Elephant and landscape, Marataba Game Lodge, The Waterberg

Madikwe and The Waterberg

One of South Africa’s largest game reserves, Madikwe Game Reserve is home to the Big Five and has a healthy African wild dog population.

Bordering Botswana to its north, Madikwe reserve is one of the best run in the country. Some 8,000 animals including lion, elephant, cheetah, rhino and buffalo were introduced to the reserve during one of the biggest wildlife translocation projects in the world, “Operation Noah” some 20 years ago and have flourished in this unique environment.

The Waterberg, identified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is also home to plenty of wildlife, boasts some impressive birdlife plus a fascinating history. Dominated by the rugged beauty of the Waterberg Mountain Range, this area was home to the San Bushmen for thousands of years, evidence of which can be seen at rock art sites throughout the area.

Sand Track in Marakele NP, The Waterberg, South Africa
The Waterberg, South Africa
Makanyane Safari Lodge, Madikwe & The Waterberg, South Africa
Wild dogs, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Cheetahs kissing, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Cheetah, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Giraffes in front of ridge, Marataba Game Lodge, The Waterberg
Giraffe, The Waterberg, South Africa

Why visit Madikwe and The Waterberg

  • Excellent malaria-free game reserves, perfect for family friendly safari holidays
  • Rich diversity of vegetation and terrain from open plains to riverine bush ensures a wide variety of game
  • Accessible and easily combined with other highlights in South Africa and beyond
  • Madikwe is great for the Big Five and The Waterberg has some of the best horse-riding in the country
Game drive at Thornybush Saseka Tented Camp, Hoedspruit, Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa
Hoedspruit, South Africa

Holiday Idea

This holiday idea to South Africa can easily be extended or adapted to include a safari in the Madikwe and Waterberg game reserves, easily reached overland from Johannesburg.

10 days

from £6,395 pp

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Tell us what you love doing and we’ll curate a journey that’s perfect for you.

Night sky at Marataba Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserves, South Africa

Night Sky Safari

Join a night sky safari to learn more about the vast African skies – your guides will point out the seasonally shifting constellations and those that are unique to the southern hemisphere.

Ant's Hill, The Waterberg, South Africa

Horseback Safari

The Waterberg region of South Africa offers some of the best horse riding in the country and the chance to move among the wildlife, almost as one.

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Lilac Breasted Roller, Kruger National Park, South Africa


The Madikwe region of South Africa is home to more than 350 species of bird making it a great spot for keen ornithologists.

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Hands on Rhino Conservation, clients with rangers and Rhino in July 2017, South Africa

Madikwe Conservation Safaris

Join a team of professionals for a hands-on conservation experience notching and micro-chipping rhinos, collaring elephants, sample collecting and counting game – all invaluable conservation activities.

Elephant on grasslands, Marataba Game Lodge, The Waterberg

Low Risk Malaria Safari

Explore the dramatic landscapes of South Africa’s Madikwe & The Waterberg, northern reserves, a low risk malarial area.

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Game drives, Makanyane Safari Lodge, Madikwe & The Waterberg, South Africa

Day & Night Game Drives

Once barren farming land, Madikwe now teems with species. Set out on game drives during the day and night, in search of lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, buffaloes and more.

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Baby elephant, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Kids’ Activities

Take advantage of the countless kids’ activities on offer at Madikwe’s lodges. These include treasure hunts, t-shirt painting, clay building, survival skills and bush memory games.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Rachael Tallents

Adventure, discovery and my curiosity for people and the natural world is what drives my love of travelling.  I am grateful for my parents’ desire to explore, and from an early age my eyes were open to diverse landscapes, cultures, and underwater worlds.

For the last 16 years, I have worked for a leading luxury tour operator designing incredible journeys for discerning clients and travelled to some magical places. I am excited to have joined Steppes Travel, and to be working for a company with such strong ethical and sustainable values.

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Illona Cross

Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management.

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Chris Johnston

Chris is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Africa.

25 years ago, my first trip to Africa took on a life of its own. I planned for three months, I stayed for two years. Whilst there, I was mistaken for a priest, attacked by sharks and arrested. Yet the countless, clattering journeys opened my eyes to the beauty of the landscapes and the grace of the people. My recent trips are undoubtedly more comfortable, but the welcome is as warm as ever and the best experiences are still those I never see coming.

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Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge, curiosity and expertise set us apart, driving us to create remarkable holidays and Beautiful Adventures tailored perfectly to you, carefully curated to help protect and conserve our planet.

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