Dinokeng Game Reserve is a hidden gem no more than two hours from Johannesburg. This vast game reserve is not only home to the Big Five but has some of the best birding on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Dinokeng is nestled in a biome-transition zone, hosting Kalahari Thornveld, Broad-leafed Woodland and Bushveld. Throw in a diverse network of river systems and multiple man-made and natural lakes, and you have a recipe for birding success!
Birding in the Kalahari Thornveld consistently produces Crimson-breasted Shrike, Southern-pied Babbler, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Violet-eared Waxbill, Shaft-tailed Whydah and more. As you transition into the Bushveld habitat, you’re likely to encounter Southern Black Flycatcher, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Southern Boubou, White-throated Robin-Chat, Golde-tailed Woodpeck and Greater Honeyguide. The wetland systems host an array of exciting species such as Half-collared Kingfisher, African Finfoot, Black Heron, African Jacana, African Swamphen, White-backed Duck and the list goes on.
And don’t forget about the large mammals that call Dinokeng home. The Big Five (Lion, Leopard, Black- and White Rhino, African Elephant and African Buffalo) often make an appearance on our birding day trips as well as a host of more common mammals such as Southern Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Greater Kudu, Plains Zebra, Red-hartebeest and more.
A Birding Day Tour To Dinokeng Game Reserve isn’t just exciting it’s an all-out adventure.
Mongena Private Concession (within Dinokeng Game Reserve):
After an early collection from your hotel in the Johannesburg area, we make our way north out of the city to Dinokeng Game Reserve. Our short 2-hour drive ensures that we arrive at the Mongena Private Game Lodge concession as the dawn chorus serenades the waking African bush.
Some of the first species that we’re likely to encounter as we enter the game reserve include Lilac-breasted Roller, African Wattled Lapwing, Magpie Shrike, Black-winged Kite, Little Swift and White-browed Scrub-Robin. As we enter the Mongena concession, we’ll transfer to our Open Safari Vehicle of an unobstructed view, as the clear Kalahari habitat makes itself prevalent with species such as Southern Pied Babbler, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Burchell’s Starling, Barred Wren-Warbler, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Shaft-tailed Whydah, Scaly-feathered Weaver, Ashy Tit and Violet-eared Waxbill.
We’ll take our time, exploring the Acacia Thronveld thoroughly before moving on to some of the wetland systems within the reserve as the morning heats up. Around the water we’ll be looking for Goliath- and Black Heron, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Half-collared-, Giant- and Pied Kingfisher, African Jacana, White-backed Duck, African Swamphen, Black Crake, African Rail, African Snipe and more.
After a “birdy” morning session, we’ll take a break at Mongena’s Kingfisher Restaurant to enjoy a well-deserved brunch/lunch and something to drink. But don’t think birding stops, as we enjoy our meal we can also enjoy views of Southern-masked-, Lesser-masked- and Village Weaver, Malachite Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Egret, Cardinal Woodpecker, Crested Barbet, Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver, Red-winged Starling and the resident Black-chested Snake Eagle.
The afternoon will be spent in the Bushveld area of the reserve, focusing on species such as Greater Honeyguide, African Grey-, Southern Yellow-billed- and Southern Red-billed Hornbill, White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Great Sparrow, Red-headed Finch, Purple Roller, Bennett’s Woodpecker, Flappet Lark, Cape Penduline-Tit, Yellow-throated Bush Sparrow, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Golden-breasted Bunting and loads more.
As our day draws to a close, we take the 2-hour drive back to Johannesburg, reflecting on the day’s success.
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