Game drives in Madikwe are an experience not to be missed. If you have the opportunity, take it! I promise you wont regret it.
We had a total of six drives during our three night stay and in the post I’m going to go through them on a daily basis as we saw so much, I wouldn’t do the reserve, or Jerry our guide, justice by trying to sum things up.
Madikwe Game Drive – Day 1
We had only one drive on the day we arrived and it started with a bang to say the least. After meeting Jerry, who would be with us for the next few days and having our safety briefing we were asked what we wanted to see. We aren’t picky and everyone on the vehicle mentioned at least one or two sightings we’d like to experience. Buffalo, Pangolin, Leopard and a few more.
We hadn’t even been out the gate for five minutes when we spotted four of only five cheetah in Madikwe. There is a drift next to the lodge and the cheetah brothers were there for a drink. We watched them marking their territory and have a drink before following them on the hunt. There were some Blue Wildebeest close by and the cheetah brothers were set on one for dinner.
We followed them and watched a failed hunting attempt, the wildebeest getting away, and stayed with the brothers as they settled down to recover after the chase.
We moved on and found a male lion lazing in the evening sun. He’d been injured in a previous fight and was recovering slowly.
We moved off from him and word came over the radio that the cheetah brothers had attempted another hunt and been successful. We turned around and started making our way to where they were with their kill. When almost there we had a lioness road block and watched her for a while. As she moved off, another male lion came into view. This was a lion who was in a coalition with the first lion we’d seen.
Moving off from the two lions, more word came over the radio that the cheetahs’ kill had been taken by the first lion.
We found him and watched him eat his Wildebeest for a while. We had mixed emotions here, four hungry cheetahs finally catching something and having it stolen. One injured lion needing a meal. Life is tough in Africa, and no less so in Madikwe.
We had late sun downers as a result of all the action and the drive back to the lodge, while uneventful, was alive with the buzz of all we’d seen on our first drive.
Madikwe Game Drive – Day 2
Morning in Madikwe
All night we’d heard the lion calls and we found the injured male lion near the drift where we’d first spotted the cheetahs the day before.
We watched him a bit before moving off to try and find some Wild Dogs, unfortunately we had no luck there. We did, however, come across some fresh Leopard tracks and spent a good amount of time trying to find him. Again, with no luck.
We had a quick coffee break to warm up and take in the amazing surroundings and had to bring it to a quick end as our guide suspected there was a Black Rhino in the vicinity and he didn’t want us to be caught unaware. As we drove off we saw it was a young Elephant happily having his way with a tree.
We finished our drive with an incredible sighting of three lionesses and nine cubs lazing under a tree and finishing what was left of a Wildebeest that had been caught during the night.
I wouldn’t want to be a Wildebeest in Madikwe, they’re far too popular with hungry predators.
In the afternoon we again found the four cheetah brothers. They were very sleepy and there were the remains of an impala near by. Jerry explained that the Madikwe Ecologist had found them, darted them and remove the tracking collar from one of the brothers. In order to be darted, the cheetahs needed food in their stomach and therefore they had been given the impala. I’d say they scored. The got a free meal, had the collar removed and had a quick nap.
From the cheetahs we went to Tlou Dam to watch the sunset. Arriving we saw a herd of elephant, actually as it turned out, a few herds of elephant.
Due to the nature of the game surrounding us, we had our sun downers in the vehicle while watching an absolutely incredible sunset. We even had a brown hyena pay us a visit while watching the elephants.
On the drive back to the lodge we spotted numerous Spotted Hyena which seemed to be hunting and again found another Brown Hyena.
We were lucky enough to assist another vehicle in tracking a Leopard they had seen and caught a glimpse of him while he was trying to avoid us. He had a warthog kill in the tree so we decided to head back in the morning and see if he was there.
Madikwe Game Drive – Day 3
We’ve been to Madikwe before and have always loved visiting Vlei Pan. Jerry decided that on this drive he would take us there. He warned that it was empty though and the game would be sparse but we went anyway.
On the way we went past the previous night’s Leopard and all we saw was the Warthog kill. No Leopard in sight. Still, this was the first Leopard we had ever seen in Madikwe so we were very grateful for our sighting.
We made our way towards Vlei Pan and found Madikwe’s southern pack of Wild Dogs. About twelve in total. It was a very cold morning and they were all huddled together keeping warm. It’s always incredible to spend some time with such rare animals.
We left the dogs behind and visited Vlei Pan. As expected it was dry but there was still some plains game around.
We stopped not far off for our morning coffee and had a great chat with Jerry about burrows, snakes and the wilderness.
We started the long drive back to Madikwe River Lodge and stopped at a dam we remember from a previous visit to Madikwe to find a herd of around 200 Cape Buffalo that had just been drinking.
That evening we went out again and found the herd of Buffalo, this time in a dense Sekelbos thicket and worked our way to the middle of the herd. For such large, powerful animals, they were very skittish and they didn’t stick around long for us to view.
We drove past an old Giraffe carcass and were pleased to see yet another brown hyena. We definitely saw more of them on this trip than any other trip previously.
Right before our sun downers we were driving along and looking to the left as we stopped, we saw two lion faces staring back at us. I had to do a double take because I wasn’t sure I was actually seeing what my eyes were telling me, and then the rest of the vehicle confirmed that they too were seeing them. We looked at Jerry who was sitting there casually with a smile on his face, waiting to see if we’d notice or if we were just relying on him to do our spotting. We watched them for a short while before having our drinks, not too far away, and receiving a briefing on rhino middens and general poology.
After our drinks we went back and viewed the three lions for a short while before heading back to the lodge.
The last morning saw a very uneventful drive and we spent a lot of time reflecting on our time in the bush.
I would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Jerry who drove us around during our visit. His knowledge, passion and experience have no match. He is enthusiastic and takes the opportunity during quiet parts of the drive to teach us a number of things and keep us engaged.
Thank you Jerry, you definitely made this trip for us and we all look forward to meeting up with you again.