Camping

Glen Reenen Campsite

Where: Golden Gate National Park, Free State.

Distance from Joburg: Three-hour drive.

What to expect: The campsite has the ideal location, nestled between trees on the banks of a stream, where you can explore the park and where you’re sure to spot a few of the many animals that roam free.

Things to do: Check out the quaint nearby ‘Jewel of the Free State’ – Clarens, while you’re there.

Visit: www.sanparks.org

Buffelspoort

Where: Rustenburg, North West Province.

Distance from Joburg: One hour, 45-minute drive.

What to expect: Located close to Jozi, this is the ideal weekend getaway for the entire family. The resort boasts many amenities, including a water park and plenty of amenities.

Things to do: Enjoy the resort’s many activities, such as horse riding and golf.

Visit: www.atkv.co.za

Pitjane Fishing Camp

Where: Borakalalo National Park, North West Province.

Distance from Joburg: Two-and-a-half-hour drive.

What to expect: A rustic campsite that makes a great base from which to explore the eco nature and game reserve. Plus, you can enjoy some homely comforts, like flushing toilets and hot showers.

Things to do: Try your hand at the relaxing pastime of fishing.

Visit: www.borakalalo.co.za

Olifantspoort Bush Camp

Where: Modimolle, Limpopo.

Distance from Joburg: Two-hour drive.

What to expect: Switch off from the big city and get in tune with nature at this wilderness camp. Recharge your batteries with leisurely walks, bike rides or simply by taking in the majesty of the bushveld.

Things to do: Unwind with simple activities like swimming, hiking or bird watching.

Visit: www.olifantspoort.yolasite.com

Forever Warmbaths Camping

Where: Bela-Bela, Limpopo.

Distance from Joburg: Two-hour drive.

What to expect: A comfortable camping venue which is great for the less-experienced camper. This luxury camping site is the perfect balance of city life and nature.

Things to do: Explore the rest of this resort, which attracts thousands of tourists to Limpopo.

Visit: www.foreverwarmbaths.co.za

Bush Willow Tented Camp

Where: Muldersdrift, Gauteng.

Distance from Joburg: 40-minute drive.

What to expect: Want to go camping without the fuss? Then this is the place for you! Stay in one of 10 fully furnished walk-in tents that house four to six people.

Things to do: Explore all that Muldersdrift has to offer, like The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site or the new Lion Park.

Visit: www.bushwillowtentedcamp.co.za

Malonjeni Guest Farm

Where: Meyerton, Vereeniging.

Distance from Joburg: 50-minute drive.

What to expect: Stay in one of two campsites that boast a swimming pool, tuck shop and sports bar. Their farm is also home to several wild animals, like wildebeest, zebra and antelope.

Things to do: Take a game drive within the farm (or a game walk for if you’re on the more adventurous side).

Visit: www.malonjeni.co.za

Rametsi Eco Lodge Game Farm

Where: Lyndleyspoort Valley, Swartruggens.

Distance from Joburg: Two-hour, 15-minute drive.

What to expect: Enjoy your stay at this game farm situated close to a picturesque dam. The campsites all have electricity points so you won’t feel too far removed from the city.

Things to do: Take your pick from 4×4 trails, hiking paths and even canoeing.

Visit: www.rametsi.co.za

Dinokeng Waterfront Estate

Where: Kameeldrift, Roodeplaat Dam.

Distance from Joburg: One-hour, 15-minute drive.

What to expect: Located near the dam, this is an ideal quick getaway from Gauteng and is run by a friendly manager who has enjoyed fishing there for over 40 years. Although ablution services are shared, each campsite has an electricity point.

Things to do: If fishing isn’t your thing, you can enjoy a leisurely picnic, canoeing or mountain biking.

Visit: www.campdinokeng.co.za

Mountain Sanctuary Park

Where: Magaliesburg.

Distance from Joburg: One-hour, 15-minute drive.

What to expect: Up in the Magaliesburg mountains you’ll find a campsite that has been attracting campers for over 40 years. It’s also perfect for the nature lover who needs a short break from busy city life in Joburg.

Things to do: Take the short 20-minute walk to the nearby natural pools.

Visit: www.mountain-sanctuary.co.za

Less Than An Hour's Drive

Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve

From day and night game drives to touring the Wondercave, you’ll have the opportunity to reconnect with nature at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve in the Cradle of Humankind. Game drives are roughly two-and-a-half hours long, taking place six days a week and giving you the chance to see nature up close. Three of the Big Five are resident here — the lion, white rhino and buffalo. Also, keep your eyes peeled for wild dogs (which have been reintroduced to the area), cheetah, hippo, crocodile and antelope.

Distance from Johannesburg: Between 45km and 58km depending on the route

Travel time: 55 minutes from Johannesburg

Tel: 011 957 0109/0106 / 3049

Email: [email protected]

Address: Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, 520 Kromdraai Road, Kromdraai, Krugersdorp

Web: www.rhinolion.co.za

Lion & Safari Park

Our country boasts the most incredible wildlife, so why not experience it for yourself at the Lion & Safari Park in Harties. You can enjoy a guided mini-tour (one-and-a-half hours), where you’ll spot powerful predators, such as hyenas, wild dogs, lions and, if you’re lucky, a leopard lazing in a tree. Or go on a self-drive with your own vehicle between 08:30 and 17:00, allowing you to take your time and admire nature at your own pace.

Distance from Johannesburg: 60km to 70km depending on the route

Travel time: 58 minutes from Johannesburg

Tel: 087 150 0100 or 076 187 3883

Email: [email protected]

Address: R512 Pelindaba Road, Lanseria, Broederstroom, Kalkheuvel

Web: www.lionandsafaripark.com

rhino and lion nature reserve

About An Hour's Drive

Dinokeng Game Reserve

Whether you’re spending a night, a weekend or simply visiting for the day, don’t miss your chance to see the famous Big Five at the Dinokeng Game Reserve, situated just outside Pretoria. This reserve is the first free-roaming Big Five game reserve in Gauteng that’s next to an urbanised area. The Dinokeng Game Reserve Self-Drive Route was launched in 2014 and offers various routes for you to enjoy with family and friends. Book the self-drive or guided drive by contacting the reserve.

Distance from Johannesburg: 105km to 120km depending on route

Travel time: From 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes

Tel: 012 711 4391

Email: [email protected]

Address: Dinokeng Game Reserve, R734, Pretoria

Web: www.dinokengreserve.co.za

Mongena Game Lodge

Need to escape the crazy city? Then why not head to a bush lodge that guarantees a safari experience like no other? Mongena Game Lodge is a malaria-free retreat where you can experience the best of from nature. It's a great location if you’re into bird watching while the game you can expect to see includes lion, elephant, rhino, cheetah, zebra, warthog, hyena, and buffalo.

Distance from Johannesburg: 115km to 128km depending on route

Travel time: From 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes

Tel: 012 711 8920

Email: [email protected]

Address: JR 87 Boekenhoutkloof, Hammanskraal, Gauteng

Web: www.mongena.co.za

Askari Game Lodge and Spa

With an abundance of bird life and wildlife covering 5 000 hectares, the Askari Game Lodge & Spa in Magaliesberg is situated in the Plumari Private Reserve, which is also home to the Big Five. The lodge offers two daily game drives, each approximately two-and-a-half hours long in the mornings and evenings, as these are the times when the wildlife is most active.  Afterwards, why not treat yourself to one of their fantastic pamper sessions at the Askari Spa?

Distance from Johannesburg: 83km to 88km depending on route

Travel time: From 1 hour and 25 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes

Tel: 0861 148 866 or 014 577 2658/9

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Address: Askari Game Lodge & Spa, R560, 01 Doornspruit Road, Magaliesburg

Web: www.askarilodge.co.za

askari-game-lodge

Two Hours Or More

Mabula Game Lodge

There is no way you could drive out this far only for the afternoon! But if you happen to be in Limpopo looking for a game adventure and a breather, book a stay at the Mabula Game Lodge. Not only will you experience diverse landscapes ranging from grassland plains to rocky stretches, but you’ll also find free-roaming wildlife, including the Big Five, who call this reserve home. Safari drives take place twice a day and are a magical experience that you don’t want to miss!

Distance from Johannesburg: 206km

Travel time: Just under 3 hours

Tel: 014 734 7000

Email: [email protected]

Address: Mabula Private Game Reserve, Rhenosterhoek Spruit Road, Bela-Bela

Web: www.mabula.com

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

The Pilanesberg is one of the country’s most popular wildlife destinations, so if you feel like experiencing everything the beautiful bushveld has to offer, visit the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Take in the spectacular landscape, go on game drives  (self-drive or guided) or do some bird watching during a game walk. There’s almost 200km of game drive routes to choose from with plenty of hideouts and scenic picnic spots. As for accommodation, you're spoilt for choice with many lodges in the area.

Distance from Johannesburg: 190km to 204km depending on route

Travel time: 2 hours and 35 minutes

Tel: 087 820 0020

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.pilanesberggamereserve.co.za

Bongani Mountain Lodge

And way, way, way out there in the wilderness, in the Kruger National Park to be exact, is the secluded and breathtakingly beautiful Bongani Mountain Lodge. Not only is this a haven of relaxation, but it’s also a great location in which you can immerse yourself in nature. They offer guided game drives, as well as the chance to play ‘spot the animal’ as you come into close contact with a variety of wildlife, reptiles and birds.

Distance from Johannesburg: 395km to 425km depending on route

Travel time: 4 to 5 hours

Tel: 010 442 5888

Email: [email protected]

Web: www. aha.co.za

pilanesburg

Visit The Elephants

If you would like to learn a bit more about these majestic creatures, Adventures with Elephants is just the thing – they offer a hands-on session where you will get to learn all about these animals. You will also have the option to swim with the elephants, ride on their backs during the day or even enjoy a starlight elephant-back safari!

Check Out The Cheetahs

This cheetah sanctuary was established in 1971 and is all about preserving cheetahs and wild dogs. There are knowledgeable guides who will be able to tell you everything you want to know about cheetahs and wild dogs, so why not take a tour of this fantastic property?

Hot Water Springs

These natural hot water springs are what originally made the Warmbaths area popular and are definitely worth a visit. With plenty water activities and sports available, any adrenaline junkies out there will be able to get their hearts pumping. The water from these springs contains sodium chloride, calcium carbonate and other salts, all of which are beneficial to people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Take Part In An Amazing Race

Re-enact the Amazing Race as you know and love it from TV! You will need a minimum of 10 people (or cost equivalent) to take part in this activity. There will be a challenge at each stop off point and it’s bound to be a mentally and physically challenging experience!

Geluksfontein Goat Cheese Farm

Indulge in some cheesy goodness at the Geluksfontein Goat Cheese Farm! They produce cheese daily here in a very traditional manner so you know you’re getting good quality products! There is a restaurant on-site where you can indulge in a tasty meal. The farm also offers cheese tasting where you will be able to choose from a wide selection, including feta, cheddar, halloumi and so much more.

Take A Hike

If you love the outdoors, you’ll definitely want to go on a hike through the Diepdrift Hiking Trails in Bela Bela. There are various trails to choose from, including overnight stays and one-day walks. Animals you are likely to see on the trials include sable, antelope, hippo and giraffe so keep your eyes peeled and be sure to bring a fully-charged phone or camera along with you so that you can take some photos!

Drive Through The Malibongwe Game Reserve

Mabalingwe means 'the place of the spotted leopard' and is a game reserve definitely worth visiting for all wildlife lovers. From the Big Five, to hippo, giraffes, sable and hyena, you’re bound to see your fair share of animals. Game-viewing can be done from open-top cars or, for something a bit different, on horseback!

Makopa Reptile Park

Located just 12kms outside Bela Bela, this reptile park is for those who aren’t freaked out by scaly creatures! They have reptiles from Australia, South and North America and many other exotic places. If you want to watch the reptiles in action, you can request a demonstration! There is also a tea garden and curio shop on site, should you feel peckish.

Play Some Paintball

If you want to get some adrenaline rushing through you, paintball is certainly the way to go! Round up a crew and get involved in a game – it’ll be fun. Plus, you’re also welcome to have a braai on the property (just call ahead first to organise), so why not make a day out of it?

Get Some Golf In

Zebula Gold Estate and Spa is located 40kms west of Bela Bela and is the perfect place to kick back and relax – whether relaxation to you means a round of golf or an indulgent massage, take your pick at Zebula Golf Estate and Spa.

By Nikki Samakosky

Remember that our “Top Picks” are not paid for and are compiled at the discretion of the journalist. We only write about what we love.