Pilanesberg National Park | South Africa Travel Tips & Reviews | Africa Point
Pilanesberg National Park
Young Rhino, Pilanesberg N.P., South Africa
Pilanesberg National Park
Elephant Family, Pilanesberg N.P., South Africa
Pilanesberg National Park
Lion, Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa
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Pilanesberg National Park


Experience all the excitement of Big Five game viewing in the unspoilt African Bushveld. Leave the city behind you as you enter an ancient volcanic crater, a place of serenity and great beauty, teeming with nearly every animal found in South Africa. This is the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.


Best Time to Visit:

All year round – best game viewing in the drier months from May to October.

Average Visitor Rating:

5 out of 5 'Pawprints' Based on 0 Review(s)
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Picture-Perfect Pilanesberg

The setting of the Pilanesberg National Park in the saucer-shaped depression of an ancient volcanic crater is unique.  Here you find yourself surrounded by remnants of one of the earth’s largest volcanic complexes, with rare geological features, now the backdrop to some of the best game viewing in the country.  And all of this is right on your doorstep in a Malaria-free region, less than a 2 hour drive from Johannesburg.  The Pilanesburg is the fourth largest of South Africa’s National Parks (55,000 hectare or 572 sq km) and offers a wide diversity of habitats that support over 7000 animals, including 24 of the larger species.  


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The Big Five, Night Game Drives, and other Highlights

The Big Five

All the Big Five can now be found here and it is not uncommon to catch a glimpse of four out of five on a guided game drive (the leopard is always the difficult one to spot!)  Elephant sightings are common, often really close to the main rest camps, while Lion can often be seen quite close to the road and even just outside the rest camps.  Rhino, both black and white are also quite commonly seen, and there is a large herd of African Buffalo which you may also be lucky enough to see thundering across the plains.


Night Game Drives

All rest camps offer guided Night game drives, where many of the Parks shyer nocturnal animals can be glimpsed with the aid of a strong spotlight.  Pilanesberg has a high concentration of Hyena, which are endemic to the area, and you have a good chance of seeing these, as well as Jackal, big and small cats and many of the other smaller mammals on a Night safari.  Combine your night safari with a Boma Braai (a barbecue dinner served in a clearing in the bush) to enjoy African specialities cooked over the fire and served under the starry African skies.


Other Highlights

The Park is situated in the transition zone between the dry Kalahari region in the north and the wetter Bushveld in the south, with large overlapping eco zones that are home to many endemic species of mammals, birds and vegetation; consequently it is a wonderful place for wildlife photographers.  There are several hides where you can spend a few hours unobserved by the birds and animals and get some great photos.  Hippos can reliably be found wallowing in one of the dams on the Reserve, or grazing on the banks at sunset.  



Safaris in the Pilanesberg National Park

The roads are in good condition and suitable for ordinary vehicles, but the benefit of going on a guided Game Drive or Safari cannot be over-emphasised. On guided game drives the vehicles are all in contact with one another, so that if there is a great sighting somewhere in the park everyone will have a chance to see it. There are several options for 2 – 5 day Pilanesberg Safaris where you will be transported from Johannesburg and stay in some of the best lodges and Bush camps in the Park, and all game drives, including the Night Safari, will be included.  If time is of the essence, you could spend just one night in the Park and go on a morning and evening game drive to give you a taste of what the Pilanesberg has to offer.



Other Activities in and around Pilanesberg

Hot Air Ballooning:  Just imagine drifting silently over the heads of the unsuspecting game!  A Hot Air Balloon safari will give you the most dramatic birds-eye view of the remarkable volcanic rings that surround the park, as well as a most tranquil start to your day.  See the sun rise over this unique geological marvel and get a different perspective of this amazing place. 

Guided Hiking Trails:  Seize the opportunity to go on a guided hike! The hikes are all led by experienced guides who will be happy to impart their extensive knowledge about the flora and fauna, and there is the added excitement of possibly coming across one of the Big Five.

Sun City and the Palace of the Lost City:  Surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature in the Park, it is hard to believe that there is a huge entertainment complex hidden just around the corner!  Less than 10mins from the gates of the Pilanesberg lies Sun City, with two championship golf courses, four hotels, a casino and a man-made beach complete with a huge wave pool and water park.  This is the perfect antidote to the silence and serenity of the Park, for those who need a change of pace.



Accommodation in the Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg has accommodation options to suit the most discerning visitor, ranging from self-catering chalets, lodges and luxury Bush camps.  All of these are set in superb locations in the pristine bush and many even offer good game viewing from your patio or pool!



How to Get There

The Pilanesberg National Park is easily accessible by road from Johannesburg in about 2 hours, or you can fly in to the Sun City airport in about 40 min from Johannesburg.



Best Time to Visit

This is a year-round destination, with the best game viewing during the drier months of May to September, when the grass is shorter and the animals make their way to the dams to drink.


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