Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa
The fourth largest park in South Africa, Pilanesberg is a melting pot of topographies--which include syenite koppies, forested ravines, bush veld and rolling grasslands and lightly wooded areas--all contained in the crater of an extinct volcano that covers 55,000 hectares. Much of the beauties find reflection in the Mankwe Dam, the central water feature here. This is also a great place to spot wildlife, including the Big Five--the elephant, lion, leopard, rhinoceros and the cape buffalo.
Thabayadiotso, "the Proud Mountain", offers fitting relief to the panoramas of the park. Apart from the large mammals, the park is home to over 300 species of birds and they can be sighted while on the one-of-a-kind self-guided trail in the Walking Area at Manyane Complex. If the wild ones are not showing up, you can rest assured you'll see at least 80 species of birds at the walk-in aviary along the way.
A thrilling big 5 experience - Pilanesberg Game Reserve
See the big five just 2 hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria in one of the countrys most popular wildlife areas Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Set in an ancient volcanic crater, this well-stocked reserve has a dramatic landscape that supports a wide variety of plants, animals and birds.
Map of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Interactive Map of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and the Sun City Resort Complex,
North West Province, South Africa
Use our Clickable Search Maps to locate Pilanesberg Bush Lodges & Accommodation in Pilanesberg and at the
Sun City Resort Hotels.
Move your cursor over the name of the property to view an image and the * rating of the property.
Click on the lodge names to view the property’s website.
Map of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa
Pilanesberg National Park - in an ancient volcanic crater
Pilanesberg National Park - in an ancient volcanic crater
"The Volcano that gave birth to a game reserve"
The crater of a long extinct volcano is the setting of Pilanesberg Game Reserve- a fascinating alkaline complex produced by volcanic eruptions some 1300 million years ago. Pilanesberg 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 Game Reserve 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 Game Reserve 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 exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as "Bushveld". Unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birds and vegetation occur because of this transition zone.
Springbok, brown hyena, the red eyed bulbul, and camel thorn trees usually found in arid areas are found cohabitation with moist-area-limited impala, black eyed bulbul and Cape chestnut trees.
The colourful hues, varied habitats and panoramas will delight and entertain photographers and visitors.
The very topography makes the area a feast for the eye. Here are syenite koppies, thickly forested ravines, typical bushveld and also rolling grasslands and lightly wooded areas.
Off the centre of the park is Thabayadiotso, "the Proud Mountain". The Park ranks among the largest of the parks in South Africa (it is in fact the fourth largest park) and covers an area of 55 000 hectare.
The beauty of Pilanesberg is reflected in a large central lake, the Mankwe Dam.
Over time, wind and water have carved a spectacular landscape with rocky outcrops, open grasslands, wooded valleys and thickets.
Today, Pilanesberg National Park accommodates virtually every mammal of southern Africa. Also home to the Big Five.
Pilanesberg Specials. Read More
Pilanesberg Activities. Read More
Pilanesberg Bush Lodges
Pilanesberg Bush Lodges. Read More
Pilanesberg Game Reserve Species List
Since late 1979, thanks to Operation Genesis - the largest game translocation ever undertaken at the time, tourists have been able to take note of nature's alphabet - from aardvark to zebra. The park boasts healthy populations of lion, leopard, black and white rhino, elephant and buffalo - Africa's "Big Five". A wide variety of rare and common species exist with endemic species like the nocturnal brown hyaena, the fleet-footed cheetah, the majestic sable, as well as giraffe, zebra, hippo and crocodile...
Bird-life: Bird watching is excellent with over 300 species recorded. Some are migrants, others permanent inhabitants; some eat carrion or live prey, others eat seeds, fruit or tiny water organisms.There is a self-guided trail in the Walking Area at Manyane Complex in the east, which offers environmental education whilst enjoying game viewing and bird watching on foot. Also at Manyane is a walk-in aviary with over 80 species of indigenous birds.Read More
Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe is a Big Five Game Reserve covering some 75,000 hectare. It is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa. Read More
Sun City Resorts and Hotels
Deep in the rugged bushveld, in the heart of an ancient volcano, lies the world's most unique resort. This is the internationally acclaimed Sun City. Read More
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Big 5 - The Lion
) Most people will hope to see a lion or three while on safari in Africa. Luckily they are not quite as difficult to spot as the rhino or leopard. You have a good chance of seeing lion at most of the major game parks in southern and eastern Africa. Unlike most felines, lions are actually quite social and live in prides of up to 15 members. So, you can get the chance to watch the little ones play and interact with their bored looking mothers. There is nothing quite so chilling as hearing a lion roar in the night while you are camping but they are actually not prone to attacking humans unless you're unlucky and come across a man-eating lion.
Big 5 - The Leopard
(Panthera pardus) While leopards are more numerous than rhino in the Big 5 pantheon, they are sometimes just as difficult to spot while on safari in Africa. Leopards use trees as observation platforms and for protection, so you have to remember to look up to see this solitary, beautiful cat. Leopards are shy and nocturnal, quite modest for a cat that can climb, swim and live in a wider range of habitats than most other wild cats.
Big 5 - The African Elephant
There are two distinct species of African elephant: African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana).
The largest mammal in the world is remarkably adaptable; you can see elephants in rain forests, deserts and savannahs while on safari in Africa. Elephants are usually quite peaceful if left alone, but if they feel threatened, watch out. There's nothing quite like being charged at by 12,000 lb's of animal, flapping its ears and trumpeting loudly.
Did you know that an elephant's trunk has more than 40,000 muscles?
Big 5 - The Cape Buffalo
) When you spot the Cape Buffalo while on safari in Africa, you usually don't spot them alone. They tend to appear in very large (and intimidating) herds. Even when looking at them through binoculars from a distance, the males always seem to be staring right at you with intense dislike. Weighing in at over 700 kg's (1540 lb's) even lions don't dare take a chunk out of this beast. Cape Buffalo are said to have killed more big game hunters than any other animal in Africa. Hence they have earned their place in the Big 5.
Big 5 - The African Rhino
In Africa, there are two distinct species of rhinoceros; the Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and the White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum). Both of these species have two upright horns on the snout.
Rhinos are large mammals (only second in size to the elephant), shortsighted, bad tempered but magnificent to look at. Unfortunately there aren't too many to look at these days due to poaching. Rhino horn, used for medicinal purposes, is much prized in the Middle East and the Far East where it is more valuable than gold.
There are two species of rhino in Africa, the Black rhino and the White rhino, both of which you can see while on safari. Black rhinos have suffered the most drastic reduction in population in the last 20 years.
How to get here
From Johannesburg/Pretoria take the N1 north towards Polokwane. Take the N4 Rustenburg split. A signboard indicates Pilanesberg to the left on route 91.
Where to stay
Pilanesberg offers a variety of affordable accommodation, like the self-catering Manyane, Bakgatla and Metswedi camps. The Tshukudu, KwaMaritane and Bakubung game lodges are also situated in the reserve.
Best time to visit
Summers can get hot, but visitors to Pilanesberg will enjoy the park all year round.
Around the area
Sun City, with its entertainment centre, golf course, water world and casino, is right next door.
Tours to do
Activities include game drives, either self-driven or guided, game walks and birding. Pilanesberg also operates balloon safaris.
Did You Know?
There is an initiative underway to join Pilanesberg with Madikwe, creating a new superpark.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve is in the Bojanala Region of the North West Province, adjacent to Sun City.
Tariffs from 1 february 2012
Bus (17-25 seater): R60.00
Bus (25-50 seater): R80.00
Bus (50+): R170.00
March & April
06h00 - 18h30
May - September
06h30 - 18h00
September & October
06h00 - 18h30
November - February
05h30 - 19h00
Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust