Madikwe Game Reserve
Independent, impartial reviews of Madikwe Game Reserve from SafariNow users
Darshini De Silva
We were very lucky to spend an unforgettable weekend in April 2012 at Madikwe Game Reserve's Tau Lodge.
It is incredible that such wilderness and rich game viewing is available just across the border from Botswana. We live in Gaborone, Botswana and the drive was only 10kms from the border gate.
All we had to do was sit in the patio of our chalet which was located near a man made water hole and watch the procession of animals all day long!
The game drives were an added bonus when we were treated to four groups of lions over two days!
We are planning our next visit already!
The staff at the lodge were very friendly and helpful. It was my birthday and they produced a cake accompanied by a procession of dancing which was lovely!
Definitely a five star destination.........
17 August 2012
Jaci Van Heteren
i am lucky enough to have been living and working in Madikwe for the last 20 years, as a result have witnessed first hand, the transformation over the years from over grazed, over worked farm land to the magnificent wildlife area it is today. madikwe is the epitome of a successful and proud partnership between private enterprise, local community and government!
20 years ago ...
the roads followed only the old fence lines, sickle bush grew over and into the tracks - making morning game drives very interesting affairs - with golden orb spider - whose webs were masterfully spun between the branches - creating numerous squeals of horror, some occupants even hiding under seats followed by the anticipation of "where is the spider?" - or elephants literally bursting out of the bushes, right next to you. exciting indeed!
there were no lions,
no spotted hyenas,
no black rhino,
no wild dogs,
these were all to be introduced over the next few years.
we were a young couple from pretoria, stepping away from a lucrative and established restaurant business and with a 18 mth old daughter - we were starting to live our dream - to build and own our own lodge and to be able to live in the bush - madikwe ticked all the boxes.
leaving the restaurant business behind we started building, just as south africa was readying herself for her first fully democratic elections. whilst some were building underground bunkers and storing food we were putting everything we had into an unknown game reserve on the botswana border - "mad and bonkers" were frequent descriptions of our aspirations!
you could still see cow dung on the roads and animals were skittish as well as fairly scare on certain days.
through operation phoenix more than 8 000 head of game were translocated into madikwe to re establish the wildlife that occurred in the area before hunters and commercial farmers decimated the game numbers. to date operation phoenix is the is the largest movements of animals to have been undertaken in the world.
madikwe is the home to many " firsts" in the conservation community -
most notable being the translocation of entire family herds of elephants. previous to this only youngsters, the survivors of the notorious kruger culls, were moved to new areas to mature and establish new family groups and herds. clem coetzeer pioneered the translocation of family units by identifying entire smaller groups to be moved, new and different drug mixes to knock out the elephants enabling them to be lifted/moved into trucks followed by a concoction of powerful tranquilizers which kept them calm and unstressed during the long road trip. traveling was scheduled at night when it was cooler with numerous water stops to cool the elephants down and to quench their thirst. on arrival in madikwe they were released into a fenced boma area to enable them to be habituated to the electrified fencing that surrounds the reserve - as they came from an unvented area in zimbabwe - a feat of I menus proportions indeed.
it is the first reserve where the highly endangered african wild dogs were reintroduced into the wild. three captive bred females from de wildt near hartebeest port dam were introduced to three males from the kruger - after a spell in the boma getting to know each other they were released - the alpha female lead the pack and subsequent hunts - having never previously hunted in her life! - exceptional indeed! as a result of the success of the madikwe reintroduction, wild dogs have been reintroduced into other game reserves - further increasing their chances of survival in the future.
black rhino were moved from natal - and have thrived in madikwe. we already had white rhino from the original operation phoenix - so are now one of the few places where both species of rhino can be seen.
spotted hyaena were introduced to balance the predator mix in the reserve
lions came from the kalahari - specifically chosen as they did not hunt buffalo, an important consideration, as the madikwe buffalo are world renowned breeding stock of the valuable "disease free" buffalo - currently worth around 1 million rand per animal - an expensive meal indeed!
20 years later many things have changed - the vision of the creators of madikwe has largely been fulfilled:
employment opportunities have been created through the individual lodges, each providing permanent jobs from 10 - 100 staff each.
private entrepreneurs have invested millions into establishing madikwe as a premier tourist attraction with a choice of exceptional lodges and camps
the reserve is the fourth largest in south africa and covers nearly 75 000 hectares of varied and diverse eco systems and an array of fauna and flora. we hope you are able to visit madikwe to experience first hand how incredible it is.
13 June 2012
Darshini De Silva
Excellent game viewing experience.
30 April 2012