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suru Jan 31st, 2005 07:48 PM

Is Madikwe an option?
All (and particularly Roccco),

Thanks for all the information on Madikwe. It has been very useful. My husband and I are now considering a visit for late April (or May if we can get over those high season rates....) But I noticed a couple messages that seem to indicate there might be problems with game in Madikwe. Has anyone heard anything? Roccco - are you still planning to go?

Many thanks.

Roccco Jan 31st, 2005 07:57 PM


I entertained the idea of Madikwe but quickly dismissed it after further research. While there are plenty of beautiful new lodges around, and they cannot publicize enough how many animals were transported to this area, in the end, one must consider that there was little or NO WILDLIFE in this area prior to that Operation Noah's Ark or whatever it was called, so after you add it all up, the game cannot come anywhere close to competing with a more established area like the Sabi Sand/Kruger, Botswana, Zimbabwe or Zambia.

If you have the flexibility in your schedule, I would strongly advise you to look at Zimbabwe (Makalolo Plains in Hwange NP and Chikwenya in Mana Pools NP) and Zambia (too many great lodges to mention in South Luangwa and quite a few great lodges also in Lower Zambezi, but read some of my prior threads to get an idea).

You will find the prices to be much more agreeable in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and really, Zimbabwe and Zambia are so much less commercialized and offer a more genuine safari experience, IMHO.

However, if your schedule is limited, stick to either a few nights in the Sabi Sand, but even with a limited schedule, you would be best off with finding the time for a couple nights in Victoria Falls followed by 4 nights at Makalolo Plains in nearby Hwange NP.

That is my opinion. You can do better than Madikwe. Good luck.

suru Jan 31st, 2005 08:20 PM


Thanks for the speedy reply! Sorry to hear that Madikwe doesn't seem to live up to the pictures on the website - they seem to have some lovely lodges.

We have some flexibility in our schedule, but will be based in Gaborone (visiting friends there) so getting around is not that easy. Any idea how one could get from Gabs to Makolo Plains (which really does sound amazing!).

We will be spending a few nights in the Delta, so at least I definitely have that to look forward to!

Thanks again!

mtea Feb 8th, 2005 06:34 AM

I just returned from a stay in Madikwe Game Reserve at Madikwe Hills Lodge. I thought the game viewing was very good. Included among the game seen were:

lion (in one case a pride of nine - a full grown male, three full grown females, and five cubs);
elephant (in one case a group of nearly 40, and in two separate instances a bull came grazing within 10 feet our of vehicle);
a herd of buffalo;
several rhino;
four male cheetah;
a pack of 15 wild dogs (just after a kill);
spotted hyena;
giraffe (two of which playfully fought with their necks);
ostrich and loads of other beautiful birds; and
more wildlife I wasn't lucky enough to photograph.

If you're based in Gaborone, then Madikwe is very convenient as the Reserve borders Botswana.

We selected Madikwe, in part, because it is malaria-free. Having now been there, I can't imagine we sacrificed much, if any, in the way of game viewing.

Roccco Feb 8th, 2005 07:11 AM


That is great news. How did you like the ultra luxurious Madikwe Hills? Were you able to get a special price or did you pay rack rates?

The forum would really benefit from a trip report, since so few Fodorites have yet been to Madikwe.

A couple questions that may help disspell a couple current perceptions I have about Madikwe.

Did you see any fences while you were on your game drives at Madikwe?

How many other vehicles did you come across from other lodges during your game drives?

Thanks, sounds like you saw just about everything.

mtea Feb 8th, 2005 09:03 AM

Rocco, I've posted a short trip report. The only fences we saw were the ones bordering the reserve (that you must drive through). Fences certainly aren't an issue. As I say in my trip report, we came across very few other vehicles. That said, the guides from the various lodges work very well together in sharing information about game spottings. They are also very respectful of the tips they are given and do not come barrelling into a viewing location. They always ask for permission from the tip giver to enter the area. In the reserve you really feel as though there are very few other people there, which may well be the case.

travelwmn Feb 8th, 2005 04:33 PM

Our neighbor visited Madikwe spring 2004 and had amazing pictures of game, especially elephants and lion. I've been to Zambia(South Luangwa), Botswana (Chobe & Okavango), and South Africa (Sabi Sands, Timbavati, and Phinda), and his pictures and videos of game/wildlife were as good as anything I've seen at on any safari. I couldn't believe that he was there only 2 days and saw that much game. It's now on my list of places I want to visit!

suru Feb 11th, 2005 06:54 AM

Mtea, travelwmn, and all:

Thanks for the great reports! Given our particular situation, and need to travel in and out of Gaborone, we have decided to go to Madikwe in April. I hope we are as lucky as you were, Mtea!

Roccco - I have mentally written in Zambia and Zimbabwe for my next safari trip, thanks to your great research! I wish we could do it all this time, but the real world does intrude sometimes.

Many thanks to all who have helped us. I will post a trip on our return in May and try to return a little of the favor.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear more about Madikwe!

mtea Feb 11th, 2005 08:57 AM

Suru, check out the trip report I posted about a week ago. It includes a little more discussion of our visit to Madikwe.

suru Feb 20th, 2005 04:30 PM


Thanks very much! I read your report and can't wait to get there myself!


napamatt Mar 21st, 2005 01:14 PM


We just got back from Makanyane and I can recommend Madikwe very much. There is lots of general game and you should see Lion and Cheetah and have a good chance of Wild Dog. The birding is really good also. The major drawback of the area is that there are not enough roads, so you sometimes feel like there are more people around you than their really are, but really that is a minor point. Its not Sabi Sands but its very good and Makanyane is terrific.

noman Mar 23rd, 2005 02:18 PM

I went to Madikwe in May last year for two (2) days at the end of a business trip fro Australia to Johannesburg. I have travelled extensively in Southern African wildlife areas (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia) and was keen to try out Madikwe having read about it. I was accompanied by a work colleague who had never been to the bush. We stayed at Jaci's camp.
The game was adequate but not oustanding; plenty of wildebeest, one sighting of lions, many warthogs, impala, zebra, one sizeable elephant herd, giraffe and good sightings of white and black rhino. Reasonable bird life although raptors were very few and far between.
I admire greatly what the North-Western Province Parkshave done to create Madikwe - it is a much more productive use of marginal land, creates signficant employement for the loacal people and will help to preserve endangered wildlife, eg their wild dog project. However, from a pure "bush experience" perspective it did not work for me. One does not get the feel of being in unspoilt safari country. The land has clearly been adversely affected by farming, knowledge that the animals have been brought in does not help, nor does the fact that the guides and rangers who attended us wore blue rather than a neutral bush colours. Jaci's camp was very "over the top" in terms of comfort, decor, furnishings and food but it had no view of the bush and you could have been anywhere.

As Rocccco commented, you can do better. The year before last we had a global family reunion in the Timbavati Game reserve (South Africa's Northern Province) at two camps, Umlani and Gomo Gomo. They were half the price of Jaci's at Madikwe and twice the experience. I unequivocally recommend both camps if you are looking for something in South Africa. I would agree, however, with Roccco that the best places are Zambia and particularly Lower Zambezi (for a really wild time go to Old Mondoro for a few days) and the South Luangwa - for South Lunangwa, contact Robin Pope Safaris who are the best safari operators I have come across anywhere in Southern Africa.
If you would like contact details for Umlani, Gomo Gomo or Robin Pope let me know and I would be happy to provide.

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