Tailor Made Itinerary

7 Days
Gail’s Malaria Free Pilanesberg & Madikwe Safari Spectacular

1 night Johannesburg | 2 nights Pilansberg Game Reserve | 3 nights Madikwe Game Reserve

Tour Highlights

  • Lush Private Game Lodge
  • Pilanesberg Game Reserve
  • Big Five Game Viewing
  • Madikwe Game Reserve
  • Abundant Birdlife
  • Bush Walks & Night Safaris

Client Review

Thank you for planning the most wonderful trip Gail! Everything you organised and scheduled went so smoothly and we loved the accommodation choices and our amazing safaris so much. The Pilanesberg Game Reserve was wonderful and the safaris in Madikwe gave us a completely different experience that we will always remember. We hope to be back soon!

Jessie T

Tour Consultant's Overview

This is a lovely itinerary focusing on our malaria free safari areas in the northern region of South Africa. What a lovely combination of game reserves – the delightful Pilanesberg and the ever popular Madikwe Game Reserve right up on the border of Botswana. Jessie had a wonderful time on her holiday and it was a pleasure planning this tour for her.
Gail Davis
Day 1 Arrival in Johannesburg (1 night)

On arrival at OR Tambo International Airport, you will be met by your driver and guide and transferred to your hotel in the heart of Sandton to drop your luggage.

Once brash and raw, like most frontier towns, Johannesburg has over the years transformed itself into a sleek, modern city without sacrificing any of its high energy or historic past. Gracious old colonial buildings like the Rand Club, original post offices, old police stations, historical hotels, farmhouses and shops rub shoulders with the Carlton Centre (still Africa’s tallest building at 50 storeys), glitzy shopping malls, five-star hotels, major highways, classy restaurants, award-winning museums, art galleries, lovely parks and newer historical landmarks.

Transfer time: OR Tambo International Airport to Sandton: approx. 30 minutes

Day 2 Johannesburg to Pilanesberg National Park

This morning after breakfast, you will be collected and transferred by road to your private lodge inside the Pilanesberg National Park.

Situated in the ecologically rich transition zone between the Kalahari and the Lowveld, this vast area promises thrilling big game viewing in a malaria free environment. This rich transitional zone attracts an incredible variety of game animals, flora and fauna that are not often found living side by side. Virtually all of the animal species native to southern Africa can be found here, including the Big 5, wild dog, Roan, Tsessebe, Sable antelope and more than 360 species of bird.

Pilanesberg National Park is set within the crater of an ancient volcano, formed 1.2 billion years ago by overflowing magma. The landscape and rock formations we see today are the enduring reminders of this magnificent occurrence.

Transfer time – Johannesburg to Pilanesberg National Park - approx 3½ hours

Day 2 to 4 Pilanesberg National Park (2 nights)

Pilanesberg hosts a combination of animal, bird, insect, reptilian and vegetation species, such as the Brown Hyena, Springbok, Red Eyed Bulbul and Camel Thorn tree. The Pilanesberg National Park is the perfect combination of the Kalahari and the wetter Lowveld. A major advantage of the Pilanesberg is that it is ‘Malaria Free’. Open vehicle game drives are undertaken twice a day - one in the early morning and the other in the late afternoon. Walking safaris are available on prior request. The walk focuses on locating and observing the inhabitants of the Black Rhino Game Reserve from a different angle - on foot. Guests are accompanied by a qualified guide who will share his/her extensive knowledge and experience on both fauna and flora. Excursions depart in the early morning.

Day 4 Pilanesberg National Park to Madikwe Game Reserve

This morning after your morning game drive and brunch, you will be collected and transferred by road to Madikwe Game Reserve in the northern part of South Africa, on the Botswana border. There is time to settle in at your new lodge before setting off on the afternoon game drive.

The 76,000 hectare Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s biggest wildlife sanctuaries and is home to the Big 5 and over 340 bird species. It is especially famous for its packs of African Wild Dog – and it is malaria-free. It is about 4 hours by road from Johannesburg. Madikwe is situated in the transition region between two vegetation types: Lowveld bushveld and Kalahari thornveld. As a result, the region is able to host to an incredible diversity of species. In addition to wild dog, cheetah, lion, white and black rhino, buffalo and elephant, Madikwe is home to a wide range of plains game, such as giraffe, zebra and many antelope species. Madikwe’s game viewing is of a very high standard, aided by the fact that all game rangers are in radio contact with one another. There is a strict code of conduct and animal sightings are generally limited to a maximum of 3 vehicles at one time in order to maintain the feeling of exclusivity and to ensure the animals’ well-being.

Transfer time: Pilanesberg to Madikwe Game Reserve – approx 2½ hours

Day 4 to 7 Madikwe Game Reserve (3 nights)

After an early-morning wake-up call, you set off on your morning game drive. Madikwe is one of South Africa’s largest sanctuaries and has a rich biodiversity of mammals, such as Africa’s Big Five, cheetah, wild dog, brown and spotted hyena, oryx, eland, springbok & ostrich. You return to the lodge for a mid-morning brunch. There is time between game drives to relax on the deck with a good book, do some bird-watching (Madikwe has more than 250 recorded species of bird) or, if you are feeling more energetic, do a game walk with your game ranger. High tea is served in the late afternoon, before you set off on an evening game drive through the untamed wilderness of the Kalahari Thornveld. The late evening is when predators are more active and it is also an opportunity to see animals such as aardvark and caracal. You return to the lodge for a safari cuisine dinner in the open-air boma.

Day 7 Madikwe Game Reserve & Departure

After your morning game drive and brunch, you bid farewell to this safari wonderland and are transferred to the airstrip for your shuttle flight back to Johannesburg.

Flight time: Madikwe Game Reserve to OR Tambo International Airport – approx 1 hour

Johannesburg: Protea Hotel Balalaika

Established in 1949, the Protea Hotel Balalaika Sandton is a privately owned Premier hotel, set in the heart of the trendy suburb of Sandton.

This stylish 330-bedroomed property has 2 private gardens and 2 swimming pools, lending a distinctive atmosphere of luxurious tranquility to the hotel. Each of the rooms is tastefully furnished to portray the ultimate in comfort and style.

There is an in-house restaurant, a coffee shop and a cigar bar. Each room is air-conditioned and tastefully furnished in a classic, comfortable style with its own en-suite bathroom.

Pilanesberg Game Reserve: Lush Private Game Lodge

Lush, tucked into a wooded hillside, holds you in the bush and in the moment. Five individual, luxury suites afford the privacy of home, while the main lodge, run on Italian hospitality, ensures you are very well taken care of. Life in an unspoilt wilderness, free of everyday concerns, creates a sense of wholeness. All at once you are in tune with the beat of the wild, belonging back in nature.

Lush is a contemporary lodge, shaped around the environment. In fact, it is a shepherd’s tree – sheltered from the wind and warmed by the morning sun, between hill and plain – that marked the position of the main lodge. Its minimalistic décor and natural finishes put the focus on the view, which at once draws you outside. With this in mind, multi-level interior-flowing-to-exterior spaces are designed for outdoor living.

Spend time between safari activities reading or playing board games on the couches, sipping coffee in the bar lounge – a favourite spot to rendezvous at any time of day – or stargazing from the deck.

Madikwe Game Reserve: Impodimo Game Lodge

Impodimo Game Lodge is set along a rocky ridge commanding stunning vistas of the reserve. It is also located at the source of a natural spring, which provides the lodge with elevated views as well as riverine serenity. The lodge offers dawn and dusk safaris. The safaris are carefully timed to ensure optimal seasonal comfort. Whilst Impodimo has 10 suites, its capacity is 16 guests, each of the suites have been carefully positioned to ensure absolute privacy. Spacious in design, each includes a closed system fireplace, climate control air conditioner, mini bar fridge, tea & coffee making facilities and full en-suite bathroom and outside shower. Your private deck allows uninterrupted views of the Madikwe Game Reserve.

The owner / manager team of Steve and Debbie are ideally suited to tailoring the most memorable safari experience, Whilst Steve is a highly qualified expert ranger, Debbie adds impressive culinary qualifications to the team. The team has gone to great lengths to ensure that guests have as much choice as possible in enjoying their experience, for example, 7-seater land rovers are used instead of the traditional 10 seater type. Impodimo is the first lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve to have qualified Shangaan trackers as part of the team. This adds a different dimension to the safari experience ensuring consistent big game sightings. With fewer guests on land rovers the team encourages guests to maximise optimal game viewing times.

Included in price Johannesburg: Half Day Apartheid Museum & Soweto Tour

This tour provides a great opportunity to take a closer look at South Africa's turbulent past, by combining a drive through Soweto with a visit to the Apartheid Museum, regarded as the preeminent museum in the world dealing with 20th century South Africa, at the heart of which is the story of apartheid. The Museum opened its doors in 2001 and here visitors can embark on a historical voyage of discovery, a personal exploration of the past that examines apartheid right up to the first democratic elections held in 1994.

The tour of the museum lasts approximately two hours. We then continue to Soweto (South Western Township), a sprawling residential area that has become a "city within a city". Soweto is home to approximately 2-million people, many of whom work in various parts of the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area.

Your guide will follow a route that takes you past all the major points of interest, including the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Baragwanath taxi rank, Regina Mundi church, Hector Pieterson Memorial and Nelson Mandela's former home.

Included in price Pilanesberg Game Reserve: Daily Safari Programme at Lush Private Game Lodge

Lush guarantees authentic safari adventures to write home about. Exclusive traversing in Black Rhino Reserve and the Pilanesberg’s Wilderness Area offers the opportunity to explore an untouched environment. Access also to the public section of the park increases chances of encountering a large variety of wildlife. Enjoy game drives, with scenic stops for refreshments twice-daily, guided morning bush walks, hot-air balloon flights on request. You can also enjoy a round of golf at the nearby championship Gary Player and Lost City golf courses, set in parkland and bushveld, respectively.

For a park of its size Pilanesberg has a fascinating diversity of large mammalian species. Much of Pilanesberg’s diversity is owed to Operation Genesis of 1979, in which the reserve was fenced and many species were reintroduced to their natural habitat. Today Pilanesberg National Park has more than 50 species of large mammals and many smaller species.

The game viewer’s wish list is topped by the Big Five consisting of lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard, but Pilanesberg has much more to offer. The African wild dog is threatened by loss of habitat and hunting and Pilanesberg is a good place to see this social predator. The cheetah is a delicate creature that hunts at a speed of well over 100 km/h in the open plains. Other mammalian predators include the African wild cat, caracal, serval, jackal, bat-eared fox, brown hyena and the nocturnal aardwolf.

Situated in the transition zone of the Kalahari and the Lowveld Pilanesberg offers a unique and varied habitat that is home to 15 species of antelope. The species range from the hardy Oryx to the shaggy-coated waterbuck. The sable antelope and the kudu with its spiral-shaped horns are popular sightings, while springbok, impala and wildebeest are important prey species.

Included in price Madikwe Game Reserve: Impodimo Game Lodge

On your day of arrival you have an afternoon game drive, two drives per day on the next two days and then a final drive on the morning of your departure. All your meals and local drinks whilst at the lodge are included.

The 76,000 hectare Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s biggest wildlife sanctuaries and is home to the Big 5 and over 340 bird species. It is especially famous for its packs of African Wild Dog – and it is malaria-free. It is about four hours by road from Johannesburg.

Madikwe is situated in the transition region between two vegetation types: Lowveld bushveld and Kalahari thornveld. As a result, the region is able to host an incredible diversity of species. In addition to wild dog, cheetah, lion, white and black rhino, buffalo and elephant, Madikwe is home to a wide range of plains game, such as giraffe, zebra and many antelope species.

Madikwe’s game viewing is of a very high standard, aided by the fact that all game rangers are in radio contact with one another. There is a strict code of conduct and animal sightings are generally limited to a maximum of three vehicles at one time in order to maintain the feeling of exclusivity and to ensure the well-being of all of the animals.

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This itinerary started on 20 May 2019
When this tour took place, the cost per person sharing was: USD$ 3,020
Remember, this is an actual itinerary, 100% tailor-made to meet this client's expectations. We can use this itinerary as a starting point for you.
I'm Gail Davis
I tailor-made this itinerary for my client and can do the same for you.
Gail Davis
My direct contact details are EMAIL ME+27 87 353 7869
Pembury Tours office details +27 41 581 2581 EMAIL US
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