Enjoy an affordable four day getaway to the malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park, within an easy three hour drive from the city of Johannesburg and bordering on the famous Sun City resort. Pilanesberg is best known for its diverse flora and fauna and its unique setting - in an ancient volcanic crater.
This Pilanesberg Tented Camp Safari takes you camping out in nature, without having to sacrifice on basic comforts. Explore the unspoilt Pilanesberg wilderness on game drives in open-sided safari vehicles, accompanied by local guides with in depth knowledge of the area and the resident Big Five of Africa.
Departing from the city of Johannesburg at 10h00, we travel the three hours northwest to the easily accessible Pilanesberg National Park. Collection is from O.R. Tambo or selected points in Johannesburg, or alternatively in Pretoria by arrangement. From there we travel to Pilanesberg in the comfort of an air-conditioned microbus.
We aim to reach our tented camp at the Manyane Resort Camping Grounds in Pilanesberg National Park by 13h00. Enjoy lunch (own account) at the resort restaurant in the area of the main swimming pool and check into your room at 14h00. After lunch there is time to cool off in the pool and enjoy the sunshine, before afternoon tea and coffee ahead of our first game drive.
Departing at 16h30 in winter (17h00 in summer) we begin to explore the rich diversity of Pilanesberg Park. The park is set in a transition zone between the dry Kalahari and the more lush Lowveld region which has resulted in an extraordinary intersection of animals, birds and plants living side by side. Practically every large mammal native to Southern Africa can be found in Pilanesberg. In addition to the diverse habitats and animals found in Pilanesberg, the reserve is the site of a rare geological feature. It is set within an ancient volcanic crater formed some 1.2 billion years ago, one of only three in the world, which has created beautiful and rare rock formations and rock types.
Our knowledgeable local guides take you out in open safari vehicles, tracking animals and birds using their vast experience and understanding of the bush. Your guides are there to inform you about the surrounding terrain and creatures found in Pilanesberg, offering insight into life in the wild. Covering a relatively small area of 550km2 Pilanesberg National Park offers a much greater chance of seeing the Big 5 than many of the larger reserves. While searching for elusive predators and other wildlife, we stop for sundowners (own drinks) in the bush, enjoying a magnificent African sunset.
Once the sun has disappeared beyond the horizon we will make our way back to our camp where dinner is served in the tented dining area at around 20h00, followed by an evening of relaxation around the campfire under a blanket of stars.
Day two starts with coffee, tea and rusks, and an early departure for our first game drive of the day. In summer we leave at about 05h30 and in winter at 06h00 (weather permitting). Early mornings are well known as ideal for game viewing when the weather is still cooler and animals tend to be more active. Mornings are also perfect for seeing some of the 360 species of birds found in Pilanesberg National Park.
After surveying the diverse habitats of the park for some time, we break for a tea and coffee in the wilderness. After tea we continue with our safari drive keeping a special look out for the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), roaming freely through the beautiful scenery. Sightings of these animals are regular and always a highlight on any game drive. There are many well designed photographic hides concealed in the bushveld terrain of Pilanesberg, affording guests the opportunity to be out of sight while observing wildlife.
We return to camp at 08h30 and breakfast is served at the Manyane Resort Restaurant (between 08h00 and 11h00 over weekends; 10h00 on weekdays). The rest of the morning is leisure time for you to enjoy until lunch (own expense) at the restaurant beside the main swimming pool.
After lunch you can take a nap or read a book by the pool until we gather for tea and coffee at about 16h00. At 16h30 (in winter) or 17h00 (in summer) we head back out into the malaria-free reserve in our open-sided safari vehicles for a late afternoon bush experience, under the guidance of our ranger. In addition to the Big Five, highly rewarding sightings include cheetah and wild dog - usually very elusive animals that are often spotted in Pilanesberg. The afternoon drive is perfectly completed with another warm African sunset by which to enjoy our sundowners. Then we continue our game drive, keeping an eye open for the first sightings of nocturnal animals coming out.
By 20h00 we are back at the tented camp when dinner is served, followed by an evening under starry skies, recounting tales of the day's adventures around the campfire.
Day three follows a similar itinerary to day two including two game drives with your guide and time to take it easy at the safari camp.
On day four we get up early and have tea, coffee and rusks; before embarking on our morning game drive at 05h30 in summer or 06h00 in winter (weather permitting).
As we head out into the bush once more we are immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of the crisp morning air. There is the feeling that anything is possible and that an incredible sighting could be just around the next bush. You will notice that your wildlife spotting skills have already improved, as we search out clues of wildlife activity from the previous night's nocturnal affairs. Spending time in the bush one comes to realise how much information can be gathered through the use of all our senses - your vision sharpens, your ears become hyper-sensitive to any sounds of movement, and even your sense of smell becomes a tool for providing clues about life in the wild.
While on our final game drive we stop for tea and coffee surrounded by unspoilt nature, keeping an eye out for birds and animals. From here we continue exploring Pilanesberg National Park until it is time for breakfast back at the resort restaurant (between 08h00 and 11h00 over weekends; 10h00 on weekdays). After checking out of your tented room (by 11h00), you can swim in the pool, stop in at the curio shop and treat yourself at the resort spa (own cost). Have a leisurely lunch (own account) in the restaurant before our departure at 14h00.
Departing our tented camp we take the three hour return journey to Johannesburg, leaving the African wilderness for the hustle and bustle of the City of Gold. This safari comes to an end at about 16h30, when we drop you off at your arranged destinations or the O.R. Tambo International Airport.
Our comfortable Tented Safari Camp is located at Manyane Resort in the malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park, less than three hours from Johannesburg. The camp is set on the big grounds of the resort, where impalas, warthogs and banded mongoose are often spotted.
We are accommodated in eight safari tents furnished with twin beds, linen and basic furnishings that make them more comfortable than regular camping tents. All of the tents are designed with big windows and built-in mosquito netting to keep insects out while allowing you to open your canvas windows. There is a small patio area for each tent with two camping chairs for sitting outside. This camp is authentic and basic, yet includes amenities such as electricity, fans and electric blankets in winter to ensure a good degree of comfort while camping out in the wild.
The camp has a dining and lounge tent providing a communal space where guests dine together and unwind between game drives and activities. The communal bathrooms are shared with the resort camping grounds and are serviced daily. Guests are welcome to enjoy the facilities at the resort which include a large swimming pool, bar, restaurant, shop, spa and fire pit.
Thanks to great conservation efforts over the years Pilanesberg is home to robust populations of wild animals, both big and small. One can expect to have close encounters with the Big Five (lion, leopard, black and white rhino, buffalo and elephant) as well as members of almost every animal species native to Southern Africa. These include the cheetah, jackal, brown hyena, hippo, giraffe, zebra, wild dog and a variety of antelopes such as springbok and impala. Over 360 species of birds have also been recorded in this 55 000 hectare reserve. Considering the relatively compact size of the game reserve, Pilanesberg offers very rewarding game viewing and bird watching.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve is situated in what is called a transition zone between the very arid Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation zones, and due to this embodies a wide diversity of habitats that support a unique collection of plant and animal life. The park is also of geological significance as it is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano formed some 1.2 billion years ago. This volcanic complex, set around the Mankwe Dam in the Bojanala Region, is one of the biggest of its kind. The topography and vegetation of Pilanesberg thus form an unusual and scenic setting, where woodlands, grasslands, rocky outcrops, bushveld and thicket merge.
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This tour does take children.
Children over the age of 6 years old are allowed on this tour.