Less than 2 hours after landing in Johannesburg, we were already spotting cool wildlife. Which is certainly sooner than I’d expected. Motivated by an enticing coupon, we’d opted to make Mongena Game Lodge our first stop in South Africa. I personally had never been anywhere in Africa before, so I was very excited to see some of the iconic wildlife.
Mongena is a very simple drive from the Johannesburg airport. 80-something km in a simple straight shot. In no time at all, we were inside the Dinokeng Game Reserve, and checking in.
On our drive in to the lodge we were already spotting some wildlife. Animals such as warthogs and springbok were plentiful, even alongside the road into the park.
Dinokeng is advertised as a “Big 5” game park. In that the park has lions, elephants, rhinos, leopard, and cape buffalo. What I was worried about is that they would just have all these animals crammed into a field. I figured if we just went about and ticked all 5 off our list then it’d be apparent that it was rigged and crappy. So I was actually relieved when we didn’t see a few of the big 5.
The Dinokeng Reserve is quite large, and the animals roam freely about. It was quite fun to toodle about the wilderness with a tracker and ranger and see what we could find. Using actual animal tracks to find our photography prey. We spent a few hours out and about and spotted some very cool animals and had an amazing time!
In particular, we saw: blue monkeys, waterbuck, springbok, blue wildebeest, a huge marsh owl, zebras, a hippo, a white rhino, a crocodile, warthogs, and the cutest baby warthogs. Plus quite a variety of birds and waterfowl. I also appreciated that the ranger was very particular about not interfering or startling the animals. We tried our very best to observe without interfering. For awhile we tracked some lions, but never did find them. It was sobering though just to see their huge paw prints from where they’d recently strolled by.
The facilities and food at Mongena were also quite good. Very nice staff, and very comfy rooms. All in all, Mongena was a brilliant time and actually quite a value. Definitely a place I can easily recommend for a weekend visit (check it out here if you’re curious: http://www.mongena.co.za).