I recently went to the Dinokeng Game Reserve for a quick, one-night media visit. Dinokeng opened officially in 2011 — pieced together from a bunch of private farms — and is the only free-roaming Big 5 game reserve in Gauteng province. (The Big 5 are lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhino.)
The most remarkable thing about Dinokeng — which means “place of rivers” in Tswana — is how close it is to Gauteng’s main city centers. It’s less than 90 minutes from central Joburg and less than 30 minutes (even as few as 15-20) from Pretoria. People are always asking me to suggest quick weekend getaways from Joburg; Dinokeng is one.
One Night in Dinokeng
Chris Pieterse, our guide for the Dinokeng media visit, owns the Chameleon Bush Lodge. My colleague Marie-Lais and I loved our night at the Chameleon and found ourselves wishing we could stay longer.
Dinokeng is still new and doesn’t yet have the established feel of a park like the Kruger or even the Pilanesberg. While we had quite a few nice game sightings — wildebeest, waterbuck, zebra, eland, ostrich, jackal, etc. — we didn’t see any Big 5 during our visit. (Not that I really care — I’m a strong proponent of never expecting anything when I go on a game drive and being happy with whatever I see.)
A jackal spotted during our self-drive. (Note: There are is an extensive self-drive route in Dinokeng but we found the map impossible to interpret. We just bumbled around for an hour or two until we found our way back to the main road, which worked fine for us.)
Big 5 or not, Dinokeng is a lovely place to visit and I think it will get better and better as the herds grow and integrate more fully with their surroundings.
In addition to the Chameleon, Dinokeng has lots of accommodation of all sorts — B&Bs, guesthouses, larger lodges with conference facilities, etc. We visited a couple of good restaurants and a brewery, and I hear there is a great American-style barbecue restaurant in the reserve.
I’d definitely recommend Dinokeng to those looking for a quick trip to the bush from Joburg or Pretoria. Dinokeng is also very close to Cullinan, a great day trip in itself. The whole area makes for a nice weekend getaway. I especially recommend the Chameleon, a lovely, affordable, self-catering guesthouse with tons of character.
My visit to Dinokeng was complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.