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2-Day Pilanesberg Safari Tours

Pilanesberg Game Reserve is a fantastic park to visit and 2 days is exactly the right amount of time for a visit. It can get crowded and doesn’t have a strong wilderness feel, but it’s easy to get to, the wildlife here is incredible, and there is a good mix of easily accessible trails and quieter backcountry where you won’t see many other vehicles. It’s a good place to see the Big Five, and the accommodation around (and just outside) the reserve is excellent. The scenery is also a highlight of visiting here, and the birding is another plus, with more than 300 different species recorded. It’s an especially good wildlife destination if this is your first safari, although there’s much to tempt experienced safari travelers as well.

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1-19 of 19 Pilanesberg Game Reserve 2-day trips, itineraries, holidays, packages & vacations

5 Questions About 2-Day Pilanesberg Safaris


5 Questions About 2-Day Pilanesberg Safaris

Answered by Anthony Ham

Is 2 days too short to visit Pilanesberg Game Reserve?

“Spending 2 days in Pilanesberg is close to the ideal time for visiting the reserve. On the first day you could get to know the main trails through the park. It’s a good chance to get your bearings and tick off many of the animals (such as rhino and elephant, which are easily seen along the main trails) that make the park famous. Then, on the second day, you could explore a little further, leaving the crowds behind and focusing on harder-to-see species, such as the reserve’s big cats, brown hyena and African wild dog. Having a couple of days also allows you to get a taste for some of the varied scenery that this surprisingly large park protects. This includes the bird hides and lookouts in the lightly trafficked western areas of the park, or the dams, lookouts and low volcanic mountains that you’ll find scattered across the reserve.”


How do I get to Pilanesberg Game Reserve?

“It’s an easy road trip to Pilanesberg from Gauteng (a province that includes Johannesburg, which is just a 200km/124mi drive away) or the northern Limpopo region. If you do arrive by road, you’ll most likely travel in a 4WD vehicle or a minibus, depending on the size of your traveling party. The main roads to get here are generally excellent. It might also be possible to fly into one of the airstrips in the area on a charter flight, although this can be expensive. Many travelers combine a visit to Pilanesberg Game Reserve with a trip to Sun City, and most people visit the reserve on a combined tour of both. This is really something you should do, if for no other reason than that it’s hard to imagine two such different neighbors: one is a monument to human excess, the other is a wildlife park with extraordinary wild animals.”


What kind of accommodation is available in Pilanesberg Game Reserve?

“Apart from a couple of exclusive lodges within Pilanesberg’s park boundaries, most of the reserve’s accommodation is just outside the park, especially near Manyane or Bakubung gates. Most of these lodges have elegant, spacious rooms as well as public facilities, such as a swimming pool, bar, restaurant and an activity-booking center. All can organize game drives, although they can get pretty crowded, and you will hopefully have your game drives organized separately through your tour operator. Another option is to stay within the vast Sun City complex, which has some good accommodation choices, as well as easy access to lots of eating and entertainment options. The problem with staying at Sun City is that you have to pass through its access gates and then the same for the reserve, which can take away small amounts of valuable time that you could be spending looking for animals each morning.”


Which animals am I likely to see in Pilanesberg Game Reserve?

“Pilanesberg Game Reserve is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo), and two of these are easy to see; buffalo, lion and leopard can be elusive, but they’re not impossible to find. Other animal highlights that you will probably see during your 2 days here include giraffe, hippo, zebra and wildebeest. In addition to the more commonly seen species, there’s a chance you might also see tsessebe, brown hyena, African wild dog, and even serval if you’re really lucky. The birding here is also a real treat, and it’s not unusual to see nearly 100 of the park’s 300 different bird species in a single day on safari, as long as you start early. If birding is a big part of why you’re here, make sure you tell your tour operator and guide because the best habitat for birds is not always the same as for mammal species.”


How much does a 2-day Pilanesberg safari cost?

“There are lots of variables that will affect the cost of your 2-day Pilanesberg safari, but most safaris start at around US$200 to US$300 per person per day. Prices for a more luxurious experience can cost two, or even three times that figure. When calculating how much you can expect to pay for your safari, you also need to consider the time of year when you travel. More expensive high-season prices apply from October to April, although low season (which is actually the best time to visit) is not always dramatically cheaper. Other variables include the number of people in your traveling group (a small-group tour usually costs more) and the type of safari you choose. A private safari costs more than a group safari, sometimes significantly so. Remember also that on a 2-day safari, your per-day cost will likely be higher than it would be for a longer safari because transfers on both days will need to be factored in.”


Pilanesberg Reviews

3.9/5 99 Reviews
Lucy Corne  –  
United Kingdom UK

Lucy is travel writer for a range of publications, including Lonely Planet's guides to Africa, Southern Africa and South Africa.

Family Friendly Wildlife Viewing in Easy Reach of Johannesburg

The main reason you would visit the Pilanesberg is for its proximity to Johannesburg – it’s an easy three-hour drive. Those with more time might be better heading to the Kruger or the Kgalagadi for a wilder safari experience, but...

Full Review

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

The main selling point of this malaria-free reserve, set within a collapsed volcanic crater 2-3 hours’ drive northwest of Johannesburg, is its proximity to South Africa’s largest city and most important international transport hub. I...

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Francine  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Feb 8, 2024
Amazing Days and Nights

Since we were staying in and flying out of Johannesburg, we chose the closer Pilanesberg over Kruger NP so we would have more time viewing animals and less time driving in the two days we had for the safari. It did not disappoint us at all....

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Aurelia kelly  –  
South Africa ZA
Reviewed: Nov 2, 2023
Breathtaking, absolutely love it there, it's so peaceful and calm, so much to see.

I absolutely loved this place, great get away with my family, amazing wildlife, I'm not a early morning person but getting up for the the game drives was worth it........ we had the best time!!! Would def do it again

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Tracey Skagias  –  
Greece GR
Reviewed: Jun 8, 2023

I have been around many game parks in my life - I was born and raised in Kenya. I know you have to be lucky to see certain animals. I did find the tarmac road through the park rather unusual, and although I understand the why, I found...

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Alan  –  
South Africa ZA
Reviewed: Jul 14, 2021
Game feast in a beautiful mountain ringed crator with expansive views extending kilometres.

I have travelled Kruger and Pilanesberg extensively. The rhino have disappeared from Kruger. Although the vistas have limits in Pilanesberg you can access 5 hides with many more opportunities of alighting from your vehicle. All hides have...

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