With the travel ban recently lifted, the adventurers amongst us can start exploring again! As weekend warriors the Adventure-Avontuur Afrika team put together our top five weekend getaways that is not too far from Jozi and Pretoria. This varied list of destinations provides a good option for each type of enthusiast – from the bundu bashing roughing it adventurer to the person preferring high luxury glamping with all amenities.
DINOKENG: Africa in one day!
Meaning “a place of rivers”, Dinokeng Game Reserve – a 18 500ha nature conservancy – is an easy hour’s drive from Pretoria in northern Gauteng. With a healthy splatter of game viewing (with the big 5 present in certain sections) it is rich in natural, cultural and historical heritage sites and offers a wide array of activities perfect for the whole family.
- Distance from Pta: 43km (40mins) via N1
- Distance from Jozi: 101km (1h20mins) via N1
- Accommodation: An offering to suit every taste and budget, Dinokeng boasts various accommodation options. Whether you want to pitch your own tent or come with your caravan or want the camp atmosphere without the hassle to bring your own equipment, Dinokeng Game Reserve has something just for you.
- 4×4 Playgrounds:
- Rust de Winter Bundu trail: +27 82 558-6184 OR +27 82 990-4364
- Hanati 4×4 Trail: +27 82 929 8394 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sandwani Adventure 4×4 Trail (Cullinan): +27 82 782-1045
- Other activities:
- Self-drive game drives with picnic and bird hides along the way
- Guide game and bush drives through various operators
- Hot Air Ballooning
- Hiking & Mountain bike trails
- Bass fishing
*The recently renovated Dinokeng Resort (https://www.dinokengresort.co.za/) now also boasts some waterslide fun and activities – always a treat for the little ones!
MAGALIESBURG: The casual mountaineer paradise
Magaliesburg is a small town in Gauteng near the mountain range of the same name. The town is comparable to the small niche towns throughout South Africa such as Clarence and
Mosselbay, littered with artisan craft markets, coffee spots and antique shops. The mountain range itself and the surrounding wilderness offers a lot for the casual overlander.
- Distance from Pta: 103.3 (1h 10mins) via N14
- Distance from Jozi: 67.6 (1h 15mins) via R31
- Accommodation: The Magaliesburg area offers a vast array of accommodation for every type of enthusiast, from high end glamping to total roughing it and obviously everything in between. There are lodges and self-catering cottages as well as camping sites all around the area and, depending on your taste, you can stay and experience scenery ranging from bush to mountain.
- 4×4 Playgrounds
- Piesangkloof 4×4 Trails: +27 84 409 0217 / +27 84 422 9680
- Hennops offroad Trail: +27 82 825 9205 / email@example.com
- Kungwini Trails: +27 82 494 0950 / +27 83 277 4648
- Other activities
- Hennops Hiking Trail and Biking Trail
- Blaauwbank Historic Gold Mine
- Magalies Wild Game Farm
- Magaliesburg canopy Tour
*Also note that Magaliesburg is just a stone’s throw away from the Cradle of Humankind (19,9 km or 16 mins). This UNESCO world heritage site and surrounds offer even more cultural, historical and adventure activities.
MARAKELE NATIONAL PARK: A place of sanctuary
Marakele National Park is in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains and is the home of a vast selection of wildlife such as the Cape vulture, elephant, leopard, kudu and, according to the park’s website, in rare cases tsessebe, impala and mountain reedbuck. This impressive variety of wildlife is of course due to the location in the transitional zone between the dry western and moist eastern regions in South Africa. It is quite far, but it is for sure worth the distance due to its immense beauty and variety in both its fauna and flora.
- Distance from Pta: 242,5 km (3h 23mins) via N1
- Distance from Jozi: 300.3 km (4h 2 min) via N1
- Accommodation: The park provides a good selection of accommodation for any bush-loving overlander and conservationists, ranging from basic camping spots to more luxurious campsites and lodges.
- 4×4 Playgrounds:
- 4×4 Eco Trail 014 777 6928
- Other Activities:
- Early morning bush walks
- Game Drives
- A visit to one of the world’s largest cape vulture colonies
They park provides some of the best scenery and wildlife and allows for self-drives which increases your chances of some great wildlife sightings.
PILANESBERG: An ecological haven
Pilanesberg is located in the crater of an ancient volcano which allows for extremely beautiful flora and fauna and unique weather. Furthermore, the park is situated right next to Sun City which means that even if your family is not as an enthusiastic about overlanding as you are, there is a playground offering a wealth of activities to accommodate their needs which makes this a perfect family weekend getaway.
- Distance from Pta: 150,5 km (1h 30mins) via N1
- Distance from Jozi: 170km (2h 00mins) via N1
- Accommodation: The park provides many accommodation options, suited for all tastes, with some great equipped camping sites, tented camps and self-catering chalets. Aimed at the international tourist market, the camp also offers high-end luxury lodges and if you are not comfortable with the park’s accommodation, you and your family can always stay at Sun City which provides many alternative accommodation options.
- 4×4 Playgrounds.
- Peglarae Trail: 014 533 2050
- De Wildt 4×4 Trail: +27 83 268 8185
- Other Activities;
- Open vehicle safari
- Self-drive safari
- Bush walks
*Probably the most accessible, the park is home to the big 5 as well as the endangered African wild dog, various rare antelope and more than 354 bird species.
MADIKWE GAME RESERVE: A hidden gem
Madikwe game reserve is South Africa’s fifth largest national game reserves and is viewed as one of the country’s most luxurious and exclusive game reserves. It is located on an old farm and was started as an effort to uplift the ruined area. It is home to many wildlife species including the big 5 and offers a luxurious weekend getaway, albeit a bit far from Jozi.
- Distance from Pta: 323,5 km (4h 3mins) via R509
- Distance from Jozi: 321,0 km (4h 27mins) via R509
- Accommodation: The accommodation at this reserve is quite expensive due to its luxurious nature, which certainly makes it more attractive for the elite clients, leaning more to the glamping side of the spectrum. This is the ultimate choice for the more wealthy enthusiast and caters to a luxurious experience for the entire family.
- 4×4 playgrounds
- Doornrivier 4×4 Trails: +27 83 276 5081
- Although there are not many designated 4×4 trails in the Madikwe area some forums report that on the reserve itself some “important sightings” require a capable off-road vehicle
- Other activities:
- Bird watching
- Bush breakfasts and dinners
- Cultural Safari
- Health spa
- Game drives and night drives
- Walking safaris