Madikwe Magic

In June, we headed to Madikwe game reserve for a Wildlife Photography workshop. The workshop was hosted by Udo Kieslich from the College of Digital Photography in Johannesburg (, and consisted of one lecture, three nights at the gorgeous Jaci’s Tree Lodge ( and a wrap up session a few weeks later. Udo closely supervised the game drives, giving us hints and tips frequently, and coordinating with our fantastic guide, David, to find the best sightings and viewing angles. Hopefully you can see the improvements in our photos following this trip and our earlier trip to Svalbard!

Madikwe is a the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa and our favourite place to visit for a weekend. It is only around 4 hours from Joburg and the park gates are open reasonably late so you can leave mid afternoon. The reserve is designed for high-end tourism so there is only lodge accommodation, although South Africans can access good discounts. The reserve has an excellent variety of game, and the large number of game vehicles working together make for great sightings (the guides make sure that there are never more than 3 vehicles at any one sighting).

Game drive vehicle

Jaci’s is one of the best lodges in Madikwe and a visit is always a treat. The lodge has a fabulous hide underneath their waterhole which allows you to sit eye level with the water and makes for fabulous pics. We spent a lot of time honing some of our skills under Udo’s watchful eye in the hide and making an unreasonable number of attempts at photographing a diving kingfisher. Udo is an incredible photographer and patient teacher and we learnt a great deal.

Gorgeous Jaci’s rooms
Underwater hide

We had an incredible weekend of sightings, probably our luckiest ever. Madikwe is always fantastic for lion, elephants and white rhino sightings and we were also lucky to see the wild dogs and cheetahs. Leopards and black rhino are much harder to find and we had great sightings of both, enjoying a very chilled leopardess a few meters from the vehicle, and three black rhinos, one of which had a bit of a charge at us. We are very pleased with how our photos turned out, and so the rest of this post is dedicated to pics…

Dave’s patience was finally rewarded with a shot of a pied kingfisher with a fish

Charging black rhino
Practicing some panning in the early morning
Hyena having a wallow

Green-backed heron

Multi-coloured ellies 
Jimmy, Jaci’s resident grey heron

Terrapin at the hide
Rhino abstract

View from the underwater hide

Sore paw
Learning to photograph the Milky Way

Our camera equipment:

Anne:  Canon 100D with 55-250 f4.5-5.6 STM

David: Canon 5D Mark II with 100-400 f4.5-5.6L Mk I & 17-40 f4L


Next stop: hiking the Drakensberg in August


5 thoughts on “Madikwe Magic

  1. Wow – your photos have always been good, but these are absolutely amazing! Well done Anne and Dave!

  2. Great sightings! Madikwe is one of my favourite game reserves in SA and Jaci’s is one of my favourite lodges there. I’d love to do the photography workshop someday.

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