Top recommended things to do in Pilanesberg National Park
Malaria-free zone Pilanesberg National Park, located in the North West Province and only a few hours’ drive from Pretoria and Johannesburg, is South Africa’s fourth largest national park. This is adventure territory at its best, with forested ravines and bush veld set in the crater of an extinct volcano.
A big-five African safari is a dream vacation for many people, and whether you are a tourist from another continent or a local visiting South Africa’s Pilanesberg game reserve, you want to return home having enjoyed the trip.
Pilanesberg is home to the Big Five as well as over 300 bird species. With so much game to see, your biggest challenge of the day will be deciding whether to see it on horseback, on a self-drive safari, in a hot air balloon, on elephant back, or on a guided wilderness hiking trail.
Pilanesberg is conveniently close to the glitz and glamour of Sun City, so after you have had your fill of bush and wildlife, continue the adventure on the golf course, the water park, or any of the many other activities available in this famous resort that is part of the Pilanesberg crater complex.
A safari in the Pilanesberg combines old traditions with a celebration of being together. Different cultures can learn from one another here, and a visit to a village or an African music experience can teach you more about their traditions.
Top things to do in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Here are a list of top things to do when visiting the Pilanesberg:
Morning and afternoon guided game drives are available at all Pilanesberg lodges and resorts. Depending on which lodge you are staying at, the guide brings coffee and rusks in the morning and cool drinks and beer/wine for sundowners in the afternoon.
Close encounters with lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo are possible on an open safari vehicle game drive in Pilanesberg, along with a plethora of other game, including rare species such as wild dog and cheetah.
Game drives are typically conducted in the early mornings or late afternoons. During the cooler hours of the day, wildlife is more active.
Predators, in particular, prefer to hunt at night or early in the morning. Game drives are led by experienced rangers and game trackers. The rangers are always eager to share their knowledge of the environment and will gladly assist you with your wildlife photography.
Self-driving trips are preferred by many tourists because they provide them more freedom in terms of privacy, when they go, which route they take, and how long they linger at each sighting. Your chances of seeing the “Big 5” in their natural habitat are significantly increased thanks to the park’s modest size and unusually diverse ecosystem, both of which contribute to its status as a biodiverse area.
Guided Bush walks
Most of the lodges offer guided bush walks.
Walking through the park allows you to immerse yourself in the wonderful, unspoiled wilderness while learning about the natural world around you.
These walks are very exciting because they give you a completely new perspective on nature. You might come face to face with a rhino or a buffalo, but these walks are more about the details that you might overlook while driving around the park.
There are several guided hiking trails to choose from within the Park. All hiking trails are led by a qualified guide who will share their extensive knowledge of the Pilanesberg fauna and flora with you.
Your guide will explain the different types of vegetation, insects, and birds, as well as the distinctive overlaps between the Kalahari and the Lowveld. Encountering big game on foot will give you a new appreciation for the size and grace of African wildlife.
The guided hikes are available year-round, 7 days a week, regardless of the weather.
Self-guided Camp walks
Manyane Lodge has a large enclosed area where zebras, tsessebe, ostriches, wildebeest, impala, and warthogs are free to roam. There is no need to make a reservation, and maps are available at the information centre. We enjoy this walk because it allows us to get up close and personal with the animals. In the summer, you should bring a hat, comfortable walking shoes, a flask of water, and, of course, a camera!
Picnic in the bush
There are five picnic areas throughout the park. Three of them are excellent because they are located on hills and provide spectacular views of the plains or lake below. The first is the Fish Eagle picnic area, which overlooks the Mankwe Dam, and the other two are on Baile Drive. All picnic areas are fenced and have braai (barbeque) facilities, water, shade, and toilets.
Birdwatching from strategically placed bird hides
There are seven hides scattered throughout the park. To many visitors, the Pilanesberg is all about sitting in these bird hides rather than driving around for hours. If you visit these hides at the right time of day, you can get some great photos – the hides that face west have good photographic lighting in the mornings (Rathlogo and Mankwe), and the hides that face east are great in the afternoons (Mankwe, Ruighoek and Malatse).
All of the hides are secure and have toilets.
The Mankwe Dam region contains some of the most beautiful scenery in the park. The dam is the game reserve’s largest body of water.
This makes it ideal for spotting a wide range of animals. Waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra, and impala are among the animals that stop on the dam’s grassland.
The bird hide is near the water’s edge. Take note of the fish eagles, kingfishers, and cormorants that circle the dam. All of these locations offer numerous opportunities to photograph the abundant fauna and flora.
Hot air ballooning
This is going to be yet another exciting adventure! Before the sun rises, the balloon lifts off from Mankwe Dam, and once in the air, you spend the next hour floating above the Pilanesberg National Park. This is an incredible opportunity to shoot Africa’s “super-seven” (the big five plus cheetah and wild dogs) from the air, and when you arrive, the table will be set for a beautiful champagne brunch in the veld.
Take your camera and visit a walk-in aviary
One may be found in the Manyane complex, and the other can be found in the Sun City complex. You will not need a telephoto lens to take photographs of a variety of bird species, including kingfishers, thanks to this wonderful opportunity.
Enjoy Spa treatments
Spas that cater to both health and beauty are becoming increasingly common in high-end safari lodges. You can spend your days being treated in this clean atmosphere, which also features sights that are soothing to the eye. Your mind and body will thank you for taking advantage of the break in the action that occurs between the morning and evening game drives.
Participating in interactive Drumming
The beats produced by African drums are mesmerising and impossible to resist once getting caught up in. The ancient instruments have a resonant quality that conveys the splendour and vitality of the African continent. Nevertheless, picking up a drum and getting caught into the beat and dynamic of the group is an exhilarating experience that will leave you with a desire for more participation.
Visiting Sun City
This well-known resort is located within the Pilanesberg crater complex, and it provides guests with a wide range of entertainment options. Guests can choose from restaurants, a water park called Valley of Waves, a cinema, a health spa, a golf course, live shows, a casino, and a variety of sports, including everything from tennis to quad-biking.
Abseiling can be done in Pilanesberg. The skill of abseiling is performing a slow and controlled drop while attached to a rope. At first, it was solely a technique used by climbers to safely descend after a climb, as well as by firefighters, special forces people, and spies in the James Bond style.
Learn the ancient art of archery
In Pilanesberg, there are archery clubs where one can get instruction. Everyone, regardless of gender, age, or level of physical ability, can participate in the sport and it can be performed at any time of the day or year.
Find your way through a Maze
The extravagant Sun City Resort is home to one of the most elaborate and permanent mazes in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It has been said that navigating one’s way through a maze is analogous to finding one’s way to enlightenment. As you make your way through the route, you can forgetabout both your surroundings and the stresses of the outside world.
Parasailing is one of the many activities available in Sun City that is enjoyable for the entire family. After a short run, you will be effortlessly hoisted into the air to a height of about 35 metres. You will love this unique and thrilling flight around the lake, with the beautiful Sun City Resort nestled beneath your feet, before gently landing back into the water.
Meander your way around Sun City on a Segway Tour. There is incredible fauna and flora to be discovered and the sedate pace of a segway allows you to enjoy it all en-route.
Quad Bikes and mountain biking
Quad bike tours are led by knowledgeable guides and are suitable for even inexperienced riders. You can enjoy yourself while racing through beautiful scenery with the wind in your face. An experienced guide will accompany you.
You can also work up a sweat on our mountain bike route, which includes bumpy roads, rivulets, and mountain terrain. The game park is 9,7 kilometres long and can be cycled through.
Riding waves on a jet ski or wetbike while the wind blows through your hair and the spray hits your skin is a fun way to experience the sensation of complete freedom.
An excursion on the water, whether it be a public tour or a private charter, is a fantastic way to take in the scenery and get up and personal with a wide variety of marine creatures.
A Zip Line adventure is a fast and fun experience suited for anyone with a sense of adventure. Sun City is home to the biggest zip Line of them all, being 280 meter high and 2 kilometer long.
Wildlife photography has long outsold game hunting in terms of popularity. Game vehicles of today will be specifically designed to capture African animals. Not only are the rangers and guides knowledgeable about the fauna and flora, but they are also avid photographers who are always eager to assist you in capturing the perfect shot.
Immerse yourself in nature by visiting one of Pilanesberg’s hidden photographic hides. These well-built hides, hidden throughout the park, provide a comfortable place to wait for that perfect shot. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see wildlife and birds in their natural habitat, safely out of sight.
What is there to do in Pilanesberg National Park apart from game viewing?
The park offers several activities that can either bring you closer to nature or get the adrenaline pumping such as zip lining, boat trips, jet skiing, mountain biking, quad bikes, bird viewing etc.
Does the Pilanesberg National Park offer child-friendly activities?
Children are allowed on some game drives and game drives that are booked separately as an activity. Many other activities can be enjoyed by families together such as picnics, self-guided game walks, etc.
Can you do self-driving in Pilanesberg National Park?
Yes, self-driving vacations are preferred by many tourists because they provide them more freedom in terms of when they go, which route they take, and how long they linger at each sighting. Most sedans are suitable for exploring most of the park.
Is Pilanesberg National Park in a malaria free area?
The area is not in a high-malaria danger zone but precautionary measures such as mosquito- repellent and mosquito nets are advised.