Covering an area of 560km2/216mi2 (in an extinct volcano), the Pilanesberg game reserve, situated about 2 hours drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria in the North West province of South Africa, is a wildlife watchers mecca.
The facilities, accommodation and road network is first class too as can be seen on this satellite map of the reserve. The icons provide a description when clicked and you can navigate the map using the controls in the top left hand corner or by double clicking to zoom in.
The definition is so good that you can actually see the swimming pool at the Manyane Rest Camp and the cars in the parking lot in front of reception. Try for yourself and get a birds eye view of the whole nature reserve.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve Map
Pilanesberg Distance Calculator
Even though the reserve is relatively small it's still useful to know the distances between the rest camps and how long it will take you to drive there.
I haven't specifically mentioned the gate distances because all the gates are located at the camps themselves so for all intents and purposes the distances will be the same to the relevant gates as to the camps.
The road between Bakubung Lodge and Bakgatla Camp is tarred, as well as from Manyane Camp past Mankwe Dam to the intersection close to the Pilanesberg Centre. All the other roads in the reserve are gravel but they are well maintained so you can drive them effortlessly with a normal sedan vehicle, eliminating the need to rent an expensive 4x4 when you visit Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
Traffic can sometimes become a little congested around the Mankwe Dam area because of its location in the centre of the reserve. The far western part of the park attracts a lot less traffic so if you are looking for a little bit of isolation and want to get away from the hustle and bustle make your way there.
Best Time To Go
The average annual rainfall in Pilanesberg is 622mm (24.5") and most of it falls during the summer months of October to March. Temperatures at these times hover around 26–30°C (79-86°F) during the day. The winter months run from April to September and you can expect clear, warm days and cold nights.
Wildlife viewing is good all year round but probably the best time is during the dry winter months when there is less undergrowth to obscure vision and many of the animals congregate around the waterholes to slake their thirst.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve History
Prior to 1979 when it was proclaimed as a reserve, the indigenous game populations were severely depleted due to commercial farming in the area. Then, “Operation Genesis” swung into action, which was an ambitious project to restock the land with game, remove the scars of human settlement and develop tourism infrastructure.
A 110 kilometer (68mi) peripheral big game fence was erected; 188km (117mi) of visitor roads developed and 6000 head of game re-introduced. This constituted the largest and most expensive game stocking and land rehabilitation project ever undertaken in any African game reserve at the time.
Today the reserve contains 55 species of large mammal including the “Big Five”, 354 bird, 65 reptile, 18 amphibian, 132 tree and 68 grass species.