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Mooifontein 2 2021

2 to 5 December 2021

Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s foremost Big Five malaria-free reserves, was envisaged not by conservationists, but by economists. They found conservation would create more income and jobs than the existing land-use, which was cattle-farming. This successful reserve, the 5th largest in South Africa, is now a model that has inspired South African conservation. A thriving population of 66 large mammal species, over 350 bird species and 104 varieties of trees all exist in a completely malaria-free environment.

The reserve lies within a transition region between Lowveld bushveld and Kalahari thornveld. As a result, the region is host to an impressive diversity of species from both ecosystems. Geographically the region has enormous volcanic intrusions known as inselbergs, wide open plains, open woodlands, dry Acacia woodlands and riverine environment along the Marico River in the east of the reserve. The rich diversity of vegetation ensures a wide range of game and bird species and the topography offers ideal game viewing and birding opportunities.

There are 3 seasonal pans on the plains, which are excellent spots at any time of day, but particularly in the evening and early morning when the sandgrouse congregate.

The Mooifontein Experience

Mooifontein Lodge is set in the Western section of the Reserve and is a private bush retreat for the exclusive use of groups of up to 10 people.

The main lodge houses the communal kitchen and lounge area. In front of the main lodge, overlooking the private waterhole where animals regularly come to drink, is a shaded porch and private swimming pool. All units have an uninterrupted view of the camp waterhole at which there is always game to be seen.

Imagine waking up to the warm glow of an African dawn, when the morning light through your glass-fronted chalet brings grazing, playful herds of antelope and thirsty animals out for some morning refreshment. This is the Africa you will experience at Mooifontein.

The early morning and afternoon game drives are undoubtedly the highlight of the day. Mooifontein caters for guests who are looking for an authentic, relaxed bush experience – open safari-style 4×4 vehicle, sundowners and snacks in the veld, knowledgeable game guides, dirt roads and off-road access when necessary. There is never an over-crowded feeling, never any noise or intrusion of privacy.

Birding

Madikwe is renowned for its excellent birding, with over 350 bird species having been recorded in the area. Bird species here differ quite markedly from other areas of South Africa as the Reserve sits on the edge of the Kalahari basin and birdlife is more consistent with what one would find in the more arid areas of Southern Africa.

The extensive plains of black cotton soils in one section of the reserve are a favoured haunt of Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, normally a difficult to find species. Other ground dwelling birds include the stately Kori Bustard, regal Secretarybird, Northern Black and Red-crested Korhaans, Burchell’s, Namaqua and Double-banded Sandgrouses, Double-banded, Bronze-winged and Temminck’s Coursers and Kurrichane Buttonquail.

Coqui and Orange River Francolins are more difficult to find than their three bushveld cousins.

White-backed, Lappet-faced and Cape Vultures are regularly seen at kills. Raptor birding is generally good with Martial, Tawny, Verreaux’s, Wahlberg’s (summer) and African Hawk Eagles being regularly sighted. Black-chested and Brown Snake-Eagles occur while Steppe Eagle and Lesser Spotted Eagle are infrequent summer visitors.

Lanner Falcon, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Greater Kestrel, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk and Little Sparrowhawk are the most abundant and widespread of the smaller raptors.

Rocky hillsides hold Short-Toed Rock-Thrush, Mocking Cliff-Chat, and Lazy Cisticola. Other cisticola species include Desert and Tinkling.

Insectivores include the striking Crimson-breasted Shrike (the yellow form has been recorded in Madikwe), Southern Pied Babbler, Kalahari and White-browed Scrub-Robins, Barred Wren-Warbler, Ashy Tit, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Rufous-eared Warbler. Mixed feeders such as Red-eyed and Dark-capped Bulbul, Acacia Pied Barbet, Great Sparrow and Cape and Burchell’s Glossy Starlings are also common residents.

Seed eaters are well represented in all parts of the reserve. All 5 species of Southern African sparrow are resident, four bunting species, as well as Pintailed Whydah, Shaft-tailed Whydah and Long-tailed Paradise- Whydah. Colourful Violet-eared and Black-faced Waxbills are found in the company of Green-winged Pytilia and all three firefinch species occur in good numbers.

Game viewing

Madikwe is not merely a paradise for birders.  Early morning and late afternoon game drives regularly provide spectacular wildlife experiences.

The reserve has an extremely healthy elephant population, all the large predators as well as the endangered African Wild Dog, Black and White Rhinoceros, and African Buffalo. In addition to the Big Five, animals that are regularly sighted include Giraffe, Eland, Zebra, Warthog, Spotted Hyena, Black-backed Jackal, Baboon, Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Tsessebe, Kudu, Impala, Springbok and many more. Brown Hyena is regularly seen at the Mooifontein waterhole at night.

Game viewing is excellent during the drier months of April to October and the southern night skies appear to be studded with more stars than usual. The vegetation thins out during this dry season and animals congregate at the water holes.

This 4-day tour departs from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned VW Caravelle, 4-wheel drive.

Itineraries

Day 1

Date : December 2, 2021

Johannesburg-Madikwe Game Reserve

Depart from Johannesburg bright and early.
Travel via Groot Marico and Zeerust to Madikwe Game Reserve, arriving at around lunchtime.
Afternoon game drive in open safari vehicle.
Overnight at Mooifontein Lodge, Madikwe.

Day 2

Date : December 3, 2021

Mooifontein Madikwe

Early morning game drive in open safari vehicle.
Rest of day spent birding and relaxing in camp.
Afternoon game drive in open safari vehicle.
Overnight at Mooifontein Lodge.

Day 3

Date : December 4, 2021

Mooifontein Madikwe

Early morning game drive in open safari vehicle.
Rest of day spent birding and relaxing in camp.
Afternoon game drive in open safari vehicle.
Overnight at Mooifontein Lodge.

Day 4

Date : December 5, 2021

Madikwe-home

Early morning game drive in open safari vehicle.
Depart after breakfast for home.

Includes

The tour price includes transport, all meals, accommodation, daily conservation fees, entrance fees and six guided game drives in open safari vehicle.

Excludes

All you would need to pay for would be gratuities, alcoholic beverages, and items of a personal nature. 

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