Pilanesberg National Park

/ Pilanesberg National Park in the North West Province, South Africa
North West Province Game Reserves

Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province

The Pilanesberg National Park, which covers some 55 000 hectare, is the fourth largest in southern Africa. This malaria-free park is perched on the eroded vestiges of an alkaline volcanic crater - one of only three such craters in the world.

The history of the Pilanesberg Park is also unique amongst national parks in South Africa. Pilanesberg National Park's special features of rugged landscape, well-watered valleys and attractive dwelling sites have made it a preferred site for human settlement for thousands of years. Prior to its proclamation as a reserve in 1979, the Pilanesberg National Park Complex was degraded and depleted of indigenous wildlife populations due to fairly intense settlement by commercial farmers. At considerable expense, the land has been restocked with game, the scars of human settlement were removed and tourism infrastructure was developed during the first 15 years (1979 and 1993). This constituted the largest and most expensive game stocking and land rehabilitation project ever undertaken in any African game reserve at the time.

A 110 kilometre peripheral Big Game fence was erected over some very rugged terrain, 188 kilometre of visitor roads have been developed and more than 6 000 head of game were introduced during the Operation Genesis game translocation programme. Thus, while wildlife resources are rapidly declining in most developing countries in Africa, Pilanesberg National Park is one of the few areas where this trend has been dramatically reversed. For this far-sighted action the North West Province (Previously Bop Parks) and its people have received worldwide acclaim and recognition. The challenge that lies ahead is to further develop and manage Pilanesberg National Park in such a way that the conservation, cultural, recreational and economic benefits of this far-sighted action can be optimally utilised to the benefit of current and future generations.

Pilanesberg exists within the transition zone between the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation, commonly referred to as "Bushveld". Unlike any other large park, unique overlaps of mammals, birdlife and vegetation occur because of this transition zone. Springbok, brown hyaena, the redeyed bulbul, and camel thorn trees usually found in arid areas are found co-habitating with moist-area-limited impala, blackeyed bulbul and Cape chestnut trees. Pre-sunrise and post-sunset drives are possible owing to gate opening and closure times.

Since late 1979, thanks to Operation Genesis - the largest game translocation ever undertaken at the time, tourists have been able to take note of nature's alphabet - from aardvark to zebra. The park boasts healthy populations of lion, leopard, black and white rhino, elephant and buffalo - Africa's "Big Five". A wide variety of rare and common species exist with endemic species like the nocturnal brown hyaena, the fleet-footed cheetah, the majestic sable, as well as giraffe, zebra, hippo and crocodile, to mention but a few.

Geologically, the area is world famous. Its structure, termed the "Pilanesberg National Park Alkaline Ring Complex" was formed by volcanic eruptions some 1 200 million years ago. Apart from its unique size, shape and rock types, the volcanic origin and resultant weathering of the extinct crater has resulted in a wide variety of landscapes. This provides some of the most spectacular scenery in Southern Africa. It also provides a wide range of habitats for game animals. Because of this, Pilanesberg National Park has the potential to carry a wider variety of game species than any other similar sized game reserve in Southern Africa. Its potential for supporting rare and endangered species such as black rhino, roan, sable, tsessebe, foot-and-mouth free buffalo and wild dogs is particularly high. As well as the 'Big Five' you will find the nocturnal brown hyena, cheetah, hippo, crocodile and even sable.

Activities & Things to Do:
Click here to see featured Things to Do in Pilanesberg including Hot Air Ballooning over Pilanesberg and Day tours to the Pilanesberg National Park.

Additional Reading:
If you are interested in visiting this Reserve you may also enjoy this article available on our blog at Pilanesberg National Park. Also see photographs at Pilanesberg National Park photographs.

Pilanesberg National Park

Game Lodges in Pilanesberg National Park

Morokolo Game Lodge

Morokolo is a boutique luxury game lodge situated in the private concession of the Pilanesberg National Park called the Black Rhino Game Reserve. We are a 2½ hours' drive from Johannesburg in the Platinum province and a recent...

Bakubung Bush Lodge

Bakubung Bush Lodge offers accommodation in air-conditioned, thatched roof, studio rooms and chalets, which curve into a horse-shoe around the outside entertainment areas, huddling visitors in cosy intimacy ...

Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge

Construction on Kwa Maritane commenced centuries ago. An ancient alkaline volcano fashioned the very hills that Kwa Maritane stands on today. Hence it's name, which literally means "Place of the Rock". From here, you ...

Tshukudu Lodge

Built on a hilltop, the luxurious Tshukudu Bush Lodge offers sweeping views of the malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park. Offering only six luxury cottages, attention to detail and personalised service is guaranteed ...

Shepherd's Tree Game Lodge

Guests staying at the Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge have the opportunity to participate in the nature and safari activities in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, which consists of an exclusive use area. The Shepherd’s Tree Game Lodge offers dedicated game rangers with open game viewing vehicles for ...

Buffalo Thorn Lodge

Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives as your ranger shows you the big and small species of the African bushveld. Game viewing can also be done from the comfort of loungers around the pool and Jacuzzi, as many species of birds, small animals and even some of the big five have been spotted from the deck ...

Ivory Tree Game Lodge

Ivory Tree Game Lodge is situated in the north eastern region of the Pilanesberg National Park, the closest point of entry is through Bakgatla Gate. Nestled in the basin of an ancient amphitheatre divided by riverine woodlands and elephant trails lies an exclusive ...

Pilanesberg National Park

Accommodation nearby

For accommodation close to reserve, see these towns:
BoshoekBritsHartbeespoort DamMagaliesbergMarikanaPhokengPilanesberg
RustenburgSun CitySwartruggensMadikweMadikwe HotelsBojanala Region.

View Game Reserves in this Region

Visiting Pilanesberg National Park?
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With 20 National Parks, including two of the world's most famous wildlife reserves, the Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and numerous private game reserves, your trip to South Africa would be incomplete without experiencing a South African Safari.
Pilanesberg National Park in the North West Province, South Africa
North West ProvinceNorth West Province