Pilanesberg National Park’s wealth of experiences are, unsurprisingly, centred around the park’s unique ecological setting. Locals who are passionate about the area and park give visitors an in-depth, immersive experience if you don’t opt for a self-drive game drive. Here are some other things to do in the area:
Why you should visit: Choose from a variety of game drive options available. Travellers can take a self-drive in their vehicle, and many roads are accessible in a normal sedan. However, some are better suited to a vehicle with high ground clearance.
If you prefer having a guide and for a better chance of wildlife sightings, hop onboard one of the daily morning and afternoon game drives in the park’s open safari vehicles. They usually last about two-and-a-half hours. There are also group game drives in specialised 25-seater vehicles, as well as, private game drives too.
Most of the lodges on-site include twice-daily game drives for their guests. The cost is usually included in accommodation rates.
How much does it cost: R80 per adult to enter the park for self-drives (SA citizens, bring along your ID).
Why you should visit: Hidden in the park are six photographic hides offering the amateur and professional photographer, and birdwatcher, the perfect spot to snap away undetected.
There’s a hide built for every time of the day, from morning to evening. They’re all well-built, safely fenced with seating and on-site toilets.
The Mankwe hide is a favourite. Extending over the water, it offers a great hideout to spot the elusive malachite kingfisher, crocs sunning themselves below and other wildlife coming to drink from the waterhole.
How to get there: Ask for directions upon entering the park.
Why you should visit: Intrepid explorers can get up close and personal with the flora and fauna on a guided walking safari. Taking to the trails on foot allows for a true appreciation of the park, and the chance to encounter wildlife from a different perspective. Trails are usually four hours, for those aged 16 and older and for a minimum of four people. Distance varies, so choose based on fitness levels and time available.
How much does it cost: R2 800 for one to four people and R700 per additional person. Visit www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org for information or enquire at your lodge if you’re an overnight visitor.
Hot air ballooning
Why you should visit: There is no better way to appreciate the diverse wilderness of the Pilanesberg than on the bucket-list hot air balloon safari. This bird’s-eye view gives the chance to appreciate the unique Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex – rings of hills born out of volcanic activity millions of years ago. You’ll also get to admire the herds of elephant, buffalo and antelope and, if you’re lucky, spot the Big Five.
How to get there: Any of the lodges can make the arrangements or book with www.pilanesbergnationalpark.org
How much does it cost: A one-hour flight costs around R5 000 per person, including hotel transfers, breakfast and sparkling wine.