Pilanesberg Game Reserve

One of the game parks in South Africa where you have a good chance of spotting The Big Five is the Pilanesberg National Park in the province of North West. The park is about a 2.5-hour drive north-west of Johannesburg / Pretoria. This 55,000-hectare park is one of the larger game reserves in South Africa and has an excellent wildlife stock with a wide variety of animal species, including the famous Big Five. The park is located on the crater of a volcano that was active millions of years ago, nowadays strangely shaped rocks still remind us that this area is special geologically. Pilanesberg is located in the transition zone from Kalahari to Low veld which means that it is an excellent habitat for a great many different animal and plant species.

Pilanesberg Game Reserve was founded in 1979 and was a huge project called ‘Operation Genesis’. No less than 110 km of fencing had to be placed and 188 km of paved roads were laid. The biggest challenge was placing back 6,000 animals in the area where they originally lived. It turned out to be a very successful project and today there are around 7000 animals, a well-maintained road network of no less than 200 km and it is one of the most popular game reserves in South Africa. Birdwatchers will certainly enjoy themselves here with more than 300 different species, including migratory birds that cannot be found throughout the year in this region.

There is a large dam in the area, the Mankwe Dam where many animals come to drink. This is a good place to spot wildlife and a lookout hut has been created from where you can see the osprey, kingfishers and cormorants circling above the dam.

Because of the good condition of the roads in the park you can make a game drive with your own car. However, if you want to know more about the different animals, a game drive with a safari vehicle and an expert guide is recommended. Often the guides also know well where the less easily found animals are hiding. For whom these options are too ordinary, there is also the possibility for a ride on an elephant’s back through the park (Elephant Back Safaris) or a balloon ride above the area. Just a short distance from Pilanesberg you will find Sun City, a tourist attraction that combines well with a visit to Pilanesberg.

Pilanesberg National Park is a malaria-free area.

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