A malarai-free prime wildlife area ideal for family safaris to see the 'Big Five'
The vast Madikwe Game Reserve conservation area spans 75,000 hectares of bushland, stretching all the way up to the Botswana border. Just a short scenic flight from Johannesburg and with chances to see the ‘Big Five’, this malaria-free area is ideal for family vacations.
Experience a 4×4 safari game drive to spot cheetahs, wild dogs, leopards, hyenas, lion, elephants and many more. Relax in luxury lodges, dine under the stars and re-connect with your family. Lodges in Madikwe are designed with families in mind, with children’s clubs, swimming pools and family-friendly lodges available.
The biodiversity in the area is what makes this reserve so attractive, and as well as mammals there are hundreds of bird species, giving children a chance to learn about the local fauna and flora from expert guides.
- Go on a guided game drive to spot the ‘Big Five’.
- See over 300 different bird species.
- Five-star comfort and luxury accommodation.
- Experience astronomy lessons and dine under the stars.
- Unwind at a spa, surrounded by the African bush.
- Go fishing at the local rivers.
- See the wildlife at night with a nocturnal game drive.
Take a look at the itineraries below for more inspiration and let us plan your perfect Madikwe family safari.
Madikwe is perfect for families, since it is malaria free and has so many safari experiences tailor-made for families. Experience game drives, get close to the Big Five and give your family memories that will last a lifetime.
Our top Madikwe family safari trips
Whatever you want your luxury tour or safari itinerary to include, we’ll create something fully bespoke for you… and only you.
Our top Madikwe safari lodges for families
- Molori$$$$$Molori’s five vast suites are distanced for more privacy and designed to the starry heights of infinite, open-sided African chic. At the hand of celebrated South African interiors master Stephen Falcke, the lodge’s perfectly attuned style is not too overboard to disconnect you from the surroundings. A well-balanced blend of international fittings and furnishings sit well next to more regional equivalents and art, a good example being the glass chandeliers that dangle from the steep thatch-roof ceilings. Each of the suites enjoys a pleasing amount of seclusion being well-spaced apart and with their own private decking, infinity plunge pools not to mention magnificent views of the Dwarsberg mountains and surrounding bush of the Madikwe. The two 600sqm presidential suites (Metsi and Molelo) are decorated to the zenith of luxury with Phillippe Starck bathtubs, Fendi loungers and Swahili tables – but again, the glitz is played down to make way for the breath-taking surrounds. The main lodge features a fantastic, world-class Spa to help you relax and really unwind in this wild setting, plus Molori usually places a celebrated chef in residence for some of the country’s best fine dining on safari.
- Mateya Safari Lodge$$$$$The epitome of finesse and elegance, Mateya is arguably the most impressive lodge for exceptional traditional luxury within the Madikwe Reserve. A classic, almost regal, style is reflected throughout the entire property from the decadent dining hall, inviting lounge and well-stocked wine cellar to its handmade mahogany furniture and notable fine art collection of oil paintings and bronze sculptures. Its five vast suites, spaced out about the grounds for more privacy, are exquisitely decorated with 6ft-wide four poster beds almost matched in size by the massive marble bath tubs in the en suite bathrooms and extensive private decks with plunge pools that disappear into the brush beyond. What’s more with only a maximum of ten guests, you get a very attentive and personalised service from the staff and game drives are only four persons. The rangers here at Mateya are some of the best in the country and there’s also the chance to do bush walks with them, which are fairly unusual in this game reserve.
- Jamala Madikwe$$$$$Individual service, attention to detail and exclusivity are at the heart of the owner-managed and run, Jamala Madikwe, Royal Safari Lodge. This luxurious lodge successfully combines colonial and African style for a sophisticated stay in the savannahs of the Madikwe area. Catering to a maximum of ten guests within five sumptuously appointed villas, each villa offers indulgent privacy, individual rim-flow pools, separate outdoor showers, a cosy fireplace and a sala overlooking the bushveld. Set in a quiet corner of the pristine renowned 75 000 hectare malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, Jamala Madikwe is the ideal place for that ultimate safari experience. In the evenings witness the hive of activity at the waterhole right in front of the lodge, or unwind on your own private deck and take in the glowing sunsets. Guests can also savour a romantic private dinner up the Water Tower, enjoy private massages, unwind in the library with fireplace or make use of the gym.
- Madikwe Safari Lodge$$$$$Situated in the central eastern section of the Madikwe Reserve known for having some of the best game viewing in the whole park, the Madikwe Safari Lodge’s three intimate and award winning properties are great for honeymooners to holidayers with kids of all ages. The Lelapa Lodge has twelve freestanding suites, with a good ten to fifteen metres between each, and come with private plunge pools, air con, fireplaces, WiFi and spacious en suite bathrooms with both in and outdoor showers. Accepting all ages, this lodge is best for families. The Kopano has four suites staggered in the same layout with similar amenities, however children are not allowed here, so this is a better choice for honeymooners or those looking for some extra privacy and quiet. Dithaba, meaning ‘Mountain’, is the lodge that is more secluded than the first two properties and built on the side of the mountain, elevated for better views over the open plains. Again this lodge has all the same amenities and set out as the others, and takes children if hired on an exclusive basis. Enjoy morning and evening game drives, with some fantastic kid’s facilities and activities curated around them, not to mention romantic boma dinners, bush breakfasts, guided bush walks and astronomy lessons.
- Morukuru Family$$$$$Choose to stay at one of the Morukuru Family’s three unique properties in the Madikwe Game Reserve and take charge of your safari adventure. The Morukuru has three ‘villas’ to choose from. The River House caters for up to six adults and four children and combines European styling with African influences as the largest property. A short walk away is the Owner’s House, which accepts smaller parties of between two and four guests. This accommodation features fantastic attention to design and comes replete with a heated infinity pool. Lastly is Farm House, for groups of 4 to 10 guests and 10 minutes walk away from the other properties. This is the most modern of all the villas and is as light and spacious as a safari lodge can get. You will have complete control of each of the villas, with a host of discreet staff to wait on your every whim; since there are no set schedules, you will be able to choose precisely what you want to do and when you want to do it, whether that be tracking wildlife on a tailored big game drive, or simply lounging by the pool enjoy a cocktail or two.
- Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge$$$$$Enjoy an utterly luxurious and exclusive safari at Sanctuary Makanyane Lodge. Here, your days begin with the sound of cooing emerald spotted doves or the sight of elephants trundling by your elegant glass-walled suite on their way to drink from the nearby river, where hippos laze in the water and bushbucks graze tentatively through its shaded banks. With just eight lavish suites and its location set in 1,800 hectares of private grounds in the Madikwe Game Reserve, this African wilderness is shared only with the fifteen other guests promising days filled with exclusive game experiences. Meanwhile, nights can be spent sleeping under the stars in the amazing sleep out hide found deep in the bush. After exhilarating daily wildlife encounters, return to Makanyane to cool off in the infinity pool, relax on your private sundeck, dine on delicious cuisine and indulge in full body massages.
- Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge$$$$$Not only does the Madikwe Reserve enjoy the Big Five but the Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge delivers all the panache of a Five Star safari experience. Its ten elegant suites all have their own private sun decks, plunge pools and glass-fronts for unbroken views of the surrounding savannah and are the ultimate in Afro-chic safari elegance. Thick linens and rich cotton bedding are surrounded by the native bushveld style of stone, earthy tones, aged wood, fireplaces, underfloor heating and all with the lavish feel of polished luxury. Also if you are after an even more private and personalised stay there’s the separate Private Little Madikwe Hills 2-bedroom suite that comes with a large private swimming pool, personal butler, chef, Landrover and game ranger. The staff here at Madikwe Hills are very accommodating and the gourmet food is equally impressive: eat and swap stories in the light of a late-night Boma, indulge in a late afternoon massage after a game drive and don’t forget to take the opportunity to dine out in the bush one evening.
- Lelapa$$$$$Lelapa translates as ‘family’, and this sprawling private villa could hardly be better named. First there is the size. 12 suites accommodate up to 24 people, including a handful of connecting children’s’ rooms, making Lelapa perfect for family and friends groups. Then there’s the building itself, with numerous communal spaces – plunge pools, cosy lounge areas and fire places – for quality time with those most important to you after a day of exquisite Madikwe safari. But perhaps the name ‘Lelapa’ is most apt when talking about your warm host team, including private safari guides, chefs and babysitters, all there to make the whole experience unforgettable.
- Little Madikwe Hills Private Lodge$$$$$Spend your private African safari with your family or friends at the exclusive Little Madikwe Hills Private Lodge. Welcoming children of all ages, create a special family experience here in this malaria-free reserve with your youngsters. Alternatively, reserve the additional two suites and make this beautiful lodge your own private safari home for you and seven friends. The sumptuous villa offers authentic luxury, while your kitchen, lounge, terrace and pool provide a huge amount of space to enjoy. What’s more, staff are on hand to ensure every moment of your stay passes with ease, from a personal butler to a private chef and child-minder, and of course your own game vehicle and ranger. When you are not enjoying the luxuries of the villa, your knowledgeable safari guide will take you on drives exploring the African bush. Look forward to days stalking the Big Five, plus smaller wildlife including the resident and rare Wild Dog.