Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa

Madikwe is the fourth largest game reserve in South Africa. Although the reserve lies entirely within South Africa, it is only 35 km from the Botswana capital, Gaborone. The northern limits of the park are marked by the international border, while the southern limits coincide with the Dwarsberg Mountains.

Most of the park sits between the main
road to Botswana and the Marico River to the east. Covering over 60,000 ha, it has the second
largest elephant population and it lies in a malaria-free zone. At present the park is not open to day visitors, but they are allowed into the reserve if they pre-book through one o
f the lodges for a game drive, which usually includes lunch.

For overnight visitors, Madikwe
offers excellent accommodation and activities. There are now 22 lodges within the reserve.

Getting to Madikwe Game Reserve

If you are driving from Gauteng, take the N4 west through Magalies,
Swartruggens. At Zeerust turn right onto the R49 following signs to Gaborone. After
about 100 km, just before the border crossing, turn right onto a sand road for 12 km to the Tau Gate.

There are other gates at Derdepoort and Abjaterskop. Visitors should establish entry points before arrival; gates are opened by arrangement for pre-booked visitors.
Madikwe Charters
, www.madikwecharter.com
, flies daily to and from the reserve and Johannesburg (50 minutes). The lodges pick up from the Madikwe airstrip.

Best time to visit Madikwe Game Reserve

Most of the rain falls during the summer between November and March. Up to 600 mm is expected in the south, but as you move across the plains northwards, the annual rainfall averages about 100 mm less. In summer it can get very hot during the day - this is not ideal weather for walking. During winter it is dry but gets very cold at night.

Wildlife in Madikwe Game Reserve

One of the great features of the reserve is its diverse geology which has resulted in a broad mix of habitats suitable for a wide range of animals. In the northern part of the reserve the
land is a level savannah plain. Running across the middle of the park and, in effect, dividing it in two, is the
Tweedepoort Escarpment
.

Above the escarpment is an undulating
plateau
covered with dense vegetation, a marked contrast to the grasslands below. At the southern e
dge is a more extensive range of rocky mountains, the
Dwarsberg Range
. These are similar in appearance to the Magaliesberg but have been severely eroded over the years, the highest point being only 1228 m. The final distinct environment is provided by the
perennial
Marico River
along the eastern boundary, where an aquatic and well- vegetated environment exists.

When the area was being prepared for inclusion within a game reserve, only a few of the indigenous species had survived the years of hunting and farming, as well as an outbreak of
rinderpest
. Back in 1836 the hunter William Cornwallis came across the first known sable in the Marico Valley and wrote of large herds of elephant and prides of lion frightening the local farmers. In 1991, Operation Phoenix was launched - one of the largest game translocation programmes in the world. By 1996 more than 10,000 animals from 28 species had been successfully released into the reserve.

Animals now present in the park include elephant, zebra, lion, buffalo, white rhino, spotted hyena, wild dog, steenbok, duiker, kudu, leopard and cheetah. Visitors are able to
view these animals during game drives or on morning walks with a guide and experienced
tracker. A special feature of the reserve is the introduction of community projects, which allow local communities to benefit from, and contribute to, the ecological management of the reserve.

Another project in the planning is the development of the Heritage Park
conservation corridor that will join Madikwe with Pilanesberg (as the crow flies, about 75 km
apart). This proposed conservation estate will allow greater migration for the animals, creating a prime ecotourism destination. It's expected to take many years to achieve, as although the land inbetween the two parks is effectively empty, it is
privately owned and used for marginal cattle-grazing, though the initiative has the support of the local people.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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