✈ About Madikwe Safari Lodge
Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the fifth largest game reserve and is also one of the lesser- known parks in South Africa. This makes it a hidden- gem as it is regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa and offers the Big 5 in a 680 km2 park (750 km2 including newly incorporated privately owned land). The park offers a number of luxurious lodges as well as community lodges in a malaria- free zone.
South Africa’s premier
With more than 1,000 acres of wilderness for every guest bed, Marataba offers intimate game viewing experiences from one of four lodges and camps, each with their own character and charm Madikwe Game Reserve consists of vast open plains of woodlands and grasslands. The reserve is dissected by the rugged Rant van Tweedepoort and is bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. The reserve has been enclosed in a 150 km perimeter electric fence to prevent the escape of larger animals. The famous Mafikeng road runs through the reserve. This road was known as a historical route long before the reserve was established. Its path was used by traders, hunters, missionaries and explorers.
King Mzilikazi of the Matabele tribe, passed through the Madikwe area many years ago on his way to expanding the Matabele Kingdom. In 1991 the reserve was announced to the public and in the same year became part of the Board’s Estate on October 31st that same year. Before this the remote and economically- dejected area needed upliftment and it was decided after a feasibility study that wildlife- based tourism was the most favourable option for the area. It is one of the few game reserves in the world that has been established on the grounds of being the most sustainable and suitable land use in the area.
About 90 kilometres north of the town of Zeerust is Madikwe Game Reserve. It is situated against the Botswana border close to the Kalahari Desert. It is roughly 4.5 hours in a car from Johannesburg/ Pretoria. Safari Lodges are mostly located around the eastern and western gate.
The land where Madikwe now stands was previously used as farming land. The poor soil meant that farming was mostly unsuccessful and the South African government then decided that it would best be used as a national park to help economically uplift the disadvantaged area..
Before Madikwe Game Reserve was an official reserve, work had already begun to remove many of the derelict farm buildings, non- indigenous plants and the hundreds of kilometres of old fencing. Many of these old buildings have been spared and turned into workshops and park offices. Some of the outposts have also been left and are being used to house reserve staff and game scouts.
Culture & History
The area where Madikwe Game Reserve stands today was previously farming land, used for farming cattle and arable agriculture. The farming culture in the area was largely a failure, due to bad farming practises and mismanagement. Once the vegetation had degraded to unusable levels, the land was taken from the existing farmers and there was talk of handing it over to the disadvantaged and young cattle farmers.
This land has recently been opened up to a few select private farms. The farm owners are required to abide by park rules as there are still restrictions as to where private vehicles can drive. Other new developments include Community Lodges which are run by local villages. The profits from these community lodges are then used to uplift the local communities.
the big 5 & wild dogs
The Big 5 is represented in the park and you are likely to spot a lion, leopard, elephant, rhino or buffalo. During your visit you will also have the rare privilege of possibly seeing the highly endangered African Wild Dog.
In 1994, a small group of six wild dogs were introduced into the park. This founding group has seen a challenging introduction into the park with rabies outbreaks, territorial clashes and encounters with lions.
Despite the odds, current day Madikwe has a thriving wild dog population with three hunting packs roaming the park. The dogs are somewhat accustomed to safari vehicles offering spectacular photographic opportunities. Madikwe Game Reserve’s conservation efforts to protect the ‘painted dog’ are in place to help conserve this majestic diminishing species.