So you’re hanging out in Johannesburg or Pretoria, feeling the vibes of the city, and then you start to wonder: “Where can I see some of this famous South African wildlife everyone’s been talking about?” The answer is simple: Dinokeng Game Reserve.

Dinokeng Game Reserve is not only the first free-roaming Big Five game reserve next to an urban area, but probably the first in the world. The best part about this is that you can hop off the plane in Johannesburg and not even an hour later, you’ll be on a South African safari.  

It officially opened on 22 September 2011 after four of the Big Five were introduced to the area – that is lions, leopards, rhinos and elephants. It wasn’t long after that buffaloes were added to the mix in 2012 to complete the offering.

Dinokeng is a private/public partnership as it required a few of the local land owners to come together with the South African government to open up the land into one incredible game park. This is why some of the accommodation options can be described as “farm stay”.

Dinokeng means “place of two rivers”, and the fact that this is the first time in over 100 years that the area has free-roaming lions and elephants is a huge drawcard.

Here you can go on day and night game drives, head off on sunset boat cruises, guided bush walks, bush lunches, picnics, fishing, and just some good old-fashioned relaxing in the South African wild. With Johannesburg and Pretoria basically right next door, your options are pretty much endless.

It’s best that you get your accommodation booked in advance because people are raving about how amazing this place is.

While you can get the guided tour, which is really recommended for your first time on safari, there are a few self-drive routes to choose from if you prefer doing it by yourself. If you’re keen on this, then you will also have to book.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

DGR information office and central booking
Phone: +27 12 711 4391

How to get here

From O.R. Thambo International Airport, go down the R21 for 1.5km. Follow R21 and N1 to R734. Take exit 183 from N1.

Around the area

Just outside of Dinokeng are the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Tours to do

Boat cruises, self-drive tours, professional game drives, cultural tours,  fishing, spa treatments, restaurants.

Length of stay

Give yourself a week to fully explore the park as well as extra time to explore other parts of Gauteng.

What to pack

Comfortable lightweight clothes, plus a warm jacket for winter evenings. Plenty of sunscreen and a hat, no matter the season.