Pilanesberg less than 2 hours from Johannesburg
The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is located in North West Province in South Africa, west of Pretoria. The park borders with the entertainment complex Sun City. The park is currently administered by the North West Parks and Tourism Board.
The area is fringed by three concentric ridges or rings of hills, of which the formation rises from the surrounding plains. Pilanesberg is named after a Tswana chief, Pilane The ‘Pilanesberg Alkaline Ring Complex’ is the park’s primary geological feature. This vast circular geological feature is ancient even by geological standards as it is the crater of a long extinct volcano and the result of eruptions some 1,200 million years ago. It is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its type in the world, the rare rock types and formations make it a unique geological feature. A number of rare minerals occur in the park. Pilanesberg Game Reserve rates high amongst the world’s outstanding geological phenomena
Scattered throughout the park are various sites that originate from the Iron Age and Stone Age and show the presence of man from those periods in these areas.
The park has an area of 572 square kilometres. One can travel through in a standard road vehicle as although most of the 188 kilometres of track are not surfaced, they are well maintained. The three main tarred roads are named Kgabo, Kubu and Tswene. There are several camps serving the park from the outside, such as Bagatla and Manyane. Several lodges are situated within the park itself. For the day visitors there are several stops on the inside where there are bars and gift shops. Towards the centre of the park there is an artificially constructed lake, the Mankwe Dam, and Thabayadiotso, which means “the Proud Mountain”.
The park has a rich array of southern African wildlife including the Big Five, the five most dangerous game animals in Africa. Most of the animal species of southern Africa live in the Pilanesburg Game Reserve today, including Transvaal lions, African bush elephants, South-western black rhinoceros, southern white rhinoceros, African buffaloes, African leopards, South African cheetahs, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, South African giraffes, hipposs and crocodiles. The Cape wild dog (Lycaon pictus pictus) had been extirpated from the park, but reintroduction efforts have been carried out recently, with uncertain outcome. Over 360 bird species were counted. The Pilanesberg is not in a location which the Big Five animals would naturally inhabit, however they have been brought into the 550 square kilometres of African bushland.