Overview – Pilanesberg GR
Pilanesberg has a lovely setting, plenty of wildlife and is in a convenient location for visitors coming through Johannesburg or Pretoria. Set in an ancient volcanic crater, 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.
Pros and Cons
- Good wildlife viewing with all of the Big Five
- Beautiful scenery in a volcanic crater
- Lots of accommodation options for different budgets including self-catering
- Very close to Johannesburg and Pretoria
- Next to Sun City casino and entertainment park
- Big cat sightings are hit-and-miss
- Fully fenced and totally stocked, lacking wilderness appeal
Pilanesberg is home to the Big Five and offers quite good wildlife viewing. Elephant is abundant and sightings of buffalo and white rhino are 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.
Pilanesberg has extreme natural beauty and is set in the crater of an extinct volcano. The structure of the park is unique. Three concentric ridges of hills, which were formed by eruptions 1,300 million years ago, fringe the area. The park lies in the transition zone between the dry kalahari and wetter bushveld, which results in unique overlaps of mammals and birds associated with both vegetation zones.
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 gets 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
During the Wet season (October to April), the precipitation and the high season crowds can dampen your spirits, even if the park is at its greenest. The weather and the tourists are much tamer in the drier months (May to September). The animals are also easier to spot then amidst the depleted vegetation.
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Pilanesberg Safari Reviews
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Most Helpful Expert Review
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
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...
Latest User Review
A perfect stay in the bush - only a three hours drive away from Johannesburg
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...