Pilanesberg National Park is possibly the most accessible of the fascinating reserves in Southern Africa. Situated in the ecologically rich transition zone between the dry Kalahari and the wet Lowveld regions, this vast area promises thrilling big game viewing in a malaria free environment.

Situated a mere 2 hours’ drive from Africa’s gateway, OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Pilanesberg National Park offers the ideal opportunity for Big 5 game viewing for visitors on a shorter time limit for Big 5 game viewing.

The Reserve is set in an extinct volcanic crater formed 13 million years ago. Grasslands, wooded valleys and multi-hued rock formations are enduring reminders of this magnificent occurrence, and many sites around the reserve have relics which attests the presence of Stone Age and Iron age man.

With an area of 55,000 hectares, it is the fourth largest park in South Africa.

All of the animal species native to southern Africa can be found here, including the Big 5 (Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant, Leopard and Lion), as well as Wild dog, Roan, Tsessebe, Sable antelope and more than 360 bird species.

The relatively small size of the park, together with it’s unusual ecological richness and diversity, dramatically increase your chance of encountering the Big 5 in their natural environment.

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. This makes it the perfect place to spot a wide variety of animals. Wildebeest, zebra and impala are common sightings at the dam. For bird lovers, there is a bird hide very close to the water’s edge. Fish eagles, kingfishers and cormorants circle the dam and this provides fantastic opportunities to capture the plentiful array of fauna and flora of this park.

Activities in the Park include game drives or wildlife safaris, and you can choose a self-drive or guided option; as well as game walks and birding safaris. Hot air ballooning is also a popular option for an alternative Pilanesberg safari.

The Pilanesberg offers a diversity of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget.  Whether you choose a rustic safari tent in the bush or sipping sparkling wine at one of the luxury lodges, you will find something just perfect for you.

For those seeking excitement and nightlife, the adjacent Sun City Resort & Casino beckons with its high octane entertainment, Waterworld Park, and the Valley of the Waves.

    Why Go:

    • Big Five game viewing
    • Situated in an ancient volcanic crater
    • Malaria-free reserve
    • 2hour drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria
    • Budget, mid-level and luxury accommodation
    • Close to Sun City Resort, Golf and Entertainment Centre


    Pilanesberg National Park is host to virtually every mammal of southern Africa and is also home to healthy populations of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, black and white rhino, elephant and buffalo).A wide variety of rare and common species exist here, like the nocturnal brown hyaena, the fleet-footed cheetah, the majestic sable, as well as giraffe, zebra, hippo and crocodile, to name just a few.Springbok, brown hyena, the red eyed bulbul, and camel thorn trees usually found in arid areas are found in cohabitation with moist-area-limited impala, black eyed bulbul and Cape chestnut trees.Bird watching is excellent with over 350 species recorded within the Pilanesberg.Pilanesberg is best experienced with a safari guide who is trained and well versed in the animals that occur in the park. Guests who partake in a guided safari will have the added benefit that the rangers communicate via radio, calling in interesting sightings for all guests to enjoy.

    More About the Wildlife


    The crater of a long extinct volcano is the setting of Pilanesberg - a fascinating alkaline complex produced by volcanic eruptions some 1300 million years ago. It is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its kind in the world. Its rare rock types and structure make it a unique geological feature.The area is fringed by three concentric ridges or rings of hills - the formation rises from the surrounding plains like a bubble. The structure of the park is termed the "Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex".Ancient, even by geological time scales, this extinct volcano is the most perfect example of an alkaline ring complex. A number of rare (but not necessarily economically important) minerals occur in the park. Pilanesberg rates high amongst the world's outstanding geological phenomena.Pilanesberg has survived ages of erosion and stands high above the surrounding bushveld plains. The early presence of man can be seen in the numerous Stone and Iron Age sites that are scattered throughout the park.The Park covers an area of 55,000 hectare and ranks among the larger of the parks in South Africa. The beauty of Pilanesberg is reflected in a large central lake, the Mankwe Dam.

    Weather & Climate

    Pilanesberg is located within an area of summer rainfall, which is characterized by afternoon thunderstorms. Winter (May to September) is the Dry season and has moderate daily temperatures and cool nights. Warm winter clothing is recommended for night and early morning game drives. The park is located within the southern hemisphere and so experiences summer and winter at opposite times to Europe and North America.

    More About the Weather and Climate

    Best Time to Visit

    Pilanesberg Game Reserve is enjoyed by guests all year round.In the spring and summer months (September – April), the warm African sun is enjoyed by all guests as they traverse the park. During November – December, many animals give birth ensuring a plethora of young in the park which are endearing to watch. During the summer months, thunderstorms are quite common. Ensure to pack some warm and water resistant clothing.During the autumn and winter months (May – August), the bush becomes drier and animals are easier to see. Guests also enjoy discounted rates at the lodges during these months. Due to the colder days, animals are also more active whereas during the summer months they seek shade a lot earlier in the day. Mornings and evenings can become quite cold during this time, so we suggest that you pack accordingly.

    More About the Best Time to Visit

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