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DDinokeng in South Africa is the hub of many empowerment projects like jewellery design, craft fairs, dance and music shows. Cullinan is a Victorian-style gem that attracts visitors, both local and foreign. The nearby Nelson Mandela Village is a whirl of crafters, sangomas, beadworkers and gumboot dancers.
Although it's less than an hour's drive away, one seems to make a quantum leap from the intense city landscapes of bustling Gauteng to the green heart of Dinokeng (meaning a place of rivers), where the blare of the hooter is suddenly replaced by sweet birdsong.
Dinokeng in South Africa is an investment initiative, backed by the Gauteng government, to create another welcome tourism destination for this busy province.
The heart of the Dinokeng region is Cullinan village, where the world-famous diamond mine still produces 25% of the world's finest gem diamonds.
But Dinokeng tourism also means Ndebele country, and the local cultural village is a sparkling array of bright colours in the first light of day. Cullinan is also the hub of many empowerment projects like jewellery design, craft fairs, dance and music shows. The village itself is a Victorian-style gem that attracts visitors.
At Nelson Mandela Village, you meet the Siyakhwela gumboot dancers and so begins a 3-hour whirl of crafters, sangomas, beadworkers and a meeting with the charismatic Father P Jaconiah Thopela of the St Matthew's Little Darling Day Care Centre. The sign at his ramshackle centre says it all: 'Show love. Listen and show respect. Explain things. Build self-esteem. Set simple rules. Avoid smacking and shouting.'
Lunch is at Khuwana Tavern, where the Malawian artist Mingo has been allowed to be creative with his murals.
You finish the daylight hours with Ludwig Taschner of Ludwig's Roses, a vast wonder-field where you find the Silver Cloud, Warm Vistas and Rainbow Nation – just some of the names of the glorious roses on display.
Take an early morning drive out to the Nan Hua Buddhist temple near Bronkhorstspruit. This venue is perfect for retreats and conferences, exuding a reverence for tranquillity that is much needed in a bustling Gauteng environment.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Dinokeng Tourism Information
Tel: +27 (0)81 511 7577
How to get here
The Dinokeng route is a relatively short drive from Pretoria (about an hour) and Johannesburg (90 minutes). Head for Cullinan, the hub of the experience. A steam train leaving from Pretoria also comes through on weekends – perfect for day tripping.
Best time to visit
Any time of year.
Things to do
You could go for a hot-air balloon ride, a game drive or simply sit and enjoy a cappuccino and carrot cake.
Tours to do
There are excellent daily tours of the Cullinan Mine. Book a guided walk or drive in the Dinokeng Game Reserve and enjoy the Big 5.
Cullinan is small enough to walk around, but to get to some of the outlying attractions you should have your own vehicle.
Length of stay
Come for the day. Even better, stay overnight at a guesthouse or a game lodge.
Where to stay
There are a number of guest houses in Cullinan itself, as well as a few country retreats and the Dinokeng Game Reserve in the district.