Birding in Madikwe Game Reserve
Did you know?
Madikwe is surrounded by a 150km perimeter fence to safeguard elephants and large predators.
You'll be richly rewarded with scores of sightings when you go birding at Madikwe Game Reserve. And because of the great variety of habitats, from open grassland and forest to dams and rocky hills, there's an eclectic variety of birds flitting about.
Madikwe Game Reserve is a joint venture between the government, private enterprise and local communities, with over 30 community-run lodges in the reserve. Day visitors aren't allowed in the reserve, so you will have to stay at one of the many lodges where you'll be taken on day and night game drives or bush walks.
A good birdwatching tip is to stay in camp when others go off on game drives. Birdlife is prolific, particularly in the older, well-established camps, especially if there's an adjacent waterhole.
You'll easily spot one of the world's biggest birds – the stately, rather fearsome (it can kill a lion with a kick) ostrich – in the open grasslands. Secretarybirds also stalk the savannah and you're almost certain to see the world's heaviest flying bird – the impressive Kori bustard – hunting in the grass for insects and frogs.
High up above the numerous inselbergs (big rocky crags) expect to see eagles such as the bateleur and martial, and once the day has warmed up and the thermals get going, Cape, white-backed and lappet-faced vultures will start circling looking for carcasses.
There are bush birds galore. Have your camera ready for one of its most dramatically coloured stars – the crimson-breasted shrike. Ask your guide to listen out for its piercing whistling call and then track it down.
Madikwe Dam is an absolute must. Watch thirsty birds of all kinds, including sandgrouse, come to drink as the sun goes down. You may well see wild dogs, elephants, lions and rhinos come to drink as well.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Madikwe Game Reserve
Phone: +27 (0) 18 350 9931/2
How to get here
Take the N4 from Johannesburg or Pretoria towards Swartruggens and Zeerust. At Zeerust take the R49 and follow the Madikwe Game Reserve signs. It's about five hours' drive.
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good, but if you want to see lots of birds then come in summer when the migrant birds return.
Tours to do
Guided bush walks are a great way to spot birds.
You could take a guided game drive or bush walk.
What will it cost
Prices vary according to individual lodges.
Length of stay
At least three nights.
What to pack
Binoculars, camera, bird field guide, sunscreen, hat and insect repellant. Comfortable walking shoes are also recommended if you are keen to do a bush walk.
Where to stay
There are over 30 lodges in the Madikwe Game Reserve. Jaci’s Safari Lodge and Tree Lodges are well-established camps with their own waterholes. Another favourite is Tau Game Lodge.