The wildlife-rich and malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province, is located close to the famous Sun City Resort in South Africa. The eroded crater of a long extinct volcano forms the largest sanctuary of the Middleveld, the 55 000 ha Pilanesberg National Park. It was established in 1979 by the then Republic of Bophuthatswana.
The heart of the volcano's crater is surrounded by three concentric rings of hills. Pilanesberg itself is the highest peak and provides its name to the whole formation. The Pilanesberg Peak overlooks the Mankwe Dam, which is situated in the middle of the Pilanesberg National park.
Until 1970, the Pilanesberg region was home to a lot of farms. It was then decided by the Bophuthatswana government to establish a game reserve. The resident farmers were relocated and one of the most ambitious wildlife stocking ventures was carried out. White rhino was transferred from KwaZulu Natal, eland was translocated from Namibia, waterbuck and Burchell's zebra from the Transvaal, elephant and buffalo from the Addo National Park and red hartebeest from Namibia. Today the Pilanesberg National Park provides a wide variety of African wildlife including the Big Five.
Recommended accommodations and lodges in the Pilanesberg National Park:
- Bakubung Bush Lodge: only a short drive away from Johannesburg and Pretoria. It is here where you will find yourself in the tranquil heart of the Pilanesberg National Park, which is home to Africa's giants - elephants, rhino and buffalo and many more of South Africa’s wildlife.
- Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge: An ancient alkaline volcano fashioned the very hills that Kwa Maritane game lodge stands on today. From the Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge, you can look out over the infinite plains adjacent to the Pilanesberg National Park.
- Tshukudu Bush Lodge: The Tshukudu Bush Lodge is called the 'Place of the Rhino'. Built on a hilltop, the newly refurbished, luxurious Tshukudu bush lodge offers sweeping views of the malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park.
SUN CITY HOTELS
- The Palace of the Lost City - five star: Guests are treated like VIPs with unparalleled five-star service, amidst the cliff-tumbling gardens, sparkling streams, waterfalls and swimming pools at The Palace Hotel, Sun City Resort.
- The Cascades Hotel - five star: The Cascades Hotel at the Sun City resort offers a world of fantasy with its theme of cascading water and tropical lagoons creating a paradise for pink flamingos and swans.
- The Soho Sun City Hotel - four-star: The Sun City Hotel puts you right where the action is - you can party all night here, as the fun never sets! It buzzes around the clock with excitement and motion.
- Sun City Cabanas Hotel - three-star: The Cabanas Hotel Sun City is the perfect destination for letting off steam and running wild with plenty of space throughout the extensive gardens.
ANIMALS & BIRDS
The Pilanesberg National Park is home to large populations of a whole range of Africa's game, including the Big Five. Elephants, black and white rhinoceros, buffaloes, lions and leopards as well as hippos, zebras and giraffes can be seen. A wide variety of antelope including the very attractive sable, eland, kudu and gemsbok can also be found in the Pilanesberg National Park. Cheetahs, jackals and hyenas are also present.
The birdlife at the Pilanesberg National Park is abundant with over 300 species and bird lovers will be interested in the aviary, which is located at the Manyane Gate. At the 'vulture restaurant', which had been created to help save the shy and endangered Cape vulture from regional extinction, visitors can witness the vultures from a close distance.
The rainy season in the Pilanesberg National Park is during the summer season which is from November to March. Strong thunder and lightning showers are predominant in February and March. Temperatures during the summer months are between 26-30°C.
The dry season in the Pilanesberg National Park is from about April to September. It is during this dry winter season where bright clear warm days and cold nights can be enjoyed. The winter season is great for game viewing as the foliage has died back and animals can, therefore, be spotted more easily.
Malaria-free, 'Big Five' Pilanesberg Game Reserve is located in North West Province of South Africa, west of Pretoria. The game rich Pilanesberg Game Reserve shares a border with the famous entertainment complex Sun City Resort.
The Pilanesberg Game Reserve was originally owned by three local tribes and is now administered by the North West Parks and Tourism Board of South Africa. This region of the North West Province is fringed by three concentric hills, of which the formation rises from the surrounding plains. This landscape is referred to as the parks primary geological feature called the Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex.
This vast circular geological shape of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve is very old as it is the crater of a long extinct volcano and the result of eruptions which happened more than 1,200 million years ago.
The Pilanesberg is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its type worldwide. Its rare rock types and rock formations make it a unique geological feature. Several rare minerals can be found in the Pilanesberg. Located throughout the Pilanesberg Game Reserve are various places which originate from the Iron age and Stone age and display the presence of man from those periods in these areas.
The Pilanesberg Game Reserve covers an area of 572 km². Visitors may drive themselves through the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and 4x4 vehicles are not required as the roads are well maintained. There are several camps and game lodges in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve including Kwa Maritane, Bakubung, Tshukudu, Ivory Tree and Sheperd's Tree Game Lodge. Located near the centre of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve one can find an artificially constructed lake, the Mankwe Dam, and Thabayadiotso, which can be translated as 'the Proud Mountain'.
Plants of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, North West Province
The scenic landscape of the magnificent Pilanesberg Game Reserve lies in the transition zone between Kalahari and Lowveld, both types of vegetation are found here. As a result of the Pilanesberg being on a transition zone, overlaps in mammals, birds and vegetation are present here. Today, the game rich Pilanesberg Game Reserve in South Africa is home to almost every mammal of southern Africa.
Mammals of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa
The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is home to a wide variety of southern African wildlife including the 'Big Five' which are the five most dangerous game animals in Africa: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. In the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, today live most of the animal species of southern Africa which include also the black and white rhinoceros, zebras, hyenas, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles.
The Painted Hunting Dog, Lycaon pictus, has been reintroduced into the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Over 360 bird species have been recorded in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
Birdlife of South Africa's Pilanesberg Game Reserve
The Birdlife diversity of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve is excellent with over 360 recorded bird species. Though some birds here are migrants, most others are permanent inhabitants of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa. The bird's food sources vary with some eating carrion or live prey, while others eat seeds, fruit or tiny water organisms.
Accommodation in the Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province (South Africa)
Travellers staying in malaria free, 'Big Five' Pilanesberg National Park have a wide variety of different accommodation options to choose from ranging from three to five-star game lodges:
- Bakubung Bush Lodge, four-star game lodge
- Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge, four-star game lodge
- Ivory Tree Game Lodge, five-star game lodge
- Tshukudu Bush Lodge, five-star game lodge
- Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge, five-star game lodge
- Bakgatla, three-star game lodge
- Manyane, three-star game lodge