Pilanesberg Game Park
“The Volcano that gave birth to a game reserve”
The Pilanesberg Game Park lies 160 km (100 miles) from Johannesburg in the Bojanala Region of North West – the “Platinum province” – and is the fourth largest National Park in South Africa, covering an area of some 57 000 hectares. The crater of a long extinct volcano is the setting of Pilanesberg National Park – a fascinating alkaline complex produced by volcanic eruptions some 1300 million years ago. Pilanesberg is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its kind in the world and has survived ages of erosion and stands high above the surrounding bushveld plains.
The early presence of man can be seen in the numerous Stone and Iron Age sites that are scattered throughout the park. Its rare rock types and structure make it a unique geological feature and the topography makes the area a feast for the eye. Here are syenite koppies, thickly forested ravines, typical bushveld and also rolling grasslands and lightly wooded areas. Off the centre of the park is Thabayadiotso, “the Proud Mountain”. The beauty of Pilanesberg is reflected in a large central lake, the Mankwe Dam.
The Park was established in 1979 and game was reintroduced thanks to Operation Genesis, which at the time was the largest game translocation ever undertaken anywhere. The Park offers the visitor a wide diversity of 35 animal species, including the “Big Five”, 350 bird species and 65 reptile species – all in a malaria free area.
We enter the Park at Manyane Gate in the east and make our way westwards, eventually reaching our lunch stop at Bakubung – ‘people of the hippo’. The afternoon is spent in search of more game as we make our way back to Manyane Gate, stopping off at one of the game viewing hides en route. We return to Johanneburg in the late afternoon.