Useful tips for visiting Pilanesberg National Park

Overshadowed by many of the other game reserves of South Africa, like Kruger National Park, the Pilanesberg National Park in South-Africa is a real hidden diamond. In the malaria-free park, you can explore the Big Five, more than 300 bird species, grasslands, wooded valleys, an extinct volcanic crater, and much more! With this post, I hope to convince you to (also) visit Pilanesberg National Park when travelling through South-Africa!

A visit to Pilanesberg National Park by @girlswanderlust #pilanesberg #southafrica #south #africa #girlswanderlust #safari #travel #travelblogger #nature #beautiful #view

A few years ago, while I was doing voluntary work in South-Africa, I visited the Pilanesberg National Park, a Game Reserve northwest of Johannesburg. The park is a true beauty with over 7000 animals and 300 bird species. In the early morning, I joined a guided drive and explored the park with a professional guide. While driving through the wet Lowveld vegetation, we spotted different flora and fauna.

A visit to Pilanesberg National Park by @girlswanderlust #pilanesberg #southafrica #south #africa #girlswanderlust #safari #travel #travelblogger #nature #jeep
A visit to Pilanesberg National Park by @girlswanderlust #pilanesberg #southafrica #south #africa #girlswanderlust #safari #travel #travelblogger #nature #rhino #Rhinoceros

The guide told me about the Southern Africa’s most endangered large carnivore, the wild dog, that is living in the park. There are only about 6000 wild dogs left in the world, and seeing one in this game reserve, is a true privilege. Fortunately, I was lucky, and spotted two of them while they were sunbathing on one of the roads.

A visit to Pilanesberg National Park by @girlswanderlust #pilanesberg #southafrica #south #africa #girlswanderlust #safari #travel #travelblogger #nature #wilddog.jpg
A visit to Pilanesberg National Park by @girlswanderlust #pilanesberg #southafrica #south #africa #girlswanderlust #safari #travel #travelblogger #nature #giraffe

During the day, other great creatures continued crossing our paths, including, giraffes, elephants, lions, buffalo’s, red deers, zebras, and rhinos. We were also lucky to see some hippos and crocodiles in one of the lakes. You really have a high change to see a lot of wildlife in Pilanesberg National Park, including Africa’s ‘big five’, consisting of a lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo. The term ‘big five’ was coined by hunters and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot.

A visit to Pilanesberg National Park by @girlswanderlust #pilanesberg #southafrica #south #africa #girlswanderlust #safari #travel #travelblogger #nature #giraffes #giraffe.jpg

Next to the wildlife, the park is home to many beautiful birds, more than 300 species, including eagles, kingfishers, and other great birds. The park offers bird watching tours and self-guided trails for bird lovers.

A visit to Pilanesberg National Park by @girlswanderlust #pilanesberg #southafrica #south #africa #girlswanderlust #safari #travel #travelblogger #nature #wildlife

Interesting facts about Pilanesberg National Park:

  • Park Area: 550km²
  • Currency: South African Rand
  • Seasons: Dry season in the winter months (April to September), and wet season in the summer months (October to March)
  • Popular attractions: Big 5, hot air-ballooning, day trips, Lost City at Sun City
  • Nearest cities: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Rustenburg
A visit to Pilanesberg National Park by @girlswanderlust #pilanesberg #southafrica #south #africa #girlswanderlust #safari #travel #travelblogger #nature #elephant.jpg

Tips for visiting Pilanesberg National Park:

  • Let the animals come to you, rather than driving around. Also driving in the early morning helps too.
  • Visit Hippo Loop to spot hippos, lions, and cheetahs.
  • The Mankwe Dam is definitely worth a visit in the Pilanesberg National Park! Here you can spot a great amount of wildlife and birdlife. Animals visit the lake to drink, and other creatures are sunbathing on the banks. Next to the dam, is the Pilanesberg. From here you can overlook Mankwe Dam and enjoy a spectacular view!
  • The best time to visit Pilanesberg National Park is in April, May, or September.
  • While being on safari, never leave the vehicle alone, and always bring some water.
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Overnight in Pilanesberg National Park:

Instead of going for a day, plan a multiple day trip to Pilanesberg National Park. There is a wide variety of accommodation available. You can either choose to overnight in a safari tent in the bush, or in a luxury lodge, Pilanesberg has something just for you!

Pilanesberg Tented Safari Camp
©Pilanesberg Tented Safari Camp

Have you visited Pilanesberg National Park? Do you have any other tips?

Author: Daphne

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  • Kim-Ling Richardson

    I am yet to visit South Africa, but Pilanesberg sounds like a great place to start! I had never heard of the wild dog before, but they look so intriguing! How large are they? They kind of look like hyenas. You were so lucky so see such amazing wildlife! I love the idea of staying overnight too. I love glamping, so the safari tents and lodge both sound amazing!

    • Girlswanderlust

      African wild dogs are commonly mistaken for hyenas but there are some differences like hyenas are usually more aggressive than African wild dogs and live in bigger groups.

      An overnight is indeed a great addition to a visit. Hope you can experience it all one day!

  • Candy Waltrip

    So sad to hear that there are only 6000 wild dogs left. At first, when I saw the photos of the wild dogs, I thought they were hyenas. I have heard so many wonderful things about South Africa and would like to make a visit soon!

  • Cori Carl

    This looks absolutely stunning! There are so many places I want to visit, now I have one more for the list. I think I would have to do at least one overnight, probably more, to see all of this!

  • Turtle

    Oh wow – those wild dogs are cool! I hadn’t seen a photo of one before. Their colourings are beautiful (but I would not be brave enough to try to pat one!!).
    Thanks for all the info about the park too. It sounds like a really interesting place. Hope I get to experience it one day!

  • Jolina S....

    Great photos of the animals in the wild! The shots are really getting me excited for our South Africa trip in August. 🙂

    Admittedly, we only have Kruger National Park on our itinerary but the Pilanesberg National Park also looks like a nice hidden gem. Good to know that it also has the Big Five, an extinct volcanic crater, and so much more! You’ve definitely convinced me to visit, now it’s just a matter of squeezing it in to our schedule!

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