Malaria-free Madikwe and Waterberg

Madikwe Game Reserve in northern South Africa is just a 4.5-hour drive (or an hour’s charter flight) from O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg. Linda and I went to explore the area by spending a few nights at the reserve’s luxury lodges.

From Madikwe, we also connected to the Waterberg area.


Western Madikwe

We were warmly welcomed at Impodimo Game Lodge and Tuningi Safari Lodge, where we did quick site inspections.

Finally, we arrived at the beautiful The Royal Madikwe. As you walk into the lodge, the wide views of the wilderness beckon you outside onto its large verandah. And there, by the watering hole, we spotted our first elephant.

Our guide, Doctor, at The Royal Madikwe was excellent. At each coffee (or gin) stop, and in between, he taught us about the animals of the reserve. He’s also a fantastic birder and often he’d whip out his binoculars and bird book. At Madikwe Game Reserve, we saw the Big Five and everything in between – except for the shy leopard.


The Royal Madikwe – At a glance

  • Great game viewing, early morning and late afternoon drives (no evening drives as many animals sleep on the sandy roads)
  • Exceptional guiding – can highly recommend our guide, Doctor
  • Private dining arranged in a lot of different spots around the property
  • Farmhouse coming soon, an exclusive-use large homestead (opening June 2019)
  • Great lodge manager, you will be well taken care of!
  • We stayed at The Royal Villa, so we had a massive suite all to ourselves. It’s got a large kitchenette, upstairs sitting area, outside deck and plunge pool with views of a watering hole.

We were completely spoilt at The Royal Madikwe; great food, amazing boma dinners and excellent game viewing.


Eastern Madikwe

The bush became thicker and the landscape hillier, as we drove to the eastern side of Madikwe Game Reserve. The wind had picked up and we were bundled up in our jackets, both of us annoyed that we had picked open-toed shoes for the drive to Madikwe Safari Lodge.

Madikwe Safari Lodge itself is made up of three lodges. The main lodge is for families, super child-friendly, and just beautiful. The two smaller lodges, set on the hill next door, are for groups, exclusive-use or for those who want a holiday without kids.

Madikwe Safari Lodge – At a glance

  • Attention to detail in décor, food, service
  • Hornbills like to hang around the dining area to steal food (adorable!)
  • Rooms are open-plan (there’s only a door on the loo) and compact
  • Beautiful deck with a deep plunge pool
  • Outdoor shower
  • Kids have their own play/educational room that’s at the far end of the lodge
  • Great game drives, also nice little steps for older clients to get into the vehicle

The next day, we stopped off at Madikwe Hills. Set in the treetops, the lodge is connected by wooden walkways. It’s a beautiful bar, eating and public areas are a great selling point.

Madikwe Hills has a big swing overlooking the waterhole, a gorgeous restaurant/bar area and… a safari dog!

Afterwards, we stopped off at Jaci’s Safari Lodge, a wonderfully eclectic lodge, and Jaci’s Tree Lodge, a smaller lodge built on stilts in the treetops.

Both lodge managers were amazing, and we’d recommend the properties to our clients in a heartbeat if they love the eclectic look & feel of the lodge.

Eclectic colours and vibrant hues are the name of the game at Jaci’s Safari Lodge and Jaci’s Tree Lodge


Waterberg Biosphere

Next up, Linda and I connected to the Waterberg area. It’s only a 3-hour drive from O.R. Tambo or a 4-hour drive from Madikwe Game Reserve. Alternatively, it’s a short 30-minute charter flight to the Ant’s Hill airstrip. The Waterberg area is great in combination with Madikwe! Both areas offer excellent game viewing and unique safari experiences.

As we drove and crossed into the Limpopo province, a green world opened to us! Something out of the Wild West, the mountains here are grandiose, made up of butte landforms; and the fields populated with syringa, silver cluster-leaf and lavender trees. The Waterberg Biosphere is truly a hidden gem in South Africa.

We stayed at Ant’s Hill and had a look at its “sister property” Ant’s Nest… about a 20-minute drive away. If you (or your kids) love horses, and you love game viewing of a different kind – then this place is for you.


What sets it apart?

  • Gorgeous, large suites
  • Amazing staff
  • Jaw-dropping food, 4 chefs who make sure every morsel is a delight
  • Horse riding safari… no noise of the vehicle, you get close to animals, pure magic (even beginners can do it!)
  • 4×4 game drives are also available
  • Meet the rhinos of the reserve
  • An amazing family of staff who caters to every need
  • Hilltop setting, so as soon as you walk into the lodge you have views of the valley below

If you’d like to learn more about Madikwe Game Reserve or the Waterberg, just pop us a message. We’re happy to create an itinerary for you or answer any questions that you may have.