Pilanesberg National Park
Why go to Pilanesberg with me?
If you find this page, please go to this updated page - Nov 2012
It's really simple. I 'm the best and my clients have the best experiences. Ask yourself why I am the private guide that by far tops the lion and buffalo sightings consecutively for the last 2 years.....
This Baby is about 4,5 hours old, born 8 nov 2004. Took about 2 minutes before we could spot the little one, then 3,5 hours old, all other ele's formed a protective ring around him. Think it's a boy, shape of his head and all. To get this pic took another hour.
Pilanesberg is my passion. I know the roads, I know the animals' behaviour in the different seasons, and I 'm good at projecting where a sighting will move to. That gives us the chance to get really close, nothing compares to 1 such experience!. I also know when to wait 90 minutes for the chance of seeing something absolutely amazing. And generally when to move on after a minute. I know history about Pilanesberg from before the time Shaka Zulu got murdered. I know some of the elephant by name, and I know when to stay far away. Very important is that I can reverse very well round a bend at 40 km's/h! At the moment Rooky, though only 20 yo, as well as Steriod, 19yo, is also coming into musth, and all of them are highly aggressive. I swear they hide behind any 6 ft bush next to the road when they hear a car approaching and jump out when they think they can nail you! I can give you 100 reasons more. Like this one.....
12 metres only - you find the baby in here! Just some elephants right?
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 regularly have a laugh about that. We can also keep the dust out if we have to. Lastly animals see the vehicle as one animal only. With open dusty safari vehicles people do stand up, scream & shout - & animals may scatter. You are also out of the rain and cold if the weather chooses to be moody.
We leave Pretoria at 4h00. If there is a Johannesburg pickup we leave my home town at 2h30 and Jo'burg at 3h30. I must be certifiable right?? Well; you just have to understand animals and the Pilanesberg. The best sightings could be 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 we are there! Chances are that within minutes you might see the animals right next to the road. (or you might not!) And you get your close up pics. We normally enter the Kwa Maritane gate as there are no one at the gate except the Kwa truck compared with like 5 trucks from Bakubung/Sun City at times. Another reason is that it is a gravel road and we have spotted lion by seeing their tracks first compared to all the other entry roads that are tar. We also have a far greater chance to see wild dog, the lions in that area, brown hyena and jackal. We take it slow but if it is before 7 am we don't stop long. I 've had other people zipping to the nearest dam looking for lions that are normally close to water early. But they actually went right past them! After 7h30 they can 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 some 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. Spotting! It comes from my army days when you learn to take everything around you in. It 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.
I try take an extra spotter/driver/friend/guide or 2 along....more eyes! If I don't we make full use of the 6 pairs of binoculars I always take along - 8x40's! Lunch could be anytime between 12h00 and 19h00. Bring your swimming trunks in summer as we take one hour break. And excuse me from your company as I normally take a catnap. After lunch we gear down and go for specific unseen till then species. The gates close at 18h30 and I normally just make it........ Leaving this late means seeing lots of animals hoofing it to the nearest watering hole or spot they want to crash at for the night. With us you get a full day. I am the only Operator that offers this - 1st in a class of one! I would actually recommend spending 2 full days in the park. One of the nicest compliments I 've had was May 2005 when my clients told me that if they didn't have to fly out the next day, they would have actually asked me to take them again.
I am willing to run at any time. I will always go for 1 person but please book well in advance. I prefer going weekdays - you get about 40 - 80 cars at a time in the park in the week; weekends it is up to 400 cars at a time. Half the visitors endanger your life as they are ignorant. I also try to avoid going public and school holidays but sometimes we have no choice! It stays an awesome experience. Just note that I will stop a little bit further from especially elephants when the park is busy. You are always dealing with wild animals.
I've only been told I 'm too expensive 4 times - probably 'cause the clients that booked heard I 'm a big guy! On the other hand I think for what I offering I 'm dirt cheap. I should actually jack the price a bit :) In general you get what you pay for. Note that we have PDP's(public drivers permits), COF's(certificate of fitness) and carry passenger liability of R5 Million per incident as requires by law.
Lastly, my one German client (Nov 2004) mentioned that he didn't actually know if I was for real. Internet bookings can be scary and it is a risk you take. In my case an expensive one! Who knows, I might just be a good saleman that can't deliver! So, after mulling it over for 3 weeks he decided to book; and I 'm glad to say he told me by midday that he felt he made the right choice. Now it IS a gamble. I 'm not going to twist your arm to book with me - it's totally up to you. If this site can't convince you nothing can. But the fact that I 'm willing to only take payment on pickup speaks for itself. As does the pictures on the Pilanesberg section of the site. You might only be in Africa this one time. I can help you make the best of it!
Like Th 30 Dec 2004, about 20 - 40 minutes old, we just missed the birth, the 5th one seen in 2004, my 2nd in 2004. We were the 1st to see it!
Now for vs the Rest!!:
This is not a let's knock the competition, this is a "Here's your alternatives"
From Pilanesberg & Sun City:
The closest company that does what I do is Gametrackers from Sun City that will give you a private vehicle (small open) and guide for R2 450 for 2,5 hours; equivalent to R980/hour. In this case the guide is yours for that time. You can book this through desk at the Welcome Centre at Sun City or through me.
Gametrackers also does a 2,5 hours trips from Sun City @ R245pp - open truck. As they have to do a route you will only be able to make short stops - 5 min max. The same trips leave from Manyane and Bakgatla at a discounted price of R170pp. Book through their office next to reception or through me. If you have to use a guide from Sun City, request an experienced one and tip him if he is good - like 10%. Same with the camp guides. Of course the good guides get snapped up by the camps when there is a vacancy.
From Manyane, Bakgatla and Sun City you can also use Mankwe Safaris for 2,5 hours at R160pp, more expensive from Sun City
The Ivory Tree guides are excellent. If you can go with Andrew go. Now this man is a legend! But you'll have to stay at the lodge to be able to go with him.
From the Bakubung and Kwa Maritane Lodges you can do a 2,5 hour drive for R200pp - book at reception
From Pretoria and Johannesburg:
There are about 200 operators offering day and 2 day tours to Pilanesberg, you'll find most of them on Google, MSN or Yahoo. Prices vary from around R700pp from Pretoria and R800pp and up from Johannesburg. Time spend in the Park is between 4 hours and 8 hours. If you want to go this way make sure you actually get a guide as numerous companies only use drivers, calling them guides. As mentioned above, you'll normally get what you pay for.
With a rental car:
You can of course go yourself with a rental car. It's your cheapest option but you might wonder why Pilanesberg is rated so highly by South Africans. It must be the landscape or maybe the plants - 'cause you couldn't see over the grass! There are other disadvantages as well. If you go this way make sure you read the park rules on the back of your receipt. And don't get out the vehicle!
Now as for topping the lion sightings, ummmm simple, I go more often! And I can say it's not that the early bird not only gets the worm, it gets the best worm as well as more worms!
Pilanesberg Dawn to Dusk Safaris from Johannesburg, Pretoria, Pilanesberg and Sun City
Picture Gallery 2011 & after
Picture Gallery 2010
Picture Gallery 2009
Picture Gallery 2008
Picture Gallery 2007
Picture Gallery 2006
Picture Gallery 2005
Picture Gallery 2004
It's alphabetical - so save us both time.... and if not on here I will put it up!
Accommodation in the Park only: Staying Friday or Saturday you have to pay for 2 nights min.
Accommodation in and around Sun City. Staying Friday or Saturday you have to pay for 2 nights min.
Accommodation Specials at Pilanesberg
Accommodation at Sun City Vacation Club
Airport at Pilanesberg
Animal studies in Pilanesberg
Bakubung Bush Lodge
Balloon Safaris: In Pilanesberg National Park - R4 250pp - 1 hour, minimum 4 pax!
Black Rhino Game Lodge
Buffalo in the Park
Camping - book direct at 014 555 1000, don't be surprised if you hold 15 minutes and then get cut off.
Cancellation Terms and Conditions
Commission offered to booking agents
Condition of the Veld
Dangers in Pilanesberg
Disclosures: About vehicles used for Pilanesberg and other
Directions - see map
Elephant Back safaris in Pilanesberg.
Entrance fee - see gate times
Etiquette in Game Parks like Pilanesberg for self drives
Friends of Pilanesberg Society - Volunteers helping to maintain the Park.
Gate Times for Pilanesberg National Park
Geology of Pilanesberg National Park
Highlights seen in Pilanesberg the last 2 years:
Don't expect something like this or the animals to stand next to the road waiting. It's not a Zoo!
History of Pilanesberg National Park
Idiot Gallery - Stunts pulled in Pilanesberg National Park by the mentally challenged. Other tour operators are welcome to contribute - I will give you recognition except if you don't want it!
Ivory Tree Game Lodge
Kids on Safari. In Pilanesberg or other parks
Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge
Map and directions to Pilanesberg
Other Parks near Pilanesberg
Other Tour Operators doing Pilanesberg
Packages to Lodges
Picture Gallery - taken by us over the last 8 years in Pilanesberg.
Pilanesberg National Park vs Kruger National Park.
Reading - other re Pilanesberg.
Safety in Pilanesberg
Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge
Testimonials from clients we have taken to Pilanesberg
Things to do in and around Pilanesberg
Transfers only to Pilanesberg and Sun City - one way: charged per vehicle:
Tshukudu Bush Lodge
Veld Condition in the Park
Weather and Climate for Pilanesberg area
What can you hope to see in Pilanesberg?
When to go to Pilanesberg: best time etc