User Reviews – Pilanesberg GR

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A perfect stay in the bush - only a three hours drive away from Johannesburg
Overall rating
5/5

Pilanesberg National Park and the adjacent Black Rhino Private Game Reserve are located around the extinct Pilanesberg vulcano ca. 150 km NW of Johannesburg. The area is Malaria free. Due to an elevation of +/- 1000m the nights in winter can be quite chilly while the days in summer can be as hot as 35°C or even more.

Unlike many other South African parks Pilanesberg is a piece of "man made" nature: It was founded in 1979 on former farmland, so more than 7000 animals from other parks like Kruger NP had to be relocated to (re-)populate the area. Since then, these animal population has been left on it's own.

The main park can be explored either by self-drive or on guided tours. In Black Rhino Private Game Reserve private cars are only allowed to access the lodges - all game drives are guided tours organized by the respective lodge. While the game drives from Black Rhino are allowed to enter the national park, no visitors "from outside" are allowed to enter Black Rhino.

Since 2011 my spouse and I have visited Black Rhino Private Game Reserve 5 times. We stayed at two different lodges that are quite similar compared in service: Both offer good quality meals, spacious bungalows and a small pool. Two game drives per day are already included in the room price.

The game drives are done with small cars (max. 10 people per car). All 4 different guides on our meanwhile 29 game drives did an excellent job: They tried to find as many different animals as possible, with the focus not only on the "Big Five". They stayed as long near the animals as the guests wanted (very good for photography!). There was no "rush from one animal to the next" like we already experienced at some of the smaller game lodges in the Western Cape, which (in comparison to a national park) are more like small zoos where the predators live in separate fenced areas.

...o.k. if the animals don't cooperate, even the best ranger can't do anything! After all one should not forget that the animals of a national park (although they might be used to the cars) are still wild: The grazers keep in the bush to hide from their predators and the predators hide themself to better approach their prey. Large animals like elephants, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe or even white rhinos are quite easy to find in the grassy areas - but don't expect to be so lucky that you'll see a lion, a hyaena, a black rhino or even a leopard on your first visit! On most of your game drives you'll most likely see only the "usual suspects".

Great safari for starters
Overall rating
4/5

Pilanesberg is a great game reserve option if you are in Johannesburg and a limited time for a safari (1-3 days), with rich variety of wildlife. In a 5-6h tour, we spotted giraffes, elephants, wildebeests, antelopes, zebras, boars, ostriches and jackals.

Although relatively small, Pilanesberg is in a transition area, so the landscape, vegetation and wildlife quickly changes from one part to another of the park.

I only visited the park, in a 1-day trip from Johannesburg, arriving early morning and leaving by late afternoon, it was a still an enjoyable experience, though a weekend would be certainly better. It is possible to visit the park with a private car and a guide, roads were excellent.

The tour with the park truck is probably a better option to view the wildlife - just be aware that there are limited rides (especially during the low season).

Overall rating
4/5

Although a relatively small Reserve, Pilanesberg is popular due to its proximity to the Sun City resort. Very scenic with a mountainous section and a large dam which is a refuge for local birds. Lots of Wildlife present and one may be lucky enough to catch sight of one of the large carnivores which are scattered across the park.

Overall rating
4/5

The wild life we saw was limited to Zebras and Springboks mostly. We had fun during our Brazil lunch in the middle of the game reserve.

Overall rating
4/5

Close to Big cities, Good Camps and Good Roads , Big 5 , an Plenty of Bush veld birds , and Bird Hides

Overall rating
5/5

Some unique wildlife to be seen here, including Brown Hyena.

Overall rating
5/5

Really full of animals, nice scenic beauty

Overall rating
5/5

Slightly more than 2 hrs from joburg, it is really great , you can spend a great day, and be back in joburg at night.
The whole park can be nearly completely seen throughout one single day.
really a must.

Overall rating
5/5

Well known for the Noah's Arch project, the wildlife in this reserve was replenished with all the wildlife that could be found in this area before it was destroyed by hunting and farming

Overall rating
4/5

Pilanesberg was my first experience visiting a game reserve. That was in 1998 and it was a nice experience. Many of the larger animals I saw were at quite a distance away so it wasn't like visiting Kruger, but I did see lions trying to chase down their dinner without success which was my only experience of the chase. So each experience can bring something new.

Average User Rating

  • 4.3/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 29
  • 4 star 25
  • 3 star 6
  • 2 star 1
  • 1 star 0
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