Pilanesberg Safari Review

by Karen Minnaar
(South Africa)



The highlight of the trip was the sighting of 6 elephants (3 adults and 3 babies) who came down to the waterhole at dusk to drink and play around in the water. As they came closer to the water, the hippo who had been wallowing in the shallow water made a hasty retreat.

Safari Logistics

Pilanesberg is always a lovely option if you are based in Jo'burg.

We didn't use a safari company but rather went on a self drive safari.

We stayed at Bakgatla which is situated next to the Bakgatla Gate of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and used their restaurant for meals.

Breakfast was a typical buffet breakfast consisting of cereals, fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, sausages, other varieties of fried options, tea & coffee and fresh juice.

Dinner was a buffet. Each evening the food was different. The general buffet consisting of either roast lamb, pork or beef, potatoes, vegetables and usually a casserole and or pasta. There were also side servings of various salads. There was a pudding buffet with jelly & custard, and other little puddings like milk tarts etc.


Wildlife seen around the Pilanesberg:

- Wildebeest
- Red Hartebeest
- Tsessebe
- Kudu
- Waterbuck
- Impala
- Springbok
- Steenbok
- Klipspringer
- Elephant
- Hippopotamus
- White Rhino
- Zebra
- Giraffe
- Warthog
- Black-backed Jackal
- Slender Mongoose
- Vervet Monkey
- Springhare
- Hinged Terrapin
- Helmeted Guineafowl
- Crested Francolin
- African Spoonbill
- African Fish Eagles
- Secretary Bird
- Grey Heron
- Egyptian Goose
- Yellow billed duck
- Blacksmith Lapwing (plover)
- Red-billed Hornbill
- Common Fiscal Shrike

We were most certainly in Pilanesberg at the right time of year, the weather was lovely (not too hot) and some of the animals had just given birth to their babies.

Driving round the park, we saw numerous zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, rhino, impala and various little buck.

We were extremely surprised at how low the water was at the waterhole when compared to a trip out there in June when the dam was full.

One morning, back at the chalets we saw a family of vervet monkeys who had just broken into somebody's chalet and stolen packets of sugar and a couple of apples. The adult monkeys were most certainly teaching their babies the fine art of "Breaking & Entering".

The continual fight to survive in the wild is evident when you sit quietly in a hide watching the animals come down to drink:

- 2 warthogs started fighting right on the edge of the water;
- when a herd of impala came down to drink a scuffle broke out between 2 young males
- the plover fiercely guarded her chicks against the black-backed jackal who came down to drink and continuously dive bombed the heron who was quietly fishing in the water.

Typical Day

A typical day on our safari was to wake up early to go into the park as soon as it opened at 6-o-clock.

Take a short drive around and then either sit at the hide on the Mankwe Dam and watch the birds with a lovely sighting of 2 fish eagles or go to the Ratlhogo Waterhole and watch the animals come down to drink and enjoy the coolness of the morning.

After a morning in the park, it was off to breakfast and then for most of the day we just relaxed as it was far too hot to drive around the park.

Late afternoon we headed back into the park, trying to explore the park. Then as the sun started to go down, we would head off to the waterhole (which was close to our camp) and watch the animals come down for their afternoon drink.

Back at the camp we would head off to dinner and then just relax on the balcony listening to the sounds of nature (on the first night it was the sound of thunder rumbling in the sky).

Tips and Advice

My camera, 400m lens & bean bag were the most useful items on safari.

Karen's Safari Details:

Rating: 10/10

Safari company used: Self-guided (find out how to guide your own safari)

Parks visited: Pilanesberg Game Reserve in South Africa

Date of safari: 22-25 October (4 days)

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