The last 3 years have been pretty brutal financially fo us as we both build our businesses and try to get back on our feet. This has meant that going away for “fun” has been pretty non-existent. It also meant dates nights for David and I haven’t happened.
Towards the end of last year we finally started seeing some sort of light which has meant we can, for the first time in almost 4 years, breathe a little bit.
So we decided to take a little break to Dinokeng Reserve and I am so glad we did! I had no idea Dinokeng was so stunning, has so much accommodation available and is so close. ! It really is the perfect weekend getaway.
The Reserve has 145km of self-drive roads to explore and we nearly drove all of them. It is a Big-5 reserve and while we didn’t see any of the Big 5, there were sightings of elephant, rhino, and lions while we were there. If you aren’t keen on driving on your own, there are game drives and guided walks you can book to go on. There are watering holes, bird hides, picnic spots and rest stop along the route where you can stretch your legs and make something to eat.
We headed out on Saturday morning at 6h00 and drove around until about 12h30 and then stopped at Ngata for the most amazing lunch. There are a few restaurants inside the reserve but you might want to call ahead and see if they are open and what they serve. Don’t just assume they are open and will serve you a meal. Everyone is super friendly but it is the bush and they do things a little differently.
There is an abundance of buck, giraffe, and zebra and while we were bummed we didn’t see any elephant we definitely were not disappointed. All the animals we did see had babies with them which was extra special. There is a really helpful app, Virtual Ranger, you can download when you visit the park where you can mark your sightings. It is still pretty new but works so well. If you are going to the park, please download it and be sure to mark all your sightings to help others. Birders will also have a great time, there is an abundance of birdlife and we were there when there were also butterflies everywhere.
There are so many different lodges and camps to stay at in the reserve. Most of them are self-catering with camp/caravan sites which does make it a little more affordable. We stayed at the Elephant Waterhole which was absolutely stunning. The rooms are simple but have everything you need, including air-conditioning and there is a pool and jungle gym on the premises. We saw some stunning lodges and luxury tents while driving around so you can find accommodation to suit everyone.
The park is spotless, the animals look healthy and the routes are clearly marked and guide you through the entire park. There is a little “mall” but the shop there is not great, so if you are going pack what you need (especially meat). It is also about 30-40 minutes to get to the park from Pretoria, depending on where you are, so you can head out there after work on Friday and enjoy the two full days of the weekend.
There is a conservation fee to get into the park of R80 per adult and R50 per child and there are various self-drive options – 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day.
I am so glad we went, it is such a beautiful reserve right on our doorstep. We can’t wait to take the kids to explore it and hopefully spot the elephants.