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TThere are about 20 luxury lodges in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa’s North West province. They offer a wide range of accommodation from the ultra-luxurious to bushveld simplicity. You'll be surrounded by the Big 5 and more, plus happy people.
There’s a 3-way partnership that makes Madikwe Game Reserve in the North West province the success that it is.
The state conserves the land and the animals, private enterprise runs the lodges, and the surrounding local community benefits through jobs and levies.
There are about 20 Madikwe lodges and staying in any of them is a prerequisite to visiting Madikwe Game Reserve, since no day visitors are allowed.
There’s a wide and interesting variety of accommodation to choose from in this stunning malaria-free reserve.
Mateya, for example, epitomises the absolute height of luxury. In addition to a wine cellar that a prince might be proud of, it is also a showcase of some significant African art. Also expect wi-fi, personal plunge pools and orchid arrangements.
At the other end of the range you get Mosetlha, an eco-lodge where the only air conditioning comes through the open-topped walls. Here you feel completely within nature. Your food is cooked on an open fire. You have safari-style bucket showers. All the emphasis is on a low-impact, direct experience of nature.
Then you get other popular notables like Buffalo Ridge and Thakadu River Camp, which are 100% owned by local communities. There’s also the effortlessly stylish Jaci’s Tree Lodge, which looks like Bali-marries-Africa. Jaci's Safari Lodge, right next to Jaci's Tree Lodge, is especially wonderful if you're going with your family. Even the youngest of kids is catered for here.
There are more than a dozen others, each special in some way: Impodimo, Madikwe Hills, Madikwe River Lodge, Makanyane, Motswiri, Rhulani, The Bush House, Tuningi, Etali, Jamala Madikwe, Molori, Morukuru and Tau.
But what they all have in common is this: all these businesses benefit from the state’s conservation of animals (the Big 5 included, plus the elusive wild dog), and they also benefit from a pool of highly satisfied employees. Staying in this game reserve guarantees very friendly service and good game sightings.
You’ll also see animals here that are often difficult to see anywhere else. Apart from savannah game (including the Big 5), you’ll find springbok, brown hyena and other specials like wild dogs and cheetah.
Of all uses for the land considered for this area in the early 1990s, conservation and tourism have definitely supplied something very close to the best possible solution. In terms of prosperity, general contentment and jobs, Madikwe has delivered far beyond what anyone could have projected.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Madikwe Game Reserve
How to get here
Madikwe is 4 hours’ drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria. Head for Rustenburg via the Hartbeespoort Dam. From Rustenburg, take the N4, passing through Swartruggens to Zeerust. In Zeerust, take the road signposted R47 to Gaborone and Madikwe Game Reserve. After 85km, turn in at the Abjaterskop gate.
Note that this is just one of several gates. Be sure to enquire from the lodge you are staying at for more detailed directions (some lodges in the south, for instance, don't recommend you go through Rustenburg).
Best time to visit
Each season has its delights. Bear in mind, though, that Madikwe can be startlingly cold in mid-winter (May to August) and very hot in mid-summer (December to February).
Things to do
If you’re looking for a total contrast, Madikwe isn’t far from the gambling and entertainment Sun City complex in South Africa. Madikwe is also conveniently close to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. It makes an excellent part of a route between Johannesburg and environs and Botswana.
Once you're in the reserve and booked into a lodge, you'll be driven around in a 4x4 game vehicle.
What will it cost?
Depending on where you’re staying, rates vary between R2 000 and R8 700 per person per night. These are inclusive of meals and game drives. If you can, leave it to the last minute and phone around to enquire for prices as many lodges will offer cheaper rates for late bookings.
Length of stay
Three nights would be ideal.
What to pack
Binoculars for game viewing, and a good camera for capturing the Big 5.