Pilanesberg National Park

Next door to the famous leisure and entertainment resort of Sun City, is the Pilanesberg National Park. It may not be very large (212 miles² (550km²) compared to Kruger or some of the other great African parks, but it has a real wilderness feel to it and most of the big animals you could wish to see.

It lies amongst the only significant hills in the area which rise skywards out of the flat highveld plain. This massif is a 1,200 million-year-old volcanic relic of four concentric mountain rings.

The Pilanesberg is the highest peak towering 1,950 feet (600 metres) above Mankwe Lake, which sits in the heart of the ancient volcano. The volcano’s circular bowl was recognised as being the perfect situation for a national park with its tall sides creating natural boundaries.

The area was farmed until 1979 until Operation Genesis was launched to rehabilitate the land and stock it with game. This was one of the most imaginative game-stocking enterprises ever undertaken and the Pilanesberg became a great success story. There are currently around 10,000 head of and it is a very popular game park for locals and overseas visitors alike – many of whom make the short trip from the nearby resort of Sun City.

ANIMALS & BIRDS
This park is home to good populations of a whole range of Africa’s game, including the ‘Big Five’; elephants, black and white rhinoceros, buffaloes, lions and leopards and you will also see giraffes, zebras, hippos and a wide variety of antelopes including the very attractive sable, eland, kudu and gemsbok. There are also cheetahs and hyenas and jackal.

Birdlife is good with over 300 species and bird lovers will be interested in the huge stroll-through aviary at the Manyane gate. Also in this area is a ‘vulture restaurant’ – created to help save the shy and endangered Cape vulture from regional extinction.

SEASONS
Rainy Season: It rains during the summer months of November to March, with thunder and lightening showers predominantly in February and March. Temperatures hover around 79-86°F (26-30°C).
Dry Season: April to September is the cool dry winter season with bright clear warm days and cold nights, particularly in the mid-winter months of June to August. The winter is the best for game viewing as the foliage has died back and animals frequent waterholes.

PILANESBERG SPECIALITIES

· Proximity to Sun city
· Small park with lots of animals including the ‘Big Five’
· Attractive scenery
· Good choice of safari lodges in the area
· No malaria

FACTS
The Pilansberg covers an area of 135,908 acres (55,000ha)
The volcanic peaks in the Pilanesberg area average about 9,750 feet (3,000 metres) high.
The park has 88 miles (140 km) of well-surfaced roads
It is approximately 2½ hour’s drive north-west of Johannesburg.
This is not a malarial area.

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