​User Reviews – Madikwe GR

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Kristin   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: April 2011 Reviewed: May 29, 2012

Experience level: first safari

A life-changing experience that left a bit of my heart in Africa and that I will never forget!
Overall rating

The wildlife of the reserve was plentiful and we were always able to get quite close to most animals on every drive (morning, afternoon, night). The scenery was stunning -- I'll never forget sitting a top the hill as the sun rose and drinking coffee, listening to the sound of the bush coming alive. The weather was perfect in April - not too hot, not too cold. I really enjoyed the guide comments and character and how they shared so much knowledge about the animal's behavior, droppings, tracks, etc.

Amanda Detmer   –  
United States US
Visited: May 2019 Reviewed: May 29, 2019

Email Amanda Detmer  |  20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Overall rating

We had an incredible time! Madikwe is the perfect place to go to see a lot of animals in a peaceful manner. It’s not overcrowded; you only see a few other game cars while on the drives which is nice because it may only be you and the animals at times. We saw at least 10 different animals and even group of female lions eating on a zebra! Everyone at Madikwe is incredibly friendly with lots of knowledge on the reserve, it’s history, and the animals. We stayed at the Bush Lodge, and it was an incredible experience. I strongly recommend staying with the Bush family. They are very warm welcoming and professional. The weather in the month of May was great; chilly in the mornings and evenings, but it was bearable with a jacket and pants. Middays were perfect! We had a great time at Madikwe through SafariWithUs bookings.

RJK 671   –  
United States US
Visited: May 2017 Reviewed: Jun 9, 2017

Email RJK 671  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

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.

Debbie JT   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: July 2016 Reviewed: Jul 26, 2016

Email Debbie JT  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

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.

Michael and Jennene   –  
New Zealand NZ
Visited: May 2015 Reviewed: Jul 5, 2015

50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

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.

dfross   –  
United States US
Visited: April 2015 Reviewed: Jun 30, 2015

Email dfross  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

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.

Massai_1 (Carsten M.) Visited: November 2014 Reviewed: May 25, 2015

Overall rating

Really beautiful area, great accomodation.

U. Adophis   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: April 2015 Reviewed: Apr 29, 2015

20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Great safari, nice (and closer) alternative to Krugar
Overall rating

Madikwe was a fantastic reserve and great alternative to Krugar, particularly as there are no self-drivers. We stayed at Jamala which was luxurious and beautiful in every way. The owners built this from scratch, and since they know what has worked and what hasn't worked in other places, everything is organised and chosen to give the "best" safari experience! Madikwe was in a pretty bad drought while we were there, and so the waterhole was pretty quiet since animals were heading to places where it had rained. Also the wild dogs had just had a wave of rabies (we didn't realise this happened) so we were lucky to see the few dogs we did. Even though there were few guests, we still went out in separate cars which was great (this didn't happen at Bush House). We then stayed at Bush House -- this was good as we got to see the other side of the park. Note that at Jamala we could see the north east and south east sides of the park, which was too far if we had only been at Bush House. Our friend stayed at Tau Lodge and had more success at the waterhole -- that is a much larger lodge though, and you lose the exclusivity. Bush House was a lot less posh and extravagant, but the waterhole was very busy (60+ elephants?) and the food and accommodation posed no problems. Also good to check if children can come on drives, as we had 2 incessantly talking kids on our last day who didn't, but could very easily, have affected game viewing. Our guides in both places were very experienced -- the main thing is you need to be watching for animals too, as it increases your chances! On our first drive at Bush house our ranger went off tracking to find a lion. So we sat there with 5 other cars for an hour till they came back, then we drove off and for the next hour none of the rangers could find the ranger who had stayed behind near the lion kill!! Our guide than said "oh, it's getting late, we probably should go now" to which I gave a significant death stare. Thankfully she then found the lions, but at no point had she explained what we were looking for or anything. In this case we were lucky, but I think it's worth being clear with your ranger how much time you are prepared to spend waiting for them to track. We could have wasted 2 hours out of one precious drive, which to them doesn't mean much, but I think they forget how much we pay and how far we come to see animals which cannot be seen by sitting in a non-moving car. We explained this to her that night and from then on everything was fine, but if you haven't done as many game drives as we have, you might not be so confident to voice such opinions.

John A Darwin NT Australia Visited: August 2014 Reviewed: Apr 16, 2015

Thouroughly Enjoyable
Overall rating

Stayed at The Bush House for 2 nights and did 4 3 hour safari drives and managed to see most of what we were hoping to see. Missed out on seeing Cheetahs, Leopards and Wild Dogs, although given the size of the park there is no guarantee you will see everything. The Bush House was fantastic and I have no hesitation recommending it. Our guide Tom was OK but have heard JR is the best. August mornings are chilly but the days are beautiful. Safari Bookings were great with all pick ups and bookings done without a hitch.

Stefano   –  
Italy IT
Visited: November 2014 Reviewed: Apr 16, 2015

50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Overall rating

A surprising and very well managed park; abundance of wildlife and predators, and also a place for birdwatchers. Bush experience is granted, and some accomodation are really 'in the bush'

Average User Rating

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

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 23
  • 4 star 7
  • 3 star 1
  • 2 star 0
  • 1 star 0
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