Pilanesberg National park is a very nice getaway especially if you are staying in the Gauteng area. It is only approximately one and a half hours away from Johannesburg, and is adjacent to the famous “Sun City” complex! I truly recommend the destination if you’re planning a quick trip to the city, but would still like to benefit from a little feel of the African bush.
Animals of Interest
While the park is relatively small (572 square kilometers), it has a rich floral and faunal diversity. Its unique landscape encompasses areas of grasslands, steep hill slopes, rocky outcrops and thickly wooded gorges, which enables distinct patterns of vegetation – there are over 132 species of trees and at least 68 species of grasses.
Animal diversity flourishes in the area! The park is home to the big 5 together with 50 additional species of large mammals, 354 bird species, 65 reptile species, 18 amphibian species and literally thousands of other intriguing, smaller creatures.
The game area is especially known for its great population of white rhinoceros and its rare brown hyena. While the latter is seldom seen (as it is nocturnal), I have been lucky enough to spot the species a couple of times around Tshukudu Lodge.
Also be on the look out for the majestic Verreaux’s Eagle (previously known as the Black Eagle), sometimes seen in flight or perched on rocky slopes! A rare beauty!
One animal that I was surprised to find is the cheetah, reintroduced recently into the park. Although the reintroduction plan hasn’t been very successful, the cat is most likely to be found in grasslands where it can hunt down its prey.
Places of Interest
There are quite a few lodges both within and without the park borders. Here’s a list of my favourites:
– Tshukudu: A luxurious lodge nestled against an isolated koppie. It has its own waterhole which makes it extremely pleasant for game viewing!
– Bakubung: Bordering the park. Also has a waterhole with resident hippos. Very nice for lunches and quiet afternoons lazing around the pool.
– Kwa Maritane: The underground viewing hide is really special! Worth a visit 😉