Dinokeng packs a tourism punch

In the northeastern corner of Gauteng, bordering on the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, sits a gem of a tourist destination under wide, unpolluted blue skies.  With cultural and historical wealth, a ton of adventure activities, a well established hospitality trade and wildlife, Dinokeng packs a powerful punch in 281 000ha.

What’s more, it’s just an hour to two’s drive away from the concrete jungles of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Meaning "place of rivers" in Sepedi,  Dinokeng has two scenic dams, Roodeplaat and Rust de Winter, both excellent for fishing and bird watching.  Roodeplaat, part of a nature reserve, is a well-known location for rowing events.

In the south of the region a highlight is the village of Cullinan, where the world’s largest diamond was unearthed.  A tour of the Cullinan Diamond Mine, either underground or surface, remains a highlight of a Cullinan stop.  In the main street, Oak Ave, the old miners’ cottages have been converted into craft shops and eateries, there’s an outdoor mining museum as well as the McHardy House Museum, home of the first mine manager.

Township culture can be sampled in Refilwe, just outside of Cullinan, or at sprawling Hammanskraal in the north.  Enterprising community members have established tours that exhibit community endeavours such as vegetable gardening, craft manufacturing, crèches, shebeens and visits to sangomas. Onverwacht, also near Cullinan, is a fascinating stop where the descendants of freed Malay slaves lives on land given to them by Paul Kruger.

Throughout the region there are guesthouses and B&Bs where you can fish and hike, horse ride or cycle.  Many are busy team building facilities where paintball, archery and other fun challenges  can be undertaken.  There are opportunities for air ballooning, micro lighting and quad biking. 

Peaceful and pretty, Dinokeng is also strong on wedding venues and delightful chapels, as well as some magnificent bush spas conducive to revitalisation.

In the northern section of Dinokeng you will find its most ambitious project, a 18 500ha game reserve which has been restocked with free roaming Big 5 species.  It’s a long time since Gauteng has played home to many of these creatures. The reserve represents a pooling of land by private landowners, who operate a variety of accommodation options and game viewing activities in the reserve area.