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