Dinokeng Game Reserve : Should you visit?

Dinokeng Game Reserve Day Visit :  Pros and cons

My bush cravings were getting serious after months of lockdown and being confined to our province, so on Women’s Day, I dragged my reluctant husband to Dinokeng Game Reserve , since it’s the only Big 5 Game Reserve in our province, Gauteng and the closest game reserve to Johannesburg.

We got there at 11:30 am, admittedly not a great time to spot wildlife. Our GPS took us to Ndlovu Gate where the security guard told us that there was a 90-minute wait to get in, as it would take that amount of time for the ticket office to process all the people waiting there.Dinokeng Game Reserve

He advised us to go to Tau Gate, about 3 km away. There was a queue there too, but we decided to wait. We waited for 35 minutes. During this time, a staff member gave us forms to complete and took our temperatures. When we got to the ticket office, our details were captured on the system and our tickets and map issued, which took about 5 minutes. We were charged R80 per person for conservation fees and R250 for a 1-day self-drive permit, a total of R410.  The pricing is not clear on their website, nor is it posted at the entrance, and I was surprised when I was charged this amount.

We entered the reserve and, although I wasn’t expecting a mini Kruger National Park, I was surprised to see a main road with a school and a shopping centre inside. We drove around for about 2.5 hours. Some of the roads were very narrow and bumpy and there were many instances where we had to struggle to get past other cars. We gained a few scratches on our car from the thorn bushes too. (Tip - do not go there with a new or low-suspension car).

Dinokeng Game Reserve

The map provided is not completely accurate but we managed to find our way. Several roads were marked private and we saw many farm-like houses - some with cattle - and even a cemetery. These factors intruded upon the “being in the wild” experience.

We drove past several dry waterholes then we approached one a dam near the Dula Nokeng picnic site where I saw another strange sight – for a Big 5 game reserve. Boerie rolls were being made and sold from a lapa. Other passengers were alighting from their cars and walking around. I wondered how safe all this was especially since I’ve heard of incidents of lions killing people here.

Dinokeng Game Reserve

Boerie stand

North of Pretoria, about an hour away from Johannesburg, Dinokeng Game Reserve was opened in 2011. It was established as part of a Gauteng Government project to create a premier tourism destination close to urban Gauteng. Incorporating approximately 281 000 hectares of rural land, the reserve was formed when landowners dismantled fences around their individual properties, which were then combined to allow game to move freely.

Dinokeng is unique in that it is a Big 5 game reserve located within the boundaries of a metro city and half an hour away from the city centre. Meaning “a place of rivers”, it markets itself as the first and only game reserve in Gauteng with free-roaming Big Five - although we didn’t see any of them. Neither did the other people we spoke to - even those that came early. As we passed people on the road during our self-drive, we’d greet them and ask them what they saw. The overall response was “nothing”.

Dinokeng Game Reserve


Although we didn’t see “nothing”, we didn’t see any of the Big Five. Even though you never know what to expect on a safari, I thought that I would see at least some of them. We saw zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, impalas, kudu, red hartebeest and monkeys, instead. Most of them were in the bushes at a distance though. At first, I thought that it was just our luck, but judging by the majority of the reserve's Tripadvisor reviews, this is not the case.

Dinokeng Game Reserve


So here are the pros and cons of visiting Dinokeng Game Reserve, to help you decide whether it is worth a visit or not.


  1. It is close to Johannesburg.
  2. There is accommodation available for booking overnight stays.
  3. You are likely to see plains game.
  4. You will be supporting conservation and tourism by visiting.


  1. The entrance fees are overpriced, as compared to similar reserves.
  2. The chances of seeing any of the Big Five appear to be quite low.
  3. Most of the roads are narrow, gravel roads and not great for sedans.
  4. Large parts of the reserve are closed off to private vehicles.

For more information about the lodges there, visit Dinokeng Game Reserve .

Have you been to Dinokeng Game Reserve ? What was your experience like?

Dinokeng Game Reserve

8 comments on “Dinokeng Game Reserve : Should you visit?”

  1. Good day Candice, I plan to stay in a lodge within Dinokeng park this coming mid October. I am looking for a walking tour for maximizing the chances to see at least 1 or 2 of the big fives. I have read that the north of the park is different than the south in this regard. Would you have a good hint of a good wlaking tour guide?

  2. Although there are alot of good things about visiting Dinokeng and the camps and resorts are great DONT expect to see much game.. As for the BIG 5 niks naada nothing, i suppose if you pay R350 per person for a game drive you will have a better chance of spotting The BIG 5 because the animals are tagged so the rangers know where to go but as for self game drives JA..... well.... We saw other animals but not even a giraffe.. Will i visit again.... Hmm maybe but will give Pilansberg and Marloth Park a visit 1st...

    1. Agreed. The experience may be different if you stay at one of the lodges but it's not worth it for a self-driving day visit.

  3. We went to Dinokeng twice last year. Once on a day trip and once for a weekend. I highly recommend staying there for the weekend if you want to see the Big5. We found that it was on sunrise drives that we saw the most. Staying there we got to see them darting and moving elephants (there was a particularly destructive male) and had various animals come up to the fence right outside our tent. We contemplated a day trip recently, but agreed that it wouldn't be pleasant if it was crowded.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Candice. Perhaps, a stay over would be a better option especially for sunrise and sunset game drives.

  4. We went there a few years ago - we did see some of the Big 5, can't recall which exactly right now but what does stick out in my memory and always will, is the close encounter we had with the Elephants - they came to our open Game Drive vehicle, literally an arm's length away. I had to stop clicking our DSLR, afraid of the noise. The one elephant got angry and was flapping it's ears - our hearts were in our hands. The Driver tapped a stick on the bonnet of the vehicle and they slowly went away. Whenever we think back to this experience, we always wonder about what could have happened and grateful that we got lucky. I actually had a video my Facebook album of this incident and twice when I tried to tag their page, I think the video was reported because I was unsuccessful.

    1. That sounds like quite an experience. At least, you saw some of the Big 5. Perhaps the chances are higher on a guided game drive. We did a self-drive.

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