The Madikwe Game Reserve
Game reserves, like dark chocolate covered strawberries, are one of those things that you just can’t get enough of. Millions of years of human evolution have designed us to naturally prefer the great outdoors to an office cubicle. Who can argue with that?
The Madikwe game reserve covers 75,000 hectares making it one of South Africa’s largest. The Madikwe Game Reserve showcases Africa at its finest. Immense plains of open woodlands and grasslands, the jagged Rant van Tweedepoort, the dramatic Dwarsberg Mountain as well as haphazardly placed inselbergs, all make for awe inspiring scenery. Throw in the Big Five and this destination is every tourists dream. Located against the Botswana border, north of the small town Groot Marico.
Before the Madikwe Game Reserve, the area was desolate, with derelict buildings and alien vegetation. It was 1991 when Operation Phoenix began and everything changed. Operation Phoenix was the world’s biggest translocation exercise and it took a period of six years to move eight thousand animals of 27 major species to Madikwe.
These included the big five and other endangered species such as the wild dog, spotted hyena and cheetah. Operation Phoenix was completed in 1997 and today Madikwe is home to over 12, 000 animals, which include all predator species as well as black and white rhinoceros, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and antelope. The 350 bird species make it an ideal spot for bird watching also.
Madikwe Game Reserve is a haven for game viewing so make the most of it by enjoying an open vehicle day or night drive. Well-trained and informative rangers will accompany you and their invaluable insight will be of use in interpreting the many animal encounters that will occur. For the hiking enthusiasts bush walks are another option and are conducted daily. Along your journey you are likely to find the Batswana people, a group of natives who live in the Reserve. Their handmade jewellery, curios and works of art are on sale and make for great mementos.
The region is steeped in history and a range of explorers, traders, hunters and missionaries passed through. These included Dr David Livingstone and Sir Cornwallis Harris. History buffs should check out Abjaterskop in the south-western corner of the reserve as famous South African author Herman Charles Bosman taught a school there.
Financed by the State and the private sector, the surrounding local communities also benefit from the reserve as they are given an annual share of the park’s profits. With this money they are able to upgrade their own infrastructure, making this approach a very successful one.
There are various private lodges in the Reserve, most of them offering vehicle safaris and bush walks so be sure to check out either the Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge or the Impodimo Game Lodge. Located at a key site in the west of the Madikwe Game Reseve, Buffalo Ridge Lodge has it all with a spectacular location and lavish accommodation.
Each one of the eight suites is uniquely decorated and has its own deck facing north allowing guests to enjoy the extensive views. Impodimo Game Lodge, consisting of eight glass fronted luxury chalets, lines a natural spring. Each chalet allows for striking views either from inside of from the outdoor shower. Suitable in Summer or Winter one can either laze around the pool or enjoy a cognac in the library.