Where To Go If You Only Have A Day

The Best 1 Day Safaris From Johannesburg

You Only Have A Day, So Where Do You Go?

Imagine you’re in Johannesburg on business or a connecting flight elsewhere, perhaps you’re visiting some friends, or you’re here for a sports event. No matter the reason, you have a day to kill and want to go on Safari, but where do you go? What are your options?


Most people will suggest Pilanesburg National Park, and that’s not a terrible suggestion. At 57 000 hectares (141 344 acres), it’s a healthy portion of land, has an abundance of wildlife (including the Big 5), offers open vehicle safaris and allows access to the general public. My only gripe with Pilanesburg is that it’s a 3 to 3.5-hour drive from Johannesburg. Now, if you’re planning on spending the night, or even two, then I’d say yes, maybe. But that’s a far way to drive for a 1-day safari. You’ll have to leave extremely early to get there for the optimum game viewing times, and just as the day gets good, you’ll have to exit the park to make it back in time for a late dinner.

best 1 day safari from johannesburg

Open Vehicle Safari On Mongena


That’s why, if you only have a single day for a safari experience near Johannesburg, I suggest Dinokeng Game Reserve. Specifically the Mongena Private Game Lodge concession as the best 1-day safari from Johannesburg. Dinokeng is 20 000 hectares (49 421 acres) in size and doesn’t have anything that Pilanesburg doesn’t.

Much like Pilanesburg, you can drive along public access routes to conduct your own game-viewing experience. However, it is fairly limited, and you don’t get to explore as much of the reserve. That’s why I suggest booking a day with Mongena Private Game Lodge.

best 1 day safari from johannesburg

Cheetah – Acinonyx jubatus

best 1 day safari from johannesburg

Black Rhino On Game Drive

Mongena Private Game Lodge

Mongena has the largest private concession within Dinokeng and has top-quality guides to go with it. And by booking a 1-day Safari experience at Mongena, you go on privately guided game drives in open safari vehicles and have the best chances of spotting a greater diversity of wildlife, especially the more difficult-to-find animals such as Lion, Cheetah, Black Rhino and more. Whereas if you do a self-drive experience (on either Pilanesburg or Dinokeng) you’ll be at the mercy of the safari gods. One can never beat local knowledge and experience when it comes to finding wildlife on safari.

Mongena is less than a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg and offers some of the best game viewing you’ll find in the entire region.


Start the day with an early morning drive to the reserve and jump on an open safari vehicle for a game drive. Then enjoy a brunch at their Kingfisher Restaurant. If you want to stick around for the day you can laze around the pool or explore the self-drive routes within Dinokeng. Then come back later in the day for either a late afternoon game drive or a sunset boat cruise. They also offer guided Safari Walks for those that are a bit more adventurous at heart and would maybe like to learn more about the bush and even encounter large mammals on foot.

All their activities are R450.00 (US $25.00) per person and the conservation/entry fee is R80.00 (US $5.00) per person. If you’re going to be driving the self-drive route you’ll pay an added R250.00 (US $14.00).

best 1 day safari from johannesburg

Plains Zebra – Equus quagga