adventure with seeing four of the Big Five! The elusive leopard gives me a good reason to come back.

One great thing about our safari in Madikwe is that it is advertised as Malaria free. I highly recommend the dry winter season, at least during May. It was a little chilly for some, but you can always put on more layers and our lodge had blankets available in the Landcruiser. The vehicles are open top.

With a short weekend stay, we were limited as to how far from the lodge our safari could go. Safaris of a longer duration likely offer a chance at exploring more of the huge reserve. The rangers all communicate via radio, and are good about sharing information with each other so all visitors can get a chance to see rare animals.

I would highly recommend the Madikwe Game Reserve and hope to go there again. The Tau Game Lodge, the lodging accommodations, their Rangers, meals, and people are all first class.

Stunning Madikwe Game Reserve
Overall rating

I have spent a week in Madikwe region of South Africa in September 2016.
My stay was split between the lodge Royal Madikwe (3 nights) and Madikwe
Hills (3 nights).

The lodges were luxurious and the suite I had in Madikwe Hills was simply
Delicious breakfasts were served on the terrace with a spectacular view on the animals
gathering around the water spot: kind of paradise :-)
The lodges all have wifi, which was really super; nothing else to do in the evening
other than having drinks (all included in Madikwe Hills), surfing and reviewing photos.

It was very impressive to have the lion roaring loudly near my window in the evening.
Was also exciting to see them just about 60m away from my bungalow in Madikwe Hills.

The landscape in Madikwe was quite nice. It would recommend to stay at least
4 nights, so you can increase your chance to spot the leopard.
Also the dry season (winter) is to be preferred because the grass is low and we
can easier observe the animals, which are forced to converge somewhen to the
water ponds.
In Madikwe, the rangers had to track the lions/leopards/rhinos by following
their traces, which made the games more interesting.
In one or two game drives, we couldn't see many animals because they were hiding
themselves from the heat (that's why we need to plan enough game drives to see all
the big five).

You need to have your camera ready all the time as the animal viewing is unpredictable.
I could see the leopard only on the last day in Royal Madikwe and also on the morning
I left the lodge for the air strip, but unfortunately at that time i had my tele-zoom already
packed :-/

A big advantage of Madikwe is that we have much less tourists compared to Kruger Park,
according to different people i have met during the game drives.
Always choose a private safari reserve, as your ranger can drive you off the tracks into
the bushes to follow the animals.

In summary i love Madikwe safaris and will for sure return back.
And I loved flying (1 h) from Johannesburg to Madikwe with the small air plane, which
gave some touch of adventure to the safari trip.
My previous safaris were in 2014 in Shamwari near Port Elizabeth, but it was too
easy to spot the animals which looked somewhat too civilized :-)

My Madikwe album:
My Shamwari album:

A beautiful wildlife haven
Overall rating

Madikwe is an enormous fenced reserve on the South Africa / Botswana border, about 5 hours drive from Johannesburg. It is also possible to use a FedAir shuttle service, as we did, to fly in to one of the two airstrips serving the park. The flight from Johannesburg is about an hour by light aircraft, and representatives from your chosen lodge will pick you up when the plane lands.
There seem to be a number of different habitats within the reserve: areas of low scrub, interspersed with more open grassland; rocky outcrops and lush valleys with taller trees. These support a good diversity of species - with healthy populations of zebras, wildebeest, impala, cape buffalo, giraffe and elephant. We were lucky enough to see both black and white rhinoceros during our seven night stay, and had wonderful sightings of lions with their young cubs. In addition, we observed two different cheetah coalitions, and were privileged to watch a successful hunt on one occasion. Our main reason for choosing Madikwe was to try to get a glimpse of wild dogs, and I'm happy to say that we did. I was envious to hear that our companions in the truck had got to follow a wild dog hunt the day before, but to see them in repose gave us some good photographic opportunities. The leopards eluded us on this trip - but not for want of our guide trying to track one. He apparently succeeded the afternoon we left! Bird life was fairly good, with raptors including a Marshall eagle, snake eagle, greater kestrel and gymnogene.
Reserve policy is to only allow three vehicles at a sighting, which means the animals are less stressed and as a consumer you get a better view. The guides ably manage a 'queueing' system for more popular sightings, so everybody has a chance to see. When compared with parks I have visited in the Greater Kruger area, I felt that the wildlife here is less habituated to vehicles, but with the professionalism of the guides, that it didn't adversely affect the viewing.
We stayed at the Motswiri Private Safari Lodge, over on the western side of the reserve. It is an intimate place to stay, having only five rooms. There is also a self catering cottage which is suitable for larger parties. We had a fantastic time there. The staff are warm and friendly, the food was amazing and the accommodation comfortable. Each room is, in fact, a separate cottage, with its own deck. The bedroom has very comfortable beds, complete with mosquito net. The bathroom has an indoor bath and an outdoor shower, with twin basins. A gas fire keeps the cottage cosy on winter nights, with an air conditioning unit for the hot summer days.
One note for anyone going on safari in the South African winter (we were there in July): Take lots of layers! In the middle of the day, the temperature was lovely for a Brit abroad (mid 20s) but before sunrise or after sunset the temperature sank very swiftly. Don't underestimate the wind chill of going along in an open safari vehicle. Even with five layers and the large blanket provided I was freezing. Gloves would have been a good idea.
In conclusion, Madikwe is a wonderful place to experience a safari, and I would recommend it heartily.

Overall rating

A 5-Star bush experience. Everything was of the highest standards - the accommodation, the food, the game rangers, the service, the wildlife and the birding. An absolute dream come true. We were spoiled rotten.

Beautiful place, lovely people, not quite the game experience of East Africa
Overall rating

We loved our trip to Madikwe. Having been to Kenya and Tanzania, South Africa felt "tamer." We saw tons of wildlife, but not to the amazing levels seen in East Africa. I think that South Africa is a great choice for safari beginners, those who don't want to do malaria precautions. The wildlife is certainly in Madikwe, but it takes more patience.

Overall rating

One of South Africa's best Game Reserves.

Amazing wildlife and beautiful stay
Overall rating

From the dawn to the dusk, it is always possible and easy to see wildlife. Everyday something happens, everyday is a new day in the bush. The great thing of madikwe is that rangers and land rover could go "off road" to approach wildlife ! So great for pictures and feel bush vibes !

Fantastic moment
Overall rating

We spent 4 days in Madikwe, staying at Tau Game Lodge. The safaris were fantastic, with a lot of wild life (all the expected ones except the wild dogs). Tau Lodge is also very nice with its pond in front of the rooms where the animals were coming all day long to drink and play (elephants - a lot, lions, girafes, ....)

Exciting day trip to Madikwe Game Reserve
Overall rating

In New Zealand we don't have big game so it has always been a dream to visit a wild game park if I ever managed to visit Africa. That dream came true in 2014 when during a business trip I did a day trip to Madikwe Game Reserve and then in May of 2015 another business trip to Botswana allowed me a return visit, taking along two work collegues. The experience on both occasions was one of total excitement and nervous exhilaration. To sit in an open sided vehicle within feet of large game like lions, cheetahs, rhino and giraffe is a chance of a lifetime. On both trips to the reserve, Franco our guide from Buffalo Ridge was just awesome, his wealth of knowledge about all the reserve's game and animal's habits was truly amazing and then to sit and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine, some nibbles and share a chat, just priceless.

More than a dream come true.
Overall rating

I had planned our first trip to South Africa for more than a year. The adventure began at Madikwe Game Reserve. Would reality live up to expectation? Three days at Jamala Lodge exceeded everything we hoped for. The luxury, the impeccable service, the extraordinary food, and the incredible game viewing was everything a dream could be. We saw all of the Big 5, plus so much more, on our game drives -- elephants, buffalo, lion, both white and black rhino, giraffe, zebra, and an amazing array of all the antelope and deer that South Africa has to offer. We had a leopard walk by so close to our vehicle that I could have reached out and stroked its back. Equally amazing was sitting at the "sofa safari" on the deck of the lodge and watching this same array of wildlife wander down to the water hole. One morning at breakfast, a pride of five lion visited the water hole; one evening a leopard. Our final morning was capped with a visit by a white rhino at the water hole. Our first morning at the lodge began with an incredible roar of a lion awakening us at 3 a.m. Jamala Lodge, even though the price may seem expensive at first glance, is truly a bargain. An enormous chalet with bedroom looking out at the water hole, a beautiful bath, a plunge pool and totally private outdoor shower, a fully stocked (and included) mini bar, two three hour plus game drives a day with the best tracker one could hope for, and amazing food every day, throughout the day. All alcohol was included, and surprises every day with specialty cocktails presented at the end of an evening game drive. Madikwe Game Reserve, and Jamala Lodge will give you memories to treasure for the rest of your life.

Average User Rating

  • 4.7/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 22
  • 4 star 7
  • 3 star 1
  • 2 star 0
  • 1 star 0
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