Madikwe, private African safarimadikwe, Dithaba Lodge

Madikwe Game Reserve

Malaria-free family safari destination

The Madikwe Game Reserve is just three hours’ drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, and is located along the Botswana border (90 km north of Zeerust). At 75 000 hectares, this reserve is one of the largest in South Africa. This, coupled with it being in a non-malaria area, has made it a very popular destination for families.


Madikwe is a Big Five game reserve. The immense diversity of vegetation ensures a wide range of animal species, and the distinctive topography presents incredible game viewing opportunities.

Madikwe is home to 66 mammal species and approximately 300 resident and migrant bird species.


Vast plains of open woodlands and grasslands are dissected by the rugged Rant van Tweedepoort, and bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. The area is dotted with huge rocky hills or inselbergs.


The reserve was announced to the public in August 1991 and officially became part of the Board’s estate on 31 October the same year.

The reserve was proclaimed after a detailed feasibility study of the area was conducted by independent consultants. The study showed that wildlife-based tourism was the most beneficial option for this remote and economically depressed area.

Madikwe is run as a joint venture between the State, the private sector and local communities. This has been a successful approach, making this a role model for similar ventures elsewhere in South Africa.


The reintroduction of game began early in 1991 (and was completed in 1997). The reintroduction programme was called Operation Phoenix, and is one of the largest game translocation exercises in the world.

More than 8,000 animals of 28 species have been released into Madikwe Game Reserve, including elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, cheetah, Cape hunting dog, spotted hyaena, giraffe, zebra and many species of antelope and herbivores. Leopard already occurred in the reserve.


  • Situated in one of South Africa’s largest and malaria-free sanctuaries.
  • Rich biodiversity of mammals, such as Africa’s Big Five, cheetah, wild dog, brown and spotted hyena, oryx, eland, springbok and ostrich.
  • Excellent birdwatching with over 300 bird species
  • Diverse geology and broad mix of habitats
  • Distinctive and breathtaking topography, with sweeping views over the game-filled plains with the Dwarsberg range forming a purple-hued backdrop.
  • Unique area imbued in history – Mzilikazi, Dr David Livingstone, Sir Cornwallis Harris and Herman Charles Bosman.
  • Effortless road and air access.