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Pilanesberg National Park

There are both White and Black Rhino at Pilanesburg

Pilanesburg National Park

Zebra are a common sight in the reserve

Pilanesberg National Park

Waterbuck are never far from a source of water


Pilanesberg National Park has virtually every mammal of Southern Africa.

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Pilanesberg at a Glance:
  • Location: 50km (30 miles) from Rustenburg and about 180km (110miles) From Johabnnesburg
  • Attractions: Hot Air Balloon Safaris are possible in Pilanesberg
  • Interesting: The unique geological boundary formed by an ancient volcanic crater.
  • Reserve Size: 550 square kilometers (212 sq miles)
  • Other Attractions: Sun City is located right next to Pilanesberg (Casino, Golf)


Pilanesberg's Unique Geology

What sets Pilanesberg National Park apart from all other wildlife parks in South Africa is it's unique geology and location. The whole national park sits on the remains of an extinct and ancient volcano. This volcano last erupted around 1300 million years ago and formed a crater, which now make four huge concentric rings of rocky hills that form the natural boundary of the reserve that sits within them.

This circular imprint on the earths surface which has a diameter of around 25km is called the Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex and is the third largest alkaline ring complex in the world.

Mankwe Lake which sits near the center of Pilansberg National Park was probably the center of the main volcanic pipe from where the lava from the volcano erupted. The fact that the volcano was alkaline is interesting in itself, because before humans became the main source of pollution, these volcanoes gave off huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere all part of a natural process that helped with the photosynthesis cycle in plants. Unusual rock types were also formed and in Pilanesberg has high deposits of sodium and potassium.

Self Drive Safari

Whilst I wouldn't suggest a self drive safari for newcomers to Africa and the bush, they are possible in Pilanesburg National Park. There is a comprehensive network of roads covering almost 200km (125 miles) inside Pilanesberg, that will take you though the grassland, bushveld and woodland areas giving you a great chance to spot as many of the animal species as possible.

Guided Game Drives

There are also guided drives available as professional safari guides operate within the park.

Within the Pilanesberg Reserve, there are many hides and scenic picnic sites that enable you to experience "out-of-car" experiences as well.

Hot-Air Balloon Safaris in Pilanesberg

For a unique wildlife experience you can organise for a hot-air balloon safari in Pilanesberg national Park. Most begin at dawn and last for around an hour after which you will enjoy a champagne (sparkling wine) breakfast at one of the lodges in the reserve. These can be expensive, but are absolutely fantastic and has to be on your list to do at least once in your life.

Golf and Safari Holiday

Pilanesberg National park is an excellent location, if you want to combine a safari and golf holiday in South Africa as the world famous Suncity is right next to the reserve and apart fro the casinos and the shows, has a championship golf course.

Birding & Hiking Trails in Pilanesberg

At Manyane Complex in the east of the reserve, there is a self-guided trail in the Walking Area allowing you to enjoy game viewing and bird watching on foot. Also of interest at Manyane is a walk-in aviary with over 80 species of indigenous birds and is the perfect place to brush up on your identifications.




Animals at Pilanesberg National Park

Because the reserve has varied habitats that include grassland, bushveld and woodland, it is able to sustain a great diversity of plant and animal life, in fact Pilanesberg National Park has virtually every mammal of Southern Africa.

All of Africa's Big 5
Pilanesberg has all of the true big five on the reserve, this means that they have the Black Rhino, unlike many reserves that advertise that they have the big five and only have the much less dangerous White Rhino.

  • Lion
  • Elephant
  • Black Rhino
  • White Rhino
  • Buffalo
  • Leopard

Other than the big five, carnivores (Lion and Leopard) Pilanesberg has a nice selection of carnivores, including:

  • Cheetah
  • African Painted Wild Dogs
  • Brown Hyena
  • Black Backed Jackal

Hoofed Animals
Of the vegetarian animals you can expect to find antelope and many other plant eating animals that:

  • Blue Wildebeest
  • Giraffe
  • Kudu
  • Red Hartebeest
  • Tsessebe
  • Waterbuck

Birds found in the Pilansberg National Park

More than 350 species of birds have been recorded in the Pilanesberg National Park and you could just visit this wonderful area just for the bird-life. One of the most impressive is the black-breasted snake eagle (black-chested), they are a fairly common sight at Welgevonden game reserve not far Pilanesberg and I was lucky enough to spot one whilst working there swoop down and take a snake from the ground and high into the sky. Some other species to look out for include:

  • Black-collared Barbet
  • Crimson-breasted Shrike
  • Kori Bustard
  • Lilac-breasted Roller
  • Violet-eared Waxbill
  • White-winged Korhaan
  • Red-crested Korhaan


  • African Hawk Eagle
  • Black-breasted Snake Eagle
  • Martial Eagle
  • Tawny Eagle
  • Verreaux's Eagle
  • Wahlberg's Eagle


  • Cape Vultures
  • White-backed Vultures
  • Lappet-faced Vultures


  • Grass Owl
  • Pearl-Spotted Owlet
  • Spotted Eagle Owl



Common trees in the National park include:

  • Cape Chestnut (Calodendrum capense)
  • Camel Thorn (Acacia erioloba)
  • Common Hook Thorn (Acacia caffra)
  • Common Wild Pear (Dombeya rotundifolia)
  • Umbrella Thorn (Acacia tortilis)
  • Wild Olives (Olea europaea)

Accommodation at the Pilanesberg National Park

Manyane Resort

The Manyane resort in Pilanesberg National park has:

  • Luxury thatched chalets, that are fully catered, with two pools and a mini golf course
  • Self catering chalets, that are air-conditioned, have a braai (bbq) area and access to the resorts pool
  • Safari tents that sleep 2 people with communal showers and toilets and can either come as a filly self-catered option or with breakfast and dinner.
  • There is also a campsite that caters for tents and caravans.

Contact Details:

Golden Leopard Resorts

Bakgatla Resort

The Bakgatila resort is located at the foot of the Bakgatla Hills in the north east of Pilanesberg National Park.

They offer chalet and campsite accommodation options. The chalets have air conditioning, their own private patio and braai (bbq) area. The resort also has a salt-water swimming pool. (I think this is to ensure that animals do not use it as a watering hole)

Contact Details
Same as Manyane Resort above

Tshukudu Lodge

Tshukudu meaning the place of the rhino, is perched high up on a hill in the south west of Pilanesberg National Park and consists of 6 luxury a-frame thatched chalets with their own balcony. From here you get an incredible view of the waterhole where you often get wildlife coming down to drink.

Contact Details
Tel: +27(0)14-5526255

Bakubung Lodge

Bakubung Lodge consists of thatched chalets that sit against some wooded hills and look onto a pool where in the past there used to be hippopotamus (Bakubung actually means the place of the hippo) Bakubung Lodge is located in the south western corner of Pilanesberg National Park and has a restaurant, pool as well as self catering options available.

Contact Details:
Tel: +27(0)14-5526000

Kwa Maritane Lodge

The place of the rock lodge refers to the ancient solidified magma foundations that this lodge was constructed on. The lodge itself is interesting in that it consists of luxury A-framed thatched chalets tucked into the trees with hills all around you. Kwa Maritane Lodge has a restaurant and two pools.

Contact Details:
Tel: +27(0)14-5525200


Pilanesberg Game Reserve is in the Bojanala Region of the North West Province, right next to Sun City.

Map of Pilanesberg National Park

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Best times to visit the Pilanesberg National Park

Winter, like many other reserves is probably the best time to visit many National Parks and game reserves in Southern Africa. Because there is little or no rainfall, the larger mammals tend to stick closer to water sources making them easier to find. Ont op of this the grass is shorter thus making them easier to spot. It will however get pretty cold at night and early mornings and temperatures can fall below zero degrees Celsius. During winter you will also miss out on many of the blooming flowers and trees as well as many species of butterflies.

Summer is hot in this part of South Africa, with daytime temperatures often around 35 degrees Celsius (95 F) It is also the rainy season, with many spectacular thunderstorms.

Winter is from May to September.
Summer October to March.

Gate Opening Times
March & April 06h00 - 18h30
May - September 06h30 - 18h00
September & October 06h00 - 18h30
November - February 05h30 - 19h00

Contact Details

Pilanesberg National Park
Tel: + 27 (0)14 555 1600 Fax: +27 (0)14 555 5525
Postal Address: PO Box 1201
Mogwase 0314, South Africa

Office Hours
1 October to 31 March - 07:00 to 19:00
1 April to 30 September - 07:00 to 18:00

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