Pilanesberg National Park
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 25 15.283 E 027 12.658 | elevation 1,101 m/3,612 ft

Pilanesberg National Park is located 50 km from Rustenburg and is only a 2hr drive from Johannesburg. As one of the largest national parks in South Africa it houses the Big 5 within its 55,000 hectares surrounded by unique rings of hills formed by volcanic activity some 1.2 billion years ago.

The park was stocked through a program called Operation Genesis in 1979 where native species that were originally driven from the area were captured and brought back. Pilanesburg gets quite busy on weekends and holidays with many of the urbanites from Johannesburg and Pretoria making the short drive to escape the city for the weekend.

Mankwe Safaris

Mankwe Safaris offers 2.5 hour morning, afternoon and night game drives (R295) that depart from their office near Manyane gate or they can also arrange for a departure from Sun City (R360).


Gametrackers Outdoor Adventures

Gametrackers Outdoor Adventures offers elephant-back safaris (3hr, R1,440) in the morning and afternoon as well as more up-close interaction at the Elephant Wallow, where you can feed and pet the giant African elephants (12:30pm, R580, includes transportation, drinks and lunch).


Absheni Bush Camp

Absheni Bush Camp is located about 100 m from the infrequently used Pilanesberg airport and 2.1 km from the Kwa Maritane gate. This rather shabby establishment has five huts and four permanent safari tents, a swimming pool and a large bar that plays base-heavy '80s tunes into the early hours of the morning.

To get there from the Kwa Maritane gate turn left onto R565, continue for 1.7 km and take a right at the airport turnoff. Continue 0.5 km down the airport road to the signed turnoff on the left.


Manyane Resort

Manyane Resort is the biggest resort in the Pilanesberg NP area with a large restaurant (mains R45-85), bar, and swimming pool. The vast camping and caravan park is lighted and has water taps, electric outlets and braai pits and is often quite busy. The brick and thatched roof chalets have TV, AC, and a refrigerator. Outside the chalets is a shaded sitting and braai area.


Bakgatla Resort

Bakgatla Resort is owned by the same company and has very similar accommodation to Manyane Resort but is smaller and less crowded and probably a better choice for those reasons alone. Some of the chalets are timeshares that can be rented and tend to be more updated and better equipped than the standard chalets. There is also a restaurant and small superstore for those using the camping and caravan sites.


Bakubung

Bakubung is a large venue with 75 hotel-style lodge rooms as well as self-catering chalets with full kitchens. Lodge activities include swimming, tennis, volleyball, game walks and game drives, bird trails and the Noko Kalahari Spa. The lodge is conveniently located close to Sun City and the R565 but also hosts large group tours with some frequency.


Kwa Maritane Lodge

Kwa Maritane Lodge is another upmarket option with lodge style rooms and cabanas located only a few meters from the parks fence (when making a reservation for one of the lodge rooms note that room numbers 73-290 have patios facing the park). All rooms have TV, AC, mini-bar, and an outdoor patio.

Kwa Maritane has a 130 m underground tunnel from the lodge to a hide in front of a watering hole within the park that is frequented by many animals. If you want to relax in your room until the animals come, just switch the TV on to channel 10 and get a live video feed from the watering hole. In addition to the park related activities the lodge has mini golf, tennis courts, two swimming pools, rock climbing and a game room. To get to Kwa Maritane Lodge, drive to Bakubung where there is a Kwa Maritane office; they will take you to the lodge in their vehicles.


Ivory Tree Game Lodge

Ivory Tree Game Lodge is an all-inclusive service-oriented lodge located within the park with 56 stone and thatched roof chalets and four executive suites surrounding the central lodge, swimming pool and ivory trees. All chalets have a modern interior with AC, an outdoor lounge area, and large bathrooms with an outdoor shower. There is also a spa on the premises that offers massages and a variety of treatments in huts surrounded by the bush.


Tshukudu

Tshukudu is an exclusive camp featuring six luxury cottages overlooking a watering hole in an area of the park inaccessible to non-guests. The slate floor and thatched roof cottages come fully equipped with everything from walking sticks to bubble bath soap, which can be used in the sunken bath where you can watch the animals at the watering hole while soaking. This is an all-inclusive experience that includes high tea in the afternoon between game drives and sundowners in the bush before a six-course dinner back at the camp. Tshukudu is accessed only by lodge vehicles, which pick up guests at Sun City or Bakubung Lodge.