Pilanesberg National Park


  8 reviews
Pilanesberg National Park
About Pilanesberg National Park
Country found in:
Parks total area:
572 km² (220 mi²)
Year established:
1979
Anti-malarial:
Not required
Park wildlife:
  • All of the big five are found here
  • Two hours from Jo-berg, it's easily accessible
  • It's possible to traverse the park in a standard vehicle
  • Walking safaris are possible in parts, especially for bird enthusiasts
  • Elephant-riding safaris
  • Is, purportedly, malaria-free

Located in the northern part of South Africa, Pilanesberg is roughly four hours from Botswana's capital, Gaborone. Pilanesberg is also about a three-hour drive from Johannesberg, making it an extremely accessible park to visit. Pilanesberg is the result of a donation of land by local indian tribes, and the name comes from a Tswana chief who went by the name “Pilane.” In what was named 'Operation Gensis', 6000 animals were reintroduced in this area and 110 kilometers (70 miles) of fence were constructed. It is now estimated to house between 7000 to 8000 animals and includes all of the big five. It is apparently one of the only places to see the brown hyena, too. In addition to the traditional game drive safaris, visitors have the option to do self-drive safaris here and can even partake in an elephant-riding safari.

Some of the most stunninng 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 and is an excellent spot for viewing wildlife.  For bird lovers, there is a bird hide very close to the water’s edge. Some birds of note are the fish eagles, kingfishers and cormorants circling the dam. All of these places provide many a fantastic opportunity to photograph the plentiful array of fauna and flora.

When is the best time to visit Pilanesberg?

Like most of the parks in Southern Africa, Pilanesberg has two seasons: a wet and a dry season. The dry season occurs during its winter--from April through September. The wet season coincides with South African summer, and runs from October through March.

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(5/5 stars) Written on: Nov 13, 2014   |   Visited: Apr 2010.
With only a three-hour drive from Johannesburg, the Pilanesberg National Park offers an excellent quality of game drives (safaris) and good accommodation is found inside the park. Kwa Maritane and Bakabung properties of Legacy Hotels and the Ivory Tree Game Lodge are some of the lodges that offer full board and two game drives per day in an open vehicle.
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Jan 16, 2014   |   Visited: Dec 2012.
Pilanesberg is my favourite game reserve in South Africa – and I have been to most. Yes, Kruger is lovely and sure, there is much to be said for Kgalagadi. But Pilanesberg has so much counting in its favour.

To begin with, it’s really close to Pretoria and Johannesburg and you don’t need hours and hours to drive there. There are so many accommodation options to ... read more
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(4/5 stars) Written on: Jan 09, 2014   |   Visited: Feb 2012.
Like a few of the other folks who have reviewed this park, I was on business and had a small window of time to see the beauty of South Africa's nature. I ended up going to Pilanesberg and it was a good trip. It's very manageable and I did get to see lions, rhinos and many elephants. I have also been to the Serengeti and, in my opinion, this doesn't touch it in term... read more
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Oct 13, 2013   |   Visited: Apr 1999.
This is one of the smaller, lesser known game parks, but it was probably our favorite. In 99 we lived in Lobatse, Botswana close to the South African boarder. Whenever we would get a chance we would travel to Rustenburg and drive our Hilux through the Pilanesberg game park. It was one of the more affordable reserves. Despite it being smaller, the park was never... read more
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(4/5 stars) Written on: Oct 05, 2013   |   Visited: Mar 2013.
I had the opportunity to visit the Pilanesberg National Park for a weekend in March earlier this year. I was in South Africa on business for two weeks and my colleagues and I were looking for a chance to get out of the city and see a bit of the 'real' Africa.

We were able to book last minute lodging at the Ivory Tree Game Lodge. We rented a car and drove up Satu... read more
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(3/5 stars) Written on: Sep 23, 2013   |   Visited: May 2012.
The Pilansberg National Park is only 2.5 hours out of Joburg. It's easy to get to, and best of all it's in a malaria free area.

I took my family there last year and we had a great time. It's a great way to introduce children to the bush. We stayed at a nice safari camp in the reserve (Bakubung Bush Lodge). It had a great vibe and was very comfortable. Kids staye... read more

I saw

Lion
Elephant
Zebra
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(5/5 stars) Written on: Sep 23, 2013   |   Visited: Sep 2013.
This is one of the worlds best kept secret parks and has a beauty that only nature can provide. You can see some of the big 5 on a one day visit or spend some time at one of the lodges around the park. Animal sightings are really good and the beauty of the mountains and valleys in the park is a sight to see. read more
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(4/5 stars) Written on: Sep 21, 2013   |   Visited: Sep 2012.
I recently found myself with a day to spare on a business trip to South Africa. I didn't have ample time, but I had enough to merit me hiring a car and spending a day in Pilanesberg. They say it's about a three hour drive from Joberg, but I made it in around two. I liked the fact that I could do this in my two-wheel drive car. I did not like the fact that everyone ... read more
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Safari suitability: 9 / 10
All o f the big five here and amazing bird life awaits! Small size, crowds and fences keep it from scoring top marks.
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Articles about the Pilanesberg

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Animals you can find

Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros
Cheetah
Cheetah
Leopard
Leopard
Lion
Lion
Elephant
Elephant
Giraffe
Giraffe
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Getting to Pilanesberg

Activities you can do

Bird watching
Bird watching
Bush walks
Bush walks
Game drives
Game drives
Hot air balloons
Hot air balloons
Photography
Photography

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