Pilanesberg National Park
For updated information and Prices see latest page
to Pilanesberg National Park
Pilanesberg is probably the park with the highest density of animals /square km. Pilanesberg National Park is about 2 hours from Pretoria and 2 & 1/2 hours from Jo'burg. It is the closest game reserve to Gauteng that boasts the Big 5 and it is malaria free. Not only has it got an abundance of animals and birdlike, the views are breathtaking as most the park is located in an extinct volcano. It is one of the trips we do ourselves and is absolutely worth it (of course!)
It is by far my favourite park in South Africa.
|I leave Pretoria at
3h30. If there is a Johannesburg pickup I leave my home town at 2h00 and
Jo'burg at 3h00. I must be certifiable right?? Nope; you just have
to understand animals and the Pilanesberg. The best sightings is normally
early in the morning till 9h00 and then again after 16h00. This is normally
the only times you will see lion, brown hyena and black backed jackal.
So when those gates open @ 5h30 we are there! Chances are that within
minutes you might see the animals right next to the road. The juicy grazing
is there. And you get your close up pics. But if it is before 7 am we don't
stop long. We zip to the nearest dam as lions are normally close to water
early. After 7h00 they disappear into the bush and chances are that you
won't see them again. And once the whole Sun City crowd with their Green
Rhino trucks descend on the park the animals move away from the roads -
they don't like the noise. And you don't get the close ups. You'll be lucky
if you even spot some of the game.
And this is where my other talent comes in. I 'm extremely good at spotting. It comes from my army days when we were fighting the terr's. When you are scared you are going to get shot you learn to take everything around you in. It is a talent that stays with you forever. And it's like magic. My customers are normally amazed when later in the day a couple of vehicles in front of us pass a spot ahead but we stop only so I can pull a rhino or something amazing out of a hat. And then in Oct 2003 I finally found a better spotter than me - one with a pleasant personality. So there will be 2 of us....more eyes! He has out spotted me on both the last 2 trips & has also awakened my interest in birds.
My charges for the Pilanesberg are very simple. I charge R3000pp/p/day from Pretoria or R3000pp/p/day from Jo'burg. I 'm willing to go for 1 person but I only do one trip/week. If you want a totally private trip for 1 person we will charge R3 500 from Pta or R3 500 from Jo'burg. Otherwise just take your chances! As from 15 March 2004 I will be able to go just about any and every day; have just sold off some of my commitments! My price does include soft drinks, some bottled water, snacks, sandwiches, fruit salad. We do stop at a picnic spot or 2 through the day - we provide our own. I will buy you a lunch at one of the camps though - bring your swimsuit as well! Families are welcome with kids under 12 @ half price. However this is normally a private trip.
I am by no means the cheapest, in fact I am about the 8th most expensive of about 60 operators. As it is I earn about R600/hour so when I go to Pilanesberg I run at a loss!! We are however the only operator that offers not only value for money, but also a fantastic and fun day that you will always treasure. And this is why I do it, every day I have in the park is special to me. I 'm not stressed if you prefer going with someone else, I 'll even book it for you! And if you don't have a sense of humour, please do just that - as I just might offload you in the middle of the park!
We travel in a aircon VW microbus( for height) seating 7 pax max; preferably 4. This is absolutely the best vehicle that you can go in. It sits higher the sedan cars so you can see over the tall grass. We can also keep the dust out if we have to. Lastly animals see the vehicle as one animal only. This is unlike the open dusty safari vehicles where when people stand up, scream & shout animals may scatter. You are also out of the rain and cold if the weather chooses to be moody.
Realistically you will see Elephant, Rhino, Giraffe,
Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Red Hartebeest, Tsesebe, Hippo, Kudu, Ostrich,
Baboon, Waterbuck, Warthog. Bird wise we rarely fail to miss Hornbills,
Guinea Fowl, Natal Francolin, Grey Loerie, European Bee Eater, Monotonous
Lark, Cattle Egrets, Cormorants, Ring Neck Turtle Dove, Masked Weaver,
Plovers, Black Shouldered Kite, Cape Sparrow, Glossy Starling, Forked Tailed
Drone, Bulbul, Sacred Ibis, Gray Heron, Fiscal Shrike, White Crow,
White Faced Duck, Egyptian Geese.
Most the other Pretoria and Jo'burg operators only leave at 8h00 or 9h00 so they only get there at 10h00 or 11h00. And they leave at 16h00. If you rather want to go with one of them please feel free to do so. I 'll even book them for you if you want - there's nothing like getting paid a commission for doing very little work! Some of them will actually be able to tell the difference between a tree and a lion! But it is my point of view that if you might not even bother going if you spend so little time there. I would highly recommend
We are willing to run at any time. I will always go for 1 person but please book a week or so in advance. I prefer going weekdays - you get about 40 cars at a time in the park in the week; weekends it is up to 400 cars at a time. I also try to avoid going public and school holidays but sometimes we have no choice! It stays an awesome experience.
For a 2 day trip we sleep over in or just outside Pilanesberg. Accommodation is in adequate chalets normally with a shared bathroom. We skip breakfast though as we are at the gate when it opens. Alternatively we sleep at a local guesthouse. The 2nd day is charged at the same price as the 1st but we will pay for the accommodation, supper at the end of day 1 as well as breakfast on day 2. Lunch day 2 is also included. We have also stayed over a 2nd night - in this case price will be a little more expensive. In this case we leave sometime the next day - great for going to the De Wildt Cheetah Research Centre on the way back. Sleep over option for 1 in Pilanesberg more expensive - on request. It's also subject to accommodation available.
Please note that there is a possibility that the group might be joined on the second day by someone via a special transfer or alternatively leaving at the end of day one.
We normally don't go to Sun City that is right next door. If you want we can drop you there for a couple of hours and pick you up later - you'll have to pay your own entrance. Sun City is actually quite nice...the game viewing is nicer though
Weekdays are better than weekends - less cars! Mo - Th is better than Fridays but Fridays are still great, it only gets busier after 4 pm when the weekenders arrive. Weekenders are known to come test their 4x4's at max speed making lots of dust!
The disadvantage going these times is more dust and idiots scaring animals away by coming too close and not switching their noisy engines off. There is a small advantage though, with more people in the park we spot the cars from a distance at an awesome sighting!
on one of the last trips
This was probably on of my best trips ever. Lion twice, cheetah, hippo, waterbuck, 7 sable that has been elusive the last 15 trips, impala, waterbuck, zebra, kudu, tsesebe, hartebeest, blue wildebeest aka gnu, springbok, 1 vervet monkey with a tiny baby, baboons, ostrich, warthog, blue agama, elephant including a charge, like 40 rhino - we stopped counting...., giraffe, 1 brown hyena, 3 crocodiles, steenbok, klipspringer, fish eagle, peregrine falcon twice, hornbills, guinea fowl, natal francolin.
Not seen were eland, duiker, buffalo, leopard, oryx, jackal, secretary bird, reed buck, kori bustard, rock monitor.
seen in the last 17 months: Not in order
Don't expect something like this or the animals to stand next to the road waiting. It's not a Zoo!
1. 2 Elephant charges
in 1 day - with Bjorn 2. Real not mock.
2. Elephant charge that came out of nowhere - he missed us with about half a metre. Closest I 've ever come to harm! If I actually stopped and tried to reverse he would have had us. It's this split second decision ability that can make a difference to your safety.
3. Rhino charging his reflection on the Kombi side panel. When I say "no sudden movements" I actually mean it. This rhino was about 2 metres from us when the client did something really stupid. We were lucky as the rhino stopped about 40 cm from us. My bookkeeper wasn't so lucky. Though he knows what he was doing and did nothing to provoke it, a white rhino took out 2 of his doors of his Landcruiser.
4. 55 Giraffe in one day
5. Baby hippo of about 3 weeks suckling mom on a sand bank.
6. Old elephant bull chasing 2 rhino for about 40 minutes, then chasing us.
7. 4 breeding herds of Elephant 20 - 30 strong each taking a bath in the Mankwe dam. Then being boxed in by other cars and having them crossing right in front and behind us.
8. Ele baby about 3 yo mock charging a car behind me; trumpeting and all, same day as above.
9. Elephants at Ratlogo water hole 5 m from us. Total of about 40 cavorting for about 80 minutes with new ones arriving and others leaving. I saw incredible interaction like never before.
10. Lilac breasted rollers - what more can I say. To see this rare bird fly is just awesome.
11. Dung beetles!
12. Group of 21 Giraffe 20 crossing right in front of us at the salty spring north of Manyane. An absolute surprise as we tracked the back 4 coming from the north west for about 50 minutes.
13 Giraffe trying to mate.
14. Ele's schlong - it's true, it's all bigger in Africa!
15. Lions in and next to the road many many times. It took about 9 months for me to learn to read their habits in Pilanesberg so now I always get a kick out of seeing them before the Green Rhinos chase them away.
16. The fun people I 've taken. It is the biggest kick to see everyone awed. Dave shooting 26 rolls of film, The IBM guy's mouths dropping when we were 3 m behind an ele bull, the Malaysians who had me in stitches the whole day, Bernie and family on the 10 week world tour, the London accountants who thawed out seeing sun for a change, the young lady who thanked me in front of her boyfriend for the best day she ever had..... And many many others.
17. 2 Rhino have a terretorial fight; and a blacksmith plover dive bombing the victor till he fled.
18. The matriach trumpeting and her herd of 42 all lining up in a straight line in the Ratlogo Dam; with the youngsters under water.
19. Triple figure giraffe.
20. The Lilac breasted roller in flight - we see one about 1 in every 2 days.
All in all Elephants definately tops all sightings. The absolute best sighting was of a 2 yo ele charging mom, his sisters and brothers, even shrubs and trees; bumping them and just carrying on to the next one in line for about 15 minutes. Now I can't promise you sightings like the above; but I will do my best to try and find you something so amazing that you will be back for more! When guides hear what we saw they come up with this lucky attitude. Though there is some luck in the equation, with skill, patience and persistance we make our own luck. Take 2 days....
1. Any vehicle doing Pilanesberg tends to pick up a squeak or 2 - so have we. So in transit there can be an irritating noise. We do our best to always fix this, silicone spray etc, but the squeaks keep coming!
2. We don't wash and polish our Kombi before a trip, just a wash. A rhino charged his reflection so we got smart. We wash the windows inside and out and the insides are clean.
3. The aircon works but gathers dust in the park. So it's not as effective as it should be. We take it in once a year to let the whole system be cleaned.
4. The heating now works but we have to close the switch with a pair of pliers. We didn't take blankets and pillows right away in Winter 2003 but we keep learning....Heating makes the driver drowsy at 4 am so we stick with blankets.
Pilanesberg, Kruger National Park, Lesedi, Backpackers,
Adventure Travel Africa Car Rental, 430 Reitz Street, Sunnyside, Pretoria, 0002, ZA
Word of Mouth Rules - Updated Aug 2008