We’ve read your reviews and seen the comments, oftentimes guests of the Dinokeng Game Reserve are taken aback by the dirt roads within the reserve.
We’d like to say that we’ve written this blog to help you be prepared for any nasty surprises, but our roads are naturally occurring, affected by the elements and part-in-parcel of the type of getaway you’ve decided on!
Instead, we’ll just make sure you are adequately prepared to handle any bumps in the road (literally) and well-equipped to enjoy the ride.
Enjoy the journey
The adventure begins and all the stresses of the city melt away the moment you enter one of the reserve boom gates. If you plan to check in to your accommodation at a certain time, we suggest giving yourself an extra hour to enjoy a slow drive to your accommodation.
Sit back, relax, grab a refreshment out of your well-stocked cooler box and enjoy an easy ride to your lodge. Remember that at this point you would have entered Big-5 territory so keep your eyes peeled!
The animals don’t care about what car you drive and we certainly don’t either!
Take your neighbour up on his offer to borrow his double cab, bring an older car, opt for your higher clearance vehicle or make peace with the fact that dust and dirt are simply a way of life in the African bush!
Remember, the roads can become quite narrow in some areas and a brush with a thorny tree may leave a scratch or two. Bringing the right vehicle will allow you to take in the experience rather than spending all your energy dodging trees and thorns while cursing at the uneven terrain.
You might be driving home on the highway with dust falling off your bonnet and a less-than-sparkling clean windscreen but the memories you’ve made and the experience will make that all so insignificant.
General vehicle roadworthiness checklist before entering the reserve
Now that we’ve covered all the disclaimers about life in the bush, whichever vehicle you choose to bring, here’s how you can always be extra prepared for anything the road may throw at you:
1. Remember to check that you have a valid drivers license and license disc
Along your route into the reserve, you are most likely going to travel on a national road where it is required of you by law to have a licensed vehicle. The last thing you want on your way to a relaxing getaway is for it to be cut short before you even get there!
2. Ensure your fuel, oil, brake fluid and coolant are at the recommended levels
Once you are in the reserve there are no petrol stations so make sure you have enough fuel to get to your accommodation and to enjoy your self-drives.
It’s not recommended to move your vehicle if your coolant light is on. You should pull over and turn off your ignition immediately. Unfortunately this would mean being stuck in the reserve while waiting for road assistance to tow your vehicle to the nearest garage or mechanic.
3. Check your tyres
Your tyre tread, wheel alignment and shock absorbers should be in order and always remember to have a spare tyre in working order.
There is always the possibility of puncture by a sharp stone, thorn or even a wheel tear by hitting an unforeseen hole in the dirt road.
4. Listen to your breaks for any squeaking or scraping, and take note of any vibrations under your pedal.
Although the speed limit in the reserve is 40km/h, you may need to stop suddenly for birds crossing the road, a lion darting after prey, or brake suddenly to avoid a boulder in the road. Having faulty brakes could make this almost impossible and you could seriously injure the wildlife and cause irreparable damage to your vehicle.
5. Make sure your headlights, taillights, brake lights and indicators work properly
Before you depart on your journey, ask a friend or family member to assist you with checking your vehicle lights.
It is recommended that you drive with your lights on in the reserve so that when driving through a dust trail made by another vehicle, your headlights are easily visible for oncoming traffic and cars behind you.
6. Take note of any damages to your windscreen and wiper blades
When driving behind another vehicle in the reserve it is advisable to keep a safe distance in case any stones get thrown up by their tires. If you have a pre-existing crack in your windshield it may limit the windscreen’s ability to protect you in adverse conditions or an accident.
7. Seatbelts should be in working order and children under 4 years old must be safely secured
If you plan to tackle any of the 4X4 routes, you will undoubtedly be thrown around a little. We recommend buckling up for the bumpy ride and although iKhaya LamaDube regrettably does not allow children at the lodge, if you are staying elsewhere and traveling with children, they should be secured with a seatbelt or in their car seat at all times.
8. All catches, latches and hinges, body panels, mountings and accessories must all be attached and in working condition
The bumpy terrain is going to rattle and shake your vehicle about – especially if you are traveling in a smaller vehicle. Make sure that all your parts are secure and that nothing is going to come loose and fall in your footwell – impairing your driving ability.
9. Be prepared for any emergency by having a spare tyre, charged cell phone, emergency triangle and emergency kit.
As we mentioned earlier, once you are in the reserve there is very little way of road assistance and you certainly don’t want to get out of your vehicle and walk to the nearest game lodge with wild animals running around.
Being prepared in the event of an emergency will put your mind at ease and allow you to make decisions which don’t further compromise your safety.
Our top tips for navigating the bump terrain
- Use Boekenhoutkloof Road Entrance next to the Military Base. This will make your trip to iKhaya on the dirt roads as short and sweet as possible if you were unable to bring a high-clearance vehicle
- Drive slowly
- Look out for holes and ditches. If you’re driving slowly you should be able to do this while also looking for the Big-5 within the reserve!
- Always assume that the road (and wildlife) will be unpredictable and drive cautiously
- Make yourself visible at all times by keeping your headlights on
- Get into a lower gear when going downhill instead of riding your brakes to
- Drive toward the middle of the road if there is no one around you
- Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel to maintain control of the car
- Unless you have a 4×4 vehicle, avoid extra muddy roads at all costs as they can be extremely slippery
- Take your foot off the accelerator, slowly steer your vehicle into the right direction and let the car slow down naturally if you start skidding on the dirt
- Follow the speed limit
- Do not try any of the 4×4 trails if you don’t have a 4×4
- Keep a tubeless automotive puncture repair kit in your car – you’ll thank us for this invaluable piece of advice this long after you’ve exited the reserve gates.
Remember, Dinokeng Game Reserve occurs on natural terrain and just like the animals who inhabit the reserve, the roads and terrain can be just as unpredictable.
If you need any help navigating the roads as you make your way to the lodge, feel free to call ahead and we’ll talk you through it!