The malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve is located on South Africa's northern border with Botswana, in a semi-arid area characterised by red sands, open grasslands and sparse bushveld.

It is one of South Africa's largest reserves, and is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo), as well as the highly endangered African wild dog and cheetah, and myriad smaller game. The reserve was converted from former farmland in the 1990s, with thousands of animals reintroduced during Operation Phoenix, one of the largest relocations of animals in history.

Madikwe is an easy four-hour drive from Johannesburg and is teeming with game, making it one of Flow Travel's favourite reserves to book for our clients, whether local or international. There are more than 20 private lodges here, ranging from the very plush, like Rhulani, located in the hills in the west of the reserve, to the off-the-grid eco-lodge, Mosetlha, located right in the middle.

31912204707 a7231b9280 o
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

A lion yawns in the early evening, waking up slowly for the evening hunt.

49464817643 895a70cc2c k
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

A chameleon's reproachful gaze.

32732813737 5726d5b126 o
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

Madikwe is home to cheetah, one of the most endangered of Africa's cats.

32732837007 0f8b17cc27 k
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

The highly endangered African wild dogs are a Madikwe "special". The dogs hunt in packs and are highly social animals. Each dog has a unique coat pattern.

41645102721 e51b94be0d o 5
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

The colourful lilac-breasted roller is a frequent sight in Madikwe in summer, when they are present in the reserve.

41645200731 579222d5a4 k
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

Leopards are nocturnal and secretive, so spotting one is always exciting!

41644895831 fa3cd8424f k
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

A mother spotted hyena with a tiny cub. Spotted hyenas are sociable animals and all the clan plays a part in rearing youngsters.

41644853021 c3751b19ae k
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

A dawn sky in the Madikwe Game Reserve.

48012186231 fcf54c81b9 k
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

There is no self-drive option in Madikwe; your lodge will organise game drives in specialised vehicles. This means you can often get very close to the animals, such as this cheetah.

49405425712 0c76fb9060 k
(Image: Tara Turkington/Flow Communications)

Elephants at sunset.