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South Africa

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Source: Southern Africa’s top 21 parks taken from the April 2010 Issue of Getaway Magazine.

Madikwe Game Reserve lies in the heart of the Marico, an evocative corner of South Africa made famous in the short stories of Herman Charles Bosman. By Justin Fox.

Tuningi Safari Lodge

Madikwe: big skies, wide-open plains, the meeting of Bushveld and Kalahari, and all the mercurial diversity this entails. It’s an enchanting and little-visited part of the country, but the rewards are there aplenty.

Try Tlou Dam at sunset and you’re likely to encounter a crush of animals coming to drink: elephants jousting, giraffes lowering their necks like toppling skyscrapers, and queues of patient antelope.

Located on the western border of North West Province, Madikwe offers 75 000 hectares of malaria-free wilderness. Opened in 1991, it’s made up of reclaimed farmland dotted with inselbergs. This is classic Oom Schalk Lourens country celebrated in the books of Herman Charles Bosman.

The reserve lies on an ecotone where sweet mixed bushveld meets arid Kalahari savanna. The wide range of habitats means that birding is very good, with more than 350 species recorded. The park has become famous for its African wild dogs, but it’s also great for Big Five viewing and cheetahs can often be spotted hunting on the grasslands.

From the deck of Tuningi Safari Lodge, there’s nothing that separates you from the Madikwe wilderness and the creatures living in it.

Madikwe is run as a three-way partnership between the state (represented by its board), local communities and the private sector. Unlike almost all state-owned game reserves in Africa, the approach towards conservation adopted at Madikwe puts the needs of people first. The board believes that if parks are to succeed in developing countries, then local communities must benefit significantly from wildlife conservation.

Accommodation in the reserve comprises a wide range of lodges, some of them are community-run. Since Getaway’s last visit, the newest kid on the block is Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge. It lies in a grove of lead-woods on a promontory overlooking a waterhole. This is an exclusive lodge with five elegant villas, each boasting a rim-flow pool and private sundeck. But if it’s a budget option you’re after, try Mosetlha Bush Camp – a family-owned and run lodge that offers a rustic Bushveld experience.

Travel adviser

A blood-soaked lion takes a break from a wildebeest breakfast
A blood-soaked lion takes a break from a wildebeest breakfast

There are more than 20 private lodges in the park, each with a different atmosphere and mostly catering to the wealthier visitor (no self-drive and no day visitors permitted). Contact the reserve on 018-350-9931/2, Email  or web.

Operation Phoenix

With the creation of the reserve, huge numbers of animals were reintroduced in a relocation initiative known as Operation Phoenix. It was one of the largest game translocation exercises the world has ever seen, at least since Noah. More than 8000 animals of 28 species were released into Madikwe. These included elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, cheetah, Cape hunting dog, spotted hyena and giraffe. Operation Phoenix began early in 1991 and was completed in 1997.

The Marico moon
A bust of Herman Charles Bosman of Groot Marico fame.
A bust of Herman Charles Bosman of Groot Marico fame.

‘I have seen the moon in other places besides the Marico. But it is not the same there. It does strange things to you, the Marico moon, and in your heart are wild and fragrant fancies, and your thoughts go very far away.’ Herman Charles Bosman

This article was taken from the back issue of Getaway. April 2010 Special Edition.

More on the quaint town of Madikwe More on the Bojanala Platinum area


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