Madikwe Game Reserve
Approximately four hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria, on the border of Botswana, is the Madikwe Game Reserve - an inspiring conservation and land rehabilitation success story. Covering 75 000 hectares, Madikwe Game Reserve is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa and has a wide diversity of vegetation and game, including the 'Big Five'.
The area was not always an example of conservation and hospitality and were in fact barren and dry wastelands and of farms. The farms were bought by the government with the intention of giving them to the poor and unemployed local inhabitants for cattle farming. However; a team of ecologists managed to provide a viable plan for a Big 5 game reserve that would not only save many endangered animals but would also generate far greater returns than farming. And thus Operation Phoenix began.
Operation Phoenix began in the early 90's by relocating some 8000 animals to the park. Today the park is home to 66 large mammal species and around 300 bird species; some resident and others migratory. One of the biggest successes of Madikwe has been the Wild Dog rehabilitation program, helping to bring the Wild Dog population back from the brink of extinction.
The landscape of the park is made up of a combination of grasslands and bushveld with sudden rocky outcrops jutting out where you least expect them.
There are over 30 lodges to choose from, offering a wide range of accommodation from the older and more established to new, state of the art lodges.