Gauteng’s first Big Five reserve, Dinokeng Game Reserve, will help the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) build its reputation as a safari destination.
Situated in the northeast of the province, just over an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, Dinokeng holds the promise that all the Big Five can be viewed within the 19 000-hectare reserve. Varying terrain and vegetation, ranging from bushveld to grassy floodplains and thornveld, offer a free-roaming haven for brown hyena, lion, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, buck, elephant, rhino, leopard and myriad bird species, including the endangered Blue crane and a breeding pair of Martial eagles.
Barba Gaoganediwe, acting CEO at the GTA, told Tourism Update that the Dinokeng project had been started through strategic initiatives of the Gauteng provincial government, and the efforts of more than 170 landowners, who wanted to develop eco-tourism in the area to uplift rural communities through sustainable employment.
“Visitors to Dinokeng can choose from a variety of accommodation options, from around 30 world-class game-lodge experiences to self-catering and even camping options. The reserve can also be accessed by day visitors and we have made sure that there is easy access to the reserve for the neighbouring township communities.
“As part of our upliftment programme we have attempted to integrate the township economy into the game reserve, so we don’t create two worlds where there is paradise inside and poverty just outside the fence.”
He said GTA had initiated a project called Dinokasi – a consortium of women and youth in the rural communities – who create artefacts that are sold in a curio shop inside the game reserve.
Gaoganediwe pointed out that there were facilities for almost every segment of the market. From top-of-the-range game experiences to school camping facilities, from team-building activities to boat and fishing trips, from spas to micro-lighting and hot-air balloon trips, clay pigeon shooting and a cultural and shebeen (township tavern) experience.
He added that Gauteng’s Batongo Lion and Rhino Reserve had also just undergone a facelift, and was also introducing more animals into the reserve. Located about 45 minutes’ drive from Johannesburg, the reserve is easily accessible for day visits, weekend game drives and nature-based day experiences.