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Madikwe Game Reserve By Numbers

By Madikwe Hills on February 28, 2024

If you’re like many visitors to Southern Africa, you might not know too much about Madikwe Game Reserve – South Africa’s fifth largest reserve and the rising star in the premier wildlife circuit of Southern Africa. Not only is it home to all of the Big 5 and over 350 bird species, it is less than 250km from Johannesburg and combines well with other popular destinations across the country including Cape Town and Kruger National Park.

Get to know Madikwe Game Reserve by numbers in our blog post below!


The number of hectares the park encompasses. It’s the fifth-largest privately-operated game reserve in South Africa which came into existence in the early 1990s through one of the biggest wildlife relocation operations in history. The park has a thriving elephant population, as well as lion, leopard, wild dog, black and white rhino and cheetah.


The number of hectares which make up Madikwe-Pilanesberg conservation corridor. This will increase the entire conservation area of Madikwe and Pilanesburg to 300 000 hectares (3 000 square kilometres). Madikwe’s 750 square kilometres will be attached to Pilanesberg Game Reserve which covers an area of 572 square kilometres.

Madikwe Game Reserve boasts a thriving elephant population exceeding 1,200 individuals, prompting discussions on managing their numbers. While not yet necessitating culling, officials suggest potential benefits from reducing the population. Nearby, Pilanesberg, with approximately 250 elephants, offers space for expansion. Establishing the Madikwe-Pilanesberg conservation corridor presents a promising solution, revitalizing ancient elephant migratory routes.


The number of animals relocated to Madikwe Game Reserve under Operation Phoenix in the early 1990s. Madikwe Game Reserve was stocked with wildlife through one of the world’s most significant wildlife translocation projects, known as Operation Phoenix. Over a period of six years, 8 000 animals of 27 major species were relocated from national parks in South Africa to Madikwe.


Length in metres of the airstrip for private charter planes bringing guests to Madikwe Game Reserve. Federal Airlines offers a daily shuttle service from Johannesburg to Madikwe. There are two landing strips in the reserve; one on the eastern side and another on the western side.


The distance in kilometres between Madikwe Game Reserve and Kruger National Park. As South Africa’s leading wildlife destination, it’s quite common for visitors to combine safari experiences in Madikwe and Kruger to get the most out of their trip to South Africa.


The number of recorded bird species found in Madikwe Game Reserve – many of them are endemic to the dry, arid Kalahari Desert as well as the lush Lowveld region. Madikwe is popular as a birding destination for avid birders hoping to see birds from both regions.


The distance from Johannesburg to Madikwe Game Reserve is 220 kilometres – a 3 to 4 hour hour drive via the R509.


The number of kilometres between Madikwe Game Reserve and Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone. The drive takes about 2 hours & 15 minutes via the R49.

125 to 250

Average rainfall in millimetres the reserve gets annually. Located on the border of the massive semi-arid sandy savanna region of the Kalahari Desert, the area is what is known as a green desert receiving slightly more rainfall than a strict desert throughout the year.


The number of varieties of trees found in the reserve. Madikwe covers 75 000 hectares and has a great diversity of flora. There are three main trees which really stand out: Leadwood, Shepherds Tree and Sickle Bush – more commonly referred to by its Afrikaans name, Sekelbos.


Distance in kilometres to the closest town – Zeerust- situated in the Central Region of the North West Province in South Africa. Founded in 1867 in the lush greens of the Klein Marico River Valley. Named Coetzee-Rust which means “Coetzee’s rest”, the abbreviated form is the town’s current name, Zeerust.


Distance in kilometres from Pilanesberg Game Reserve as the crow flies. Pilanesburg is a great option to pair with an experience of Madikwe if you are interested in exploring more of the North West.


The number of large mammal species in the reserve. This includes the Super Seven; elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, leopard, wild dog and cheetah as well as plenty of antelope species, hyena and more.


Number of private lodges within the reserve. Accommodation in Madikwe Game Reserve ranges from family-friendly and eco-friendly lodges to luxury and ultra-luxury lodges. Madikwe Hills boasts 10 supremely spacious and luxurious suites, each with a cosy living area, floor-to-ceiling windows and a private plunge pool.


The number of protected areas in South Africa’s North-West Pronvince – including Madikwe Game Reserve. The North West Parks Board (NWPB) oversees the management and conservation of these conservation areas.


How many years it took to complete the wildlife translocation of ‘Operation Phoenix’ – the world-renowned and most successful translocation project ever undertaken. Over a period of 6 years, more than 8,000 animals were re-introduced to the newly-established Madikwe Game Reserve. Today, Madikwe Game Reserve boasts over 10,000 animals and more than 60 mammal species.

Operation Phoenix accomplished many firsts in wildlife conservation. This was the first time entire herds of buffalo and elephant were relocated and re-introduced to a new area. It also included the relocation of the rare and endangered south-central black rhino and southern white rhino.

The ongoing project has also seen the successful introduction of wild dog and cheetah, as well as gemsbok and springbok from the central region of South Africa.


Number of entrance gates into Madikwe; Abjaterskop Gate, Wonderboom Gate, Tau Gate, Derdepoort Gate and Motledi Gate. The main entrance gate to Madikwe is the Wonderboom Gate.


Number of day visitors permitted in Madikwe. Intentionally low visitor numbers to the reserve ensure that an experience of Madikwe remains highly exclusive and uncrowded. Unlike other reserves in the North-West, visitors must stay overnight at one of the safari lodges within Madikwe Game Reserve.

Madikwe Game Reserve is a remarkable celebration of wildlife conservation and the splendor of Africa’s most iconic wildlife. We invite you to come and experience this extraordinary place, where luxury meets the wild.

Get in touch with our team via email at or view rates and availability on our online booking platform here. We look forward to welcoming you.

Image Credits:
Monique De Caro
Lyne Davel
Gerrie Janse Van Vuuren
Instagram | andrewlphotography

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