Overview – Pilanesberg GR

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

The Pilanesberg has a lovely setting and plenty of wildlife. Set in the eroded remnants of an ancient volcano, the Pilanesberg is a very scenic Big Five destination. The fully fenced park is well stocked but might lack wilderness appeal to purists. Only a two-hour drive from Johannesburg, it makes a very attractive weekend option.

Best Time to Go May to September (Dry season)
High Season October to April (The park is busier)
Size 572km² / 221mi²
Altitude 1,020-1,608m / 3,346-5,276ft

Pros & Cons

  • Good wildlife viewing with all of the Big Five
  • Beautiful scenery formed by ancient volcanic activity
  • Lots of accommodation options for different budgets including self-catering
  • Malaria-free
  • Very close to Johannesburg and Pretoria
  • Next to Sun City Casino and entertainment park
  • Big cat sightings are hit-and-miss
  • Special sightings can get very crowded
  • Fully fenced and totally stocked, lacking wilderness appeal

Pilanesberg GR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Pilanesberg GR is home to the Big Five and offers quite good wildlife viewing. Elephant is abundant, and white rhino is common. All big cats are present, but you will need some luck to spot any. Aside from the Big Five, you can expect to see giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and many antelope species.

Scenery

The Pilanesberg’s concentric hills, interspersed with grassy valleys, give it a picturesque natural beauty. This “onion-like” structure was formed by volcanic activity over 1300 million years ago. Mankwe dam is a great place to see animals coming to drink at sunset. A glimpse into the history of the Batswana people can also be found in one of the interesting iron-age archaeological sites in the reserve.

Weather & Climate

Pilanesberg has a typically hot summer (October to April). But as this is the region’s Wet season, the heat tends to get softened by afternoon rains. Everything is reversed in the Dry season or winter (May to September) when the rain vanishes along with the heat. In fact, it can get pretty cold when the sun disappears from the sky. The humidity stays low year-round.

Best Time to Visit

The park is at its greenest during the Wet season (October to April), but the drier months (May to September), with their consistently sunny weather, are best for wildlife viewing as the animals are easier to spot amidst the depleted vegetation.

Want to Visit Pilanesberg GR?

Pilanesberg GR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Expert
Philip Briggs  –  
South Africa ZA

Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

The closest Big Five destination to Johannesburg
4/5

The main selling point of this malaria-free reserve, set within a collapsed volcanic crater two hours drive northwest of Johannesburg, is its proximity to South Africa’s largest city and most important international transport hub. I have...

Full Review

Latest User Review
Nina  –  
Germany DE
Reviewed: Sep 17, 2019
5/5

Beautiful landscape and scenery. Small enough so that one can actually spot the animals. Loved it!

Full Review