Game Lodge Story
A collaborative conservation project
Mongena Private Game Reserve has a rich history that dates back to 1995. Today, the Mongena Game Lodge traversing area spans over 8,000 hectares and is part of the Dinokeng Game Reserve, a free-roaming Big 5 Game Reserve in the Hammanskraal area in the province of Gauteng, South Africa.
The Mongena Game Lodge story began in 1995 when Nick van Huyssteen and Johan Jonck purchased the agricultural farm JR87 Boekenhoutkloof with the goal of converting the land into a game farm for recreational purposes. The farm was enclosed and stocked with various game species, including white rhinos.
In the early 2000s, the decision was made to expand the farm commercially by adding more guest rooms and communal facilities such as the Tshukudu bar and a swimming pool.
In 2008, Etienne and Marina Toerien acquired Johan Jonck’s shares in Mongena Game Lodge. The new owners soon became involved in the day-to-day operations, resulting in the cancellation of the management contract with Protea Hotels and the introduction of hands-on owner management.
Meanwhile, in the early 2000s, the Gauteng provincial government began an initiative to create a free-roaming Big 5 Game Reserve in the Hammanskraal area. Etienne Toerien was actively involved in the planning process, and all farming fences were removed when the Reserve was officially opened in September 2011. This historic event marked the first time in over 100 years that lions and elephants could roam freely in the province of Gauteng.
Mongena reached a significant milestone in 2011 with the opening of the Kingfisher a la Carte Restaurant, the first public restaurant accessible to day visitors. In 2016, Mongena Game Reserve signed a long-term land lease agreement, adding 3,300 hectares to the Mongena traversing area and the northern section of the Dinokeng Game Reserve, expanding the effective traversing area to 8,000 hectares. This addition includes the self-catering Barnhouse and Tandala Trails camp, offering a remote, pristine wilderness experience. The future expansion plans aim to increase the traversing area to 12,000 hectares and the total conservation area to over 22,000 hectares.
Mongena Private Game Reserve is home to a 30-hectare scenic dam, surrounded by the Pienaars and Boekenhout rivers, providing sunset boat cruises and excellent birdwatching opportunities in the wetlands around the dam. The reserve also offers the exquisite Imvubu Boma function venue for private events and boma dinners, and the unfenced Little Mongena Tented Camp on the dam’s shores for an unique glamping wildlife experience!.