Rhino and Lion Park: Sensational Safari in Suburbia (Video inc.)

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On the road ahead, within only a couple of metres, ‘Old Stompy’ ambled towards our car. There’s something quite invigorating about an enormous buffalo, with its ridiculously thick horns sitting on its forehead like an elaborately styled fringe, sauntering towards you.

“That’s Stompy”, said Mike, who was showing us around the Bothongo Rhino and Lion Reserve.

Realising, from his relaxed tone, that said buffalo wasn’t about to charge the car, I resumed breathing.

Photo of a buffalo
This isn’t Stompy – I was too fixated worrying whether I was safe to take a shot – but this is a buffalo. So imagine this great beast coming towards you. I had recently read that if a buffalo has his sights on you – run up the nearest tree! 


We shot this video on our visit to the Rhino and Lion Park and it includes:

  • A mother warthog playing with her baby  … watch out for the little yellow mongoose running around in the background.
  • The crash of rhinos around the waterhole
  • The family of hippos bobbing up and down in the river
  • And more…
Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, Krugersdrop, South Africa


This was our second visit to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve near Johannesburg.

Our first had been a few days prior when we had our 4×4 course (which takes place on the 4×4 tracks within the Park), with Jannie Rykaart of Protea Training.

We had been blown away that such a fantastic nature reserve existed within easy reach of Johannesburg. We were keen to come back to find out more about the Rhino and Lion Park that had impressed us so much.

We met up with the Chief Operating Officer, Mike Fynn, who explained the philosophy, and the conservation and environmental efforts happening at the  Reserve.

So what makes this Rhino and Lion Park so special, and what awaits you on a visit to this ‘Nearest Faraway Place’?

List of visitor attractions on the sign at the Rhino and Lion Park
Bothongo Lion and Rhino Reserve


The Bothongo Rhino and Lion Nature Park is only a 45-minute drive from Johannesburg, the capital of the province of Gauteng.

This incredible wildlife park is also set within the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage site renowned for its many human ancestor fossils. In the surrounding landscape, you’ll see the Magaliesberg Mountains formed over 2 billion years ago. The Rhino and Lion Park is in the heart of this rich environment.

The nature reserve is under new management and has many enhancements planned to ensure optimum conditions for both the animals and visitors to the Rhino and Lion Reserve.

Not only do you get the real safari feel, but there are also so many other facilities to make use of:

  • A Wildlife Centre for Education and Conservation
  • Hippo River with a Viewing Walkway
  • Bothongo Wonder Cave
  • Numerous restaurants to choose from
  • Accommodation chalets and huts
  • Shuu-lo Curio shop
  • A world-class Bike Park
  • Reptile House and Show
  • Cheetah Talk
  • Braai and children’s play area
  • Swimming pool
Close up of rhino head
One of the Southern White Rhinos at the Rhino and Lion Reserve

So, for the next best thing, other than travelling 500 kilometres east to the world-famous Kruger National Park, take a visit to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Krugersdorp, Gauteng.

With over 1600 hectares to explore and more than 650 animals, you’ll feel miles away from anywhere and have a sensational safari experience just a stone’s throw from Johannesburg.

Whether you have just landed in South Africa and are looking for your first animal encounters nearby, or you live locally and want a super fun day out, this has to be one of the best places to go. 

As Mike Fynn, the COO says,

“It’s the best-kept secret of Gauteng.”

Baby Zebra and bird at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve
Baby zebra at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve


It’s easy to self-drive around the Rhino and Lion Park, and a two-wheel drive is fine. If you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle there are clearly marked extra tracks that you can take.

As you enter the park and pay your entrance fee you receive a free Field Guide with a map, so you can plan your route and use the guide to identify the animals.

Zebra on the road at the Rhino and Lion Park Johannesburg
Don’t be surprised if you have to drive around some of the animals who seem to like to hang out around the streets.


  • Stay in your car at all times unless in a safe visitor zone
  • When driving through the ‘Predator Camp’ keep windows closed.
  • Respect the park and its wildlife by not disturbing, teasing or feeding the animals.
  • Stick to the 35km/hr speed limit.
  • Be aware that the animals are wild, can act unpredictably and can be dangerous.

If you don’t have your own car, there are plenty of tour options to choose from:

Check out the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve Tours here

two curved horned antelope
Scimitar-Horned Oryx


With a name like the Rhino and Lion Park, you would expect to find lions and rhinos, and although they are there, as with many Nature Reserves, the animals are free to roam the vast area and therefore a sighting isn’t necessarily guaranteed.

That only adds to the thrill of being on the lookout for these incredible wild animals.

That said, the lions are situated in the ‘Predator Camp’ so your chances of seeing them increase. 

The lions are fed midweek and at weekends, (as they are in their own part of the reserve, they don’t hunt). The feeding times are a drawcard because then, you are almost guaranteed to see the pride tearing apart their home-delivered dinners and you might just notice the telltale signs of an enjoyable meal smeared across their chins.

lion eating off a carcass
Lion in the Predator Camp at the Bothongo Lion and Rhino Reserve

As for the rhinos, you won’t be able to find out exactly how many rhinos are at the Rhino and Lion Park, as sadly rhino poaching is a very real threat here. The park has to have 24/7 on the ground anti-poaching security.

At the end of our tour with Mike, and our own self-drive through the park, we hadn’t spotted one rhino. We were reluctantly heading towards the exit, as it was near gate closing time when we saw a crash of rhinos, (‘Crash’ is the collective term for a group of rhinos).

There were about seven playing around the waterhole on the left of the park as we headed out.

Two white Rhinos at a waterhole at the Rhino and lion park Johannesburg
We found the elusive treasure of these incredible rhinos at the end of the day. 


As mentioned, you’ll find the lions in the Park’s Predator Camp— a separate area in the park of a hundred hectares. Here, you’ll find a pride of tawny lions, white lions, wild dogs and cheetahs.

The feeding times are around 1 pm on Wednesday and at weekends and public holidays.

On our visit, we saw the tawny lions feeding, but we didn’t see the cheetahs or white lions. We ran out of time as there is just so much to see.

We’d recommend getting to the nature reserve early so you can make the most of your day’s entrance ticket.

Lion and predator Camp sign
The Predator Camp has a set of security gates and you need to show your entrance ticket again
Lion in the Predator Camp at the Rhino and Lion nature reserve Johannesburg. The lion is tearing off a chunk of meat from a dead animal.
Feeding time at the Predator Camp in the Rhino and Lion Park
pack of wild dogs at a carcass
Endangered African Wild dogs 


You won’t only find rhinos and lions at this Krugersdorp Nature Reserve. You’ll find an array of Hartman’s zebra, antelope, eland, oryx, wildebeest, impala, warthogs, ostrich, vultures, black-backed jackals and so much more wandering freely across the nature reserve.

The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve management team are dedicated to creating a place where the public can learn about the animals, the environmental issues and the concepts facing our wildlife today. 

group of hormed antelope lying in tall grass with horns sticking up
How many elands can you spot in this photo?
Hartmann’s zebra and warthog at the Rhino and Lion Park

The Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras are a vulnerable species. The difference between these and the more common Plains Zebra is that the Hartmanns don’t have stripes on their underbelly and their stripes are narrower.  

Two impala (deer like looking animals) at the Rhino and Lion Park
Cute impala watching us watching them
Red Hartebeest laying on the ground at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve
Red Hartebeest having an afternoon siesta
mother meerkat and pup
Mother meerkat and pup
A mother’s love – even the warthogs look cute here!
an Arabian Oryx with long horns is lying down
Arabian Oryx


As well as the vast acres of the Nature Reserve to drive in, there is an educational Wildlife Centre at the Rhino and Lion Reserve.

When we visited, some of the wildlife enclosures were undergoing renovation and extensions. The idea is that all of the individual enclosures that mimic the animal’s natural environment are being built to world-class standards.

All of the animals at the wildlife centre have been born in captivity as part of conservation efforts to ensure their sustainability. The primary function of the wildlife Centre is to increase the awareness of our threatened species and to educate about how we can conserve and sustain our precious wildlife.

white tiger cub
White tiger cub
two white tiger cubs at play
Two white tiger cubs at play

These white tiger cubs were bouncing around having a whole heap of fun before collapsing in a heap for a much-needed rest. Unfortunately, they had to be hand-reared as their mum rejected them at birth.

What is really important though, is that the public is not allowed to pet them. Until recently many facilities, and some still do, allowed the petting of baby wild cats.

The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve Johannesburg made the decision, in line with their new values and ethos, that this practice had to cease. They made the decision even though they have lost visitors and some members of the public become irate when told they are not able to touch the baby cubs.

white tiger cub peeking through grass
White tiger cub peeking through the grass just before pouncing on his brother.


Now, let’s face it, who wouldn’t like to snuggle up with a tiger cub?

However, many of us are now environmentally savvy enough to know that no matter what we would like to do, we would prefer the interest of the animals to be put first.

This becomes especially poignant when you learn:

  • These little cuties need to sleep about 80% of the day. Having people petting them all day would seriously affect their health and development
  • Wild animals used for petting are taken away from their mothers and bottle-fed, meaning that they are not getting the correct nutrients or bonding.  
  • When the cubs are older and no longer cute they are often disregarded. 
  • The animals become used to humans and that can work to the advantage of poachers.  

Personally, we prefer to visit the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve because they DON’T ALLOW petting.

white tiger cub with paws resting on a water trough.jpg
white tiger cub cutie

In the Wildlife Centre, there are leopards, a black panther, a black leopard, a clouded leopard, white tigers, a pygmy hippo and many more animals to learn about. 

Close by is also the Reptile House.

Unfortunately, we missed visiting it while we were there but it has various snakes and other reptiles.

male leopard looking at me
Male Leopard in the Wildlife Centre

… and from the cute, to not quite so cute

maribou stork
This interesting-looking fellow is a Maribou Stork at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve Wildlife Centre


When you arrive at the Rhino and Lion Park, you’ll first arrive at the free car park beside the Neck and Deck Restaurant.

Across the road is the Hippo Walkway.

We were lucky enough to see a family of hippos frolicking in the river. It was amazing to watch these huge hippos bobbing their heads up and down and managed to capture some great shots.

two hippos in the water having a kiss
Hippos whispering sweet nothings.

In amongst the reeds, by the Hippo Walkway, we saw our first Red Bishops. This bird, common in  South Africa, was an interesting sighting for us with its characteristic red helmet.

red headed bird in river reeds
The South African Red Bishop


Within the grounds of the Botohongo Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, is another popular attraction — the Bothongo Wonder Cave.

It was discovered in 1898 when miners came across it while mining for limestone. It is a huge cavern, with stalagmites and stalactites creating all sorts of shapes.

Entrance to the caves costs an additional amount and you pay as you enter the Reserve.

We drove all the way to the caves but realised that the tours were every hour and we hadn’t yet visited everything else. Again, running out of time, we skipped the tour, but we did stop and listen to the guide tell us a bit about the caves and took a photo of the first 87 steps you climb down, before taking a lift that takes you down to the cave 60 metres below ground.

NOTE: Find out the time of the Wondercave tours while you are at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve entrance so you can plan your day accordingly without wasting any time. 

Wonder caves entrance with steep steps to the cave below at the Rhino and Lion Park johannesburg
Entrance to the Bothongo Wonder Cave


We booked our 4-wheel driving course with Jannie from Protea 4×4

The amazing bonus of the Protea 4×4 course was that it was inside the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. Therefore, not only did we get to practice our 4×4 bush driving, but we did it amongst some of the amazing wildlife at the Reserve.

Jannie can also give you lots of useful advice as to the specific areas that you will be driving to in South Africa as well as advice on routes and places to avoid.

If you are lucky, while at Jannie’s place in the Park, you may catch a glimpse of ‘Bullet’, the rhino rescued as a baby.

She came really close to us while we were chatting about all things 4×4 and I must admit I left Lars to listen to Jannie while I went on a little ‘safari walk’ to take some photos.

white rhino in tall grass
Bullet – the rescued rhino who lives near Protea 4×4 within the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve

‘Bullet’ was found with a bullet lodged in her shoulder. Poachers had already killed her mother and it was touch and go as to whether she would survive.

Miraculously the vets were able to save her.

She is now 4 years old and happily roams around in the Reserve. She isn’t with the other rhino though as they have rejected her as part of their group.

Luckily the Reserve has a 24/7 anti-poaching team, so she is in the best place.

It is incredibly sad that these animals are killed simply for their horns. Fortunately, rhino poaching numbers,  are on the decline.

The Save the Rhino organisation reported that in February 2020, South Africa’s Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries reported that a total of 594 rhinos were poached in the country during 2019, 175 less than the previous year.

However, with the price of rhino horn sometimes reaching $65,000 per kg it is a constant threat to the rhino population. 



520 Kromdraai Road, Kromdraai,
Krugersdorp, 1739


Tel.No. (011) 957 0106
(011) 957 0109

[email protected]


Closed Mondays.

Tuesday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm

Weekends and Public Holidays 8 am- 6 pm



13h00 Weds, Weekends and Public Holidays


Entrance fees are R220 online (about AUD20) – check out the current prices here.


We ate at the newly refurbished Neck and Deck Restaurant which is right beside the free parking area before the main gate to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve.

We don’t normally post about what we have eaten but the Neck and Deck burger we ate has to be one of the best we’ve ever tasted — we highly recommend it.  It set us back about R95 (AUD 9.50) and was epic!

You can also feed the resident giraffe here.

frnt of thatched roof restaurant
Neck and Deck Restaurant
Neck and Deck Burger at the Rhino and lion Nature Reserve
The Bothongo Burger

Rhino and Lion Reserve … That’s a Wrap

We thoroughly enjoyed our two visits to the Bothongo Rhino and Lion Park near Johannesburg and are happy to answer any questions you may have.  

Any feedback on the post will be appreciated in the comments section below or email suggestions and questions to us at [email protected]

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