You can take a day trip or spend a night or two at Dinokeng Game Reserve

Dreamy bush escape close by for city slickers

Sanet Oberholzer Lifestyle writer
Game viewing in Dinokeng Game Reserve.
Game viewing in Dinokeng Game Reserve.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

Many people find their bliss in the bush. Surrounded by nature, sipping sundowners while scouting for wildlife – it can be an answer to many of life’s problems.

What many Gautengers might not know is that their dreamy bush escape is closer than they think. A short drive out of Pretoria, and a little more than an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, Dinokeng Game Reserve was officially opened 10 years ago. Driven by the vision of then premier of Gauteng, Tokyo Sexwale, the idea of opening the reserve was to develop tourism and boost economic development in the province.

It became the first free-roaming Big Five residential game reserve, offering a space for city slickers to experience a quick bush escape by booking a night or two at one of the lodges or self-catering establishments on the reserve or by going on a self-drive excursion as a day trip.

With a careful introduction of animal species since 2006, today the reserve is home to the Big Five and an abundance of mammal and bird species.

What to do

Apart from two self-drive routes in the reserve which accommodate both sedans and high-rise vehicles, day visitors can enjoy the picnic sites and bird hides around the reserve. If you’re not keen on driving yourself, a number of tour operators on the reserve offer daily game drives and bush walks to external guests.

Currently on pause due to Covid-19, Dinokeng Game Reserve regularly hosted Talking Conversation events in which experts shared their knowledge on conservation with public talks. Keep an eye on the website for when these talks are set to resume.

Conservation Observation activities are once again open to the public and offer an opportunity for enthusiasts to get involved in activities such as collaring of animals and population management. Space for these events is limited and bookings need to be made in advance via the website.

One of three suites that sleep two people at Dinokeng Private Bush House.
One of three suites that sleep two people at Dinokeng Private Bush House.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

Where to stay

While there is no shortage of accommodation options to choose from in Dinokeng, one of our favourite finds has been Dinokeng Private Bush House. Recently built, it’s a sleek hideaway from where to plan your bush escape or catch your breath around a bona fire, chill in the swimming pool, burn off some energy while mountain biking or enjoy early morning coffee or sundowners on a game drive.

It's a self-catering establishment but little touches like a personal chef who will whip up delicious meals from the food you’ve bought and a butler who is there to tend to your every need make all the difference in elevating this into a luxe stay. 

The entire lodge can sleep 10 people in three suites which sleep two and a two-bedroom family unit which sleeps four can be booked out on an exclusive use basis at a cost of R16,500 per night. This rate includes a butler, chef, a daily game drive and the use of four bicycles.

The pool area at Dinokeng Private Bush House.
The pool area at Dinokeng Private Bush House.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

Plan your trip

All visitors to the park will need to pay a vehicle entrance fee of R50 per car and conservation fees of R80 for adults and R50 for children (between two and 12) upon entry into the park.

Visitors wanting to do the self-drive route through the reserve will need to pay an additional permit. Prices for this are R250 for a one-day permit, R380 for a three-day permit and R450 for a seven-day permit (all permit prices include the R50 vehicle entrance fee).

All tickets and permits can be purchased from the Tau, Ndlovu or Wilderness Way gates or online. All points of sale are cashless. The office is open from 8am – 4pm Mondays to Sundays.

* Oberholzer was a guest of Dinokeng Private Bush House

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