Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

A landscape of open plains, towering cliffs and rugged woodlands, the reserve sprawls from the basin of the Marico River to the border with Botswana. In-the-know visitors flock to this malaria-free corner of the North West Province for up-close encounters with the park’s top 10: lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinos and native leopards, of course, but also hippos, giraffes, rare wild dogs, hyenas and cheetahs. With access restricted to those staying at the handful of lodges, this is a unique, intimate safari experience, committed to supporting the local communities and preserving this history-rich region; look our for Iron-Age ruins, ancient mines and rock engravings, if you can tear your eyes away from the natural spectacle.

When to go

Winter (April to August) is best for spotting game: expect star-filled nights, clear days and well-frequented waterholes, but bring some thermals for those cold early-morning drives. In the spring and summer (September to March) rains bring lush, thick vegetation and newborn animals to the reserve. For a peaceful stay, avoid mid-December to January, when South Africans evacuate their cities and Europeans and North Americans flock here for some winter sun.

  • Best-price guarantee

    Found your stay cheaper? We’ll match the price and give you a $75 voucher

  • Smith Extra on arrival

    Enjoy extras such as a picnic lunch, champagne or spa treatments, on the house

Getting there

  • Planes

    Scheduled flights with Madikwe Air or Federal Airlines leave Johannesburg every day, and take around 50 minutes.
  • Automobiles

    The reserve is three and a half hours on a tar and dirt road from Johannesburg, passing Sun City along the way. It’s a two-hour drive from Gaborone Airport in Botswana. It’s best to arrive before 6pm, or you’ll need to arrange for a lodge official to escort you from the gates.