A Guide to the Pilanesberg National Park

Jan 26 2016
For locals & tourists in and around Johannesburg there is no reason to ever get bored, not with the Pilanesberg National Park right on its doorstep. And with being so close to Gauteng (+- 160KM from Pretoria) day visits are also suitable. Sumarie van der Merwe, Latest Sightings Pilanesberg Facebook admin manager can vouch for this as she says, “I was first introduced to Pilanesberg in 2010, and since my, life has significantly changed - becoming hooked on my first visit.”  Latest Sightings is the world’s largest wildlife crowdsourcing site app iPhone & iPad app / Android app and has revolutionised real-time game viewing for people on safari, in that it shares exciting real-time sightings for visitors!
Sumarie says, “I was intrigued by the Latest Sightings Pilanesberg facebook page for sometime and after a search I found the Pilanesberg one. I immediately reached out to Nadav Ossendryver, founder and offered to assist him.” Since then she has assisted in crucially growing the community, and now she takes some time to guide us through the National Park…
Pilanesberg National Park is situated in the North West Province, and it borders with Sun City, both settled in a crater of an extinct volcano. Pilanesberg consists of 55000 hectares of various terrains such as widespread grasslands, rocky mountains, hill slopes and also thick wooded areas. It has a wide variety of birds and mammals, including the big5, which can be spotted in just one game drive (it has been done before). Although the buffaloes are harder to spot in Pilanesberg, they have been more frequent reported sightings of them in recent years. Some other mammals you can expect to see include: elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, cheetahs (recently re-introduced into the Park), giraffes and many more. Pilanesberg is also a bird lover's paradise, with over 300 different species of birds. 

There are 8 hides, including the hide at the Kwa Maritane Lodge fence line, and a favorite amongst birders being Mankwe Dam Hide which over looks the Mankwe Dam (one of the bigger dams in the Park). Multiple bird species visit the hide on a daily basis, as well as a large number of mammals which come down for a drink. Often seen bathing, playing and drinking, sometimes right in front of the hide are elephants, as well as crocodiles and hippos who rule the waters!
The Park also consists of a number of fenced picnic sites, and Sumarie says, 'In my opionion the best is the Fish Eagle picnic spot, also overlooking a part of Mankwe Dam.' Pack a picnic basket and stop for an early breakfast at one of the picnic sites, or use the Latest Sightings app and take a drive in search of amazing sightings! For lunch you can head to Pilanesberg Centre, and have a sit-down meal overlooking the plains and waterhole, while watching a wide variety of animals come in for a mid-day drink. 
The Reserve consists of two Golden Leopard Resorts (which has a variety of accommodation. camping, self-catering chalets and also safari tents for the outdoor lovers):
  • Bakgatla &
  • Manyane
And eight luxury lodges:
  • Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge
  • Tshukudu Bush Lodge (Which is situated inside the Reserve)
  • Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge
  • Bakubung Bush Lodge
  • Ivory Tree Game Lodge
  • Buffalo Thorn Lodge
  • Black Rhino Lodge
  • Pilanesberg Private Lodge
Buffalo Thorn Lodge, Black Rhino Lodge and Pilanesberg Private Lodge are situated in the Black Rhino Reserve which is part of the Western side of the Park (and please note a part of this area is private and not accessible by other visitors of the Park.)
The Park has 3 main tar roads: Kgabo, Tshwene and Kubu Drive, with entrances from the 3 main gates at Bakgatla, Manyane and Bakubung. Pilanesberg National Park is renowned for both self-drives, or a game drive where professional rangers and guides can be arranged. If you are planning to visit the Pilanesberg National Park, download our apps mentioned above and join the social media groups, including Facebook which now has over 20 000 fans! We look forward to growing our community alongside you and together enjoying the Pilanesberg journey...

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