Set on the bed of an ancient volcano, Pilanesberg National Park is prized not only for its geological and archeological value but also for its diverse abundance of big game. Tour the park on safari to photograph wildlife and learn about the park’s unique geological formation and evidence of human existence dating back to the Stone Age.
Set on the biodiverse transition zone between the Kalahari Desert and the wetter Lowveld, Pilanesberg National Park is a convenient and rewarding day trip from Johannesburg. Join a guided tour to the best wildlife viewing areas in the park where you can photograph big game from an open safari vehicle, including the so-called “Big Five”: lions, leopards, rhinoceroses, elephants, and Cape buffaloes.
To see wildlife at its most active and increase your chances of spotting nocturnal cats, stay for a two-day overnight safari. Many guided tours include pickup and drop-off in Johannesburg.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Pilanesberg National Park attracts geology and archeology enthusiasts alongside safari-goers.
- The park is malaria-free and located close to the international airport.
- The park maintains more than 116 miles (186 kilometers) of unpaved road for guided tours and self-driving safaris.
- The park’s “hides” create secure spots to get out of your vehicle and photograph wildlife.
How to Get There
Pilanesberg National Park is a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg and the O.R. Tambo International Airport. You also can fly to the Pilanesberg airport (just outside the gates in Sun City) from Johannesburg or Cape Town.
When to Get There
The park is open year-round, and the gates are generally open from sunrise to sunset. Check for specific hours before you go; hours vary based on the season. The diversity of park wildlife means that you’ll be likely to spot animals any time you visit, but expect increased wildlife activity on evening and morning game drives.
Staying in Pilanesberg National Park
Spending the night in Pilanesberg National Park opens up a range of wildlife viewing opportunities that are only available to those who stay in the park after the gates close. Spot nocturnal wildlife that begin to come out on sunset game drives. Watch the sunrise over the park’s unique geological formations. And, in between, catch some rest in a canvas tent, bed and breakfast, or luxury lodge.