Current Covid-19 Issues
The effect of this terrible pandemic is still an unknown as regards travelling to Africa in 2021. As responsible tour operators, Photographers on safari can only make the plans for a tour/series of tours that should run smoothly without any hitches.
We are now some 5 months away from our scheduled tour/safari to Botswana. As time progresses, I am getting more uncertain that this section can run without problems. When travelling in and out of any country in Africa all passengers are required to have passed a Covid test not more than 70 hours prior to your international flights. This presents huge problems for people staying in remote areas. I am envisaging losing one (or maybe even two) days prior to leaving both South Africa and Botswana. That could potentially be a total of four days lost. This makes the Botswana section much less attractive.
All travellers to Botswana have also chosen to combine at least one week in South Africa with the Botswana Tour. Three clients are spending a week in South Africa prior to the Botswana Tour and also a week there afterwards as well.
I have come to the decision that I think that we should postpone Botswana until 2022.
I have therefore spent a lot of time finding an alternative in South Africa. I have come up with a little-known safari park called Madikwe. I have used the same agents that were providing our activities and accommodation on Botswana. They have helped develop the facilities at Jaci’s Lodge and we will have full access to them all.
This will avoid complicated flights between countries that are not easy to access under current conditions. Staying in one country is a much better option.
I sincerely hope that you will all choose to join me at Madikwe this year instead of Botswana. We are still very hopeful that we will be able to travel to South Africa this year, but only if we simplify our combined itineraries.
Madikwe Game Reserve is currently the fifth largest game reserve and is also one of the lesser- known parks in South Africa. This makes it a hidden gem as it is regarded as one of the best conservation areas in Africa and offers Wild Dogs & the Big 5 in a 680 km2 park (750 km2 including newly incorporated privately owned land). The park offers a number of luxurious lodges in a malaria- free zone.
Madikwe Game Reserve is situated against the Botswana border close to the Kalahari Desert. It is roughly 4.5 hours in a car from Johannesburg (international flights and Covid testing are no longer required). In 1991 the area was declared a reserve and 10,000 mammals were relocated from other National Parks. The park is now home to approximately 66 large mammal species and roughly 300 bird species.
The malaria-free reserve is home to the Big 5, which consists of Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Buffalo and Lion. Although the Big 5 will ensure a fascinating sight and wonderful safari photographs, the true highlight of visiting Madikwe is their thriving African wild dog population. These tough, and cute, animals have had a lot to overcome since their introduction to the reserve, and have since become an unofficial mascot of Madikwe. They are playful, highly intelligent and unique in both looks and characteristics, and observing their day-to-day interactions are one of the stand-out moments to experience in the reserve.
Madikwe Game Reserve consists of vast open plains of woodlands and grasslands and is bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. The reserve has been enclosed in a 150 km perimeter electric fence to prevent the escape of larger animals.
Jaci’s Tree Lodge
If you are looking for an authentic, friendly and welcoming safari experience then look no further than Jaci’s Lodges. Jaci’s Lodges focus on providing guests with personal attention and outstanding service as well as luxurious accommodation. Jaci’s Tree Lodge is our accommodation while at Madikwe.
- Their luxurious Jaci’s Tree Lodge offers a very unique safari experience, catering for people looking to reconnect with nature. Jaci’s Tree Lodge is perched high up in the forest canopy, built on the edge of the Marico River. You can sit in your suite and watch the forest animals play in the forest canopy. Jaci’s Tree Lodge provides accommodation in 8 luxurious rooms connected by wooden walkways. These rooms enjoy views across the Marico River. These thatched, wooden “treehouses” blend in with their surrounds allowing guests to truly unwind and connect with the nature that surrounds them. Treehouse Suites include; Large indoor bath
- Eco-friendly Beautiful Earth amenities
- Private outdoor shower
- Private viewing deck
- Air-conditioner and ceiling fan
- Twice-daily game drives, including sunset / sunrise stop and night drives
- All meals daily
- Local and specialized teas and fabulous filter coffee
- *Select local house drinks including a special selection of fine South African wines (red, white and sparkling), spirits, beers and non-alcoholic beverages
- Traditional fireside dining as often as possible
- Access to our submerged photographic Terrapin Hide and Tlou Deck
- Sleep out under the stars at Naledi Treehouse, complete with KolKol hot tub, Enviroloo and outdoor shower (Additional costs apply)
- Access to Tree Lodge Main Lodge
- Access to the Tree Lodge Main Lodge swimming pool
With the breath-taking vistas of Madikwe Game Reserve as the backdrop and a diverse variety of wildlife as the subject matter, Jaci’s Lodges’ complete photographic offering caters to all guests, whether amateurs or professionals, who want to capture once-in-a-lifetime memories, rare and beautiful game sightings, emotive landscapes or those special often-overlooked details that the bush provides in abundance. Perfectly complementing the photographic offering at Jaci’s Lodges is the submerged Terrapin Hide. Accessible via an underwater tunnel, the popular hide is open 24/7 to all guests staying at Jaci’s Tree Lodge. For your convenience, our photographic equipment is also available to hire. The submerged Terrapin Hide is a favourite of amateur snappers and photographic professionals alike.
Be sure to check out the Terrapin Hide on these links
The Terrapin Hide
Whether you want to capture priceless images of wildlife from the centre of the waterhole or simply sit quietly, immersing yourself in your surroundings, the water-level Terrapin Hide at Jaci’s Lodges is proud to offer this unique vantage point. Our friends at Pangolin Photo Safaris assisted with the design and construction of the hide, ensuring its position and functionality for a truly unique game-viewing and photographic experience. The hide is visited by a wide variety of animals and birds, and, thanks to its unique location, you can sit quietly and watch them coming down to drink as if you weren’t even there. The Terrapin Photographic Hide is only accessible to guests staying at Jaci’s Tree Lodge.
- The Terrapin Hide, open since September 2015, has established Jaci’s Lodges as a premium photographic safari destination
- Its west-facing orientation guarantees soft morning light and warm backlit silhouettes in the late afternoon
- Accessible via an underwater tunnel, the hide is open 24 hours a day
- It is fully equipped with red LED interior lights, spotlights and a radio.
- The Terrapin Photographic Hide is only accessible to guests staying at Jaci’s Tree Lodge.
- The Terrapin Hide is located in the middle of a waterhole, with easy access from Jaci’s Tree Lodge and within walking distance of Jaci’s Safari Lodge.
- The hide, which is accessed via a submerged tunnel and features a water-level viewing window, has established Jaci’s Lodges as a premium photographic safari destination.
- The low angle gives photographers an unparalleled opportunity to capture eye-level images of the plethora of animal life that visits the waterhole daily. Its west-facing orientation guarantees soft morning light and warm backlit silhouettes in the late afternoon.
- From the safety and unique vantage point of the hide, you might even get lucky and capture an elusive leopard, swimming elephants or African wild dogs.
- The hide is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fully equipped with red LED interior lights, spotlights and a radio, this unique vantage point is enjoyed by not only photographers but all lodge guests.
- *The Terrapin Photographic Hide is only accessible to guests staying at Jaci’s Tree Lodge.
To experience a truly authentic African safari in the splendid Madikwe Game Reserve is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure guaranteed to be forever etched in your memory. On a Jaci’s Lodges safari, you can look forward to an epic experience including the possibility of seeing the Big 5 (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino), as well as Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Hyena, Giraffe and Hippo – all sightings for which Madikwe is famous.
Jaci’s Lodges provide guests with a wide range of activities to make the most of their safari experience. There is a variety of safaris, including game-drives, walking, birding, conservation, photographic. The winter months (May to September) in Madikwe are dry and cool, with crisp clear blue skies. Night temperatures can sometimes drop to 2°C so be sure to bring warm clothes. Day temperatures average a comfortable 23°C. This is the best time for big game viewing, with animals being forced to move around in search of the scarce water supplies.
Safaris in Madikwe
The Madikwe Game Reserve, with its diverse landscapes and abundance of animals, is a special destination for a safari. The park is suited to first time visitors as well as more seasoned aficionados. The large area of the reserve ensures a changing background for game viewing and scenic photography. Day visitors are not allowed in the park, so the number of vehicles in the park during game drive hours is limited to the lodges’ vehicles, which makes Madikwe a very exclusive safari destination.
- Your expert field guides will always do their utmost to ensure that you enjoy an incredible bush safari adventure on our twice-daily safari drives.
- Over the years, our highly qualified guides have accumulated a wonderful repertoire of anecdotes and interesting facts on local wildlife, geology, history and geography, and they look forward to sharing these tales of the wild with you, making your African safari game drive a fun and informative experience.
- Should your guides see fit, they may venture off-road onto bush trails and into natural terrain to track animals.
- Expect to hear languages you may not understand: Jaci’s field guides will communicate sightings and recent kills via a two-way radio, using Setswana and vernacular code words.
- To ensure a private safari experience, only three safari vehicles at a time are allowed at each sighting.
Typical Safari Schedule
- Wakeup call: You will be woken by a knock on your door. Please feel free to make a cup of coffee/tea in your room, or enjoy tea, coffee and cereal at the Main Lodge before setting off on the morning drive.
- Departure: The morning drive leaves from the Main Lodge and includes a stop along the way for exceptionally good coffee and freshly baked rusks.
- Brunch: Enjoy a delicious continental or full-English breakfast selection, with additional lunch dishes and refreshments, on your return from the morning drive.
- High tea: Refreshing homemade drinks and an assortment of savouries and pastries are served before you depart for your afternoon drive.
- Departure: The afternoon drive also leaves from the Main Lodge and includes a stop for your choice of sundowner as well as stargazing after sunset.
- Dinner: On returning from the drive, guests have time to freshen up before pre-dinner drinks at the Main Lodge bar, before being treated to a variety of South African-inspired, fire-cooked dishes, which we serve under the stars around the campfire as often as possible.
A century ago, packs of African wild dogs more than 100 members strong roamed free on the Serengeti Plains. Over time, African wild dog populations in central and northeast Africa were wiped out, and across Africa their numbers continued to decline, earning these canines an endangered status. Today, fewer than 5 000 dogs live behind fences in African reserves.
The good news for visitors to Madikwe Game Reserve is that highly endangered African wild dog packs are flourishing here. A founding group of six African wild dogs was introduced to the Reserve in 1994. Despite lion attacks and rabies outbreaks, the pack slowly grew and established a resident clan. Today, a wild dog hunting pack thrives in Madikwe Game Reserve.
African wild dogs are extremely active and need to average a kill a day to keep their energy levels up. Excellent hunters, they target prey cooperatively in packs, using stamina rather than stealth, and communicating using a range of vocalisations, including a short bark of alarm, a rallying howl and a bell-like contact call.
After singling out an injured or old animal in the herd, the hunting pack will boldly approach. As the herd stampedes, the dogs will chase down their prey. African wild dogs have been known to pursue prey for more than an hour, using the white tips of their bushy tails as flags to keep the pack in contact.
The hunting clan will eat the prey on the spot and then return to the rest of the pack to regurgitate food for the young and injured.
- African wild dogs are easily identified by their splotched coat of brown, white, black and yellow
- No two dogs bear the same markings
- The wild dog’s front paw-print shows four toes
- Highly social animals, wild dogs live in packs of 5 to 15, led by an alpha male or female
- Each dog shares in the spoils of a hunt, and each pack member (male and female) contributes to caring for the pups.
The wild dogs are one of the best hunters with an 80% success rate – this is even more impressive when you compare it to the 30% success rate of lions, who also hunt in groups. The dogs are able to chase prey over distances, running at a constant speed of 60km an hour. The weaker and older prey will eventually tire and this is when the dogs pounce and together as a pack kill and disembowel the prey. The pack feeds in about 15 minutes before rushing back to the puppies to feed them. Once puppies are old enough for solid food, they will feed first, even before the alphas. Wild dogs are able to take down a buffalo as well as up to three impalas a day. While on the hunt, they communicate with each other using their white bushy tails, which they stick in the air. This also helps the group stick together.
Big 5 at Madikwe
Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s prime safari destinations. A malaria-free area, the Reserve is home to more than 60 mammal species and well over 300 resident and migrant bird species. The rich range of vegetation, unique topography and wilderness, and incredible diversity of wildlife and birds, make it a game-viewers’ and bird watchers’ paradise.
The Reserve’s location close to the edge of the Kalahari Desert ensures visitors a truly diverse game-viewing experience.
- Madikwe Game Reserve is famous for its Big 5: Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant and Rhino.
- The malaria-free Reserve is also home to Hippo, Giraffe, African Wild Dog, Brown and Spotted Hyena, and Cheetah.
- Our most endangered species are Cheetah, Wild Dog, and Black and White Rhino.
- Madikwe Game Reserve supports a number of large Antelope species, including Eland, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest and Tsessebe.
- Smaller Antelope species also abound, including Springbok, Duiker and Klipspringer.
- Other animals found here include Honey Badger, Cape Clawless Otter, Serval, Bat-Eared Fox, Aardvark, Baboon, Porcupine, Warthog, Bushbaby, Zebra and Aardwolf.
- 66 different species of Mammals are present at Madikwe.
Birds at Madikwe
More than 350 species of birds have been recorded in Madikwe Game Reserve, with migrant species visiting throughout the year. The birds are attracted by Madikwe’s trees and wild grasses, making the Reserve a birdwatchers’ paradise.
Diverse bird families in Madikwe include flycatchers, firefinches, babblers and buzzards
Over 45 different tree species provide shade, food and habitat for wildlife and birds in Madikwe Game Reserve. Since the reserve is made up of multiple veld types, including mixed bushveld, Kalahari bushveld, arid sweet bushveld and thornveld, the mosaic of vegetation and grasses is unprecedented.
The fauna in the reserve is as diverse as the animals, and includes trees such as the shepherd’s tree, bush willows, weeping wattles, marulas and fig trees.
The Itinerary – August 2021
For those clients who are spending 8 nights at Zimanga 14th August to 21st August and departing from Zimanga on 22nd August, we will stay overnight in Johannesburg on August 22nd. Hotel not included.
Day 1; Monday 23rd August. Depart Johannesburg. Drive to Madikwe in South Africa. Afternoon safari or Terrapin Hide. Overnight Jaci’s Tree Lodge. LD
Day 2; Tuesday 24th August. Morning Safari in Madikwe. Afternoon safari or Terrapin Hide. The Terrapin Hide is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Overnight Jaci’s Tree Lodge. Full Board.
Day 3; Wednesday 25th August. Morning Safari in Madikwe. Afternoon safari or Terrapin Hide. The Terrapin Hide is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Overnight Jaci’s Tree Lodge. Full Board.
Day 4; Thursday 26th August. Morning Safari in Madikwe. Afternoon safari or Terrapin Hide. The Terrapin Hide is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Overnight Jaci’s Tree Lodge. Full Board.
Day 5; Friday 27th August. Morning Safari in Madikwe. Afternoon safari or Terrapin Hide. The Terrapin Hide is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Overnight Jaci’s Tree Lodge. Full Board.
Day 6; Saturday 28th August. Morning Safari in Madikwe. Afternoon safari or Terrapin Hide. The Terrapin Hide is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Overnight Jaci’s Tree Lodge. Full Board.
Day 7; Sunday 29th August. Morning Safari in Madikwe. Afternoon safari or Terrapin Hide. The Terrapin Hide is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Overnight Jaci’s Tree Lodge. Full Board.
Day 8; Monday 30th August. Morning Safari in Madikwe. Breakfast. Depart Madikwe. Drive to Johannesburg. British Airways flight to Durban. Non-stop. Depart JNB 16.45. Arrive Durban 17.50.
For those clients who are spending 8 nights at Zimanga 1st September to 8th September and departing from Zimanga on 9th September, we will fly from JNB to DBN and stay overnight in Durban on August 30th. There are British Airways flights departing JNB for DUR at 16.45, 17.35 and at 18.40. Flight time 1hr 5 mins. £35.00. Flight not included. Overnight in Durban at inexpensive hotel not included. Main group arrive from UK 05.00 on 31st August.
Trip Cost; £4332.00
N.B The cost of the Botswana Safari was £3995 + £337 flights = £4332.00
The cost of Madikwe Safari/Tour is, therefore, exactly the same.
Meals where indicated on the Itinerary above. Road transfers to and from Madikwe. All Safari Activities. All food while at Madikwe.
Meals where NOT indicated on the Itinerary above. Flights. One night’s accommodation in either Johannesburg or Durban – depending on your arrival date into South Africa. Tips and items of a personal nature. Visas.
Can be combined with South Africa Hides and Big 5 Safari.
Your trip to Madikwe can be seamlessly combined with 8 nights in South Africa. Contact Photographers on Safari for details.