Covering some 57 200 hectares, the Pilanesberg National Park is the fourth largest game reserve / nature reserve in South africa. This magnificent malaria-free park is perched within the eroded remains of an acient alkaline volcanic crater -- one of only three such craters in the world. With its undulating hills and extensive open plains, the Pilanesberg National Park provides a Big Five game viewing experience that competes favourably with the Kruger National Park and the other well known game reserves of Africa.
The "creation" of the Pilanesberg National Park is considered one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind to be undertaken anywhere in the world. Operation Genesis, which involved the game-fencing of the reserve and the immobilisation and translocation of many long-vanished species, began during the late 70's.
Ecolocically the Pilanesberg National Park is unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur. One reason for this unqueness is that the park stradles the transition zone between the dry Kalahari thornveld and wetter lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as "Bushveld".
Being uniquely gifted, the Pilanesberg National Park is home to a wide variety of rare and common species of fauna and flora; including healthy populations of lion, leopard, black and white rhino, elephant and buffalo -- Africa's "Big Five".
Safaris to the Pilanesberg National Park are offered by most of the bigger tour operators and many smaller outfits. Being close to Johannesburg, day tours are offered from most upmarket accommodation establishments in Gauteng.
Safari styled game viewing in the the form of guided day drives and night drives (offered by professional guides) are available within the park. Enqiure at the entrance gates or at any of the accommodation establishments. However, with almost 200 kilometres of excellent roads, the Pilanesberg National Park is a perfect self-drive destination. Numerous hides and scenic picnic sites enable tourists to experience "out-of-car" experiences as well.
Popular activities within the park obviously include game viewing and photography; other interesting activities include: birdwatching, guided walks and viewing the archaeological and geological sites in the park.
Photographers (and travellers!) will be enthralled by the parks magnificent panoramas, its unique topography of syenite koppies, its colourful hues, all accentuated by variety of habitats consisting of thickly forested ravines, bushveld interspersed with rolling grasslands and lightly wooded savannah.
Bird watching in the Pilanesberg National Park is excellent with over 300 species recorded. At Manyane Complex there is a walk-in aviary with over 80 species of indigenous birds.
Adventure activities in the Pilanesberg National Park are limited to guided walks, hot air ballooning and science safaris. The recent development of scientific / veterinary safaris -- where clients are actively involved in the immobilization and translocation of elephants, rhino, lion etc. -- is a fast growing sector of the Southern African tourism industry. Elephant Back Safaris are available close to the park and Sun City.
Pilanesberg National Park accommodation consists of three upmarket lodges, two self-catering camps and caravan and camping facilities. The Sun City Resort complex, located on the reserves boundry, offers resort styled accommodation, and activities such as golf, squash, swimming... and gambling!
North West Province Travel Guide
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