For those who love a safari experience and are invigorated by the call of the wild Joburg has long been a stopover en route to one of South Africa's most well-known attractions, the Kruger National Park (a 450km drive from the city). Less well-known is that the province of Gauteng, of which Joburg is part is also home to a free-roaming Big 5 reserve called Dinokeng Game Reserve which is around 100km north-north-east of Joburg.
Apart from the Big 5, Dinokeng also boasts cheetah, brown hyena, zebra and giraffe and is a malaria-free zone, so its brilliantly suited to young families. The huge range of accommodation options also means that budget travellers and those used to luxury also won't be disappointed.
Dinokeng means "place of rivers" and the area encompasses a fantastic mix of attractions with plenty of wild outdoor activities as well as historic and heritage sites beyond the game reserve itself. If you are planning a weekend away in this part of Gauteng your choices are between the scenic and rugged beauty of the Roodeplaat Dam area (22km north-east of Pretoria), the quaintness of the historic town of Cullinan, where the world's biggest diamond was discovered and which serves as a hub for all sorts of adventure activities, and the Dinokeng Game Reserve. We would suggest taking in all three.
Game drives in DinokengThe Dinokeng Game Reserve was created when a number of different private game farms and conservancies in the area joined forces, took down their fences and established one large game reserve. Dinokeng is a patchwork of semi-private dirt roads and official tarred roads which together total more than 140km. This can make navigating the official self-drive map a little confusing.
We recommend getting a copy of the Dinokeng Visitor’s Guide at the entrance which will help you to identify any wildlife that you might see along the way. Lodges within the Dinokeng Game Reserve also offer guided game drives as well as guided walks through the bush, especially wonderful experiences if you have never visited a wildlife reserve before.
Where to stay, eat and drinkAs the area is made up of a number of different private farms there is no shortage of places to stay within the reserve. There are accommodation options to suit all budgets, including plenty of campsites for families, as well as privately owned restaurants and cafes to visit during your drive. Many private lodges also operate their own bird hides and picnic sites. Anybody may use these though it is asked that you be considerate and leave the place tidy after using it.
For an overnight stay in or near the reserve, there are more than 50 different lodges, guesthouses, self-catering chalets and campsites to choose from. See what's on offer at the official Dinokeng Gamer Reserve website.