The Pilanesberg National Park is a quick 2-hour drive from Johannesburg so if you have limited time or you’re just after a quick adventure to spot the Big 5 in the African bush you can’t go wrong with a 1-day tour with MoAfrika Tours.
Starting out bright and early on a Saturday morning, our group was collected from various pick-up points in Johannesburg and Pretoria by our charismatic driver Sipho ‘Sugar’ Mpobale. Sugar has been a guide for 13 years and has a wealth of knowledge so if you do any of the Johannesburg/Pilanesberg tours with MoAfrika there is a good chance you’ll get to meet him. The drive to the park was filled with chatting and laughter as we eagerly awaited our day in the bush.
We arrived at the Bakubung Gate, one of six gates available to enter the park, where Sugar handed us over to Anton the experienced game ranger who would be taking us through the park on an open 4×4 safari vehicle.
Pilanesberg National Park is located in the Bojanala Region within the North West Province of South Africa. Did you know it is situated in a volcanic crater which last erupted 1300 million years ago? It covers an area of 550km² making it the fourth largest park in South Africa.
With over 7 000 animals including the ‘Big 5’ and 360 bird species in the park, it wasn’t long into our drive before Anton spotted elephant and lion spoor (tracks). He stopped and gave us a few fun facts about each animal as well as the park before we moved on.
Our drive took us along Manke Way with the intention of heading past Mankwe Dam and then stopping for lunch at the Pilanesberg Centre. Some of the most beautiful scenery within the entire park can be viewed in the Mankwe Dam region. The dam is the largest body of water in the game reserve making it the perfect place to spot a wide variety of animals and birds.
With Anton keeping a keen eye out he spotted leopard tracks which led us to a magical sighting of two leopards. Leopard are extremely elusive, solitary and nocturnal animals so seeing two is extremely rare even for the rangers. We have visited the park on numerous occasions before and have never managed to spot a leopard so this highlights the advantage of taking a tour with an experienced game ranger.
The drive continued and we spotted a few more animals like Zebra, Impala and Wildebeest before we came across our THIRD leopard! Can you believe we managed to see three of these very elusive animals in one day?
Fun fact: Recent polls conducted by the South African Tourism Board have shown that Pilanesberg is now the most popular game reserve in the country.
For lunch, we stopped at the restaurant in the Pilanesberg Centre which is located in the heart of the park. The centre offers a range of facilities like toilets, a gift shop where cold drinks, snacks and basic supplies are available. There is also an interactive computer screen where visitors can check park maps and see where the latest sightings for any particular animal have occurred. The large, open deck area at the front of the centre boasts panoramic views where you stand a chance of seeing animals just a few metres away. The centre can get busy so your lunch might take a while to come out.
After lunch and with the day winding down we managed to see giraffe, hippo, rhino and a herd of elephant which included a very vocal/enthusiastic teenager.
- Pack a few snacks and something to drink
- Bring sunscreen and a hat
- In the colder months dress warmly but the rangers do have blankets in case you get cold
- Bring a camera with a zoom lens
The day ended with waving goodbye to Anton and a relaxed drive with Sugar back to our drop-off points in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Thank you MoAfrika for a great day out in the bush!
What you can expect from MoAkrika’s ‘Ultimate Pilanesberg Open Vehicle Day Tour’
- Collection and drop off from any address in Johannesburg in an air-conditioned vehicle
- Pick-up in Johannesburg
- Entrance into the Pilanesberg National Park
- 1 x 2 ½ to 3 hours guided open 4×4 morning safari drive
- 1 x 2 to 2 ½ hours guided open 4×4 afternoon safari drive
- Light lunch in Pilanesberg National Park
To find out more about MoAfrika’s Pilanesberg tours visit their website