Pilanesberg National Park

Pilanesberg covers an area of fifty-five thousand hectares in an ecologically diverse region of South Africa that transitions between the Kalahari and eastern bushveld. The park is in the crater of a long-extinct volcano adjacent to Sun City. African Sky includes this national park in some of our pre-designed tour itineraries.

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Pilanesberg is one of the most easily accessible national parks in South Africa. It is located just an hour and a half from the airport in Johannesburg.

It offers Big Five Safaris in areas of unique ecology where many other mammal species grace the wilderness of Africa. It is not South Africa's finest safari destination, but it does offer a quality safari adventure in a malaria-free region. We recommend this park to anyone who has one to three days to spare and is interested in wildlife encounters.

1639.46 km²
Eastern Cape
Mammals Species
5 of South Africa's 9 Biomes

Safaris and Tours that visit Pilanesberg

14 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Personal Code: T13

This two-week family tour in South Africa enjoys a safari in Pilanesberg before visiting the Garden Route for some coastal adventures en route to Cape Town.

4 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Personal Code: FV01

This short safari excursion is ideal for families who wish to enjoy a Big Five safari in an area without malaria risk to the children. It departs from and returns to Johannesburg.

3 Days From: ZAR 69,270 pp Luxury Code: G01

The two exceptional golf courses at Sun City are the focus of this tour which devotes some time to a game drive in Pilanesberg, located ten minutes from Sun City.

Reasons to Visit


Malaria Free

Pilanesberg is one of a handful of Big Five safari areas in South Africa where the risk of Malaria is not present. It is the ideal destination for families with young children who wish to enjoy an authentic safari. The reserve is large, and though the safari experience is not quite the same as Kruger, your family will enjoy an incredible safari experience.


Family Fun

Many lodges specifically cater to families with programs to inform children about the importance of conservation and educational experiences that highlight the environment and the animals in Pilanesberg. An added advantage is the proximity to Sun City, where the waterpark is a favorite amongst kids of all ages. Sun City also offers an abundance of other activities.



Situated around an hour and a half from the airport in Johannesburg, the reserve is ideal for those with limited time wishing to experience a few days in the African wild. The cost of reaching Pilanesberg is much lower than getting to the Kruger National Park or one of the other premier Big Five safari areas in South Africa.

Experiences to Savor at Pilanesberg National Park

The experiences at Pilanesberg focus on nature and wildlife, with several possible ways of immersion available.

Big Five Encounters

You can encounter Africa's Big 5 on open 4X4 game drives accompanied by resident rangers and trackers with an in-depth knowledge of this conservation area. The adventurous can endeavor a bush walk accompanied by an armed ranger - this is an exciting way of encountering the wildlife of Africa. Big Five sightings while on foot will surely get the adrenaline flowing.

Hot Air Balloon Flights

Though it is quite a costly activity, it is enriching to silently glide over the vast African wilderness enjoying panoramic views of the landscape and spotting game from the air. Hot air balloon flights typically depart shortly after dawn and last about two hours. After descending, a champagne breakfast is offered in the wild.

Unique Topography

Much of the park is in the crater of a long-extinct volcano. It affords the region a unique topography with low-lying hills surrounding a water source. The hills are an excellent vantage point from which to observe game on the plains below; it is also ideal for morning coffee or sipping on your favorite drink around sunset, enjoying the magnificence of a safari.


Which are the best lodges at Pilanesberg.
In the authors opinion the finest safari ldoges in Pilanesberg are Black Rhino Lodge and Tshukudu.
What is the closest town?
The closest large town is Rustenberg
Can you go for the day?
Day visitors are welcome, many people book a day trip to the park that departs from either Johannesburg or Pretoria.
Does the park become to croweded?
Unfortunately, yes. Because it is so close two major cities, many locals will head there over long weekends and school holiday periods. If however you are staying at a private lodge there is a dedicated consession where day visitors and people residing at some of the larger lodges may not traverse.
Are there entrance fees for the park?
There is an entrance fee for day visitors per person per day. If you book a trip with African Sky, these fees will always be included in the cost of the service.
Is there any mobile phone reception in the park?
Yes, mobile phone coverage is available almost everywhere in Pilanesberg.
What are the rarest animals that can be viewed in Pilanesberg?
The park is home to black rhino and the rare African wild dog.

Useful Travel Info

Getting There

By Road

From Johannesburg or Pretoria, you will pass the Hartebeestpoort dam, a scenic area surrounded by the Magaliesberg. The drive is pleasant and lasts approximately an hour and a half. If you are traveling with African Sky, one of our guides will transport your party only in an air-conditioned vehicle.

Weather & Best Time To Visit

Summers can be scorching, with the hottest months typically December, January, and February. The park is in a summer rainfall area, with thundershowers occurring in the late afternoon. There are better times for game viewing; the bush is beautiful and green during summer, and most young in the park start arriving in November.

Winter, spring, and Autumn are the best times to visit Pilanesberg. The milder temperatures and the vegetation is not as thick - making game spotting easier. Winter evenings can become quite cold, and you should always take a warm jacket on morning game drives as it can be chilly on the open 4X4 vehicles.


Pilanesberg was created in 1979 when numerous farms were combined into a conservation area. Once the land had been cleared of domestic animals, a large wildlife relocation program known as operation genesis saw the reintroduction of thousands of animals into the area. From these humble beginnings and many subsequent game management projects based on scientific research, the park has grown into an important protected area in the northwestern part of South Africa. Plans are underway to combine Pilanesberg with Madikwe Game Reserve to its north.


Pilanesberg is home to all of the Big Five and a large number of different large antelope species. Rare animals seen in Pilanesberg include cheetahs, wild dogs, and black rhinos. It is a better destination than Kruger for viewing eland and red hartebeest. Antelope found in Pilanesberg that do not occur in the Kruger Park include Gemsbok and Springbok. Small mammals seen on night safaris include the black-backed jackal, African wildcat, and aardvark. Springhare is abundant in the area, as is Aardwolf, though they are not frequently spotted.

Birders will delight in viewing over 300 recorded species. Several bird hides provide ideal locations for spotting the birdlife of Pilanesberg.


As is the case in most safari areas, the guided game drive is the primary safari activity. These drives occur in the early morning and late afternoon, stretching into the early evening. At these times, the animals of Pilanesberg are at their most active. Bush walks are conducted in the park, and various lodges offer educational programs for children. The adjacent Sun City resort offers a waterpark, excellent golf courses, quad biking, parasailing, skeet shooting, and other family-friendly activities. Birding and a reptile park will delight nature enthusiasts.

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